Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Westerner's Radio Theater #031

Today we bring you a 1936 Light Crust Doughboys program and also from the 30s, a Death Valley Days broadcast titled "The True Story of Sam Bass".

Environmental officers shut down ice cream stand

Looking to hit the spot with a savory ice cream at Great Brook Farm State Park this week? You may be out of luck. The park's popular ice-cream stand was unexpectedly shut down by state officials over the weekend, after the stand's operator made building improvements at the site without getting permission first. Mark Duffy, who has operated the dairy farm at the state-owned park for 26 years and has a lease with the state to run the stand, said armed Environmental Police officers showed up at stand on Friday evening and stood guard throughout the weekend, turning away customers craving delectable sundaes and frappes. To make matters worse, said Duffy, the shutdown happened right before the sunny Mother's Day weekend...more

Friday, May 18, 2012

Colorado Mining Association appeals roadless rule to Supreme Court

The Colorado Mining Association Thursday petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the nation's rule for protecting 58.5 million acres of roadless public forests — mostly in Western states. The 28-page request for high court attention argues that "roadless" as defined in the federal government's rule is de facto wilderness and that only Congress has the power to create wilderness. Wyoming also is challenging the rule — trying to reverse a federal appeals court decision last fall in Denver. "A Supreme Court decision would enforce the boundaries between our respective branches of government and allow any permanent setting aside of millions of acres be the judgment and decision of Congress and not un-elected federal bureaucrats," said attorney Paul Seby, who submitted the CMA's petition. "Congress never considered banning the multiple use of 58.5 million acres of lands forever — including whether to put them off limits to responsible natural resource development and forest health management," Seby said. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision last fall overturned a Wyoming federal court's decision in 2008 that found the roadless rule illegally usurped congressional power to designate wilderness. The appeals judges backed up the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule that President Clinton passed in the final days of his administration — which prohibits most road-building and commercial timber harvesting on the large remaining roadless areas of national forest land around the country...more

Feds again reject Wyoming-Colorado water pipeline

A federal agency for the second time has denied a permit requested by a Colorado businessman who wants to build a 500-mile pipeline to carry water from southwestern Wyoming to Colorado’s Front Range. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday refused a request from Aaron Million of Fort Collins, Colo., to reconsider its February denial of his permit. In denying Million’s application in February, FERC said it was premature and lacked specifics about the proposed pipeline. Million proposes to draw water from the Green River in southwestern Wyoming and pipe it as far as Pueblo, Colo. His plans have drawn opposition from Gov. Matt Mead as well as county and local governments in southwestern Wyoming and downstream states. “I continue to oppose this particular proposal and continue to believe that FERC is not the regulatory body to review Mr. Million’s proposal,” Mead said Thursday. “I am glad that FERC denied the request for a rehearing.” Million said Thursday he regards FERC’s denial as essentially a clarification of the agency’s position. He said he’s working to secure funding for the project and intends to reapply.

Senator delivers takedown of military 'green' agenda

The Obama administration is determined to gut the U.S. military in order to fund a far-left environmental agenda, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said during an extended address on the Senate floor this week. “I was extremely disappointed to see that (Panetta) is wasting his valuable time perpetrating President Obama’s global warming fantasies and his war on affordable energy, which occurred, no less, at a gathering of radical environmentalists,” Inhofe said. “Secretary Panetta’s commitment of a billion dollars for alternative fuels makes clear that, despite President Obama’s recent change in rhetoric for his reelection campaign, he remains fully determined to implement his all-out attack on traditional American energy development – and the military is one place where he can force it to happen.” A Congressional Research Service report, published on Inhofe’s request last month, found that DoD had to spend $300 million for energy efficiency projects in addition to $3.7 billion in stimulus funds marked for energy saving measures at military installations, and that the department has spent at least $4 billion on global warming and energy initiatives. That money, Inhofe said, could have been used to buy 30 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters or modernize the military’s fleet of C-130 Hercules planes. And rather than having the military funnel money into biofuels, Inhofe said the administration should pursue the numerous energy alternatives that are both affordable and close to home, including approving the Keystone pipeline, ending attacks on hydraulic fracturing, and repealing limitations on the ability of federal agencies to purchase petroleum products that have a greenhouse gas footprint exceeding that of crude oil...more

Song Of The Day #838

Ranch Radio's selection today is Jubilee Road by the Bluegrass Cardinals.

The tune is on their 24 track CD The Essential Bluegrass Cardinals

BLM seeks help to stop rock art vandalism

The Bureau of Land Management is responding to vandalism at rock art sites located on public lands, including the archaeological and historic site of Land Hill. Land Hill is part of the Santa Clara River Reserve – a 6,500-acre area of public land collaboratively managed by BLM and the cities of Ivins and Santa Clara, in part to protect the many prehistoric sites found there, including a high concentration of rock art sites that are preserved on those lands. The BLM’s St. George Field Office has increased its monitoring efforts, is educating the public about these fragile cultural resource sites, and is pointing out the legal consequences of vandalism activities. The many petroglyph panels of the Land Hill site reflect the stories and beliefs of the Native Americans who inhabited the area along the Santa Clara River as long as 5,000 years ago. Preservation of this and other archaeological sites gives future generations a glimpse of cultures that thrived in the past. A few months ago, archaeologist William Banek and law enforcement officer Scott Lowrey of the St. George Field Office began noticing increased instances of scratched graffiti near these ancient petroglyphs. “This is probably the work of juveniles who don’t understand the value and significance of these resources,” said Banek, who will be stepping up education outreach to local schools and youth organizations to address this issue. Banek, Lowrey, and BLM volunteer site stewards are routinely monitoring the sites...more

Showdown at the H20 Corral: Tombstone's Water Crisis Claims Rejected by Court

A federal judge rejected a conservative group's claim that the historic town of Tombstone faces a water crises because the U.S. Forest Service refuses to allow crews access to a wilderness area to repair springs damaged by wildfire and mudslides. U.S. District Judge Frank Zapata this week denied the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute's motion for a preliminary injunction. The group, which is representing the City of Tombstone against the Forest Service, immediately filed an appeal with the 9th Circuit. Zapata found that the group's "claims of a drastic water emergency related to public consumption and fire needs are overstated and speculative."  Judge Zapata disagreed in a ruling signed Monday, finding that the alleged crisis has been overstated and that the Forest Service has "continually worked with plaintiff to attempt to resolve their water issues." Zapata said that Tombstone had failed to provide the agency with information it needs to grant the required permits. "Defendants have attempted to accommodate plaintiff's requests to repair water structures, have consistently encouraged plaintiffs to submit site specific information with details as to the work that needs to be performed and the equipment needed such that defendants could properly assess any impacts in the wilderness, and defendants have been receptive to plaintiff's requests and have changed certain requirements after considering plaintiff's concerns," Zapata wrote. Zapata added that "it appears that plaintiff's water from the Huachuca Mountains has been substantially restored, plaintiff currently has access to sufficient and safe water between its wells and the Huachuca water, and that plaintiff's claims of a drastic water emergency related to public consumption and fire needs are overstated and speculative." The town is actually attempting to engage in new construction in the wilderness area rather than "simply restoring existing water facilities," according to the ruling. "Upon review of the record, the court finds that plaintiff has not demonstrated irreparable harm," Zapata wrote. "Likewise, the court also finds that plaintiff cutting a path through a federally protected wilderness area with excavators and other construction equipment would have a significant impact; the public interest and equities weigh in favor of defendants who are attempting to conserve and protect important wilderness areas."...more

Thursday, May 17, 2012

First Solar CEO grilled for dumping stock after taxpayer loan

First Solar chairman of the board Michael Ahearn, who was once CEO of that fabled “green energy” disaster, hopped on his corporate jet and flew to Washington this week, for a nostalgic look back at President Obama’s “investments” held by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  I asked House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa if Ahearn’s jet was solar-powered, or perhaps powered by lightning strikes like the one used by France’s new socialist president Francoise Hollande, but the busy Chairman hasn’t gotten back to me yet. The House hearing bore a title that could serve as one of American history’s great rhetorical questions: “The Obama Administration’s Green Energy Gamble: What Have All The Taxpayer Subsidies Achieved?”  One of the President’s notable achievements was inspiring Ahearn to sell over $450 million of his own company’s stock between 2008 and 2012, a period when First Solar’s stock value dropped by almost 95 percent. Michael Ahearn might have thought his own company was a lousy investment, but who was he to question the investment wisdom of Barack Obama?  In August 2011, after years of collapsing First Solar value, and undoubtedly tense conversations between Ahearn and his broker, the President – which means you – subsidized a billion-dollar Department of Energy loan to First Solar.  A couple of days later, Ahearn celebrated by selling another 700,000 shares of his own First Solar stock, raking in a cool $68.5 million. Life is not tough for everybody under Obamanomics.

Preserving access to our nation's forests

by Jim Harbison

I attended the second annual Keep Our Forests Open (KOFO) rally in Truth or Consequences, N.M. recently. Its theme was to "take back our forests one county at a time." It marked the anniversary of the Silver City protest opposing the proposed closing of long established roads in the Gila Wilderness. This rally was organized by the KOFO organization which, according to its website, is focused on the preservation of rights of American citizens to access their forests.

This rally was to remind the public of KOFO's activities and to highlight the efforts of the various federal agencies to restrict and deny us access to our forests by closing roads and engaging in other bureaucratic shenanigans. Misguided actions by the EPA, BLM and U.S. Forest Service or presidential declarations of wilderness or national monument status all adversely impact individual access and public use of our lands. More importantly, the rally reminded those of us from Las Cruces that there are officials outside of Doña Ana County who are working to restore local authority over public lands.

Speakers included spokesperson the Rev. Mike Skidmore, Otero County Commission Chairman Ronny Rardin, Sierra County Sheriff Joe Baca, and the mayor and Tombstone, Ariz., government officials. Congressman Pearce, an active participant in this movement, was unable to attend but sent a video clip acknowledging the successful efforts of KOFO to oppose government interventions that deny us access to our forests and public lands. Rev. Skidmore reviewed the successful rallies in Silver City and Cloudcroft, and Otero County actions to reassert local control over forests in Lincoln County.

Commissioner Rardin mentioned Congressman Pearce cutting the first tree at the Cloudcroft rally which began the process of returning forest management to local authority, reducing the combustible fuel sources and cutting fire break roads where necessary. Backed by the county commissioners, Otero County Sheriff Benny House has reasserted his authority over the public lands in the county and has informed both BLM and USFS he would arrest anyone who blocks public roads within the county. Otero County Commissioners also resolved a dispute with the BLM over access to a long-established public road by reclaiming the road from the BLM by eminent domain.

Sierra County Sheriff Joe Baca, supported by his county commissioners, has also taken similarly proper actions to arrest federal agents who attempt to deny access to county roads. He refused to accept $16,000 in federal funds which would have obligated him to subordinate his jurisdiction to that of the federal government. As a member of the Association of Western Sheriffs that represents the 13 western states, Sheriff Baca has become a leader on county sheriff's legal authority. He also carries a copy of the U.S. Constitution in his pocket at all times to remind him of his obligation to support and defend the Constitution and property rights of the people.

Baldy fire maintaining natural conditions in the Gila Wilderness

A natural fire one mile south of Mogollon Baldy lookout tower, near Lookout Canyon, has been burning since May 8 when lightning ignited trees in the area. The fire, which was reported as being under an acre on May 9, is burning in some of the most remote and rugged country in the Gila Wilderness, in an area that has seen wildfire frequently, reported the Forest Service, which is continuing to monitor the situation. "Prior to 1900, natural lightning-caused fires occurred in mixed conifer in the Gila Wilderness on average every 7-15 years with the longest fire-free interval being 26 years," said Liz Carver, fuels specialist with the Wilderness Ranger District in Mimbres. "Most fires took place during May and July. We are on track with a normal, natural process. Fire as a natural process keeps the forest from a dangerous build-up of fuels that would otherwise burn with high intensity during a severe fire season like last year. The Baldy Fire is maintaining natural conditions within the Gila Wilderness, promoting habitat diversity and forest health." The fire is at 9,000 feet elevation and is backing downslope across the surface, beneath a canopy of Douglas fir and White fir, and creeping around rock slides and jagged bluffs, within the perimeter of previous fires...more

Wool yields average despite the drought

As sheepshearing season winds down across West Texas, wool fleeces delivered to the warehouse in Mertzon are surprisingly clean and healthy despite hardships brought on by the drought during growing season, said Ronald Pope, general manager of Producers Marketing Cooperative. "For the most part, fleeces are testing shorter or more marginal in length than average because of drought stress," he said. "Yet there is a difference of day and night when compared to last year." Pope said the yields are average compared with other years. The winter and spring rains managed to bring forth plenty of weeds early, which helped supplemental feeding. "Now, following more recent rain, ranchers have the opportunity to grow some grass," he said. The 12-month wool clip from Far West Texas ranches around Rankin, McCamey and Fort Stockton is normally the first clip delivered to Mertzon in March. The bulk of shearing season in the Mertzon, Ozona and Sonora areas hits in April. "In better times, the company handled an average annual inventory of 1 million pounds of wool from grower members," Pope said. "Even with the severe drought last year which reduced sheep numbers, we expected our wool receipts would be down for the second year. However it looks like we will get about 60 percent or 600,000 pounds when shearing is completed."...more

Late summer streamflows decreasing, says study

A University of Montana study published this week in the international journal Climate Change discovered that late-summer streamflows have decreased in the western United States over the past half century because of higher air temperatures and earlier spring runoff. Scientists examined 50 years of U.S. Geological Survey streamflow data on 153 streams in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. They found that 89 percent of the streams experienced substantial declines in streamflow by August, likely as a result of longer and warmer summer temperatures. If this trend continues into the next half century, small streams in the central Rocky Mountains could start to run dry by late summer, the study said. That can affect aquatic animal populations, said Steve Running, UM regents professor of ecology and co-author of the study. Even when water temperatures increase in streams in the late summer months, there’s less oxygen in the stream for trout populations to live. Already, state fish and game departments have had to limit fishing on some streams because of warm water temperatures, he said...more

Group Of Wind Energy Companies Expresses Support For Federal Wildlife Guidelines

Forty organizations representing the U.S. wind energy industry have united to write to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in support of new federal guidelines designed to minimize the impacts of wind projects on wildlife. The release of the voluntary, land-based wind energy guidelines in March followed nearly five years of collaboration among the wind energy industry, wildlife conservation organizations, Native American tribes, and federal and state regulators. By supporting and using the guidelines, the wind energy industry is voluntarily agreeing to be held to a high standard for wildlife protection, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) says. In addition to AWEA, 40 individual member companies - including project developers, utilities and turbine manufacturers - signed the letter. Actual data from more than 80 post-construction mortality studies puts the impact of wind energy at approximately three birds per megawatt per year on average, which, at currently installed levels, equates to roughly 140,000 birds per year, according to AWEA. By contrast, hundreds of millions of birds a year die from collisions with buildings, domestic cats and other human structures and activities, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and national conservation organizations...more

Study: 96% of restaurant entrees exceed USDA limits

If you plan to chow down tonight at a big chain restaurant, there's a better than nine-in-10 chance that your entree will fail to meet federal nutrition recommendations for both adults and kids, according to a provocative new study. A whopping 96% of main entrees sold at top U.S. chain eateries exceed daily limits for calories, sodium, fat and saturated fat recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reports the 18-month study conducted by the Rand Corp. and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "If you're eating out tonight, your chances of finding an entree that's truly healthy are painfully low," says Helen Wu, assistant policy analyst at Rand who oversaw the study. It examined the nutritional content of 30,923 menu items from 245 restaurant brands across the USA. "The restaurant industry needs to make big changes to be part of the solution," she says...more

Isn't it wonderful the USDA tells the farmers what to grow and us what to eat.  What would we do without them?

The Mathematics of Obesity

The NY Times reports that Carson C. Chow, an MIT-trained mathematician and physicist, has taken a new look at America's obesity epidemic and found that a food glut is behind America's weight problem, with the national obesity rate jumping from 20 percent to over 30 percent since 1970. 'Beginning in the 1970s, there was a change in national agricultural policy. Instead of the government paying farmers not to engage in full production, as was the practice, they were encouraged to grow as much food as they could,' says Chow. 'With such a huge food supply, food marketing got better and restaurants got cheaper. The low cost of food fueled the growth of the fast-food industry. If food were expensive, you couldn't have fast food.' Chow and mathematical physiologist Kevin Hall created a mathematical model of a human with hundreds of equations, boiled it down to one simple equation, and then plugged in all the variables — height, weight, food intake, exercise. The slimmed-down equation proved to be a useful platform for answering a host of questions. For example, huge variations in your daily food intake will not cause variations in weight, as long as your average food intake over a year is about the same. Unfortunately, another finding is that weight change, up or down, takes a very, very long time. Chow has posted an interactive version of the model on the web where people can plug in their information and learn how much they'll need to reduce their intake and increase their activity to lose.  Slashdot

A lower price increases demand? Who'dathunkit.  Better get one of those mathematical models.

Song Of The Day #837

Are you ready for some good bluegrass pickin'? You better be, cuz today Ranch Radio brings you John Henry by Dan Crary & Lonnie Hoppers and Their American Band.

The tune is on their self-titled 12 track CD.

Quechan Tribe Challenges SoCal Wind Farm (and I give you the real reason why)

A Native American tribe wants to block a proposed wind power plant on protected California land that it says is home to hundreds of archaeological sites. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved the Ocotillo Wind Express Facility (OWEF) on 10,000 acres of the Ocotillo Desert in California earlier this month. But the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation says the land is protected under the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) plan. The planned project will include 112 wind turbines standing 450 tall, with blades that sweep a circle measuring 371 feet in diameter, according to the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. "The OWEF Project is only one of many large utility-scale renewable energy projects located on California desert lands that have recently been approved, or are under consideration for approval, by Interior, and which threaten scenic, cultural, and biological resources designated for protection under the CDCA plan," the complaint says. The tribe says that the Interior's final environment impact report found that the area features 287 archaeological sites and is also home to rare artifacts, prehistoric trails and half a dozen burial sites...more

The real reason they are opposed to wind farms? It really messes up their smoke signals!

All Opposed Say "Neigh": A Flawed Bill to Ban Horse Slaughter

by Nick Robins-Early

“We’re Americans,” Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu told me two weeks ago in the Russell Senate building in Washington, D.C. “We don’t eat our dogs, and we don’t eat our horses.” She had just finished delivering a speech to a rapt audience of two-dozen bright-eyed teenage girls, a handful of congressmen, top members of the ASPCA and Humane Society, and Lorenzo Borghese, star of the ninth season of the reality television show The Bachelor. They had gathered for “Horses on the Hill,” an event organized by a coalition of animal rights groups and equine enthusiasts lobbying in support of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which aims to ban the slaughtering of horses for human consumption.

Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say: restore a ban on slaughtering horses for human consumption. Among the lesser known achievements of the Obama administration was a decision last year to reinstate funding for the USDA inspection of horse slaughterhouses, effectively lifting a four and a half year ban on the practice. It was a move that quickly inspired opposition. In Washington, Senator Landrieu and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Representatives Dan Burton of Indiana and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois authored the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act; in New Mexico, Governor Susana Martinez has demanded the federal government intervene to prevent a slaughterhouse in her state from becoming the first in the nation to begin slaughtering horses.

The politicians claim to be acting in the interest of American horses, and the horse fans and reality TV stars at “Horses on the Hill” seemed to see it that way, too. But, however good their intentions, their efforts may have the unintended consequence of inflicting more harm against the very animals they’re trying to protect.

To understand why, it’s important to first point out that regardless of whether horses are slaughtered on U.S. territory, the United States does, in fact, have a horse meat industry. Around 130,000 horses (animals that the U.S. tax code classifies as livestock) are currently shipped each year, often in exceedingly poor conditions, from the United States to slaughterhouses in Mexico or Quebec. (The resulting meat is either sold to boucherie chevaline shops in Europe, or eaten domestically in Canada and Mexico.) By thus sparing them the cruelty of a journey abroad, the Obama administration’s decision to allow the horses to be slaughtered on American territory could be considered a humane agricultural reform.

The authors of the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, however, are scandalized at the thought of acquiescing to any harm against horses. Horses are owed better treatment, Landrieu announced at “Horses on the Hill,” because “our nation was built on their backs”; reality star Lorenzo Borghese declared that horses deserve to treated as “majestic animals,” not common livestock. That’s why their bill proposes not only to make it illegal to slaughter horses for meat within U.S. borders, but banning the export of horses for the purpose of slaughtering elsewhere.

But that latter provision is unlikely to ever be enacted, for practical, as well legal, reasons. The practical reason is that enforcing a ban on exports promises to be an extravagantly expensive proposition. The bill requests some 5 million dollars to run inspections of livestock transport at the border (though Charles W. Stenholm, a 73 year old former Congressman turned horsemeat lobbyist, tells me that won’t be nearly enough money to ensure all the trains crossing the border are inspected.) In any case, even if Republicans in Congress are persuaded of the majesty of horses, they are unlikely to make a commitment to the discretionary spending needed to ensure their protection.

There may also be a more fundamental legal problem with the bill. According to Clif Burns, adjunct professor at Georgetown law school and council at Bryan Cave law firm, the act could be in violation of international trade regulations. Specifically, he says “we would be in violation of our WTO [World Trade Organization] and GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade] obligations by putting a ban on the export of horses.”

The problem has to do with Article 11 of GATT, which forbids the “prohibition or restriction” of certain products between the signatory nations. There are of course exceptions (ie: banning the export of a product that could be a threat to national security), but Burns says that horses don’t qualify for any of them. “Simply because we disagree with the cultural mores of foreign countries and don’t eat horses here, we want to prevent other people from eating horses,” Burns said. “But that’s not something we can do under GATT.”

If Burns is correct in his assessment that “it’s none of our business what another country does with a product they buy from us,” then it casts serious doubt on the suggestion that Landrieu’s bill is a particularly humane option for horses. Indeed, if Washington is not legally allowed to prevent the export of horses, then banning their slaughter domestically is essentially condemning ever more of them to a cruel journey abroad. Of course, politicians who stand to gain by exploiting the public’s love of horses are unlikely to admit any of this anytime soon.

In the meantime, the slaughterhouses who have applied for a license to process horses will continue to find themselves in an unexpectedly heated political struggle. I spoke with Sarah de Los Santos, wife of the owner of Pecos Valley Meats, the New Mexico slaughterhouse that has been called out by Governor Martinez for requesting a USDA inspection for horse processing. Sarah told me that her husband, Rick, had no prior knowledge he would be the first in the nation to “go the route of slaughter for equines.” In a patient yet melancholy voice she told me that her husband “will proceed” with the plans despite the pressure, and insisted that, all the accusations made by animal rights’ activists and opportunistic politicians to the contrary, her husband is “a very respectable man.”

Originally posted at The New Republic.

Society takes aim at Calgary Stampede

Calgary Stampede officials made a flashy appearance on Wednesday in Vancouver — where animal rights groups have caused a big ruckus about the exhibition’s use of animals. As white cowboy hats were offered as part of a contest to generate buzz about the 100th anniversary of The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the Vancouver Humane Society reiterated its concerns about Calgary’s annual event. “The Stampede rodeo, as with all rodeos, involves subjecting animals to fear, pain and stress for the sake of entertainment, and we think that’s immoral,” Vancouver Humane Society spokesman Peter Fricker said, adding people shouldn’t boycott the entire exhibition—just events involving animals. But it appears many Vancouverites do not share that view. About 130 participants gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery south stairs where white hats lined the steps. After everyone found a hat to stand next to, contestants picked up the Stetsons in search of a red envelope underneath. Vancouver resident Ibrahim Alwesaly found the winning envelope. He will be flying out to Calgary in July where he’ll get free Stampede access, hotel accommodation and tickets to see Garth Brooks...more

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ariz. gov. vetoes bill that demanded federal land

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed legislation Monday that would have had the state join Utah in demanding that the federal government surrender control of millions of acres of public land. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed similar states’ rights legislation in March despite warnings from legislative attorneys that the law was probably unconstitutional. Supporters of the Arizona legislation argued that the states would be better managers of resources such as timber and minerals on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Critics called the legislation an embarrassment and said it could open the door to easing environmental protections for public land. Supporters of the Arizona bill acknowledged during legislative debate that there was little chance that Washington would actually surrender any land to the state. “I am concerned about the lack of certainty this legislation could create for individuals holding existing leases on federal lands,’’ Brewer said in a statement. “Given the difficult economic times, I do not believe this is the time to add to that uncertainty.’’ Each state’s legislation specifically includes or exempts certain types of property...more

U.S. sues Southern Nevada rancher in grazing dispute

The federal government on Monday filed a trespassing lawsuit against a Southern Nevada rancher who for years has been fighting orders that he remove his cattle from public land. A lawsuit was filed in federal court in Las Vegas by the U.S. Justice Department, Environmental and Natural Resources Division, against Cliven Bundy of Bunkerville, a town near Mesquite. The suit seeks a court order blocking Bundy's "unauthorized and unlawful grazing of livestock'' on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. Despite a court order dating to 1998 requiring Bundy to remove cattle from federal land near Bunkerville, the government contends he has failed to do so and his cattle are now trespassing in a broad territory including the Gold Butte area and lands administered by the Park Service as part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area...more

Rancher upsets favorites for Nebraska GOP Senate nod

Debra S. Fischer, a rancher and state senator from Nebraska’s sparsely-populated sand hills, upset two better-known men with experience in statewide elections, yesterday to win the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate this fall. She will face Democratic nominee Bob Kerrey, a former governor and U.S. senator who has been a university president in New York. Fischer’s come-from behind campaign was waged on a shoestring - raising $395,000 compared with $3.5 million for establishment favorite Jon Bruning, the state’s attorney general - but with last-minute backing by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and from television advertising by a “super PAC” financed by Joe Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs. Fischer came out on top with 41.1 percent, followed by Bruning with 35 percent to 19 percent for former State Treasurer and former Attorney General Don Stenberg, a “tea party” favorite who had the endorsement and financial support of Sen. Jim DeMint., R-S.C., and the Club for Growth. But Fischer had modest financial support from individual Nebraska farmers and ranchers in Nebraska, several of them giving $1,000 or more. She also had $2,500 from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, an unusual primary campaign contribution from any of the national producer political action committees that are tracked regularly by Agri-Pulse...more

Song Of The Day #836

Today's tune on Ranch Radio goes out to Tom & Judy Bahr.

The song is The Legend Of The Rebel Soldier by the bluegrass group Country Gentlemen.  The piece is from their 1972 album The Award Winning Country Gentlemen.

DOI Releases Update on Unused Oil and Gas Leases

As the Obama administration continues to make millions of acres available to for oil and gas development, a report released by the Department of the Interior shows that more than two thirds of federal offshore acreage leased by industry and more than half of federal onshore leased acreage in the lower 48 states remains idle – neither producing nor under active exploration or development by companies who hold those leases. According to the report, more than 70 percent of the tens of millions of offshore acres currently under lease are inactive, neither producing nor currently subject to approved or pending exploration or development plans. Out of nearly 36 million acres leased offshore, only about 10 million acres are active – leaving nearly 72 percent of the offshore leased area idle. In the lower 48 states, an additional 20.8 million acres, or 56 percent of onshore leased acres, remain idle. Furthermore, there are approximately 7,000 approved permits for drilling on federal and Indian lands that have not yet been drilled by companies. Press Release

And the Tulsa World reports:

...Industry groups reacted strongly to the new report, saying it was misleading and failed to explain the process required to drill once a lease is secured. They said federal agencies and outside groups opposed to drilling were responsible for much of the delay. Kathleen Sgamma, a vice president at the Western Energy Alliance, said half of the non-producing acreage is attributable to the Interior Department's “redundant regulations and bureaucratic delays.” Sgamma said some acreage would never be developed because exploration on it wouldn't be economically viable with today's technology. But, she said, “The truth is that companies are doing all they can to develop federal energy resources, but a lease is not a green light to produce — it's a definite maybe and the first step in a long, expensive process fraught with bureaucratic red tape.” In the report, the Interior Department acknowledged that activity on some leases is delayed by protests and said the Bureau of Land Management is hoping to narrow lease sales to parcels “in appropriate locations and avoid the contention and litigation that have characterized many development proposals over the past several years.” Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, said the administration last week approved drilling on leases in Utah after a four-year delay in granting permits.

Tornado hits near Magdalena

Leon Rodgers photo
In a scenario reminiscent of “The Wizard of Oz,” Magdalena residents had the odd occurrence of a tornado touching down about two miles southwest of the village Sunday afternoon. Brent Wachter of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, confirmed the reported tornado sighting, with official reports of hail averaging one inch in diameter. Magdalena Marshal Larry Cearley said the village came out unscathed. “There was no damage to property or individuals. We did experience high winds and hail approximately the size of quarters,” he said. “We were on high alert and prepared to evacuate residents to the high school or assist persons who did not wish to leave their homes to the safest location in their house — a bathtub or a room without windows.” Cearley also confirmed Rodgers’ report that the tornado touched down on Hwy. 107 and missed hitting the village proper...more

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New BLM efforts to guard Arizona National Monuments

An article in the May 8, 2012 Arizona Republic newspaper has some devastating information on National Monuments near the border with Mexico.

In  two National Monuments in southern Arizona they have recently found 160 abandoned vehicles, 110 bicycles, miles of illegal roads, 27,000 lbs. of marijuana, 24 tons of trash and "acres of plastic water bottles, coats, backpacks and other items cast off after trekking for days from the U.S.-Mexican border to rendezvous points 75 miles to the north." 

Below are some excerpts, but please read the entire article and then ask yourself:  Why would anyone ask the President to create 600,000 acres of National Monuments in southern New Mexico?

Since October, the Bureau of Land Management has expanded its operations at two national monuments in southern Arizona, trying to crack down on smugglers and illegal immigrants who trample and trash the pristine desert on their way north from Mexico. The federal agency has brought in more than a dozen law-enforcement rangers from other states to beef up patrols at the Sonoran Desert National Monument, south of Phoenix, where towering saguaro cactuses, wide-open valleys and flat-topped mountains create one of the most iconic vistas in the Sonoran Desert. The operations also have focused on the Ironwood Forest National Monument north of Tucson. Because of their remote locations and ample hiding places, the monuments have become superhighways for violent smugglers sneaking drugs and illegal immigrants from the Mexican border into Arizona. The smugglers have cast off acres of trash and created miles of illegal roads by plowing through the desert with disregard for the fragile vegetation, often using stolen vehicles that are driven until they break down and are abandoned, authorities say. During seven two-week operations, the agency's rangers have seized more than 27,000 pounds of marijuana and arrested more than 1,200 illegal immigrants, according to the BLM. That is in addition to the thousands of pounds of drugs and thousands of illegal immigrants arrested by law-enforcement authorities. The agency also has removed 60 abandoned vehicles, 110 bicycles and more than 24 tons of trash, enough to fill 1,239 garbage bags. And the agency has covered up more than 15 miles of illegal roads. But some of the agency's work to protect the pristine desert areas from smuggling activity has caused concern among conservation groups...In 2000, President Bill Clinton created the Sonoran Desert and Ironwood Forest national monuments to protect them from urban sprawl extending south from Phoenix and north from Tucson...The smugglers have carved foot trails that spider through the desert and have left behind acres of plastic water bottles, coats, backpacks and other items cast off after trekking for days from the U.S.-Mexican border to rendezvous points 75 miles to the north along I-8, the main highway smugglers use to transport drugs and illegal immigrants to stash houses in the Phoenix area or to California. "There is quite a bit of damage done by smugglers," said Thom Hulen, executive director of the Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, a group that advocates for the monument's protection. "In addition to all the damage and all the trash, (the smuggling activity) scares people away. They get spooked."...more

MICHELLE MALKIN: Report on doctored drilling ban is misleading

While the White House and the media try to distract the American public with gay-marriage talk and half-century-old tales of Mitt Romney’s prep school pranks, the inconvenient truth remains: President Barack Obama is responsible for perpetrating jaw-dropping, job-killing scientific fraud. And his minions are still trying to cover it up. New internal emails disclosed by the House Natural Resources Committee this week show that a supposedly exculpatory report on the administration’s doctored drilling moratorium analysis — issued by the Department of Interior’s Inspector General’s office — was itself incomplete, misleading and unsubstantiated. Even more damning, the documents reveal that the White House actively blocked investigators and refuses to comply with subpoenas. Now, as one senior Inspector General agent warned his bosses, “the chickens may be coming home to roost.” A quick refresher: After the BP oil spill in 2010, the White House imposed a radical six-month moratorium on America’s entire deep water drilling industry. The overbroad ban — inserted into a technical safety document in the middle of the night by Obama’s green extremists — cost an estimated 19,000 jobs and $1.1 billion in lost wages. The anti-drilling administration based its draconian order on recommendations from an expert oil spill panel. But that panel’s own members (along with the federal judiciary) called out then-eco czar Carol Browner for misleading the public about the scientific evidence and “contributing to the perception that the government’s findings were more exact than they actually were.” Browner and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar oversaw the false rewriting of the drilling ban report to completely misrepresent the Obama-appointed panel’s own overwhelming scientific objections to the job-killing edict...more

Astronaut Launches Into Space with Forest Service's Smokey Bear

When a former American school teacher, a veteran Russian space station commander, and a rookie Russian cosmonaut launched toward the International Space Station Monday, their fiery blastoff was not without a touch of irony: The trio rode a pillar of flame into orbit while carrying a toy mascot known for promoting fire safety. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin launched with Smokey (the) Bear, a toy of the mascot used by the U.S. Forest Service to promote awareness of the dangers of human-started fires. The astronaut and cosmonauts lifted off atop a Russian Soyuz TMA-04M at 11:01 p.m. EDT (0301 GMT/9:01 a.m. local time on May 15) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launch began the crew's four-month stay in space. Flying — and floating — above the crewmates' heads was the small Smokey toy, continuing a Russian custom for the crew to select a talisman and "zero-g indicator" to hang from the spacecraft's control panel. The toy began to float once they reached orbit, providing a visual clue that they were weightless and safely in space...more

Song Of The Day #835

Ranch Radio needs to liven things up around here. This will do it: Twenty Pentecostals Naked In A Pontiac by Chris Stuart & Backcountry. I think my old buddy Ness would have liked it.

The tune is on their 12 track CD Saints & Sinners.

Canada puts restrictions on horses from New Mexico

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said it will place new controls on horses entering Canada from the state of New Mexico in order to protect Canadian livestock from an outbreak of vesicular stomatitis now occurring in New Mexico.
"Effective immediately, horses originating from the state of New Mexico will not be permitted to enter Canada. Canadian horses returning from New Mexico will be allowed entry into Canada if additional import requirements are met," CFIA explained. "In addition, all horses entering Canada from the U.S. must be accompanied by official U.S. documents certifying that they have not been in New Mexico within the previous 21 days."
Canada is now free of vesicular stomatitis. The last case of the viral disease was reported in 1949.
"An outbreak of vesicular stomatitis in Canada could result in a loss of markets for live animals, meat and animal genetics," CFIA said.
More details are available on CFIA's website at

Vesicular stomatitis found in New Mexico horses

Two horses have been diagnosed with vesicular stomatitis in New Mexico. Vesicular stomatitis is a sporadically occurring virus endemic to the US. The New Mexico Livestock Board said it was working with federal authorities to limit the spread of the disease. It is the first detection of active virus for the disease in the US since June 2010. Veterinary Services of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at the US Department of Agriculture confirmed the cases on a horse ranch outside Tularosa, in Otero County. Two horses from the affected premises were sampled on April 18, after vesicular lesions were observed on both animals. The samples were sent to Veterinary Services’ National Veterinary Services Laboratories for confirmation and one of the lesioned horses met the official index case definition for the virus. Testing was completed and confirmed the virus as New Jersey serotype. In co-operation with the New Mexico Livestock Board, APHIS has started an investigation and the property is currently under quarantine. Three other unaffected horses at the property have been isolated from the positive animals...more

Wasteful U.S. public-land policy must change

Like much else in government, U.S. public-land policy is a vestige of the past, established around 1910 when America's population was just 92.2million, Nevada had only 81,000 residents and Arizona, with 200,000 people, was still a territory. Today, our needs are both much different and much greater. The United States can no longer afford to keep tens of millions of acres of "public" land locked up and out of service. Some of these lands have great commercial value; others are environmental treasures. We need policies capable of distinguishing between the two. Few Easterners realize the immense magnitude of the public lands. The federal government's holdings include about 58 million acres in Nevada, or 83 percent of the state's total land mass; 45million acres in California (45 percent of the state); 34million acres in Utah (65 percent); 33million acres in Idaho (63 percent); and more than a fourth of all the land in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming. Today, Arizona is still 45 percent federal land. Most public-land decisions are made by two federal agencies, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, and involve matters such as the number of cows that will be allowed to graze, the areas available to off-road recreational vehicles, the prevention and fighting of forest fires, the building of local roads, the amount of timber harvesting, the leasing of land for oil and gas drilling, mineral rights and other such details. Outside the rural West, most such decisions are made by private landowners or by state and local governments. In the West, Washington acts as if it knows best. Like other grand designs of the "progressive" era, public-land policy has failed the test of time...more

R.I.P. Erik Ness: Cowboy Bon Vivant

by Steve Terrell

Erik Ness, a longtime champion of the state agriculture industry, friend to politicians of every stripe, husband, father, grandfather and cowboy bon vivant, is dead.

Ness, 57, died Saturday at his home in Las Cruces following a struggle with pancreatic cancer.

Ness, who grew up in Alamogordo, attended the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University from which he graduated. He briefly worked as a reporter for KOB radio in the early 1980s.

But in 1982 he was hired by the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau to be its communications director. In that job, which he kept until his retirement in 2010, Ness served as a press spokesman, produced radio programs and wrote and edited magazine articles for the organization.

An article published after his retirement in 2010 in New Mexico Farm & Ranch, the official publication of the bureau, quoted Ness talking about the agricultural community.

“The people we work for are a colorful cast of characters,” he said. “They are real people with pioneer backgrounds, their ancestors came here in wagon trains, and that is interesting,”

Ness told the publication that through the years he’d been offered jobs in Albuquerque and Washington, D.C. but he turned them down saying, “... it is hard to hunt antelope in Albuquerque and D.C.”

His death prompted political figures to issue statements of praise.

"I had the privilege of knowing Erik for many years,” said Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday. “He was a kind and energetic person who served as a strong advocate for New Mexico's farm and ranching communities. He will be sorely missed."

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-Hobbs in a news release Monday called Ness “a good friend,” and said, “His service to the community and to the state of New Mexico and his life will long be remembered by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.”

In a phone interview Monday, Public Regulation Commissioner Pat Lyons said he’d been friends with Ness for perhaps 25 years. “He made friends with everybody,” Lyons said. ”I did some of his radio shows, maybe three or four times. They went out nationwide and got played a lot on radio stations in the Corn Belt. I’d get calls from friends in Kansas saying, “I just heard you on the radio with Erik Ness.”

But it’s not only Republicans who are mourning Ness.

Former Gov. Toney Anaya on Monday recalled that Ness — who was a staunch Democrat before he worked for the Farm Bureau — served as his campaign spokesman in 1978 when he tried to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici. “When I was governor, I appointed him to a state board,” Anaya recalled. “He remained a good friend.”

When news of his death was posted on Facebook and Twitter Saturday, two of the first people to respond were former state Democratic Chairman Brian Colón (”What a loss,” Colón tweeted. “Erik was a good man and friend to many.”) and former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez.

Chavez posted on Facebook, “He had a tremendous amount to be proud of — the tragedy is that he was just starting to blossom as a writer and musician — his real love ...”

Ness’ love for music, especially country music, was a major passion. He played guitar and wrote songs. Among his friends was singer Michael Martin Murphey, a former Taos County resident, who he helped promote.

In a telephone conversation last month, Ness was in good spirits and said he wasn’t suffering physical pain. But he said he realized his time was near.

Friends have planned a celebration of Ness’ life beginning at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the state Farm & Ranch Museum in Las Cruces.

He is survived by his wife Sharon Sumner-Ness of Las Cruces, Daughter Emily Ness Gaffney of Albuquerque, sons Erik and Garrett of Las Cruces, one grandchild and another on the way.

Originally Posted at Terrell's Roundhouse Roundup blog.

From Enemies To Allies

Erik and I started out as enemies.  He was trying to place me among the unemployed.  You see I was an aide to Senator Domenici when Erik was doing his best to have Toney Anaya replace Domenici in the Senate.  Thank goodness for New Mexico, and I believe for Erik, he was unsuccessful.

When I heard the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau had hired Erik, I thought "What on earth are they doing?"  Well, Bob Porter knew what he was doing and we've all benefited from his decision.

Slowly but surely, Erik and I learned to trust each other and to eventually become close friends.  A few cold beers and our mutual love for music sealed the deal.

I soon learned that behind that sometimes outward appearance of buffoonery was a huge talent.   Erik won national awards for documentaries, photos, radio spots, public relations, feature story, commentary and many others that I can't recall.

On a personal level, he was a great help to People For Preserving Our Western Heritage, producing the award winning documentary How The West Was Lost, which was also featured on RFD TV.

And I will always remember his important help in establishing the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.  Due to his many contacts, Erik was able to produce radio spots supporting the scholarship from the likes of Michael Martin Murphey, Baxter Black and Don Edwards.  He also used his influence with the local broadcast community to obtain air time for the radio spots.  Many student-athletes have benefited from this program, and a great deal of it's success was due to Erik's efforts.

I will miss his quirky sense of humor, his friendship, his creativity and his professional advice, and ag producers everywhere will miss this master communicator.

Adios mi amigo.

Western legislatures grab for control of public lands

In late April, Arizona's Legislature approved a bill demanding that Washington, D.C., give the state control over most of its federal land. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a similar measure in March. These bills are, of course, highly unlikely to result in any actual transfer of land; most legal experts think they'll prove unconstitutional, and decades of Supreme Court decisions firmly support federal oversight of certain lands. The rhetoric behind the measures is all about states' rights, but they would also boost corporate access to Western natural resources. "This push is driven by the fossil fuel industry," says Pete Maysmith, executive director of Colorado Conservation Voters, "and it's been fascinating to see ALEC and its agenda and funders more exposed." ALEC –– the American Legislative Exchange Council –– is funded by major corporations, such as Koch Industries, ExxonMobil and Shell Oil Co. Nationwide, about 2,000 state legislators are members of the conservative policy group, which furnishes them with model bills, including the template for the current measures. ALEC also supplied language for an unsuccessful 1995 federal Sagebrush Rebellion Act that sought to transfer 422,200 square miles to the states. The first land-transfer efforts began much earlier, in 1929-'30, spurred by anger over grazing fee hikes. Later Sagebrush Rebellion skirmishes, in 1979-'80 and in 1995-'97, forced federal agencies to collaborate more with locals on land management. Now, the Arizona Legislature demands that the feds relinquish some 48,000 square miles, roughly the area of Pennsylvania, by 2014, while Utah asserts ownership of about 47,000 square miles. (At press time, Gov. Jan Brewer had yet to sign or veto the Arizona bill.) In Colorado, a bill seeking control of 36,000 square miles recently failed. The bills exclude national parks, Indian reservations and military bases. A handful of other states are said to be contemplating similar measures for next year. "What we envision," says state Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, the primary sponsor of Arizona's bill, "is all of the Western states going before the Supreme Court to force this issue."...more

Editorial - GAO To Obama: More Oil Than Rest Of The World

The Government Accountability Office tells Congress the Green River Formation out West contains an "amount about equal to the entire world's proven oil reserves." So why are we keeping it locked up on federal lands?

Exploding the Big Lie pushed by President Obama that we can't drill our way out of high gas prices because we have but 2% of the world's proven oil reserves, Anu Mittal, GAO director of natural resources and environment, testified before Congress last week that just one small part of the U.S. is capable of outproducing the rest of the planet.

That small part is known as the Green River Formation, the world's largest oil shale deposit, and is located in a largely vacant region of mostly federal land on the western edge of the Rocky Mountains that includes portions of Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.

As we have written in our "Oil And Gas/Fact And Fiction" series, the Green River Formation has been dubbed our Persia on the Plains, an area with technically recoverable oil in an amount estimated at four times the proven resources of Saudi Arabia.

Given that current U.S. daily oil consumption is running at 19.5 million barrels, the staggering amount of Green River reserves would by itself supply domestic oil consumption for more than 200 years. That sure blows the heck out of the "peak oil" theory that the world is running out of oil.

According to Mittal's testimony before the House science subcommittee on energy and the environment, the U.S. Geological Survey "estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions."

According to the president's bizarre formulation, this oil does not count as a "proven" reserve because little drilling has been done. There is a reason for that. As Mittal testified: "The federal government is in a unique position to influence the development of oil shale because 72% of the oil shale within the Green River Formation lies beneath federal lands managed by BLM (Bureau of Land Management)."

The Obama administration also is in a unique position to block shale oil development. And while it says we can't drill our way to energy independence, it blocks drilling wherever it can. When it can't, as in the Bakken Formation centered on North Dakota, the economy booms and joblessness falls as oil is extracted from shale on private and state lands.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Four Corners residents want national monument status for Chimney Rock

Comments from more than 100 Four Corners residents who want Chimney Rock designated as a national monument now head to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s desk for consideration after a local meeting Friday. The U.S. Forest Service convened a public meeting in Pagosa Springs to hear from people on whether to designate the 4,700-acre archeological site. The hearing was also attended by Sen. Michael Bennet, Pagosa Mayor Ross Aragon, members of the Archuleta County Board of Commissioners and area tribal leaders from the Southern Ute and Zuni Pueblo tribes. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, was also there. The area can be designated through a presidential proclamation or an act of Congress. The area could still be used for hunting, cattle grazing and tribal activities. “The clear message from the local community is that they just want this done—whether through legislation or through presidential proclamation, they want to see this site get the protection and recognition it deserves” Bennet said, in a statement. “I’m grateful for all the comments we heard, and I look forward to continuing to work with the U.S. Forest Service and in the Senate so we can get this done for Southwest Colorado.”...more

Forest Service planning for global warming

A few modest features distinguish the trunk of the limber pine standing among the trees near abandoned beaver ponds: a white, plastic pouch attached by a removable staple, a numerical metal tag secured with an aluminum nail and a printed warning: “Pouches on trees to repel mountain pine beetles. Pouches contain chemicals. Do Not Touch-Do Not Remove.” The conifer, with its accoutrements, represents a small salvo in the battle against a beetle infestation, fueled partly by warmer temperatures. But it is also a larger symbol of how researchers from the Forest Service — in concert with National Park Service officials and other scientists — are working to steel high-elevation pine forests in the West against the onslaught of climate change. Scientists know that global warming will reshape these forests, which provide crucial habitat and food for key species, curb soil erosion and slow melting snow destined for local water supplies. What they don’t yet understand is which trees are best poised to survive under these changed conditions and how they can help them adapt in the decades to come. Global warming could affect everything from national forests’ and grasslands’ vegetation to their stream flows, and the agency has a comprehensive plan to deal with it. Managers must keep a performance score card on everything from how educated staff are on climate change to how much carbon is stored in trees and vegetation in their areas. They’ve started planting some species at higher elevations, such as yellow cedar in Alaska, and near river banks to lower stream temperatures. And they’ve launched a pilot project to assess the vulnerability of watersheds in a dozen national forests...more

Obama Campaign Quietly Adds ‘Clean Coal’ to Energy Policy Website

After coming under fire for its consistent hostility to the coal industry, the Obama campaign quietly adjusted its energy policy website to include “clean coal” among the president’s energy initiatives. The energy policy page of now includes a section for “clean coal,” claiming the stimulus package “invested substantially in carbon capture and sequestration research.” But until recently, that page made no mention of coal. Its Google cache shows a section for “energy efficiency” where “clean coal” now appears. The change comes mere days after Obama lost 41% of the vote in the Democratic primary in West Virginia – a state heavily reliant on the coal industry – to a convicted felon and current federal inmate. The chairman of the WV Democratic Party blamed Obama’s poor showing on his stance on coal energy. “A lot of folks here have real frustration with this administration’s stance on coal and energy,” said state Democratic chairman Larry Puccio. “They are frustrated and they are upset, and they wanted to send Obama a message.” Critics were quick to point out the disconnect between the president’s self-styled “all of the above” energy policy and a platform that did not include the largest source of American electricity...more

The Desert Southwest: Oasis or Mirage?

The American West has a drinking problem. On farms and in cities, we are guzzling water at an alarming rate. Scientists say that to live sustainably, we should use no more than 40 percent of the water from the Colorado River Basin. As it is now, we use 76 percent, nearly double the sustainable benchmark. The water supports the populations of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming, providing for agriculture and cities. With a changing climate and continued population growth, increasing demand for water may make this vital resource increasingly scarce. There are some safeguards in place against water scarcity. The reservoir Lakes Mead and Powell can provide approximately five years of average annual stream flow at full capacity for insurance against low rainfall years. Also, to our detriment, there is a culture dedicated to creating an oasis in the Southwest’s arid environment. Most of the West’s water falls in the mountains, where it slowly melts, We collect it and then spread it thin across the deserts. Moving water from wet areas to dry areas makes people feel safe, according to Sabo. Regardless of how much our lawns guzzle, the largest use of water isn’t in urban areas but in agriculture. Farming uses 77 percent of the water allocated for human use in Arizona, according to the Morrison Institute for Public Policy’s publication “Watering the Sun Corridor.”...more

LA Times: Corruption flows freely along U.S.-Mexico border

COLUMBUS, N.M. — From a small hill at a state park here, the border town of Palomas, Mexico, can be made out through the desert haze. It lies four miles to the south, but the corruption that roils Palomas and the rest of Northern Mexico may as well be a block away. Last year, black sedans and hatchbacks loaded with federal agents poured into Columbus, a town of 2,000 people, arresting the mayor, the police chief, a city trustee and nine others. They have all pleaded guilty in a gun-smuggling operation that sold about 100 firearms, mostly assault rifles, to Mexican drug cartels. "Unfortunately, the border is just one vast conspiracy," said Howard Anderson, the lawyer for former Mayor Eddie Espinoza. In southern Texas over the last year and a half, nine lawmen have been charged with allowing guns or drugs to illegally cross the border between Laredo and Brownsville. In Sunland Park, N.M., authorities are investigating a dozen officials, and the mayor and city manager have left office. In the last eight years, 130 U.S. Border Patrol agents have been arrested and 600 more are under investigation. "It all comes down to taking some of the lowest-paid public servants and putting them in a position" where salaries can be doubled, said James Phelps, an assistant professor at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. "The likelihood of getting caught is extremely low, and the reward can be very high." Javier Lozano used to work as a police officer in Palomas. Now he presides as municipal judge in Columbus. He long suspected that eventually Columbus or some other U.S. border town would be tarnished. Unless the cartel violence is stopped, he warned, more U.S. communities within eyesight of Mexico will be disgraced. At Columbus City Hall, the new mayor, Nicole Lawson, said almost everyone in town was related to someone in Palomas. Americans live in Palomas because it is cheaper, and they can drive to Columbus for school and healthcare. Like Lozano, she had worried about when her hometown would be compromised. The border? "That's just a line in the air," she said...more

The Left-Wing Movement to Hijack Kosher Food

Orthodox Jews, as well as vegans and allergy sufferers, know that a Kosher certification label on food means that it complies with religious dietary laws. For example a Kosher product marked as “dairy” will not have meat ingredients in it. But to the left, Kosher food represents an untapped opportunity to use as a Trojan horse for imposing their social agenda. And the vehicle for that agenda is “Tav HaYosher” a form of certification that describes itself as “Kosher,” but is actually a union label in disguise. The group pushing this seal, Uri L’Tzedek, describes itself as an Orthodox social justice organization, but is actually a left-wing group closely interlocked with the Soros-backed Jewish Funds for Justice. Its model is to declare boycotts against Jewish companies for failing to comply with union demands while offering its political “seal of approval” to restaurants and supermarkets that are willing to knuckle under to them. Uri L’Tzedek dresses up the thuggish tactics of the secular left in religious garb and calls its community organizers “rabbis” in order to be able to better shake down Jewish establishments, but there’s no more religion here than in the similar antics of the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton. Staging a boycott of a company for political offenses and then offering “protection” to other companies with the boycotter’s own social justice certification is an old game and it helped hucksters like Jesse Jackson build an empire. Now Uri L’Tzedek is one of several left-wing groups misrepresenting the social justice certifications from its “compliance officers” as a religious function and wrongly associating its union label with Kosher certification...more

What this country needs...

Song Of The Day #834

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here is Cow Bop with I'm Afraid of Cows.

The tune is on their 12 track CD Swingin' Out West.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Down and dirty at the carwash
By Julie Carter

Today I drove by the car wash in town and predictably, there was one bay full of mud clods the size of a small dog. I smiled to myself and thought, “ranch pickup.”

However, since it hasn’t rained in months, I had to wonder what was the source of the mud? Pipeline leak, no doubt.

This is one of those do-it-yourself car washes, where a handful of quarters allow for a sudsy brushing, power spray and if it’s working, a light waxing coat for a finisher.

Rural community car washes get a slightly different clientele than those in the metro areas. It’s not uncommon to see a pickup with a stock trailer in tow pulled into one of the bays and everything, including the livestock, is getting a good wash down.

I didn’t always have access to the quarter brand of vehicle bathing, so when I did venture to the big city, always at the top of my very long list of errands and shopping demands was a trip through a car wash.

I would head directly to one where they would vacuum, dust, wash, polish, and then top it off with my choice of one of 10 flavors of smell good. For those that live where this amenity is a way of life, there would be no understanding of the feeling of “royalty” that came with this luxury.

I would gleefully turn the vehicle over to the guy with the vacuum cleaner and wander down the hall to the waiting room. While paying the attendant for the service, I would try to make polite conversation. Apparently that is a lost art in the city because she or he rarely seemed interested.

Waiting for my truck to come by the viewing window offered time for my favorite sport of people watching. It is the absolute best entertainment when in the city. 

Quickly I realized I was quite underdressed for the city car wash scene. My Western boots and cowgirl denims paled next to the girl who had arrived in a sports car. She was dressed in black leather pants, sparkly sequined top and red five-inch spiked heels to complete her ensemble. The amazing part –it was only noon on a Tuesday.

Validating my feelings of inadequacy offered up by my country couture, the manager came in and told me there was still quite a bit of mud in the wheel wells of the pickup. “We’ll have to run it through a second time,” he said. I wasn’t sure if his tone indicated disgust, amazement, pity or some of all.

I thanked him and sat back down thinking I’d probably have to find a different car wash next time I was in town. I could easily imagine the closed sign arriving quickly in the window were I ever to return.

How do you explain to the folks in the city, specifically at the carwash, that to the country folk, mud is like gold? We take a lot of pride in showing off our mud and congratulate each other on the good fortune to have it.

So to all of you who find your life at the end of a dirt road. May the mud be with you.

Julie can be reached for comment at

The Pegasus Syndrome

Dona Ana Environmentalism
The Pegasus Syndrome
Train Wreck!
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Pegasus City, a futuristic laboratory in the form of an American city, will test next generation innovations and technologies. It will cost $1B to build. It will provide 350 full time jobs and it will create 3200 indirect jobs. The decision came down to choose one of two very different New Mexico cities, Las Cruces or Hobbs, for the project. The rest is now history …
The headline in the Las Cruces SunNews read “Pegasus chooses Hobbs for $1B mock city”. The mayor of Las Cruces, Ken Miyagishima, was quoted as saying, “In the end, I was told it was a business decision.”
            Mr. Mayor, the decision was indeed … a business decision.
            The basics
            In another article, the president of New Mexico State University (NMSU), Barbara Couture, was featured. The theme was the dilemma the university faces in its athletic conference alignment problems. In particular, only one school, the University of Idaho, stands steadfast in its commitment to remain aligned with NMSU in football play.
            President Couture’s answers were necessarily positive. Reading between the lines, however, is the fact the university and the region compete for state funding, taxpayer money, for all endeavors. That includes trying to compete with the bigger boys on the block. As long as that situation exists, NMSU may seek entrance to a bigger game, but it will be from back of the line.
            Hobbs operates under a different model. Their approach can be witnessed in those lush oases sister destinations, Midland, Odessa, and Lubbock. Oh, yes, the oil revenues may be important, but isn’t that wonderful?
            Something much bigger is at play than just oil. It is a world that opts for the pursuit of life not on the basis of trolling for revenues in state houses and Washington, but on the basis of private enterprise, personal risk, and trust in the human spirit.
            Too much of New Mexico has no understanding of that alternative. Hobbs does.
Should we start with comparisons? Should we array the natural wonders of Lea County with the natural wonders of Dona Ana County, shall we match numbers of flights from Houston daily to Hobbs and Las Cruces, or shall we match the daily occupancy of motels demanded by service contractors?
            The truth is there isn’t a natural resource advantage other than oil that exists between the towns. Valid arguments can be made that the southern Rio Grande region exceeds all aspects except oil. Transportation advantages, surface water resources, relative costs of labor, tourism preferences, and most outdoor recreational pursuits accrue to Las Cruces.
            When recruiting a kid to play collegiate ball in the greater area who has the advantage? On face value, Las Cruces should, but there is no substance in that sale.
Texas Tech and its cousins don’t need to seek the allegiance of the likes of Idaho. In fact, if there are threats of withdrawing tax moneys, odds are those Permian Basin Regents would suggest government keep its addictive green substance of abuse, and … still field teams that take national powers to the woodshed!
The comparisons are complicated and simplistic, but the prevailing leadership in Las Cruces seems to have no allegiance to such independence of thoughts and deeds. The outcome does have implications, and … they are profound.
Pegasus will be interesting to watch as they begin their future with Hobbs and that region. Will they succeed? The answer may be seen in their past successes. They were one of the pioneering forces in unmanned flight technology. It is real … as is Pegasus.
Robert Brumley, CEO of the Center of Innovation, Testing and Evaluation (CITE - Pegasus Globlal Holdings), offers a glimpse of the personality of the company. With ties to conservative politics, Mr. Brumley once worked for one of two cowboys he claims to have known personally.
Malcolm Baldrige, President Reagan’s Secretary of Commerce, was Bob’s boss in Washington. It was “Mac” who, on a whim, diverted to a weekend roping while he was on a government business trip to California. He died when the horse he was riding fell over backwards and drove a saddle horn into his chest. It was a tragic accident, but Mac, laying there in that arena, took full responsibility.
It was Mac who instilled in Bob there are things that are worth fighting for and individual human responsibility is one of the most important. That factor played into the Hobbs decision.
Like Mac, his approach is to address only the positives. “Ultimately, we determined Hobbs and Lea County was the best fit for CITE based on the available land, infrastructure and breadth of community support that is required for this type of project,” Mr. Brumley’s press release indicated. He could say more, but his allegiance and priority is his project … not politics.
The Dona Ana aftermath
The Dona Ana chapter of the Pegasus project can only be described as a train wreck. The loss of a $1B project cannot be explained away regardless of the words. The fact is Dona Ana County is running the risk of signaling it is a wasteland of business opportunity. That image is not becoming.
The current problem is the relentless attempt to designate National Monument, or Wilderness, or National Conservation Area, or Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, or any other creative federal restrictive measures on the landscape, but the end game is the reduction of historical land uses driven by the environmental agenda. The Pegasus failure highlighted the fact there is no measure that can isolate such liberal leanings from the greater economic engine that drives the community.
For six years, the county has been the testing ground to escalate the political measures to accomplish such ends. If there is blame it must start with Congressional representation that did not do what was best for the greater community rather than what their polarized constituency demanded, but … congressional representation is not the only complicity.
Every local governing body with progressive dominance has been party to the effort. The mayor, the city council, the Dona Ana County Commission, and current and past state representatives have direct and indirect ties to the environmental movement. In fact, every voter should remember that only one state representative, Hatch’s Andy Nunez, stepped up to demand a bigger debate to resolve the environmental land grab issue.
New Mexico agency directorships are not exempt from the debacle, either. In particular, State Land Office directorships have allowed the matter of state trust lands within the footprints of the various proposals to lapse in limbo.
In the recent proposal there are at least 80 sections of trust lands that will become landlocked if the measure is successful. With tight budgets, those lands are a matter of fiduciary responsibility not political philosophy.
Taxpayers should expect and receive aggressive agency action in the protection of trust land values in federal land schemes before they are orchestrated … not after the fact. It is not acceptable to defer to the future the disposition of lands in such immense federal actions.
Pegasus is the ultimate perfect storm example. The Hobbs location is the most expensive location for the project, but it is the far safer alternative. For starters, the cost of entry includes the purchase of private land as compared to the lesser entry costs of leases in the Dona Ana alternative.
Governor Susana Martinez offered praise for the project on behalf of New Mexico. She had to, but the state’s contribution to the uncertainty of the Dona Ana process cost the state dearly.
The state will collect annual commercial rents on 1000 acres of Lea County trust lands. They would have collected revenues on 15,000 acres in Dona Ana. The Commissioner’s willingness to support agenda philosophy ultimately left Pegasus in an untenable position, and … hurt the state’s educational coffers.
The unknowns
Robert Brumley is a gentleman who will not and cannot get immersed and bogged down in back stories. What can be discerned is that Dona Ana County did not offer the business welcome that the stark flatlands of eastern New Mexico did.
What was most devastating was the glaring headline surprise that raked the county in the late decision process when the site selection was down to two alternatives. The heretofore secret plan to usher in 600,000 acres of national monument by presidential proclamation does have ramifications! Quick business due diligence revealed there was not a monument in the system that had an industrial park within its footprint! Any good businessman would be forced to take a deep breath, and … make a decision.
In retrospect, it is not known what Pegasus thinks of regional football programs, but, rest assured … Hobbs and the Tech Kingdom will learn.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Pegasus’ sentimental choice was Dona Ana County. The greatest loss may well be the plans to marry endeavors of heritage with future discoveries. Our community loss is profound.”

THE WESTERNER sez: You can see my take on this, written before the official announcement, by going to On Pegasus & National Monuments.