Saturday, January 19, 2013

Environmentalists versus workers: Keystone pipeline decision will shape Obama’s legacy

Whether President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline or not hinges on one key question: Which is more important to him, creating jobs and promoting energy independence or fighting climate change? Two reports released Thursday highlight both issues, making even clearer the choice the White House faces. Mr. Obama has delayed for more than a year a final decision on the massive pipeline, which would transport Canadian oil sands through the U.S. to Gulf Coast refineries. The project’s latest route also must be approved by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican whose state stands to benefit if the pipeline is built. A study commissioned by the Consumer Energy Alliance details those benefits: more than 5,500 Nebraska jobs created during the 2013-14 construction period, with nearly 1,000 permanent jobs continuing through 2030; more than $950 million in labor income generated for the life of the project; more than $130 million in property, sales and other taxes for Nebraska coffers; and an estimated $679 million boost to Nebraska’s gross domestic product. Congressional Republicans, oil and gas industry groups and other project proponents also have urged the administration to green-light the pipeline. They say it is one of the surest ways to create jobs and continue the U.S. on its path to freedom from Middle Eastern oil. But Mr. Obama, armed with fresh political capital after his convincing re-election victory, also is facing intense pressure from environmental and conservation groups to reject the pipeline, a move that likely would kill the project once and for all. Because the pipeline crosses an international border, it requires approval from the State Department and the White House. Another study put forward Thursday by Oil Change International, an environmental group opposed to fossil fuels, points to the carbon emissions that would be generated by Keystone. Opponents argue that by approving the project and green-lighting those carbon emissions, Mr. Obama would be raising a white flag in the war against climate change, an issue he has promised to confront in a second term and one he addressed in his election-night victory speech...more

Obama coal regulations crippling communities

The war on jobs and affordable energy is real and continues to pick up steam with a swarm of new regulations coming out of President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency contributing to more mine closures and plant shutdowns across the country. Last week, we witnessed the latest round of victims in the war on coal, with Georgia Power Co. announcing its plans to shutter 15 fossil-fuel-fired electric units, impacting nearly 500 jobs in the state. Georgia Power explained that the high cost of new EPA rules, including the rule setting maximum achievable control technology (known as Utility MACT) standards, was a contributing factor for the closures. Sadly, it is just one of several companies that have cited a hostile regulatory environment as a reason for layoffs in the past year. When Ohio American Energy Inc. announced it was shutting down mining operations in Brilliant, Ohio, the company’s news release cited “regulatory actions by President Barack Obama and his appointees” as the “entire reason” for the mine’s closure and layoffs, which will impact 240 workers. Alpha Natural Resources Inc. recently announced it would eliminate 1,200 jobs companywide as a result of mine closures in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, stating the decision was due in part to “a regulatory environment that’s aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal.” The total number of announced plant retirements nationwide is already more than triple the amount the EPA had predicted would be caused by its regulations, and studies suggest more closures are imminent. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity reports that EPA regulatory policies already have contributed to the announced retirement of more than 250 coal-fired units, totaling more than 38,000 megawatts. The North American Electric Reliability Corp. recently issued its Long-Term Reliability Assessment, which showed that plants responsible for 20 percent of the nation’s coal-fired electricity generation may be lost by 2017...more

Friday, January 18, 2013

'Threatened' lynx trapped, shot

While their presence has been documented in some areas in recent years, no resident population has been confirmed of the reclusive cat, listed as "threatened" and protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. In 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated critical habitat for lynx that includes part of the Purcell Mountains in the far northeast corner of Boundary County. It was just outside that area where one was killed earlier this month. "Losing a lynx to trapping or any other cause is disheartening," said Jim Hayden, Fish and Game regional wildlife manager for the Panhandle region. "Fortunately these are very rare events." A North Idaho man, whose name was not immediately available, pleaded guilty in state court to mistakenly trapping and harvesting a lynx. He was fined $200 and ordered to pay $25 restitution to Idaho Fish and Game and $160 in court costs. The Boundary County Prosecutor's Office handled the case. The man told investigators he would have released the animal from the trap had he known it was a lynx. Because he could not see the animal's paws because of snow, and he believed it was a bobcat, he shot it. When he realized his error, he immediately reported the incident to the local conservation officer...more

4,167 Colorado wildfires caused record losses of $538 million in 2012

It is official: the state's 2012 wildfire season was a doozy, with record insured losses, and the evacuation of 32,000 residents in the northwestern quadrant of Colorado Springs where 347 homes were destroyed in the Waldo Canyon Fire, the largest number in state history. "Colorado fire departments reported 4,167 wildland fires through the National Fire Reporting System. These fires destroyed more than 648 structures, killed six civilians, burned more than 384,803 acres and have caused at least $538 million in property losses," according to a preliminary report on the season by the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control. Preliminary estimates for insured losses total $449.7 million for claims ranging from smoke damage to destroyed homes and the loss of personal belongings and vehicles, according to the report by the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control...more

Drought Fuels Water War Between Texas and New Mexico

 by Sandra Postel

    As climate change alters rainfall patterns and river flows, tensions are bound to rise between states and countries that share rivers that cross their borders.
    In the Rio Grande Basin of the American Southwest, that future inevitability has arrived.
    Last week Texas, suffering through a devastating drought, filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court alleging that New Mexico is failing to live up to its water delivery commitments under the 1938 Rio Grande Compact.
    Texas charges that New Mexico’s pumping of groundwater in the region below Elephant Butte Dam to the New Mexico-Texas border is reducing Rio Grande flows into Texas, thereby depriving the state’s farms and cities of water they are legally entitled to under the Compact.
    Texas v. New Mexico is likely to be but one of a string of disputes that erupt as drought causes water supplies to dwindle and water-sharing pacts devised in wetter and less-populated times can no longer hold the peace.
    One of the great water myths is that rivers and underground aquifers are separate and distinct sources of water.  In reality, rivers and groundwater are often intimately connected.  Groundwater provides the “base” flow that keeps many rivers running during dry times. For their part, rivers and irrigation canals leak water into the subsurface, recharging the aquifers below.
    In dry years, when surface supplies run low, farmers often turn to underground water to replace or supplement their irrigation supply.  That’s what New Mexico farmers downstream of Elephant Butte have done during years of drought and low river flows.
    In the Mesilla Basin, for example, groundwater is the primary source of irrigation water for about 5,000 acres, but is a supplemental source of supply for more than 70,000 acres.  So in dry times, groundwater withdrawals ratchet up.
    According to an article on the impacts of groundwater pumping in the Rio Grande Basin published in this month’s Ecosphere, a journal of the Ecological Society of America, during the 2004 drought, when federal officials curtailed releases from Elephant Butte Dam, pumping from the Messila Aquifer rose to twice the long-term average.
    The drought of recent years has elicited a similar response from farmers, and groundwater pumping in the Rio Grande Valley has increased markedly. But how much this pumping has affected flows into Texas is in question.
    The current bi-state conflict began in 2007 when Texas farmers complained that New Mexico was extracting too much groundwater.  To avoid an escalating legal fight, the federal Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Elephant Butte, worked out an agreement with two irrigation districts in Texas and New Mexico to give Texas more river water to make up for New Mexico’s groundwater use.
    That agreement didn’t sit well with New Mexico officials, however, and three years later the state filed suit against the Bureau, charging that the deal gave away too much of New Mexico’s Rio Grande allotment to Texas and would cause $183 million in damages to the state’s agricultural economy.
Texas shot back with the lawsuit filed last week.

Miss Wyoming Represents Ranchers In Miss America Pageant

In 2009, former 4-H member Katie Stam wowed the judges and earned the crown, all while boasting about her good old days representing the four-leaf clover of 4H. In 2011, Miss America Teresa Scanlan’s winning platform stressed the importance of agriculture to support our nation’s economy. In fact, she often called farmers and ranchers the “backbone” of the U.S. economy. The 2013 Miss America pageant aired over the weekend, and the third runner-up was Miss Wyoming Lexie Madden. She was stunning in a timeless black dress, with a talent of a piano number she composed herself, and her interview reflected her rural upbringing in the small town of Torrington, where she participated in 4-H and showed goats. "I actually used to show goats in 4H. I know that's something very unique and odd, but it was fun and it taught me a lot about responsibility," Madden said during her pageant interview...more

Song Of The Day #1001

Roger Miller sings Ranch Radio's tune today: Trouble On The Turnpike.  The song was recorded in Nashville on August 8, 1962 and released as RCA Victor 47-8061.

PRESCOTT FOREST: Game and Fish opposes new wilderness acres

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is opposing the Prescott National Forest's preferred alternative in its new draft management plan, because the state agency doesn't want any more wilderness acres on the forest. The draft plan lists a preferred Alternative B featuring 43,400 new wilderness acres in eight areas, although Forest Supervisor Betty Mathews has stated that she technically has no preferred alternative because she is relatively new to the forest and wants to hear from the public. The Game and Fish letter says it prefers Alternative C because it includes no new wilderness areas and it has the greatest focus on improving wildlife habitat. Wilderness areas and other designations that restrict human uses of public lands have resulted in an "erosion of the department's ability to proactively manage wildlife," the letter says, and at the least result in costly hurdles to wildlife management actions. Examples in the letter of actions that can be complicated or prohibited in wilderness areas include aquatic habitat structures, wildlife cameras and mechanical brush thinning. The other government group opposing new wilderness was the Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition, a consortium of Yavapai County, the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe, and the municipalities of Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley. The Upper Verde Coalition letter says it wants to work with the Forest Service on an Upper Verde watershed protection plan, and wilderness designations would make it hard to restore some areas. Machines are generally not allowed in wilderness areas...more

Makes you wonder why the NMG&F dept. is silent on this issue.  How about in your state?

GOP governors, Canadian leader press Obama to approve Keystone pipeline

Ten GOP governors and the premier of Saskatchewan are putting fresh pressure on President Obama to greenlight the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. Premier Brad Wall and the governors, in a letter to Obama Thursday, call the project “fundamentally important” to the future economic prosperity of the United States and Canada. The letter is part of an intense political and lobbying battle as the White House inches closer to a decision on whether to permit Keystone, a project that major business groups and many unions want but environmentalists bitterly oppose. The governors of Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming signed the letter, which also touts Keystone as a job-creating project...more

New Mexicans, do you notice who is missing?  Every Republican governor in a surrounding state signed the letter, but no signature from Governor Martinez.

Forest Service at Odds with Idaho Gold Miners

An attorney representing the U.S. Forest Service says fishing, camping and the protection of American Indian artifacts along a northern Idaho river outweigh the desire of placer miners to search for gold. The Lewiston Tribune reports that attorney Jody Miller made the argument Tuesday before an administrative law judge during an Interior Board of Land Appeals hearing. The Forest Service is challenging dozens of mining claims filed on a 30-miles section of the North Fork of the Clearwater River. The agency says mining is not compatible with recreation and other uses on the popular river. Miners say they filed claims following federal laws and regulations and that the government is attempting to take their private property without compensation. The hearing is expected to continue through Thursday. AP

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A woman from the West as Interior secretary?

Ken Salazar’s decision to step down as Interior secretary Wednesday comes as President Barack Obama faces criticism for a lack of diversity in his Cabinet. The woman best positioned to replace Salazar could be former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, who just left office. She is known for supporting renewable energy and climate change policies. On Columbia River dam and salmon issues, she’s stayed on the sidelines — a common position for Washington Democrats. One woman mentioned four years ago was Sally Jewell, CEO of REI. Trained as an engineer, she has deftly led a $1.8 billion-a-year company and been a leader in the outdoor industry’s environmental efforts. Both women pass a major litmus test for being landlord of 500 million acres of federal land with 70,000 employees and a $20 billion budget: They come from the West. Idaho Govs. Cecil Andrus and Dirk Kempthorne have held the post. The man most talked about for the job is John Berry, director of the White House Office of Personnel Management. He’s led the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and worked at Interior, Treasury, the National Zoo and the Smithsonian. He is gay, which addresses one diversity issue. But Berry, from Maryland, has no history in the West, which would make him a target among some westerners, Republican and Democrat. Idaho Statesman

List: Obama’s 23 Executive Actions on Gun Violence

The President is announcing that he and the Administration will:
1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate an ATF director.
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
17. Release a letter to health-care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law-enforcement authorities.
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
19. Develop model emergency-response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental-health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
22. Commit to finalizing mental-health-parity regulations.
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
Source: White House


Song Of The Day #1000

Ranch Radio will celebrate our 1000th song by dustin' off an old 78, with Arthur Q. Smith singing I'll Doose What I Choose From Now On.  The tune was released as King 635A.  Next week we'll do some more celebrating with real country roots music.

One Dashing Eagle is named racing's world champion

Freshman colt One Dashing Eagle is the 2012 World Champion Racing American Quarter Horse. He also is the champion 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old colt. Owned by Jose and Gustavo De La Torre with Jorge Carmona’s San Gregorio Racing Stable of Norco, California, One Dashing Eagle made history by winning three million-dollar futurities and setting a single-season earnings record of $2,079,065. He won six of seven races, including the $2.4 million All American Futurity (G1), $1,073,000 Golden State Million Futurity (G1) and $1,001,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1). One Dashing Eagle joins a select group of 10 horses chosen as world champion in their freshman year, with the most recent being Stolis Winner in 2008. Bred by American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame members Allred Bros. of Mesa, Arizona, One Dashing Eagle is by champion and leading freshman sire One Famous Eagle and out of the First Down Dash mare One Sweet Dash. His trainers include Jose and Ugo De La Torre and Eloy Navarro, and his jockeys include Ramon Sanchez and Adrian Loza. PJ Chick In Black is the champion 2-year-old filly. The winner of the Ruidoso Futurity (G1) and New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG2), she won five of six starts and earned $523,339. Bred by Fredda Draper of Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico, she is owned by Dennis Bowen, Susan Taylor and Jack Smith Farms of El Paso, Texas. The New Mexico-bred is by Desirio and out of the Corona Cocktail mare Eddie Jym. The filly was trained by Carl Draper and John Stinebaugh, and ridden by Esgar Ramirez...more

Ken Salazar's Exit Leaves Obama Cabinet Without Latinos

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will leave the Obama administration by the end of March, a departure that means that the president's cabinet may be left without any Latino members. Salazar, a fifth-generation Coloradan and former senator, plans to return to his home state. The interior secretary was one of two Latinos serving in President Obama's cabinet; the other being Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who resigned her post last week. Upon Salazar's departure at the end of March, no Latinos will be left in Obama's cabinet unless he appoints one in the interim.  Obama has come under fire in recent days for an apparent lack of racial and gender diversity in his recent cabinet picks for his second term as president. Nominees to fill high-profile positions at the departments of  Treasury, State and Defense have all been white males. The scrutiny of Obama's cabinet makeup comes after an election in which he relied on a coalition of Latinos, blacks and Asian-Americans to help regain the White House. Obama took more than 70 percent of the Latino vote and a record 36 Latino members were elected to the House and Senate...more

I certainly hope not, but this could be a factor in selecting Grijalva. 

Surprise: Obama Pushes the Same Gun Controls He Has Always Supported

by Jacob Sullum

As expected, the three major policy changes that President Obama recommended today, ostensibly in response to the Sandy Hook massacre, were a renewed (and broader) federal ban on "assault weapons," a 10-round limit on magazine capacity, and background checks for all transfers of firearms, except those between relatives. Obama supported these policies before the Sandy Hook massacre, he supported them immediately afterward, and now, after a three-week fact-finding charade overseen by his vice president, he still supports them. The unanswered question, as I said this morning, is why anyone else should.
Reflecting the president's magical thinking about gun control, The New York Times claims that renewing the limit on magazine size that expired in 2004 (a subject I discuss in my column today) "would eliminate the 30-round magazines that were used in Newtown as well as other mass shootings at Virginia Tech, a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and a congresswoman’s public event in Tucson, Ariz." No, it wouldn't, unless the government somehow manages to confiscate all of the "large-capacity" magazines already in circulation. Under the earlier law, something like 30 million pre-ban magazines holding more than 10 rounds were still available, and that number surely is much larger by now. The government will also have to stop would-be mass murderers from making their own magazines, which is not that hard to do (especially if magazine replacement parts remain legal) and is only getting easier, thanks to 3D printers.
Likewise, barring mass confiscation, a new "assault weapon" ban won't eliminate whatever guns fall into that arbitrarily defined category. Even if it did, it would not matter, since killers would have plenty of equally lethal alternatives. Background checks could not, even theoretically, stop most mass shootings, which typically are perpetrated by people who do not have disqualifying criminal or psychiatric records. Those who do can always avoid background checks by obtaining guns through others means (as Adam Lanza did, by using his mother's legally purchased firearms). Speaking of which, how will the government make sure that every nonfamily transfer of firearms involves a background check unless it keeps track of who has what guns at any given moment? A national registry of guns (and magazines?) would be necessary to enforce such a requirement. Which, come to think of it, would make mass confiscation much easier if gun controllers ever decide to get serious.
You can read Obama's policy proposals here.

Originally posted at Hit & Run

Y'stone wolves down 25%

Natural deaths, run-ins with humans and hunting have combined to cut Yellowstone National Park’s wolf populations by about a quarter. The latest count shows 15 wolves that ventured into Yellowstone over the past year were legally killed in Idaho, Montana or Wyoming hunts. Eight to 11 of those animals spent the majority of the last year in the park and would likely have been counted toward official 2012 year-end population tallies. At least six and as many as nine wolves from packs that sometimes roam into Grand Teton National Park had been killed through Nov. 7, reports show. Information on wolf kills over the last eight weeks of the season, however, is unavailable, Grand Teton spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said. In Yellowstone, where a legal debate swirls over trapping in Montana north of the park, there are now an estimated 20 to 28 percent fewer wolves than the 98 counted at this time last year, said Dan Stahler, a wildlife biologist with the Yellowstone Wolf Project...more

Anthony "Tony" Treat 1938-2013

Tony Treat passed away Thursday, January 10, 2013 at La Villa Assisted Living, he was 74 years old. Tony was born October 16, 1938 to Bill and Ramona Treat both precede him in death.

Tony graduated from New Mexico Military Institute in 1957 and later from New Mexico State University in 1962 with a degree in Animal Husbandry. While at NMSU Tony met his wife Joyce Maag, who preceded him in death October of 1999. Tony is survived by his brother, Jay Treat and wife Beverly of Odessa, Texas; son, Bernarr Treat and wife Dyanna, of Roswell and daughter, Toni Lynn Bourdon of Houston, Texas; and grandchildren Brianna and Haley Bourdon and Spencer and Collin Treat. Dear to him also were his cousins, Mona Rey Moiso of Beaverton, OR and Sally Treat McKay of Roswell.

 Tony was a fourth generation rancher in Chaves and Lincoln counties. Tony was known by fellow ranchers as a top producer of Debouillet sheep and wool. He won many awards for his wool across the US and an international award in Australia. Tony was also named Sheepman of the Year in 2007. Very special friends were his ranching neighbors; the Skeen, Goodrum and Joyce families. Tony was a partner in the Twin Butte Sheep Co. with Ed & James Goodrum. From 1982 to 1994 Tony and long time friend Bob Naylor were partners in Roswell Wool and Mohair.

Tony was a member of New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, NM Wool Growers (past president), served two terms on the NM Livestock Board, Chaves County Soil and Water Conservation District and on the Board of First National/United NM Bank. A special and heart felt thank you goes to Julie and Mike Adams, Meredith Murphy and all the caregivers with La Villa Assisted Living and Vista Care.

Graveside services will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions can be made in Tony Treat's name to the New Mexico Military Institute Foundation; 101 W. College Blvd, Roswell, NM 88201 or memorial fund of your choice.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Southern NM missile range becomes home to military’s largest solar power system

The military dedicated its largest solar energy-producing system on Wednesday at White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico. The $16.8 million array includes nearly 15,500 sun-tracking solar panels spread across 42 acres. It will be capable of producing 10 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year — enough to meet about 10 percent of the need of the missile range. With abundant sunshine, New Mexico made an ideal site for the project, said Garrison Commander Col. Leo Pullar, one of the officials who attended the ceremony. “This project illustrates the U.S. Army’s commitment to going green, our focus on operating on net zero energy, and doing what we can to help protect the environment,” Pullar said in a statement. Other electricity generating stations fueled by renewable resources have been developed on a handful of Army installations around the country. The projects included solar and wind systems at Arizona’s Fort Huachuca and biomass systems at Fort Stewart in Georgia and the Red River Army Depot in Texas. Federal law currently requires at least 7.5 percent of an installation’s total electricity consumption to include energy produced by renewable resources. The Defense Department has set a voluntary goal of 25 percent by 2025...more 

Another federal mandate to prop up renewable energy.   How many federal laws like this are there?

Song Of The Day #999

The Shelton Brothers are our selection on Ranch Radio today as they perform That's A Habit I've Never Had. They sing of three habits I've had to break at one time or another: Smokin', Giving money to my wife and Workin'.

Interior Secretary Salazar to step down

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who overhauled the federal government’s troubled offshore drilling agency after the BP oil spill and locked horns with Republicans over energy policy, said Wednesday that he plans to step down by the end of March. Salazar, a former Colorado senator, did not announce his future plans.  “Colorado is and will always be my home. I look forward to returning to my family and Colorado after eight years in Washington, D.C.,” he said in a statement.  He touted his agency’s work on energy policy, and with Indian tribes on water rights, economic development and other areas. “I have had the privilege of reforming the Department of the Interior to help lead the United States in securing a new energy frontier, ushering in a conservation agenda for the 21st century, and honoring our word to the nation’s first Americans,” Salazar said.  President Obama, in a statement, praised Salazar’s “hard work and leadership on behalf of the American people” and said he “helped usher in a new era of conservation for our nation’s land, water, and wildlife.” But Salazar, who also frequently touts his support for oil-and-gas development, has drawn criticism from some environmentalists. Activists have attacked leasing for coal projects in Wyoming, and environmentalists were dismayed that Interior last year allowed Royal Dutch Shell to begin preliminary drilling in Arctic waters off Alaska’s coast. The future of drilling in Arctic waters will be a major question facing whomever replaces Salazar. More broadly, his plans to step down could usher in Capitol Hill conflict over any nominee to replace him. The array of potential nominees to succeed Salazar floated by Interior observers and published reports include former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), outgoing Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), former Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), recently departed Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) and several others. Others mentioned as potential replacements include Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes, former Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D), and former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D). A liberal coalition of more than 200 environmental, Hispanic, animal welfare and other groups has urged Obama to tap Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), which would represent a move to the left for the department...more

The Interior chief's departure is part of a wider turnover of President Obama's energy and environment team. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson announced in December that she plans to depart sometime after Obama's State of the Union Address, which will be delivered Feb. 12. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is widely expected to leave as well, although he has not announced any plans.

So what are we in for?

Gun control: Obama to be joined by children when he unveils agenda

Barack Obama is to step up pressure on Congress to act on gun violence by surrounding himself with schoolchildren from across the country when he unveils proposals on Wednesday aimed at preventing a repeat of the Newtown massacre. Although Obama can take implement some measures almost immediately through executive action, these are limited in scope. The wide-ranging proposals he is looking for require legislation, but he faces opposition from Congress, particularly among Republicans, backed by the National Rifle Association. By bringing schoolchildren to the White House press conference, Obama can tap into some of the emotion aroused by the Connecticut massacre in December that left 20 children and seven adults dead. At a White House press conference Tuesday, the president's spokesman Jay Carney said: "I can tell you that tomorrow the president and vice-president will hold an event here at the White House to unveil a package of concrete proposals to reduce gun violence and prevent future tragedies like the one in Newtown, Connecticut. "They will be joined by children from around the country who wrote the president letters in the wake of that tragedy expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety along with their parents."...more

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Song Of The Day #998

With everything going on in our country today, Ranch Radio needed a little Good Ol' USA by Billy Joe Shaver.  The tune is on his 13 track CD Tramp On Your Street.

Posts will be intermittent the next day or two as I write my column for The New Mexico Stockman and work on another project.

Texas files Supreme Court suit against New Mexico over water rights

In the continuing conflict over water resources between two neighboring Southwest states, for example, officials from Texas filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court last week in its dispute with New Mexico over water rights of the Rio Grande. The people and governments of three states and two nations have stake in water from the river, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) says New Mexico is violating the 1938 Rio Grande Compact that governs how water is shared by Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. In a statement announcing the legal action, TCEQ Commissioner Carlos Rubenstein called the action unfortunate but necessary. “It is unfortunate that we have had to resort to legal action, but negotiations with New Mexico have been unsuccessful, and Texas is not getting the water that it is allocated and legally entitled to,” Rubinstein said. Texas and New Mexico have been squabbling over the water of the Rio Grande since 2008. According to complaints filed by Texas officials, they are charging New Mexico water officials with failure to control groundwater pumping in the Rio Grande River basin south of Elephant Butte Reservoir, which has reduced surface water flow in the river as it makes it way to the Texas-New Mexico border. The complaint claims such action prevents Texas farmers and municipalities who depend on the water, including the City of El Paso, from receiving their allocated rights to the valuable resource. Officials from the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office have responded by accusing Texas of what they term “water rustling.”...more

Feds challenge North Fork Clearwater mining claims

The U.S. Forest Service is challenging dozens of placer mining claims on the North Fork Clearwater River in northern Idaho. An administrative law judge from the U.S. Department of Interior is holding hearings Tuesday through Friday in Orofino to consider the problem. The Forest Service is taking the action following the mining claims on a popular 30-mile stretch that have led to warning signs by miners at popular camping spots telling people not to interfere with private property or mining. The Forest Service says suction dredge mining isn't compatible with other uses on the river popular with anglers and campers. But miners contend they filed claims following federal laws and regulations and the government is now attempting to take their private property without compensation. AP

EPA to outlaw many wood burning stoves

Our ever so helpful government has decided that your wood burning stove is now a danger to the world. In another attempt to outlaw the off grid lifestyle, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the same agency that was recently caught using drones to spy on Americans, is now going after home owners who use Wood Burning Stoves to heat their homes.  Shortly after the re-election of President Obama, the agency announced new radical environmental regulations that threaten to effect people who live off the grid. The EPA's new environmental regulations reduce the amount of airborne fine-particle matter from 15 micrograms to 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air.  This means that most wood burning stoves would now fall into a class that would deemed unacceptable under these new draconian measures. The EPA has even launched a nifty new website called burn wise to try to sway public opinion.  On their site, while trying to convince people to get rid of their old stoves and buy the new EPA-certified stoves, they state that these older stoves must be scraped and cannot be resold...more

Wildlife officials plan first Mexican gray wolf release in four years

For the first time in four years, a Mexican gray wolf will be released into the forest of eastern Arizona to expand the population and genetic strength of the endangered species. The adult male will be released into the Apache National Forest after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's regional office approved replacing a pack's alpha male that was killed illegally last summer. At last count, there were 58 Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico as part of a recovery program launched in 1998. “When the release occurs, the male will hopefully connect with the alpha female who has not mated with another male yet and form a breeding pair in the wild, which is the ultimate goal of this process,” said Tom Buckley, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously in favor of allowing the release...more

Southline Transmission Line Project update

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently completed two meetings with federal, state and county agencies as part of the process of developing alternatives for the Southline Transmission Line Project. The meetings were an opportunity for the agencies to review the preliminary alternative routes being considered by the BLM and Western Area Power Administration (Western) for the proposed project and to identify concerns and issues with any of the alternative routes. This is an important step in the preparation of the environmental impact statement (EIS). The EIS provides the basis for a decision on the use of public lands. BLM New Mexico is the lead agency preparing the Southline EIS. Western is a co-lead on the project. Southline Transmission, LLC, proposes constructing a high-voltage power line in two segments. The first segment would be a new double-circuit 345-kilovolt line from a substation in Afton, New Mexico (south of Las Cruces), to a substation in Apache, Arizona (south of Willcox). The second segment would be an upgrade and rebuild of existing transmission lines between the Apache Substation and the Saguaro Substation, which is north of Tucson, Arizona. The proposed transmission line would cross both public, state trust, and private lands...more

DHS: 40 percent of cyberattacks targeted energy sector

The energy sector was the target of more than 40 percent of all reported cyberattacks on critical infrastructure networks last year, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Malicious attacks on oil-and-gas pipelines and electric utilities occurred at an “alarming rate,” DHS’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team warns in a recent report. The report, which is likely to heighten concerns about the security of the nation’s infrastructure, comes as President Obama is set to roll out an executive order on cybersecurity. That directive could be released as soon as this month...more

Report: Obama officials issued $216 billion in regulations last year

The Obama administration issued $236 billion worth of new regulations last year, according to a report from a conservative think tank. The analysis from the American Action Forum, led by former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, found that the administration added $216 billion in rules and more than $20 billion in regulatory proposals in 2012. Complying with those rules will require an additional 87 million hours of paperwork, the report said. The group put the total price tag from regulations during Obama’s first term at more than $518 billion. American Action Forum credited the administration for erasing $2.5 billion in regulatory costs last year, but said that paled in comparison to $34 billion in regulatory compliance costs reported by top companies since 2009...more

Monday, January 14, 2013

Song Of The Day #997

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here's Buck Ford with A Cup Of Your Sugar. The tune is on his 12 track CD Country Never Goes Outta Style.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The story behind the story

By Julie Carter

There are some constants in life you can count on and in ranching it’s no different. Guaranteed right up there with the promise of “death and taxes” are the events that you don’t plan for but know they will happen.

Water problems always top the list when you are discussing the certainties of what can and will go wrong. With livestock, water is a sacred necessity. The first thing you can count on is when you have water troubles the weather will not be pleasant in any way.

The heat of June is when cattle shade up around the water hole just waiting for the next drink. You can mark the days with broken water lines, wells that “go down”, and pumps that quit. The same applies for a cold miserable January day. General philosophy is that if your storage tank is full your pump will last 30 years.  If you ever let it get below half way mark, you may as well plan the next days for pulling a well and hauling water.

The day that you have a meeting to get to, a funeral to attend, or a date with your banker in town, guaranteed, you will end with a job with the calf pullers.  That last check on the heifers on your way off the ranch is your undoing.

In your Sunday best you will slip and slide around in the corral to get the wild wench (heifer) captured enough to pull the calf. The bonus to follow is bodily adornment of manure, amniotic fluid and a little blood for color.

By the time you have wallered the slimy calf around to save his life so his wild-eyed mother doesn’t step on him and then wallered him a little more to get him to stand up and suck, your appearance is not fit for polite company.  This is more often than not in the same miserable cold weather you had to pull the well in yesterday.

For the ranch wife there are some constants that can and do include the aforementioned and some that are unique to her gender.

In the remote living of ranching on a day she has stolen from routine, she might dare stay in her jammies without brushing her hair until past 8 a.m. It’s a guaranteed invitation for the feed salesman to happen by or a hunter to arrive asking permission to hunt.

If for some unknown reason she decides to drive the kids to the school bus in her nightie, it’s a 90-to-1 odds deal that the pickup will break down and she’ll have to catch a ride home with the neighbor. It’s pretty hard to look ol’ neighbor Fred in the eye anytime after that.

For the wife, most of her dilemmas occur either because of her husband or when he is on the other side of the state buying something—cattle, horses or equipment.  It is then she will find the milk cow has milk fever and the pickup he left her has a flat tire and the jack and four-way tire wrench went with him on the trip.  By the time he gets home, invitations to his lynching have been printed and mailed out.

Horses that come in every morning for feed and water will not be seen all day if you so much as whisper the words, “We need to catch a horse tomorrow.” The same science applies for the day you intend to rope or work on the windmill; the wind will blow with a gusto seen only in hurricane ratings.

Events that provide such entertainment are ongoing and there is no end to the list.  The romanticism of ranching has been painted, photographed and often captured in word without the underbelly of the story. I offer truth in the telling.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Gun Control: The Matter of Good and Evil

From Artesia to Bakersfield
The Matter of Good and Evil
Gun Control
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Twelve years after Rachel Scott was killed in the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee invited her dad, Darrell Scott, to testify in a hearing. What Mr. Scott had to say was not the message that Democratic law makers wanted to hear.
            His message began with the reminder that violence associated with the intent to kill was not new. In fact, scripture reminds us that the first recorded act of deadly violence came not from unknown combatants but hostilities of one brother against another. When Cain slew his brother Abel, the club in his hand wasn’t the issue. It was what was found in Cain’s heart.
            Mr. Scott’s message began with a reminder to the lawmakers that the problem wasn’t going to be solved in a blame search. Rather, it is our spiritual rights that time and again have been attacked and vilified. His blunt message suggested that much of the fault lies behind the pointing fingers of the legislative accusers sitting in front of him.
His remarks were best summarized in a poem he wrote attempting to clarify how he should craft his words. His poem was:

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You’ve stripped away our heritage,
You’ve outlawed simple prayer.
Now, gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And you ask the question, “Why?”
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!
            Israel, 1972
            The world changed in 1972. Jim McKay, ABC Sports, became the first play by play terrorist commentator in the history of the world as he reported on the abduction of Israeli athletes in Munich at the Olympic Games. Those of us who stared with incredulity at our television sets should have had an inkling that something bigger was at play.
            Two years prior to the Munich tragedy Israel itself was locked in a bitter internal conflict of the armed threat to children in its public schools. The gun control advocates wanted to outlaw guns, period. Just like their counterparts today, their insistence on the elimination of guns meant safety to them. The leadership, however, recognized that disarming Israeli citizenry only meant exposing Israel to greater threat.
            Israel addressed gun violence to their children by arming administrators and teachers. Today, Israel remains under the insane demand to tolerate rocket attacks by its Arab foes, but school shootings don’t occur. Reality prevailed, leadership displayed courage, and school age children are not being shot.
            Artesia to Bakersfield
            Artesia, New Mexico recently added “In God We Trust” to their city’s official logo. Their decision was prompted by Bakersfield, California.
            Bakersfield has been urging like minded communities to adopt the phrasing for some time. Back in 2001, Councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan urged her own board to post the phrase in their Council Chambers. Since that time, Ms. Sullivan founded In God We Trust America Inc. to push the idea nationally. Today, more than 300 municipalities in 12 states have taken the challenge. Their unified stance has been to maintain the national commitment even when national leaders have shown inclination to ignore the foundational tenant.
            It was no surprise when an article appeared about another Bakersfield resident in the debate over gun control. His message mirrored the result founded in the Israeli decision of 40 years ago.
Retired law enforcement firearms instructor, Mike Waidelich, was asked about his extensive career. Mr. Waidelich said, “Nearly every tragedy on and off school grounds in the entire 30 years of my law enforcement career could have been prevented or the damage done considerably limited by the presence of an armed and trained individual.”
Waidelich’s opinion is also demonstrated in research. University of Chicago work has pulled together some very compelling results. In reviewing data from 1977 through 1992 in all 3054 counties across the United States, researchers have projected that 1570 murders, 4177 rapes, and 60,020 aggravated assaults would have been prevented by the intervention of trained, armed, and committed citizens.  
Notice the results indicate committed citizens as opposed to trained professionals. The distinction of that implication is very important. An example of that can be found in a head to head competition in California. The event pitted 80 seasoned law enforcement officers against 80 citizens who had gone through a program in Windsor, California. The instruction provider, an outfit called Front Sight, specializes in personal defensive training for citizens. The competition pitted trainee graduates against the armed professionals. The citizens prevailed in over 50% of the competition.
Interviews with the winners revealed they believed that the ability to shoot was important, but it was only part of the process. The ability to rationalize and interpret a situation was equally important. It was supremely important if the citizen was vested in the threat.
Just like Israeli teachers have demonstrated, their commitment and their actions are magnified in the face of imminent danger … especially if it threatens their children.
Real World
Our world changed last Friday.
At promptly 12:17 PM, I got a call from Kathy informing me that the school our third granddaughter, Emma, attends in El Paso was under lock down. A shooter was reported.
For over an hour, the confusion that reigned was extreme. Emma’s mother, our second daughter, Lindsay, received a text from within the school reporting that no shots had been heard. She also knew that the school had initiated its prescribed imminent threat drill and the children and teachers carried it out flawlessly.
A rumor ensued that the shooter was actually in the high school in which Emma’s elementary school was associated. That rumor proved to be false. In fact, a hooded character with a shotgun had been seen by a janitor on the elementary school grounds. The janitor had immediately triggered the alarm.
Task teams from nearly every branch of law enforcement converged on the school grounds. Nobody could approach the school beyond an enforced perimeter blocks away.
As of this morning, there is no suspect in custody. We are told there is a suspect on security tape that does appear to fit the janitor’s description. That person of interest fled as soon as the alarm was sounded.
The reports from the law enforcement teams that entered the school are interesting. They indicate that the school appeared to be empty. Not a person was seen. Not a child was heard. Every person had done what they had been taught.
It is important to relate my own reaction to the threat that my granddaughter faced within those walls. My reaction was fairly matter of fact. My granddaughter’s safety was the only priority. I could care less about the mental state or the contrived predicament the reported shooter might suffer. I wanted him eliminated.
In that hour or so of suspense, the only defense of my granddaughter was a weapon in the hands of a person who was committed to her safety. That weapon wasn’t my enemy. That shooter was. My granddaughter hadn’t assaulted the idiocy and the mind of a coward. Rather, that coward had assaulted my world and that of my precious child. He had no right to that. In fact, the moment he carried a gun upon school property he lost all rights.
There is no disagreement the mind of that shooter needs help, but I can’t help him any more than I can now change the outcome of Cain’s anger against his brother more than 280 generations ago. Perhaps somebody can help him, but the trade for his rehabilitation in the face of innocent children is no trade.
My posture is not predicated on unattainable social justice, and I refuse to be lumped into the ranks of the accused solely on the basis of my political beliefs. My family, friends, and neighbors don’t intrude into the lives of the innocent, and, if they did, I would unequivocally support actions to halt their offenses.
I want an administrator armed and ready to defend innocent children. If there is threat, I want him running to that point of threat with the objective intent to defend innocence immediately and forcibly.
Darrell Scott is right. We are the targets of words that suggest we are the problem. We are not the enemy. The right to bear arms is a fundamental right we take seriously. More importantly, our right to prayer is yet more profound. In his closing statement, Scott related how his son had also prayed for his safety in the midst of the Columbine debacle.
“I defy any law or politician to deny him that right!” Scott said.
We agree, Mr. Scott … WE AGREE!

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “I surmise that Cain may have had a different scowl on his face if Abel had turned to face him and his club … with any Ruger.”