Saturday, September 08, 2012

OpenDrive is not working right now, so no Radio Theater.

Salazar Exaggerates Obama’s Record on Energy Production

...But even production increases on federal lands, such as those touted by Salazar as part of the reason for the reduced oil importing figures do not comport with the facts available, which show that oil production on federal lands has decreased between fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011 by 11 percent. Natural gas production has decreased by 6 percent in the same one-year span. It is down nearly 27 percent from fiscal 2009. Meanwhile, oil and gas production have increased by 14 percent and 12 percent, respectively, on private and state-owned land. Moreover, even as Salazar mocked a “drill, baby, drill” approach to domestic production, the EIA noted that it was increased production from drilling in “deepwater Gulf of Mexico and the Bakken formation [that] brought decades of contraction in domestic oil production to a sudden halt, and even led to a rebound.” Yet the administration has remained resistant to projects like the Keystone XL pipeline. On an his watch, Salazar made the controversial decision to cancel 77 leases in Utah after they had already been sold at an auction in December 2008. Salazar boasted that solar and wind energy had more than doubled since Obama took office, but EIA numbers from 2009 to 2011, the last full year available, show that the solar and wind contribution to the production of energy has only increased from 10.7 percent to 14.5 percent as a total of all renewable energy. When it comes to overall energy production from all sources, the share of solar and wind has increased from 1.1 percent to 1.7 percent...more

Salazar’s convention speech rapped for leaving ‘coal’ out of energy mix

When Interior Secretary Ken Salazar touted an “all-of-the-above energy strategy” during a speech to the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, he listed a litany of power sources. Oil got a nod, as did natural gas, nuclear and hydropower. Renewable wind, geothermal and solar also netted specific mentions. But “coal” didn’t make Salazar’s list. Coal backers say it’s the latest evidence that the Obama administration doesn’t back the fossil fuel. It comes after a similar omission on President Barack Obama’s campaign website this spring, which was later revised to include clean coal. Additionally, during an August briefing, White House press secretary Jay Carney didn’t mention coal when he referred to the administration’s “all-of-the-above” energy policy...more

Friday, September 07, 2012

Obama, EPA actions make cap-and-trade more likely

President Obama’s use of executive authority and his Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) interpretation of existing laws might have laid the groundwork for renewed cap-and-trade efforts, political experts said Wednesday. The courts have approved many of the EPA’s pollution regulations, giving Obama license to propose new rules, former EPA Administrator Carol Browner said during a Politico-hosted panel discussion at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. She explained those court victories have created momentum that might make industry-specific cap-and-trade plans more palatable than the prospect of facing new regulations. Though comprehensive cap-and-trade legislation might be off the table for now, Browner said that dynamic opens opportunities for piecemeal progress on cap-and-trade. “I think we will look at this sector by sector,” she said. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who co-authored cap-and-trade legislation that passed the House of Representatives in 2009 but died in the Senate, said changing realities make it possible for a variation of his massive bill to surface. He pointed to increasing installations of renewable electricity capacity, recently finalized fuel economy standards and U.S. carbon dioxide emissions hitting a 20-year low as developments that would soften the impact of cap-and-trade.  “It creates a climate where there’s a business community that’s on our side,” Markey said...more

NM regulators to consider clean energy standard

New Mexico regulators on Thursday set the stage for a discussion that could result in a novel program aimed at curbing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The Public Regulation Commission agreed to schedule workshops to consider a proposal that would allow electric utilities to voluntarily opt to reduce carbon emissions from their generating stations by 3 percent a year starting as soon as 2014. Western Resource Advocates filed the proposal on behalf of 33 environmental groups. Under the plan, utilities would be able to recover the costs associated with compliance. "We just wanted to get the discussion going," said Steve Michel, chief counsel for Western Resource Advocates. The idea, Michel said, was to come up with a program that offers a moderate path to emissions reductions but is still aggressive enough to address climate change. He acknowledged that utilities felt threatened by the mandates approved during former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson's administration to control greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico...more

Fight over wild wolves reignited by plan to kill as many as 4

Marksmen and trappers returned to the woods of northeast Washington this week, hoping to kill more of the gray wolves that have been taking down a ranch's cows. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife sharpshooters are armed with orders to take out up to four of the protected predators in the so-called Wedge Pack, which straddles the Canadian border in Stevens County. But after a grueling summer of losses for a pair of cattlemen already hostile to Canis lupus — and a maddening month for wildlife advocates suspicious that ranchers also want to stoke anti-wolf fever — few think that will resolve this festering standoff. Five years after wild wolves began returning to Washington, a long-simmering conflict between wolves and livestock has exploded with a vengeance. And by most accounts it couldn't have happened in a worse place. "I don't know that I'd call this the perfect storm, but we have a substantial problem," said Phil Anderson, director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Since midsummer, at least 12 cows or calves belonging to Diamond M Ranch owners Len McIrvin and his son, Bill McIrvin, have been killed or injured — two of them just this week. While outside experts aren't convinced all were attacked by wolves, some clearly were. The senior McIrvin, whose family has grazed cattle on public and private land in northeast Washington for more than a century, has long expressed disdain for wolves. He has been unwilling to accept compensation for his dead animals, fearing that would legitimize the predator's protection. At times he has urged state and local politicians to do what they can to make sure the entire pack is wiped out. "Wolves have never been compatible with raising livestock," McIrvin said in an interview. "They have no enemy other than man, disease and hunger, and we've taken man out of the equation." His son, Bill McIrvin, on the other hand, has shown more willingness to find a way to coexist with wolves, but with each passing week his pessimism mounts. "I'd like to find common ground, but at this point it doesn't look good," the younger McIrvin said Thursday. "We just can't operate with the kind of losses we're seeing." Meanwhile, some wildlife organizations, fueled by the elder McIrvin's intransigence, and concerns that the state is responding to political pressure he's whipped up, are pressuring the state to avoid killing wolves...more

Wolf's recovery seen in livestock loss payouts

Minnesota paid out a record $154,136 to residents whose livestock or pets were killed by wolves in the past year, part of a gradual upward trend also seen in Wisconsin and Michigan — all states where the gray wolf came off the endangered list in January. The claims provide further evidence that wolves are thriving in the Upper Midwest, even as animal rights groups protest plans for wolf hunting seasons this fall in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where state officials say populations have recovered enough to support limited hunting. Minnesota, which has the largest wolf population in the lower 48 states at around 3,000, plans to allow hunters and trappers to take 400 wolves in a season that begins Nov. 3. Wisconsin's season is due to start Oct. 15 with a quota of 201, though a legal challenge there remains unresolved. Michigan hasn't set a sport wolf hunting season so far but its Department of Natural Resources is supporting a bill to do so. The growth in wolf populations since they went on the endangered list in the 1970s is one reason livestock loss claims are up. Geir Friisoe, who oversees the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's compensation program, said another reason lately is higher livestock prices...more

Rancher sues USDA, others over alleged favoritism to large cattle producers

Catholic rancher Mike Callicrate, a St. Mary Cathedral parishioner, is the plaintiff in a lawsuit in federal district court in Kansas City against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Cattlemens’ Beef Board (CBB) and other entities. The lawsuit alleges that money collected from cattle ranchers to improve the marketing of beef to U.S. consumers is actually used to lobby for policies harmful to family farmers. “My money’s being used against me, and I want it to stop,” said Callicrate, who operates the Ranch Foods Direct store and home delivery service in Colorado Springs, on Aug. 15 during an interview on AgriTalk radio. The focus of the lawsuit is money raised through the beef checkoff program, which was established in 1986. For every head of cattle brought to market, $1 is paid by the seller to the Beef Industry Council, which in turn goes to the Centennial (Colo.)-based National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). In his lawsuit, Callicrate claims that the NCBA’s management of checkoff funds has not improved market share for cattle producers, citing a decline in domestic cattle operations. He further alleges that the checkoff program, as it is currently operated, favors large conglomerates at the expense of small, independent cattle ranchers by advocating for “an industrial model of beef production, processing and distribution — harming both producers and consumers.” Callicrate’s ranching operation, located in St. Francis, Kan., eschews the use of hormones and antibiotics in raising cattle and uses grass feed, as opposed to corn. Forest Roberts, CEO of the NCBA, told AgriTalk that the lawsuit was a “complete distraction and a waste of time and energy” during an already-difficult time for the beef industry caused by drought conditions. He also questioned the relationship between the Organization for Competitive Markets, of which Callicrate is president, and the Humane Society of the United States, which in the past has been at odds with the cattle industry and is accused by some in the industry of having a goal of stopping the consumption of beef altogether. However, Callicrate said the Humane Society does not have a vegan or vegetarian agenda and simply wants to improve the way animals are treated. “I’m in complete alignment with their philosophy that animals should be treated humanely,” Callicrate told AgriTalk during the interview...more

Song Of The Day #924

Ranch Radio's mom really enjoyed the Tennessee Ernie Ford & Kay Starr tune I'll Never Be Free.  So mom, here they are again with Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

American Prairie Reserve & the changing face of Montana

Last month, the grassland conservation group American Prairie Reserve more than doubled its holdings in northeastern Montana when it purchased the 150,000-acre South Ranch from the Page Whitham Land and Cattle partnership for an undisclosed sum. The transaction had been rumored in the Glasgow area for months. It didn't sit well with some local ranchers, who view APR's continued acquisition of family ranches as an erosion of Montana's ranching heritage. APR's long term goal is to establish a three-million-acre grassland preserve to accommodate scores of species, including up to 10,000 free-roaming bison. "We're not just a bison conservation project," says APR managing director Pete Geddes. But given South Ranch's roots in the bison hunting industry of the 19th century, the reintroduction effort makes this spread a somewhat fitting purchase. Geddes describes the Page spread as "a key piece" in APR's jigsaw puzzle. The property is not only massive but lies on the northern flank of the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, believed by conservationists and state agents to be a potential home for a new wild bison herd in Montana. In assembling a contiguous landscape just over the refuge boundary, APR is setting itself up as a major future player in large-scale bison restoration. The fences aren't going to drop overnight, though. As part of the recent acquisition, APR is leasing back grazing rights on South Ranch to the Page family for up to 12 years, a common practice in APR's private purchases. Although South Ranch will be subject to some immediate habitat protections, Geddes says, "I don't want to give the impression that overnight this turns into a conservation Garden of Eden, because it doesn't." APR has already accumulated roughly 123,000 acres of deeded or leased public land throughout the area. Much of that land has come through private purchases of family ranches...more

Third Yosemite visitor dies of hantavirus; eight now infected

Two more cases of hantavirus have been linked to Yosemite National Park, including one that resulted in the death of a West Virginia resident, officials announced Thursday. Three people have now died of the rare, rodent-borne disease after visiting the park this summer; five others have been sickened. Yosemite officials announced the two additional cases; the death was confirmed by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department in West Virginia, which said that a Kanawha County resident who visited the park "in recent months" died of the disease. Yosemite officials previously traced the cases to the "signature tent cabins" in the park's popular Curry Village campground, saying a design flaw allowed mice to get inside the walls of the insulated cabins. But Thursday, park officials said that although seven of the cases had been linked to the cabins, one was believed to have originated in the High Sierra Camps, a different area of the park...more

Conundrum Hot Springs cabin left to crumble in wilderness

It's unlikely there will be people partying or cows dying in the old cabin near Conundrum Hot Springs any longer. The U.S. Forest Service removed the tin roof from the structure over the course of the summer and recently finished the job, according to Andrew Larson, lead wilderness ranger in the Aspen-Sopris District. For now, the plan is to allow the wooden frame of the cabin to deteriorate in the harsh weather at 11,200 feet in elevation. The cabin gained notoriety last winter when it was discovered that six cows froze to death inside after apparently seeking shelter during a snowstorm. The cows were among 29 that wandered into the Conundrum Valley from the Crested Butte side of the Continental Divide. They wandered off a Gunnison-area rancher's grazing allotment for unknown reasons. The rancher's efforts to find them, by air and ground, were unsuccessful. Long before the cow catastrophe, Forest Service officials debated what to do with the cabin, which once served as a guard station at the popular hot springs. While the cabin was once the guard station in pre-wilderness days, it's now considered “an attractive nuisance” by the Forest Service, said Scott Snelson, Aspen-Sopris District ranger. It's been out of character since the Maroon Bells Wilderness Area was created in 1964 and detracts from the wilderness experience, he said. Designated wilderness areas are supposed to have a minimal amount of human-built structures. The cabin has plenty of fans. An informal group called Friends of Conundrum Hot Springs has lobbied the Forest Service over the years not to destroy the structure. Members argue, among other things, that the cabin has provided welcome shelter in high-altitude storms. It's also hosted a fair number of slumber parties...more

As long as it was humans seeking shelter the Forest Service was willing to let nature take it's course, but let a few cows in there and they rush to rip the roof off.

Hope to see the day we're rippin' the roofs off of Forest Service buildings.

Work to keep cattle away from creeks seeks to improve water quality

The Point Reyes National Seashore and West Marin ranchers are joining forces to build fences, crossings and other projects to keep cattle away from creeks in an effort to improve water quality. Heavy winter rains sometimes force pollutants — including animal waste and sediment — into creeks that flow into Tomales Bay and other areas. That muddies water and can send pathogen counts skyrocketing above state standards, hurting water quality and forcing closure of shellfish operations. Species such as coho salmon, steelhead trout and freshwater shrimp, along with harbor seals, brown pelicans, red-legged frogs and snowy plovers, thrive in the West Marin watershed and are affected by water quality. By keeping cattle away from waterways near Tomales Bay, above Duxbury Reef in Bolinas and the Point Reyes Headlands, officials hope to see water quality improve...more

Just wondering: Do fish shit?

Western Cattlemen Sue WTO & USDA

Western ranchers sued the World Trade Organization in Federal Court, challenging its power to rule, as it did, that the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling Act discriminates against foreign meat. Made in the USA Foundation, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers Association, and Melonhead (a meat and vegetable distributor), sued the WTO, the United States and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. Country of Origin Labeling Act, aka COOL, requires all fresh produce, meat, chicken and fish to be labeled to reveal its country of origin. The COOL Act, signed in 2002, led Canada and Mexico to file complaints with the WTO. Three WTO representatives, from Portugal, Pakistan and Switzerland, found that COOL violated the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and "imposes discriminatory burdens on meat imported from Canada and Mexico," according to the complaint. The WTO's Appellate Body affirmed the decision, finding that COOL, "particularly in regard to the muscle cut meat labels, is inconsistent with Article 2.1 of the TBT Agreement [Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement] because it accords less favorable treatment to imported livestock than to like domestic stock." The cattlemen-plaintiffs object. "The Country of Origin Labeling Act is not a barrier to trade of any kind," the complaint states. "It was passed to give consumers information about where agricultural products came from. Consumers could choose not to buy raspberries from Guatemala because of a bacterial problem there, or could refuse to buy Canadian beef because of a Mad Cow disease problem there." The cattlemen also claim that the Uruguay Round Agreement, signed into law by President Clinton in 1994, states that U.S. law prevails in any trade conflict between the U.S. and other countries...more

Western landscape art exhibit at Eagle Library

Visitors to the Eagle Public Library will see some familiar landscapes in the September art exhibit in the community room. The featured artist is the late Frank Foster Gates who grew up on the family ranch at Burns (northwest Eagle County) homesteaded by his father, George Albert “Bert” Gates in 1890. Gates' artistic specialty was painting landscape photos of the country he knew and loved. Ranching was a hardscrabble life. He maintained irrigation ditches, grew hay and raised cattle for market. He and his wife, Goldie, raised five children and also took in Goldie's three younger siblings after their mother's untimely death. Frank and Goldie bought the family ranch in 1937. The Gates family still ranches the property today. Frank Gates is remembered as a strong, kind and gentle man with a good sense of humor. He could work all day, dance all night, then ride a horse for 15 miles to fish a high country lake. Frank's lasting legacy his art. Always gifted with artistic vision, after he turned 50 years old, Frank acquired some oil paints and canvases and began painting. He was a self-taught artist with no formal training. His paintings are not the modern stuff requiring interpretation by an art critic. He painted what was important to him: the flat-topped mountains of the Burns country, the vista of Trapper's Lake or the solitude of a bull elk in a snow-covered mountain valley. Frank painted the West...more

GM Shuts Down Chevy Volt Production

General Motors is halting production of the poorly selling Chevy Volt to accommodate a redesigned Chevy Impala. The impending four-week shutdown of the electric car represents yet another setback following news of disappointing sales for the second year in a row:
General Motors Co. (GM), the largest U.S. automaker, is planning to stop production for about four weeks in September and October at the factory that makes Chevrolet Volt cars, two people familiar with the plan said.
Sales of the plug-in hybrid sedan haven’t met Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson’s projections this year. Through July, GM sold 10,666 Volts in the U.S., according to researcher Autodata Corp. Akerson had aimed for sales of 60,000 globally, of which 45,000 would be delivered in the U.S. In June he said sales would probably total 35,000 to 40,000.

Song Of The Day #923

Ranch Radio received an email reminding us that we weren't playing very much bluegrass. We'll start fixing that today with Flatt & Scruggs and Don't Get Above Your Raisin'.  Some may recall Ricky Skaggs had a country version of this on one of his CDs.

The Flatt & Scruggs version was recorded in Nashville, on May 9, 1951.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Hage Forage Right Trial Ends With BLM and U.S. Forest Service Employees Found in Contempt

RENO, NV—Friday, August 31, a weeklong show-cause hearing ended with Chief Federal District Court Judge Robert C. Jones finding Tonopah Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manager Tom Seley and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Service ranger (USFS) Steve Williams in contempt of court. The contempt, including witness intimidation, occurred during the pendency of the five-year-old forage right case, U.S. v. Estate of E. Wayne Hage and Wayne N. Hage.

Seley was specifically found having intent to destroy the Hages’ property and business interests. “Mr. Seley can no longer be an administrator in this BLM district. I don’t trust him to be unbiased. Nor can he supervise anybody in this district,” the judge stated in his order from the bench.

The contempt finding was the result of the USFS and BLM having filed suit against Wayne N. Hage and the Estate of E. Wayne Hage in 2007 but then also seeking alternative remedies while the case was pending in derogation of the court’s jurisdiction.

Counts against Seley and Williams included filing on top of the Hages’ vested and certificated stockwater rights with intent of converting those rights to a new permittee; sending 75 solicitations for 10-year grazing permits in the Ralston allotment aiming to destroy the Hages’ grazing preferences and water rights; issuing temporary permits to third parties, in particular Gary Snow of Fallon, Nev., with the knowledge that Snow’s cattle would drink the waters belonging to the Hage family; and, finally, the assessment of fines, penalties and judgments on third parties whose cattle were under the legal possession of Wayne N. Hage.

Judge Jones remarked about the July 26 Federal Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in the parallel constitutional Fifth Amendment takings case, U.S. v. Hage. The court expressly said the Hages have “an access right” to their waters. He also noted that the court did not overturn any of the Hages’ property rights that the Court of Claims found the Hages to own. Also, the takings that were overturned were overturned on the basis that the claims were not ripe, not because the government was acting correctly.

The hearing began Monday, August 27, with a cadre of agency heads from Washington, D.C., regional and state offices turning up in Reno to defend their policies and employees in court. After intense questioning by the court, Judge Jones made witness credibility findings in which USFS Region 4 Director Harv Forsgren was found lying to the court, and Nevada head of the USFS, Jeanne Higgins, was not entirely truthful. After those findings, several other named witnesses did not testify.

In his bench ruling Friday night, Judge Jones stated: “The most persuasive testimony of anybody was Mr. Forsgren. I asked him has there been a decline in AUMs [animal unit months/livestock numbers] in the West. Then I asked him has there been a decline in the region, or this district. He said he doesn’t know. He was prevaricating. His answer speaks volumes about his intent and his directives to Mr. Williams.” The court noted that anybody who is school age or older knows “the history of the Forest Service in seeking reductions in AUMs and even an elimination of cattle grazing during the last four decades. Not so much with the BLM—they have learned that in the last two decades.”

In his findings of witness intimidation, Judge Jones noted: “Their threats were not idle. They threatened one witness’s father’s [grazing] allotment.” The judge referenced testimony wherein Steve Williams delivered trespass notices accompanied by an armed employee. In one instance the armed man snuck up behind one of the witnesses with his hands ready to draw his guns. “Packing a gun shows intent,” the court noted.

In explaining the findings to Seley and Williams, the court found there was “intent to deprive this court of jurisdiction by intimidation of witnesses and threats against witnesses.” He added, “Where you crossed the line is you took civil action yourself in order to kill the business of Hage.”

Seley and Williams were held personally liable for damages totaling over $33,000 should the BLM and USFS fail to fund the losses to Hage and third parties. In addition, Judge Jones imposed an injunction wherein the BLM and USFS are prevented from interfering with third-party leasing relationships when the livestock are in the clear operational control of Wayne N. Hage. The judge ordered Hage to reapply for a grazing permit and ordered the federal government to immediately issue permits to the Hages for the winter grazing season on the Ralston allotment.

The judge said he had already written 100 pages of his final decision from the main trial ending June 6. He indicated his published decision should be forthcoming in early October. Wayne N. Hage represented himself, pro se, and Mark Pollot, a Boise, Idaho, attorney, represented the Estate.


Mark Pollot, Attorney for the Estate of E. Wayne Hage, phone 208-867-8389, email


Ramona Hage Morrison, phone: 775-722-2517, email

Democrats’ growing embrace of ‘drill, baby, drill’

Four years after Republicans chanted “drill, baby, drill” during their national convention, the grand gathering of Democrats seems to be coming around to the idea. To be fair, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Tuesday night decried that very phrase. But in a speech to convention delegates, he also quickly trumpeted the fact that natural-gas production is at an all-time high and oil production at a 14-year high. After a Labor Day record-high for gas prices — $3.83 a gallon, according to AAA — the Obama administration is trying its best to counter the perception of hostility toward fossil fuels. It’s not an easy image to wipe away, what with Obama’s continued and repeated embrace of green-energy alternatives, like solar and wind power, as well as Republicans’ years-long promotion of opening up Alaskan territory to further drilling and other initiatives. Obama’s resistance to date of a pipeline between Canada and the U.S. also has contributed to an anti-fossil-fuel perception. Obama and Salazar have been making the argument that yes, they back renewable initiatives and more fuel-efficient cars, but they also simultaneously support oil and gas exploration. It’s not only the White House making that argument for the Democrats. Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer for instance said at a panel discussion here that the notion Obama has doubled gas prices is “baloney” as he pointed out that drilling rigs have quadrupled. “It doesn’t surprise me that you’ll see more rhetoric in favor of additional drilling but it doesn’t cure the problem they have, which is a split caucus,” said Frank Maisano, an energy expert at the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani, noting the environmental lobby’s resistance to fossil fuel activity. The aggressive advertising campaign by the American Petroleum Institute as well as the big oil majors themselves of the economic benefits of energy production is putting pressure on the Obama administration also to tout production, Maisano said...more

Key Solyndra figures get red carpet treatment at Democratic convention?

Want to know what Barack Obama’s second-term agenda will be?  Looking at the VIP admissions to the Democratic convention, the assumption will be more Solyndras and more wasted taxpayer dollars.  ABC News caught former Department of Energy official Steve Spinner getting a “red-carpet” tour yesterday of the facilities in Charlotte.  Who’s Steve Spinner, you may ask?  He’s the man who pushed the DoE to ignore the advice of auditors and approve Solyndra’s $500 million-plus taxpayer-guaranteed loan.  What happened when ABC trained their cameras on Spinner?  He scurried out of the spotlight...Spinner’s not the only Solyndra figure to make an appearance at the Democratic convention.  Politico reports that the DNC will have Steve Westly as a speaker tonight, early in the agenda.  Westly was a more cautionary voice on Solyndra — but also bragged about his ability to leverage his status as a 2008 bundler to get hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies on the green-tech boondoggles of Obama’s stimulus package...more

Germany’s new ‘renewable’ energy policy

By Kelvin Kemm

It is amazing how biased the international media is when it comes to reporting on energy generation, specifically electricity.

In mid-August, Germany opened a new 2200MW coal-fired power station near Cologne, and virtually not a word has been said about it. This dearth of reporting is even more surprising when one considers that Germany has said building new coal plants is necessary because electricity produced by wind and solar has turned out to be unaffordably expensive and unreliable.

In a deteriorating economic situation, Germany’s new environment minister, Peter Altmaier, who is as politically close to Chancellor Angela Merkel as it gets, has underlined time and again the importance of not further harming Europe’s — and Germany’s — economy by increasing the cost of electricity.

He is also worried that his country could become dependent on foreign imports of electricity, the mainstay of its industrial sector. To avoid that risk, Altmaier has given the green light to build twenty-three new coal-fired plants, which are currently under construction.

Yes, you read that correctly, twenty three-new coal-fired power plants are under construction in Germany, because Germany is worried about the increasing cost of electricity, and because they can’t afford to be in the strategic position of importing too much electricity.

Suit Filed to Protect Wildlife From Lead Poisoning in Arizona's Kaibab National Forest

Conservation groups sued the U.S. Forest Service today for failing to protect wildlife from toxic lead in spent ammunition in Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest. The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Grand Canyon Wildlands Council filed suit under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a federal law governing disposal of hazardous waste. Lead bullet fragments from hunting contaminate the food supply for Arizona wildlife such as condors, bald and golden eagles, northern goshawks, ferruginous hawks and ravens; and are also a hazard to human health for those eating game shot with lead ammunition. “The Forest Service has a duty to prevent the buildup of toxic materials and the needless lead poisoning of wildlife in our national forests,” said Jeff Miller with the Center. “There’s no justification for continuing to use ammunition that poisons the food supply for birds, and for people who eat game meat, when nonlead alternatives are readily available for all hunting activities in the Kaibab National Forest.” “We’ve effectively used federal toxics laws to remove lead from water pipes, gasoline, paint, cooking utensils and even wheel weights, and now it’s time to get the lead out of hunting ammunition for the benefit of our wildlife,” said Kim Crumbo with Grand Canyon Wildlands. “The use of nonlead ammunition for hunting waterfowl the past two decades has saved millions of birds from lead poisoning, and Arizona’s forests and wildlife stand to gain the same benefits from requiring lead-free ammunition for big game hunting.” “Because lead is so dangerous to people and wildlife, even at very low levels, it is imperative that we take this important step to transition ammunition to less toxic alternatives and remove lead from the food chain,” said Sandy Bahr with the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter. “The Forest Service should require nonlead ammunition for hunting on public land as an important step in limiting lead exposure for condors and other wildlife.” The plaintiffs are represented by the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center of Lewis & Clark Law release

Cowboys and cattle rustlers

by Paul Harden

The First Cowboys

The origin of the cowboy came from medieval Spain and then to the New World centuries later by the Spaniards.

During the Middle Ages, many Spaniards were nomadic, always on the move to avoid ruthless rulers and invading Moorish armies. They became adept at moving their families, and their livestock, from place to place. Their preferred breed of cattle was the Corriente — cows that were well adapted to traveling long distances and living off sparse vegetation. The Corriente also proved to be ideal for their lean meat, milk and use as a draft animal. These early “cowboys” were called pastoras, the term for a herder that goes back to biblical times.

The Arabian Moors were excellent horsemen that taught their skills to the Spaniards. The pastoras quickly adapted to herding their cattle on horseback.

As the Spaniards began to colonize the New World in the 1500s, there was great need for animals and meat. These pastoras were used to bring herds of horses, oxen, sheep and beef cattle to Mexico on the Spanish galleons. They bred and raised their stock in the arid climate of Mexico, including the hardy Corriente.

Mexico offered something not found in Spain: miles and miles of wide open places for grazing. The pastoras, using their expert horsemanship, developed techniques to drive herds of cattle from pasture to pasture, as well as roundups for branding and slaughter. Now working almost exclusively “in the saddle,” they became known as vaqueros — which means “herders of cows” — the first cowboys in the New World. In South America, they were known as gauchos.

Vaqueros in New Mexico

The first vaqueros in New Mexico were those who arrived with Juan de Oñate. More than 7,000 head of cattle came with the 1598 caravan over El Camino Real, herded by vaqueros. Some of this livestock was used to feed the colonists on the trail, although the majority was used to establish herds of sustainable cattle, and food, in the New World.

The early Spanish colonists built haciendas — a family home on a tract of land for raising a few head of cattle, a few sheep or goats, and for their fields. Basically a farm. Everything to survive in New Mexico had to be raised or grown on one’s own land. With only a few cows or sheep, this was a perilous balance. If your animals didn’t breed, your family would soon go hungry; if you were forced to slaughter your livestock for food, you had no breeding stock for the following year.

To address this problem, many Spaniards began breeding and raising large herds of cattle to supply meat or stock to the local haciendas. These larger tracts of land were called estancias — a ranch — and the ranch owner was known as the patron. The term rancho did not come into vogue in New Mexico until the 1821-1846 Mexican era...

Gretchin Sammis, 1925-2012: Rancher became a pioneer for women on and off the ranch

Gretchen Sammis, who directed a rare all-female ranch crew, died at her home on the Chase Ranch near Cimarron on Aug. 14 at age 86. She was born Oct. 12, 1925, in the same house on the ranch that had been acquired in 1867 by her great-grandparents, Manly and Theresa Chase. They had purchased the property, part of a 1.7 million-acre tract granted by the Mexican government to Charles Beaubien in 1843, from Beaubien’s son-in-law, Lucien Maxwell. Sammis’ grandparents raised her on the ranch, where she began to learn the ropes of ranching. “Grandad raised me like I was a boy,” she said in a 2008 interview. “I learned to ride and hunt and fish and punch cows at an early age. I was always out of doors and never had enough time to do everything that I wanted to do on the ranch.” Sammis said an aunt insisted she go to college, so she could get married “and turn into a lady instead of a rancher.” She attended Colorado Women’s College, The University of New Mexico and the University of Colorado, where she earned a master’s degree in science and physical education. But even as she taught school for 26 years, she kept returning to the ranch along the Ponil River. In 1963, her friend, Ruby Gobble, joined her there as ranch foreman. “We would get up at 4 load hay and go out and feed those cows,” Gobble recalled in an interview. “Oh, it was cold! We’d get the cows fed and come back to the house, and Gretchen would change into the skirts, hose and heels that were expected of teachers in those days.” According to the Triple A Livestock Report, the Chase Ranch became famous for its all-women crew — made up of schoolteachers and friends from several states. The women were permitted to bring their husbands, but the men were only allowed to watch the women work...more

She was one of the first supporters of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.  May she rest in peace.

On Drug War Violence Along Texas Border, Testimonials And Data Differ

It starts with the unmistakable sounds of a helicopter and law enforcement officers communicating via radio. A group of men in an inflatable raft have been spotted in the Rio Grande River, the body of water that divides Texas from Mexico, and others with packages are flailing in the water nearby. Then the video cuts to an image of five words: “We Are In A War.” What follows is a video mash-up of excerpts from border residents' testimonials detailing "drug-war spill over violence." Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced in late August that he plans to release each testimonial over the course of the next 14 weeks. The border stories will be posted to a state-controlled website,, where related reports, maps and presentations already live. While little, if any, mention of the United States' decades-long drug war or Mexico's more recent efforts to control drug cartels will likely be made at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this week, Republicans and Democrats are waging a highly partisan battle over just who is telling the truth about life in the border region. Staple's video campaign is just one gambit. "This, for me, is not about politics," Staples, a Republican, told The Huffington Post. "Farmers and ranchers that live and work on the rural stretches of our southern border are facing things that are hard to imagine in the United States: property damage, theft and intimidation on a regular basis. Washington seems to be turning a deaf ear."...more

Video at the link provided.

‘Sagebrush rebellion’ case overturned

America’s sagebrush rebellion has suffered a major setback far from the western rangeland where a modern battle was joined over grazing rights on public lands. Over the past 21 years, firebrand Nevada rancher Wayne Hage and his survivors waged a legal war against federal land managers who were seeking to restrict cattle grazing on public lands and became a heroic symbol for those who yearned for bygone days and bridled at the growing reach of government. Then in a little noticed decision on July 26, a three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., overturned Hage’s hard-fought multi-million-dollar legal victories. But Margaret Byfield, Hage’s daughter, said from her home in Georgetown, Texas, that the family has until Sept. 10 to file for a rehearing and they plan to do it. “We are not surprised by this decision. Sitting through the appellate court hearings, we could tell which way the judges were headed,” she said. “There was a lack of understanding of western law and how the western lands function.” Bureau of Land Management Nevada spokeswoman JoLynn Worley said the office could not comment on the ruling because of a related, ongoing trespassing case involving the Hage family. In the separate but related proceeding, a district court judge in Reno, Nev. on Friday indicated the Hage family and others are not guilty of trespassing on public lands, and that he intends to find federal rangers in contempt for issuing trespass notices while his court was still deciding the case...more

Arizona cattle rancher finds old ways are new again

What grows here has grown more important to Schwennesen, whose family has ranched the high grasslands of east-central Arizona for two generations. The Double Check has fed its livestock a diet of range forage and grass for almost 20 years, walking away from commercial feed and modern additives. But Schwennesen decided about five years ago to turn the clock back further and return the ranch to nature. This year, the cattle graze on whatever native grasses grow in the pastures. Schwennesen added a little alfalfa to the mix for nutrition, but he didn't blade the ground, leaving the seeds to compete with what was there already. Schwennesen is a modern rancher and a throwback at the same time. He looks the part of a cowboy, a movie casting department's dream, and he still rides horses, oversees the branding and worries about straggler calves on the family's grazing allotment near the New Mexico border. But he won't give animals hormones or artificial supplements, he limits their medication, he uses no chemicals or pesticides on the grass, and he sells the beef he grows directly to consumers, ready to discuss every aspect of his operation. None of that is new, he will argue, only forgotten in an age of corporate ranches and feedlots...more

$18 million wasted: USDA grants to support beginning farmers and ranchers across 24 States

More than $18 million in grants to organizations across 24 states will help beginning farmers and ranchers with the training and resources needed to run productive, sustainable farms. Since 2009, the USDA has driven a number of efforts meant to spur interest in agriculture and provide the necessary support to young, beginning and socially-disadvantaged producers...more

Trying to figure out these DC Deep Thinkers: First, pay current farmers not to farm.  Second, subsidize young, inexperienced and minority farmers to get into production.  Helluva policy.

What we really need is a wall of separation between ag and state.  

Links of interest

Twin Falls-area rancher dies in airplane crash

Scientists in Nevada, Utah, study fungus to fight cheatgrass

Song Of The Day #922

Ranch Radio brings you It Ain't Gonna Happen To Me by Johnny Bond.

The tune was recorded in Hollywood on June 8, 1950.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Heinrich Ties to Eco-Terrorists a Well-Kept Secret

by Jim Spence 
You have to tip your cap to the staff of Senate Candidate Martin Heinrich. So far their efforts prevent exposure of Heinrich’s deep ties to eco-terrorism advocate David Foreman, have been successful. Who is David Foreman and what does he stand for?

Forman (and Heinrich) are inextricably linked to the radical splinter group EarthFirst. Who is EarthFirst? According to New Mexico Watchdog investigative reporter Jim Scarantino, EarthFirst is a radical environmenta terrorist group that emerged more than thirty years ago. Foreman who authored several action guides including, “Confessions of an Eco-Warrior,” was part of the concerted effort by EarthFirst to use any means available to affect policy changes. According to Scarantino, “Their coat of arms was a Neanderthal’s stone club crossed with a monkey wrench, the symbolic tools for dismantling industrial and capitalist society.”

EarthFirst is well known by law enforcement agencies as a group that advocates the destruction of public and private property as a tool to achieve goals. In Foreman’s book Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching he provides a step-by-step guide to committing property crimes, including the damaging of ranches and the disabling airplanes (Al Gore’s jet is apparently off limits). Forman also offered some suggestions on how to use arson to harm political enemies.
In Forman’s world: 1) human lives deserve no greater consideration than animal life, 2) AIDS is trumpeted as the means for “returning sanity to human population,” 3) Opposition to famine relief so that “nature could run its course.”

Foreman has compared humanity to a virus. He believes radical environmentalists are the white corpuscles fighting the human infection of Mother Earth. Why does all of this matter to New Mexico?

Martin Heinrich was mentored by David Foreman early in his adult life and supported by Forman when he broke on to New Mexico’s political scene. These days while Heinrich has cloaked himself in the mainstream, he is supported by millions of dollars in negative advertising support provided by radical environmental organizations. 
The scary news for New Mexicans is he may be starting to gain the upper hand in the battle for one of two New Mexico Senate seats in Washington. While Heinrich appears in fluffy commercials that make him look like the boy next door, Super Pac money pours into New Mexico paid for by these radical environmental groups. Ads which are completely false flood our airwaves. They trash former Air Force Academy graduate Heather Wilson and distort her record. So far polls suggest thanks to the onslaught radical support the Heinrich team has a forged a slight lead. 
Heather Wilson
Behind the scenes Foreman remains one of Heinrich’s closest confidants. If the details of Heinrich's ongoing ties to an eco-terrorist group founder actually became general public knowledge, Heinrich would likely see his support among voters shrink. However, don’t look for the mainstream print or television media in New Mexico to expose the connection between Heinrich and people who advocate criminal activity to achieve political goals. This won’t happen thanks to an overwhelming bias for Democrats in the field of journalism here in our state. 
Originally posted at News New Mexico on 9/2/2012.

EDITORIAL: Beware bad gas

    The corner gas station soon might be pumping fuel with an extra slug of ethanol. That’s bad news for drivers because they could be saddled with the bill for big repair expenses. Drivers can thank the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for this because bureaucrats there have been unrelenting in their push to dilute pure gasoline with a politically correct additive.
    In June, the EPA waived Clean Air Act restrictions on the sale of E15, a fuel blend containing 15 percent corn alcohol. A coalition of automakers, fearful that a boost of ethanol in fuel will harm engines, succeeded in winning a temporary stay of the waiver. On Aug. 17, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit swept away a legal challenge to the sale of “midlevel” ethanol, ruling that the manufacturers lacked standing to contest the EPA’s waiver.
    E10 — fuel containing 10 percent ethanol — has been around for years and is considered relatively safe for use in most cars. In 2009, corn growers petitioned the EPA for a profit-boosting increase in the cap on ethanol content. This will help the industry achieve the artificial mandate Congress established, guaranteeing the companies sales of 36 billion gallons of their product by 2020. The EPA announced in 2010 that E15, which has 50 percent more corn juice, was safe for use in model year 2007 cars and newer. Then, last year, the agency expanded the claim to include all cars made since 2001 and designed a pump label to warn drivers of older cars about misfueling dangers.
    Auto manufacturers have argued that’s not adequate because the reformulated blend hasn’t been properly tested. “It is not in the longer-term interest of consumers, the government and all parties involved to discover after the fact that equipment or performance problems are occurring because a new fuel was rushed into the national marketplace,” said the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in a statement following the court ruling.
    The Association of Global Automakers contends E15 is more corrosive than gasoline and could damage cylinder heads, requiring $2,000 to $8,000 in labor-intensive repairs, depending on the type of engine. This would come directly out of the pockets of car owners because use of E15 would void auto warranties.
    This isn’t about “saving the planet.” In fact, drivers can expect poorer gas mileage with the ethanol-blended fuel. Consumer Reports, the product-testing organization, found a flex-fuel vehicle designed to run on ethanol logged a nearly 30 percent drop in fuel economy when using E15. The Government Accountability Office has warned that the fuel also could damage underground fuel-storage tanks, which cost station owners about $100,000 each to replace.
    If Americans suffer costly car repair bills as a result of the EPA’s ethanol push, they’re likely to conclude that E15 is junk food for cars.

The Washington Times

Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce

Stanford University scientists have weighed in on the “maybe not” side of the debate after an extensive examination of four decades of research comparing organic and conventional foods. They concluded that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts, which tend to be far less expensive. Nor were they any less likely to be contaminated by dangerous bacteria like E. coli. The researchers also found no obvious health advantages to organic meats. The conclusions will almost certainly fuel the debate over whether organic foods are a smart choice for healthier living or a marketing tool that gulls people into overpaying. The production of organic food is governed by a raft of regulations that generally prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, hormones and additives. The organic produce market in the United States has grown quickly, up 12 percent last year, to $12.4 billion, compared with 2010, according to the Organic Trade Association. Organic meat has a smaller share of the American market, at $538 million last year, the trade group said. Other variables, like ripeness, had a greater influence on nutrient content. Thus, a lush peach grown with the use of pesticides could easily contain more vitamins than an unripe organic one...more

Wilderness study standoff near the Idaho/Montana stateline

A new lawsuit, filed by the Blue Ribbon Coalition and the Idaho Snowmobile Association, takes on the Clearwater National Forest’s travel plan for banning motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles and mountain bikes in a wilderness study area. Motorized and mechanized use is prohibited in wilderness designated by Congress under the Wilderness Act of 1964. But the Forest Service traditionally has allowed motorized use in wilderness study areas, which are not designated by Congress but are identified by agency managers as qualifying for that designation. Wilderness advocates have long pointed to the agency’s unwillingness to keep motorized users out of study areas as a failure to protect their wilderness character.  “Only Congress can designate wilderness,” said Sandra Mitchell, public lands director of the Idaho State Snowmobile Association. “We cannot stand idly by and watch them change the long-established system for managing these treasured lands.” Brad Brooks, deputy regional director of the Wilderness Society in Boise, said the lawsuit questions the ability of the Forest Service to protect wilderness character at all. “I see this as full frontal assault on wilderness,” Brooks said...more

Read more here:

Forest Service Shirks Environmental Review for Large Arizona ORV Rally

A six-day off-road vehicle rally that started today in Arizona’s Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest was tacitly authorized by U.S. Forest Service officials without analysis or approval under the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act. The Center for Biological Diversity, which works to reduce environmental destruction caused by ORV use on public lands, voiced numerous concerns about the “Outlaw Jamboree” — most recently in a letter dated Aug.14, 2012 — to the Forest Service. The event threatens to damage lands affected by the Wallow fire and subsequent flooding, including valuable habitat for Mexican spotted owls and Mexican gray wolves. It is now exploring legal options to ensure the event does not irrevocably harm local wildlife...more

Montana town hit by recent flurry of business closures

It’s an election year, which means you’ll hear a lot of posturing from politicians of all persuasions about small business being the backbone of America, and how government should do a better job of helping them thrive. It’ll be too late for several small businesses in Polson, which have failed to survive the recession. There’s absolutely no evidence small-town businesses in Polson have been harder hit than anyplace else. But boy, is it noticeable here. Half a dozen located within a few steps of each other have locked their doors in the past several months, and the epicenter is what you’d think would be one of the best locations in town – the junction of Main Street and U.S. Highway 93. One by one they’ve turned out the lights: Touch of Montana, Mountain Home Lighting and Décor, DeVoe Electronics, Crazy Mike’s Video, and Custom Leather Works were all on or within a few feet of the intersection. Around the corner on First Street East, Lakeview True Value Hardware removed the last of the inventory left from its going-out-of-business sale Thursday. Suddenly, the heart of downtown has a lot of vacant storefronts...more

Forest Service approves Taos Ski Valley expansion

The U.S. Forest Service has approved Taos Ski Valley's request to expand its expert terrain by 60 percent with two new lifts that will take skiers to popular high- alpine areas currently accessible only to hikers. The plan also calls for upgrades to three other lifts, thinning of trees to expand two new glade areas for advanced intermediate to expert skiers, construction of a permanent tubing facility, a snowshoe trail system and a lift-served mountain bike trail for summer visitors. Officials hailed the action as crucial for helping the northern New Mexico ski area keep pace with competitors in Colorado...more

Song Of The Day #921

We had Monday off so this is a Swingin' Tuesday with Black Rat Swing by Cephas & Wiggins.  The tune is on their 15 track CD Richmond Blues.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The perils of tater tot casserole

 by Julie Carter

Any man will tell you that bachelorhood has its advantages, but cooking isn't always one of them. A cowboy stays pretty busy all summer - always in a hurry and trying to get his work done so he can do his other stuff that involves horses, saddles, trailers and ropes.

One time back when it rained and the monsoons were forced through the area by a couple of landlocked hurricanes, Jack had to fend for himself for days on end. With his buddy's arena underwater, there was no roping practice and therefore no home cooked meals from his buddy's wife.

For Jack, the rain brought on some of the issues that become glaring in bachelorhood. No one to visit with except the dog, and while that's acceptable most of the time, there was also no one to cook for him except ... himself.

Proof of the danger in that came one evening. 

Leaving his job at the feed store and feeling quite hungry, Jack stopped at the grocery store on the way home to buy the fixings for a tater tot casserole. This now-famous dish had been made notorious by a neighbor and his recipe found its way to Jack's house. 

Upon arrival at his humble homestead, he placed the frozen tots in the bottom of a casserole dish, added a can of Wolf Brand Chili on top and then a nice covering of grated cheese for the next layer.

Thinking his culinary creation was looking quite good and the recipe could be improved on, he added a few sliced-up wieners to the top and followed that with a layer of diced jalapeños. 

To his way of thinking, this had to be about the best supper ever.

Knowing he had piled a lot of food into the one dish, he shoved it in the microwave and cranked it up a ways. His thought was that it would take a while to get it all warmed completely through so he gave it plenty of minutes on the timer.

Deciding to make use of the cooking time, he headed out to tend to his chores at the corrals while his delectable dinner cooked nuclear-style.

As cowboys are wont to do, he got sidetracked and it was a good 30 minutes before he got back to the house. What he found inside his kitchen was the aftermath of the complete explosion of his microwave and its contents. That wasn't part of the recipe but it was the part that made it notorious.

There were wieners and tater tots stuck all over the ceiling with tendrils of cheese hanging in various places around the room. Blobs of chili were splotted red in places that would never be the same. 

Too tired to care much about the mess, his main concern was still the fact he was very hungry. Like most cowboys in cow camp after long hard day, he resorted to the old standby - canned peaches.

He drank off the liquid and then filled the can up with whiskey. Falling into a resigned slump in his favorite easy chair, he ate his cold supper of "pickled" peaches while the weatherman spoke of more rain.

Pondering on his situation, he blamed it all on the rain - after all, none of this would have happened if he had just been able to rope.

Julie can be reached for comment at