Friday, June 20, 2014

Utah county follows Cliven Bundy's lead, refuses to recognize federal agencies

Utah’s residents have had a contentious history with the federal government when it comes to public lands. Now one county in the state has taken things a step further, passing a resolution refusing to recognize federal agents.
     Carbon County, located on the eastern side of Utah and named for the coal deposits in the region, unanimously passed the resolution against federal agents on June 4. The county board of commissioners specially singled out officials from the Bureau of Land Management in its prohibition.
     “Accordingly, the Board of Commissioners of Carbon County declares publicly in the interest of the health, safety and welfare of its citizens, that Carbon County does not recognize any attempt by a federal official to try to enforce state or local criminal or civil laws on any lands in Carbon County, including any BLM and Forest Service lands in Carbon County… including federal lands.”
     "Any such attempted exercise of law enforcement powers by an official of a land management agency IS NOT RECOGNIZED by Carbon County," the resolution stated (caps in original), "and shall be deemed AN IMMINENT THREAT TO THE HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELFARE OF THE CITIZENS OF CARBON COUNTY."
     The resolution also demanded that any federal agent intending to take a law enforcement action "shall first declare his presence and intended action to the Sheriff of Carbon County."
     The resolution is the second repudiation of federal authority in Utah since Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy (known as the “last rancher in Clark County, Nevada”) took a stand in a recent showdown against the BLM over his refusal since 1993 to pay fees to the federal government for the right to raise cattle on land his family has ranched since the 1870s. In May, residents of the town of Blanding were joined by Bundy supporters as they rode ATVs on BLM land that has been closed to motorized vehicles since 2007.
     "People are hugely frustrated," San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams said to the Deseret News of the ATV ride. "People are ready to draw a line in the sand, they're ready to push back."
     Although some in Utah see the board of commissioners’ move as not the most logical one (“Carbon County now joins LaVerkin in the tinfoil hat world. LaVerkin, you might recall, once passed a resolution banning the U.N. from the southern Utah city,” Paul Rolly wrote in a Salt Lake Tribune op-ed), Utah’s frustrations with the federal government aren’t limited to Blanding and Carbon County.
     On Wednesday, state lawmakers vented their frustrations about grazing cutbacks and renegade federal law enforcement agents during a committee meeting with top BLM and Forest Service Officials, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
     "We as a state are heavily dependent on what you do in managing these lands. … It is very, very important we have a working relationship," said Rep. Mike Noel, the chairman of the House’s Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee, according to the Tribune.
     Noel represents seven rural counties, and said his constituents “have a very, very difficult time understanding some of the decisions that come down.”
     Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said the BLM arbitrarily canceled its contracts with county sheriffs' departments on the premise they were "illegal," but Utah was the only state in which that action was taken.
Rep. Ken Ivory lambasted the BLM for an excessive display of force by federal agents at the Bundy ranch.     
    "There were hundreds of agents armed heavily with Tasers and attack dogs going in to collect a fee or fine. We have not seen that before," he said.

House bill pushes Forest Service to improve trail maintenance

A bill encouraging the U.S. Forest Service to improve its trail maintenance received widespread support from Montana outdoors groups this week. The Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, The Wilderness Society and others heralded the introduction of the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act by Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, and Tim Walz, D-Minnesota. The bill would expand the use of volunteer help on trail maintenance and codify how the Forest Service prioritizes its maintenance backlog. Last year, a Government Accountability Office report found the Forest Service had a $314 million deferred-maintenance backlog, along with $210 million in unfinished annual maintenance, capital improvements and operations in its trails program. The GAO reported the agency had done some maintenance on 37 percent of its 158,000 miles of trail in fiscal 2012. Only one in four of those trails met the Forest Service’s own standards, the report stated...more

Guess who came to dinner last night and what we discussed

I had two delightful guests last night:  Paul Gessing with the Rio Grande Foundation and Carl Graham with The Coalition for Self Government in The West.

Your assignment is to guess what topic we spent most of our time discussing.  Still not sure?  Then read on my fellow Westerners, read on.

Let Western states manage public lands


    A Western rancher who has his federal grazing rights restricted or removed doesn’t just lose a few cows. He loses a multi-generational investment, a profession, and a legacy to pass on to his children.
    An elderly hunter or trail rider who sees motorized access eliminated from national forest land doesn’t just lose an elk or a nice camping trip. She loses family bonding and recreational opportunities that have been passed down from generation to generation.
    And a state that becomes more and more dependent on federal aid - aid that's being increasingly squeezed between national entitlement and debt obligations - isn't just losing tax dollars on land owned and operated by bureaucrats in Washington. It's losing the right to decide how to best educate its children, how to provide for public safety, and how to meet its citizens' needs.

                                                   READ ENTIRE COLUMN

Feds must give local land control back to N.M.

by Paul Gessing

...These lands are part of the respective states. They are supposed to be managed by the federal government on behalf of the states, but the funds are rightfully ours. Unfortunately, Washington doesn’t play by the rules.

If Washington did obey its own rules, many of these lands – excluding National Parks and Tribal lands – would have been transferred to the various Western states decades ago. After all, this was the pattern set up at the founding of our nation. Dating back to 1780, the Continental Congress designed a process by which the national government would “dispose of” lands under its control for the benefit of the nation. That process held true for two centuries, but was not allowed to work when it came to Western states like New Mexico which remains more than 40 percent federally-owned.

Whether federal or state government owns land may appear trivial at first blush, but we already have seen that federal budgetary mismanagement has resulted in the withholding of funds meant to support the activities of New Mexico government. And, of course we have well-documented problems with federal management of lands, including the lack of willingness to extract dead and dying trees, thus creating a “tinderbox” in New Mexico’s mountainous regions that have regularly caught fire in recent years.

Lastly, there is the basic reality that government’s functions are best managed locally. Washington instead enforces “one-size-fits-all” management policies that don’t work well for anyone.

The individual states, unlike Washington, have both the incentive and the local knowledge to manage local lands. They can often do so more effectively, without jumping through the hoops of Washington’s bureaucracy. The “rights of way” used by utilities on federal lands are but one recent example. The fact that these areas are too narrow and allowed falling power lines to start several of the fires burning in New Mexico has generated consternation from our Congressional delegation, but any federal action to expand or alter these “rights of way” is likely years away.

Paul Gessing is the President of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation.

Why there’s a federal land dispute brewing out West - video

Glance at a map showing the percentage of state land owned by the federal government and you’ll see a remarkable difference between the East and the West. East of the Rocky Mountains, the feds own no more than 13 percent of the land in any state. West of the Rockies, in the continental U.S., the federal government owns at least 29.9 percent of the land in each state. In eight states — California, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming — the feds own more than 40 percent of the land. When Alaska (69.3 percent) is included, that number grows to nine.  Carl Graham thinks that should change. He’d like to see the federal government transfer some — but not all — of those vast swaths of territory to the states themselves. “What we’d like to see is shifting that balance back to where we have more state and local governments, who are much more accountable to their people, making those decisions that affect people’s lives,” said Graham, director of the Sutherland Coalition for Self-Government in the West, based in Salt Lake City. Graham says in a domestic economic situation rife with sequesters and budget deficits, Western states in particular are too dependent on the federal government. The title of his group’s website makes no secret of that: There was a time when the federal government owned most of the land in the Eastern states. But in the early 19th century, those lands were transferred to the states through grants, sales and homesteading. But the same thing didn’t happen for states in the West. “What happened in the late 19th century was, Teddy Roosevelt and others looked out to the West and said, ‘Hey, nobody’s out there yet really using these lands. Let’s start fencing them off and preserving them and keeping people off of them,’ ” Graham told New Mexico Watchdog. As a result, there’s a marked difference between the amount of federally owned land between one border state and another, such as Montana (29.9 percent) and North Dakota (just 2.7 percent), even though both states entered the Union in the same year — 1889. “It’s a matter of fairness,” Graham said. “A promise has been broken.”...more

Here’s New Mexico Watchdog’s interview with Graham

House panel takes aim at ‘interpretive rule’ in EPA Waters of U.S. plan

Members of a House Agriculture subcommittee from both parties had a heated exchange yesterday with a top USDA official over the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal for defining exactly what falls under the agency's jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA). In the hot seat was Robert Bonnie, the USDA's under secretary for natural resources and environment. He told lawmakers that an “interpretive rule” on farming and ranching exemptions under the CWA, issued at the same time as the EPA proposal to define “Waters of the U.S.,” ensures that 56 specific agricultural conservation practices, executed under the standards of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, would not be subject to CWA dredged or fill permitting requirements. While Bonnie emphasized that the practices are completely voluntary, legislators insisted the EPA's proposal would result in NRCS functioning more like a regulatory agency, rather than one that's supposed to work with farmers to improve conservation methods. Rep. Glenn Thompson, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, said farmers might be discouraged from employing any conservation practices “if they don't want to face consequences of the Clean Water Act,” which can include fines of $37,000 per day. “What was voluntary is now compulsory,” the Pennsylvania Republican added. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., the ranking member of the full Agriculture Committee, also criticized the rule and submitted a list of over 100 conservation practices recognized by NRCS, half of which are not included in the EPA's interpretive rule. “How do you say you're covering everything, when it's not true?” he said. Also testifying at the hearing was Andy Fabin, cattle producer and farmer from Indiana, Pennsylvania, representing the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA). He said the interpretive rule made him reluctant to move forward with any voluntary conservation practices. “If you tell a farmer he has to comply with NRCS standards or apply for a (CWA Section 404) permit, he hasn't been given any real choice at all,” Fabin said. NCBA and other agricultural organizations have asked EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw their proposed definition of “waters of the U.S.,” as well as the interpretive rule. In a press release, NCBA said EPA chose 56 exempted practices, including prescribed grazing, because they may result in a discharge into a “water of the U.S.” This effectively makes grazing a discharge activity, and cattle producers would be required to obtain a permit to graze unless they have a NRCS-approved grazing plan, said NCBA. Another witness, Don Parrish, the American Farm Bureau Federation's senior director of regulatory relations, said if a farmer builds a fence that does not comply with NRCS standards, then he has essentially violated the Clean Water Act. Although a federal agency would be unlikely to check the property, citizen activists could file a lawsuit over a fence that isn't within NRCS standards, he said...more

Wilderness grazing up for more comments

Because of a high level of interest, the U.S. Forest Service is offering a second comment period on a Draft Environmental Assessment on grazing in the Weminuche Wilderness. The San Juan National Forest’s Columbine District received several requests to extend the first comment period, which ended Monday, according to a news release Thursday. Regulations, however, do not allow for an extension. “Because of the level of public interest, complexity of the project and in an effort to be responsive to interested members of the public, the Forest Service is able to offer a second, full 30-day comment period,” said the news release from Ann Bond, spokeswoman with the San Juan National Forest. The second comment period on the ends July 21. Those who already have submitted comments do not need to do so again. The analysis area encompasses approximately 166,700 acres on 13 grazing allotments on the northern end of Missionary Ridge, stretching east across the Weminuche Wilderness to the Pine River. The proposed action would continue to permit livestock grazing on the six allotments that currently are being grazed; five allotments would continue to be grazed by sheep, and one would be converted to cattle use. It also would apply a “sunset clause” to the five active sheep allotments in order to eventually phase out sheep grazing but without causing hardship to the permittee...more

Utah aims to delay federal decision on sage grouse

Utah wants more time to prove no further federal intervention is needed to protect the state's dwindling sage grouse population, throwing $2 million into the effort to retain control of the bird's habitat. Legislators on Tuesday are expected to discuss a push to postpone the September 2015 deadline for a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision on possibly listing the bird as endangered. The move could bring restrictions on thousands of acres of state land. Utah is among a number of Western states challenging federal science on the bird's conservation status, saying greater sage grouse face no immediate danger of extinction. It contends 500,000 birds are scattered across 60 million acres in the West. Conservationists are pushing for greater habitat protections, squaring off against ranchers, miners and oil and gas executives who operate on public lands. Some have said politics have no place in the scientific debate. Utah lawmakers say they don't need to outlaw ranching, mining and energy development to protect the football-size birds known for puffing up in elaborate mating dances. The state has awarded hunter and lawyer Ryan Benson a $2 million contract to lobby Congress in the effort to delay the decision on the endangered listing, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. To retain oversight of the bird's management, the state Department of Natural Resources plans to kick off the one-year contract with Benson's company, Stag Consulting, starting July 1. Meanwhile, federal authorities issued a moratorium Tuesday blocking oil, gas and coal leasing on 800,000 acres of public land in southwestern Colorado and a sliver of eastern Utah that is home to another species of sage grouse. But Utah officials say its conservation plan, which has been in place for a year, is working...more

Environmental group wants Grizzlies back in NM

An environmental group wants to see Grizzly bears back on the landscape. The Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition Thursday, asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to update their 1993 Grizzly Bear recovery plan. The Center for Biological Diversity says there are thousands of acres in the West where Grizzlies would thrive and more land means more Grizzlies and a better chance for their long-term survival. Yet, some groups aren’t so sure reintroduction is a good idea. Grizzlies were put on the Endangered Species list in 1975. The Feds came up with a recovery plan for them more than 20 years ago. Now, the Center for Biological Diversity wants to see that plan updated and they’ve pointed out 110,000 square miles of habitat where they say Grizzlies would thrive. It includes the Gila in New Mexico and Arizona. Experts with the group say Grizzlies are an important part of the ecosystem. “As a top predator, they regulate deer and elk populations which keep those herds healthy. It also, in turn, benefits species that deer and elk forage on,” says Greenwald. Yet, some aren’t so sure about the Grizzly’s return. “It’s ridiculous, in our opinion and it’s such a waste of time but, at the same time, it’s extremely dangerous,” says New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association’s Cathy Cowen. Cowen says introducing the large predator to the land is not only dangerous for livestock, it’s also dangerous for people. “How are people going to go to the Gila National Forest to camp and hunt and recreate when there’s a fear of Grizzly Bears there?” asked Cowen...more

Who is this Cathy Cowen?  Of course its Caren Cowan.

Wildlife agents confirm 2 recent incidents of wolves killing, injuring NE Oregon livestock

Oregon Fish and Wildlife officials say they've confirmed two recent incidents of wolves killing or injuring livestock in the northeast corner of the state. The Oregonian reports that four ewes and three lambs were found dead June 13 in a sheep pen near Pendleton. In that case, a lamb was missing and a number of other sheep were injured. Investigators found bite wounds consistent with wolves. The unidentified ranch owner saw a single, uncollared wolf feeding on a carcass that day. And GPS tracking collar data from a Umatilla River wolf pack member proved there was at least one other wolf nearby at the same time. Investigators say a cow was attacked and severely injured less than a mile away a few days earlier. GPS data showed two Umatilla River pack wolves in the pasture around that time. Fish and Wildlife's Russ Morgan says the agency is working with local ranchers to reduce the risk of more attacks with additional deterrents like fencing, guard animals or alarm systems.  AP

Congress should repeal, replace ESA

Our federal bureaucrats have never met a problem they couldn’t exacerbate. That is especially the case with their handling of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Using flimsy evidence the Fish and Wildlife Service has declared countless species to be threatened or endangered with extinction under the auspices of the ESA to the detriment of numerous human endeavors on both public and private land. The northwest timber industry was decimated in a futile effort to save the spotted owl, but it turns out the spotted owl’s real enemy is the barred owl, which has been taking over its territory to the point that federal agents are now shooting barred owls. In California — the fruit, nut and vegetable basket of the nation — farmers are having to let fields lie fallow and unirrigated in order to preserve the water for snail darters and other fishes. This not only devastates the farmers but drives up the cost of groceries for all in a futile attempt to save an insignificant creature that will doubtless become extinct anyway — as nature, not man, dictates. In Nevada, efforts to save desert tortoises by federal land bureaucrats has led to the near extinction of ranchers in Clark County, leaving only one rogue cowboy to face off an army of heavily armed Bureau of Land Management agents with the aid of a few armed civilians and militia volunteers. This in spite of the fact range biologists have proven desert tortoise thrive when cattle are present compared to cattle-free rangeland. In addition, the desert tortoises are so near extinction that the Las Vegas-based Tortoise Group is now up to its armpits in tortoises — as many as a thousand a year being turned in — that it is adopting out to homes in Reno, Sparks, Carson and points north. Also, the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Clark County is being closed because of a lack of funding. The bureaucrats can throw up their arms when it comes to complying with the ESA, while ranchers, miners, lumberjacks and oil and gas explorers have no such option. The Fish and Wildlife Service is currently in the process of declaring the bistate sage grouse — a supposedly unique species of this chicken-sized, ground nesting bird — as threatened under the ESA, a deed that will jeopardize the grazing rights of ranchers on two dozen allotments along the northern Nevada-California border. Meanwhile, a study by the U.S. Geological Survey over the past decade has found that the population of bistate grouse has been relatively stable. Not that this would deter the Fish and Wildlife Service. The bistate grouse is a precursor to the debate in the rest of the state, which is home to greater sage grouse, due to be declared endangered next year. The federal government agencies have largely ignored independent studies that found the population of this subset of species to also be stable and in no way threatened with extinction. The land agencies list the biggest threat to greater sage grouse as human industry, virtually ignoring the paramount threat from predators such as ravens, which are protected under a migratory bird treaty...more

Calif. senior rights holders could be next to lose water

Like many of his fellow California farmers and ranchers, Bruce Miller is worried about his water rights. Miller, owner of Miller Ranch in Shingletown, Calif., draws water from a nearby creek and stream with rights issued before 1914, when the state passed legislation that formalized its surface water permit system. He says he received a notice that the State Water Resources Control Board, which has issued stop-diversion orders to junior rights holders throughout the Central Valley, may consider curtailing senior and riparian rights, too, amid California’s crippling drought. “That’s my major concern,” Miller said. “It says that curtailment is not an issue ‘at this time’, but knowing the state and the seriousness of the drought, I’m concerned.” Miller was one of more than 100 landowners who attended a meeting here June 11 to discuss the possible loss of their water rights. Local Farm Bureau and cattlemen’s groups called the meeting after growers throughout the region received letters informing them that their ability to divert from local creeks and streams could be in jeopardy...more

Parts Of Southeast Colorado Drier Than The Dust Bowl

Parts of Southeast Colorado are experiencing a longer period of drought than the dry times that occurred during the Dust Bowl. According to Nolan Doesken, the state climatologist, the past three years and eight months have been the driest stretch ever recorded for some parts of the state, including Rocky Ford, La Junta and Ordway. "It was drier than the worst consecutive drought period of the 30s and of the 50s," said Doesken. Rocky Ford has gotten just 19.7 inches since October 2010, according to the state climatologist. While this is a serious dry spell, there were more prolonged droughts in the 1930s and 1970s – it's just that they were interspersed with some rainfall relief, which much of the southeastern part of the state hasn't seen over three and a half years. Recent spring rains have brought some relief to parts of the region, but the rainfall has been spotty, said Doesken. This means some towns ended their driest period on record in March, but a few are still as parched as they have ever been...more

New Mexico's largest solar plant opens

The state's largest solar power plant has opened on 600 acres in southern New Mexico. New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell visited Deming on Wednesday to marking the opening of Macho Springs Solar Facility, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports. Built on state trust land in Luna County, the project is jointly owned by Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power and by Turner Renewable Energy. The 50-megawatt solar power project provided about 300 jobs during the construction phase, Powell said. "It will provide a constant stream of revenue for our public schools," Powell said. "This project will provide clean, efficient solar power to El Paso Electric service customers, and the lease payments could generate as much as $10 million for our school kids over the 40-year term of the lease." Construction on the project started in July 2013, and it began operation in May of this year. The additional solar generation doubles the amount of solar energy in the El Paso Electric system, said Marybeth G. Stevens, the company's assistant vice president for external affairs and public relations...more

Heinrich & Udall support U.S. Patent Office cancellation of ‘Redskins’ trademark

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich said Tuesday that he supports the decision by the U.S. Patent Office to cancel patents related to the name of the Washington Redskins, deeming it offensive to Native Americans. “The U.S. Patent Office took a positive step today toward the goal of changing the Washington, D.C. football team’s name,” Heinrich said in a statement on Tuesday. “Racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports. Our tribal communities have always enhanced New Mexico’s rich culture and traditions. It’s past time for the football team to change its name.” Heinrich was one of fifty U.S. Senators to sign onto a letter to the team’s owner Dan Snyder asking him to change the name. New Mexico’s other U.S. Senator, Tom Udall, also signed the letter...more

Heinrich is just being PC, but for Udall its another opportunity to scalp Freedom of Speech.

Producers take action against Chipotle’s beef import plan

In the following days after Chipotle Mexican Grill’s official statement announcing their plans to import Australian grass-fed beef to meet their “Food With Integrity” and “Responsibly Raised Beef” standards because United States cattle ranchers were not able to meet the demand, cattle producers and industry leaders have taken the time to speak up about the situation. “As Texas Agriculture Commissioner, I truly appreciate the past efforts made by Chipotle to support family farms and your company’s dedication to serving locally-grown products. However, I am shocked by your recent decision to start serving meat that’s been shipped in from more than 8,000 miles away. I also was dismayed by your misguided and irresponsible declaration that this meat is somehow more “responsibly raised” than meat produced by Texas ranchers.  American consumers deserve better,” wrote Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples in a June 16 letter to Chipotle’s founder, chairman and Co-CEO, Steve Ells. “I personally invite you and the Chipotle team to meet face-to-face with myself and other Texas beef industry leaders to discuss how we can help supply Chipotle’s growing demand for fresh, healthy beef. After all, Texas beef would not have to travel thousands of miles and leave a substantial carbon footprint before ending up in a Chipotle burrito.” Two California ranchers, Darrell Wood, an organic, grass-finished beef producer, and Darrel Sweet, a conventional beef producer, have spoken openly and clearly on the Facts About Beef Blog about the differences in their methods and how the environment dictates what practices they are able to utilize. For example, Wood has summer and winter pasture available for his grass-fed operation, while 185 miles south, Sweet’s grass remains dormant six months out of the year, making it essential he uses conventional methods in order to meet his goals...more

Beef Reaches U.S. Record as Rancher Sees More Gains

For a guy who just sold some of his cattle at the highest price ever, Missouri rancher Ryan Sharrock is showing less enthusiasm for beef. He says the meat is just too expensive and that the cost probably will keep rising. While he got more than $1,000 each for 23 calves sold at auction a couple of weeks ago, the 33-year-old Sharrock says he’s cut back on steak dinners for his family of five in Patton, Missouri, to less than one a week from three. “It’s not so much a cheap family meal anymore,” he said. U.S. ground-beef prices are up 76 percent since 2009 to the highest on record, after a seven-year decline in the herd left the fewest cattle in at least six decades, government data show. Meat costs are rising faster than any other food group, eroding profit margins at Hormel Foods Corp. (HRL) and forcing Costco Wholesale Corp. and Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. to raise prices. Supply probably will remain tight. It can take three years to expand the herd, and a prolonged drought in Texas, the top producer, parched pastures needed to raise young animals. The government says the U.S. will become a net beef importer in 2015. Cattle futures already up 22 percent in the past year in Chicago may rally 8.3 percent to $1.578 a pound by the end of December, a Bloomberg survey of five analysts showed. “Beef’s a staple at this point, so at many points, it’s inelastic on price,” said Jake Dollarhide, the chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management Co. in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which oversees about $75 million. “I don’t see consumer habits changing at these price levels.” After years of high feed costs and drought, the domestic herd on Jan. 1 slid to 87.7 million head, the fewest to start a year since 1951 and the seventh straight decline, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show...more

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Walsh says Montanans 'worried' about monument designations (and I explain why they ought to be)

Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) said Montanans have serious misgivings about President Obama designating national monuments in the Treasure State, according to a letter he sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
The letter, obtained by E&E Daily under the Freedom of Information Act, says Montanans are "worried" about Obama's use of the Antiquities Act without the consultation and consent of local citizens. "I have heard from many Montanans who have raised serious concerns regarding land protections that may be recommended by the Department of Interior," Walsh said in his March 13 letter. "I strongly urge you not to consider the designation of any new monuments in Montana unless there is significant discussion, collaboration, and support of local citizens." The letter, which was not publicized, suggests the 1906 Antiquities Act remains a volatile political issue in Montana, where Walsh, who was appointed in February by Gov. Steve Bullock (D) to replace former Sen. Max Baucus (D), is locked in what is expected to be a tight election race with Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.). Walsh has said little about the Antiquities Act during his short time in office, and it's unclear whether the issue will figure prominently in the race. Controversy over national monuments flared up in Montana in 2010 with the release of a confidential Interior Department memo suggesting that the administration was contemplating a potential 2.5-million-acre monument along the Canadian border to protect prairies and potentially establish a new bison range. The memo put Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), an Obama ally, in an uncomfortable position in a state where many distrust federal regulatory intrusions. Bob Abbey, who was director of the Bureau of Land Management at the time, traveled to Malta, Mont., to tamp down local concerns, and then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wrote a letter to Tester to assuage his concerns. Walsh is cognizant of that memo too. "A leaked memorandum referenced a potential designation and our communities were rightfully outraged by the lack of outreach or consent," Walsh wrote. Jewell responded May 1, saying the department has "no plans to recommend federal lands in Montana be designated as a national monument, and I will not recommend a proposal without the support of local citizens." "I recognize and respect the importance of public and congressional input when considering appropriate protections for our natural, historical and cultural treasures," she said. While conservation groups are nudging Obama to declare landscape-scale national monuments in red states including Arizona, Utah and Idaho, there do not appear to be any concerted campaigns in Montana. The state has historically leaned red, but its senators, governor and at least three of its major statewide elected officials are Democrats...more

Jewell, "I will not recommend a proposal without the support of local citizens."  

Look out Montana.  

She wrote that on May 1 and then 20 days later did exactly the opposite.  On May 21 Obama designated the 500,000 acre Organ Mtns.-Desert Peaks National Monument in spite of it being opposed by the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, the Hispano Chamber of Commerce, the County Sheriff, the local soil & water conservation district and many others. Jewell needs to change her quote to "local politicians" instead of citizens.  

Besides, it probably doesn't matter what Jewell recommends, as its clear to me that John Podesta in the White House is calling the shots on monuments.  Senator Walsh wrote to the wrong person in the Obama administration.

U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Area Would Nearly Double Under New Plan

A large swath of the Atlantic Ocean could soon be used to generate electricity, as a U.S. agency proposes opening more than 1,000 square miles of ocean to wind energy projects. The area is off the coast of Massachusetts, which has been working on the proposal with federal officials. The area under consideration is near the region where parcels for offshore wind farms were auctioned off last year, in what one U.S. official called "a really historic moment in the clean energy future of this country." The U.S. Department of the Interior says the new Massachusetts Wind Energy Area would be auctioned off in four leases. The agency's proposal begins a 60-day public comment period that will end on August 18.  The Department of the Interior's announcement includes instructions for submitting comments, saying they can be sent to the federal regulations website...more

Editorial - Lost Jobs 'Collateral Damage' To Environmentalists

The head of a leading environmental group recently defended job losses from the Obama administration's new anti-carbon regulations as "collateral damage" in the fight against global warming. Joseph Schumpeter must be turning over in his grave.

Writing in the Huffington Post, William Becker of the Climate Action Project praised the new Environmental Protection Agency regulations to stop climate change, and wrote that "there is nothing explicit in the (Obama) plan to mitigate or adapt to the economic disruption the clean energy transition will cause for coal and oil-country families."

These families thrown out of work, he said, are an "evolutionary step in technology and the economy" and a move toward "economic progress."

And his solution to the increase in unemployment in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio is to create yet another job training program, as if that will compensate for turning workers' lives upside down.

These comments may seem offensive and elitist (imagine the media outcry if an industry representative described workers laid off as "collateral damage"). But at least Becker is honest about the negative impact of the radical anti-carbon lobby's crusade on middle class families.

The Obama administration fantasizes that this knife to the throat of our domestic energy industry will somehow create "green" jobs. On the contrary.

A study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce finds that the new EPA regulations will destroy 200,000 mostly blue-collar energy jobs, reduce the U.S. GDP by about $50 billion a year and cost families thousands of dollars over the next decade in higher energy costs.

Coal company sues EPA over climate rules

Coal mining company Murray Energy Corp. said it has filed a federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop its carbon emissions rules for power plants, calling them “illegal, irrational, and destructive cap-and-tax regulations.” Murray filed its lawsuit in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Wednesday, the same day the proposal was formally published in the Federal Register. “This is clearly an illegal attempt by the Obama EPA to impose irrational and destructive cap-and-tax mandates, which Congress and the American people have consistently rejected,” Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent, said in a statement. “These proposed rules will cause immediate and irreparable harm to Americans, including our citizens on fixed incomes and our manufacturers of products that compete in the global marketplace,” he said. Courts usually can only review regulations after they are made final, which EPA does not plan to do for another year. But Murray argued in its court filing that the courts have “undoubted authority to prohibit unlawful actions before they are taken in extraordinary circumstances.” EPA is obviously acting beyond its power in this case, which warrants court action before the rule is made final, Murray said...more

Republican EPA chiefs to Congress: Act on climate

Top environmental regulators for four Republican presidents told Congress on Wednesday what many Republican lawmakers won't: Action is needed on global warming. In a congressional hearing organized to undermine Republican opposition to President Barack Obama's environmental proposals, Senate Democrats asked the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency for Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan to discuss the risks from climate change and what should be done about it. Some Republicans dispute the science of climate change and have worked to unravel Obama's steps to address it. Action on Capitol Hill — where even a bland, bipartisan energy efficiency bill couldn't get passed in May — has been in a deep freeze. "We have a scientific consensus around this issue. We also need a political consensus," said Christine Todd Whitman, the former New Jersey Governor and first EPA administrator under President George W. Bush, who resigned her post after disagreeing with the White House's direction on pollution rules. Whitman was joined by William Ruckelshaus, the nation's first EPA administrator under President Richard Nixon, William Reilly, who led the EPA under President George H.W. Bush, and Lee Thomas, who was administrator under Reagan...more

Environmental Markets - A Property Rights Approach

Environmental Markets explains the prospects of using markets to improve environmental quality and resource conservation. No other book focuses on a property rights approach using environmental markets to solve environmental problems. This book compares standard approaches to these problems using governmental management, regulation, taxation, and subsidization with a market-based property rights approach. This approach is applied to land, water, wildlife, fisheries, and air and is compared to governmental solutions. The book concludes by discussing tougher environmental problems such as ocean fisheries and the global atmosphere, emphasizing that neither governmental nor market solutions are a panacea. Environmental Markets is the inaugural book in Cambridge Studies in Economics, Choice, and Society, a new interdisciplinary series of theoretical and empirical research focusing on individual choice, institutions, and social outcomes, edited by Peter J. Boettke and Timur Kuran. Buy now at Cambridge University Press.


Scientists Find The 'Achilles Heel' Of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

The global threat of antibiotic resistance could finally be tackled after British scientists discovered a chink in the armour of deadly bacteria. Health experts have warned that within 20 years even routine operations like hip replacements and organ transplants could be deadly because of the risk of infection. But now scientists at the University of East Anglia have discovered how the bug responsible for E-coli and salmonella builds an impenetrable wall to keep out antibiotics. They believe that within a few years they could develop a drug which switches off the wall-building mechanism, making the bacteria vulnerable. The discovery, reported in Nature journal, could pave the way to a new generation of antibiotic drugs that work by bringing down the defensive wall...more

Washington Redskins need a new name? Some suggestions...

Firm is selling pepper-spray bullet firing drones, "riot control copter"

The maker of a drone that fires pepper spray bullets says it has received its first order for the machine. South Africa-based Desert Wolf told the BBC it had secured the sale of 25 units to a mining company after showing off the tech at a trade show. It is marketing the device as a "riot control copter" that can tackle crowds "without endangering the lives of security staff".  Desert Wolf's website states that its Skunk octacopter drone is fitted with four high-capacity paintball barrels, each capable of firing up to 20 bullets per second. In addition to pepper-spray ammunition, the firm says it can also be armed with dye-marker balls and solid plastic balls. The machine can carry up to 4,000 bullets at a time as well as "blinding lasers" and on-board speakers that can communicate warnings to a crowd. Guy Martin, the editor of Defence Web, said he believed the drone was unique. "The Skunk unmanned aerial vehicle with its four paintball guns, loudhailer and cameras is only a logical next step in the development of UAVs, but nevertheless it is a watershed moment in their evolution and goes to show that UAVs have almost unlimited uses," he said. "I predict that we will see a whole new wave of UAVs emerging with payloads more unusual than tasers, dart guns and paintball guns."...more

'Hundreds' of illegal immigrant children are being handed to relatives who are in the US illegally too

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services makes no effort to determine the immigration status of adult relatives when they show up to claim unaccompanied minor children who entered the U.S. illegally, a spokesman at the agency confirmed on Wednesday. Tens of thousands of the under-18s – 'Unaccompanied Alien Children' (UACs) in government-speak – have poured across the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, creating what President Barack Obama has termed an 'urgent humanitarian situation.' HHS, which houses them until family members can be found, has begun releasing illegal immigrant children 'by the hundreds' into the custody of adults who are illegal immigrants themselves, an HHS official familiar with the situation on America's southern border told MailOnline late on Tuesday. An official spokesman for HHS's Administration for Children and Families confirmed on Wednesday that the agency has no system in place to verify whether the adults are here legally. Kenneth Wolfe told MailOnline on Wednesday that 'around 90 percent of the minors in the UAC program are released to verified sponsors (mostly family members) in the U.S.' Asked if 'verified' means that the adults' immigration status has been checked, he responded, 'No.' He also answered 'no' when asked if there is 'an effort made to ascertain the immigration status of the adults who claim the kids.' Most of the children are turning themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents, who transport them to a facility where they are processed and given 'notices to appear' before an immigration judge between 10 and 90 days later. HHS takes over after that, drawing on a $1 billion budget to house, feed and otherwise care for the children until a suitable adult family member can be located to claim them. The first HHS official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment to the press, said his agency first tries to find a legal U.S. resident related to each child to take custody. But barring that outcome, he cautioned, 'I know they're more concerned with clearing the caseload than with the immigration status of the adult sponsors.' As many as 90,000 are expected to go through the system during the government's fiscal year that ends on September 30...more

Sights, smells of holding cells for immigrant kids

Children’s faces pressed against glass. Hundreds of young boys and girls covered with aluminum-foil-like blankets next to chain link fences topped with barbed wire. The pungent odor that comes with keeping people in close quarters. These were the scenes Wednesday from tours of crowded Border Patrol stations in South Texas and Arizona, where thousands of immigrants are being held before they are transferred to other shelters around the country. It was the first time the media was given access to the facilities since President Barack Obama called the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally this budget year an “urgent humanitarian situation.” The children pose a particular challenge because the law requires that they be transferred from Border Patrol stations like the ones in Texas and Arizona to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours. From there, they are sent to shelters for several weeks as the government tries to reunite them with family in the U.S. The network of some 100 shelters around the country has been over capacity for months and is now caring for more than 7,600 children. A group of about a dozen girls of perhaps 5 or 6 sat under another tent outside the shower trailer, dark hair wet and shiny. Women wearing blue gloves combed each girl’s hair. Tables held stacks of clean bluejeans, T-shirts and toiletries. Deeper into the yard, teen girls kicked a soccer ball and tossed a football with workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In Nogales, Arizona, girls playing soccer with two male border agents shrieked when their ball crossed over the chain link fence and away from the small recreational area covered by a white tent. Others playing basketball cheered on their teammates. Inside, the approximately 1,000 children in the clean, 120,000-square-foot warehouse were silent. In a roomy area with teenage boys, a large, high-definition TV playing the World Cup went largely ignored. A small group of boys played soccer, but most lay on tiny mattresses and covered themselves with thin, heat-reflective blankets that looked like aluminum foil...more

AP photos - A look at child immigrant holding cells

AP photos - U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Nogales, Ariz.

163 alien smugglers arrested during HSI's 'Southern Crossing' operation

More than 160 alien smugglers were arrested by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) during a monthlong initiative along the U.S. southwest border that ended May 31, according to ICE. "Operation Southern Crossing" took place May 1-31, throughout the five HSI areas of responsibility along the southern border: Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Phoenix and San Diego. However, due to the significant levels of human smuggling occurring near and through Texas' Rio Grande Valley, this initiative focused heavily on HSI's investigations and enforcement actions in southeast Texas. During the initiative, HSI special agents made 163 criminal arrests, obtained 60 indictments and 45 convictions. The initiative also netted the seizure of 29 vehicles, nine firearms and more than $35,000 in illicit proceeds. During Operation Southern Crossing, HSI emphasized its ongoing efforts to disrupt and dismantle the most dangerous and prolific Human Smuggling Organizations (HSOs) and stem the growing crime and violence associated with human smuggling activities...more

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Suspect extradited from Mexico to U.S. in border agent's slaying

A man charged in the murder of Brian A. Terry, a U.S. Border Patrol agent whose death was at the center of the Operation Fast and Furious investigation, has been returned to the United States and is scheduled to appear in federal court on Wednesday, according to federal government sources and the family of the slain officer. Lionel Portillo-Meza, also known as Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza, was arrested in Mexico on Sept. 6, 2012, and had been in custody awaiting extradition. He is accused of being among the five men in the “Rip-Crew,” charged with killing Terry during a 2010 shootout in Arizona near the border with Mexico. Robert Heyer, Brian Terry's cousin and chairman of the Brian Terry Foundation, confirmed that he was notified by officials that Portillo-Meza was extradited Tuesday night from Mexico City and was now in the United States. He is scheduled to appear in federal court in Tucson on Wednesday afternoon. lRelated Killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry detailed in court papers Nation Killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry detailed in court papers See all related 8 “We have been anticipating this extradition and we are very pleased,” Heyer said. “It’s been a long time. You know, he’s been sitting in jail in Mexico for almost two years. It took a long time for him to be extradited. But we’re very, very thankful that the Mexican government has continued to show cooperation and pursuit of justice of the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.” Terry, 40, died in shootout in the desert brush near Rio Rico on Dec. 14, 2010...more

Widespread incursions by armed Mexican officers put border agents in regular standoffs

Armed Mexican troops and police regularly stray across the U.S. border, according to statistics the Department of Homeland Security provided to Congress on Tuesday that indicate more than 500 of them have jumped the border in the past decade. Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said in a letter to Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, that, in many of those cases, the armed Mexican military or law enforcement personnel ended up in confrontations with American authorities, and 131 people were detained. The revelations come as U.S. officials are trying to secure the release of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who has been held by Mexican authorities since the beginning of April, when he drove through an official port of entry into Mexico while carrying firearms. “While the number of unauthorized incursions by Mexican authorities is relatively few, it is imperative for our officer safety to handle each situation assertively but with sensitivity and professionalism,” Mr. Kerlikowske said. But Mr. Hunter disputed the commissioner’s evaluation that dozens of incursions a year was rare. “DHS states that the number of incursions is ‘relatively few,’ but that is a misrepresentation of the frequency of these occurrences, which Mexico invites through its activities along the international border. Also, there is a clear lack of consistency among DHS in handling these incidents, especially in cases of unauthorized incursions with armed authorities,” Mr. Hunter said. According to Homeland Security numbers, there have been 300 incursions by Mexican police or troops since Jan. 1, 2004. The Mexicans were armed in slightly more than half of those incidents, totaling 525 people. There was a verbal or physical altercation between U.S. authorities and the Mexicans in 81 instances — totaling 320 Mexican police or troops...more 


"You can only protect your liberties in this world
by protecting the other man's freedom.
You can only be free if I am free."
-- Clarence S. Darrow
Source: Address to the Court, The Communist Trial, People v. Lloyd, 1920

"Attack another’s rights and you destroy your own."
-- John Jay Chapman
(1862-1933) American Essayist and Poet
Source: letter, 1897

Obama Proposes Creation Of World's Largest Ocean Sanctuary

President Obama unveiled a proposal on Tuesday that would create the world's largest ocean sanctuary south and west of Hawaii, The Washington Post and The Associated Press are reporting. According to the outlets, Obama intends to expand a sanctuary created by George W. Bush. Under the proposal, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument would go from 87,000 square miles of protected ocean to 782,000 square miles of ocean that surround seven islands and "atolls controlled by the United States," the Post reports.  Obama unveiled his proposal at an oceans conference hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department. "Growing up in Hawaii, I learned early to appreciate the beauty and power of the ocean," Obama said, according to The New York Times. "And like Presidents Clinton and Bush before me, I'm going to use my authority as president to protect some of our most precious marine landscapes, just like we do for mountains and rivers and forests."...more

Pressure Builds Against EPA Water Proposal

Proposed changes to the federal Clean Water Act have roiled farmers across the nation and created an uproar among many other water users—including cities and counties with parks and recreation areas, golf courses and local water agencies. If adopted, the proposed rule changes would expand the definition of "waters of the United States" to potentially allow federal agencies to regulate virtually every area of ground in the nation that gets wet or has flow during rainfall. California Farm Bureau Federation leaders were in Washington, D.C., in mid-May to explain to lawmakers face to face the damage the proposed changes could have on food production. They called for more time to review and comment on the proposal. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said last week it will extend the comment deadline on the proposed rule, allowing farmers, ranchers and other interested stakeholders more time—until Oct. 20—to comment on its proposed redefinition of waters of the U.S. The extension adds almost three additional months to the comment period, which had been scheduled to end July 21. Comment on a companion interpretive rule governing agricultural exemptions that accompanied the waters of the U.S. rule also will be extended—from June 5 to July 7. The Clean Water Act was signed into law in 1972 to protect the nation's "navigable" waters from pollution. The current proposal to amend the act would greatly expand EPA's regulatory powers. Farm policy experts say Congress gave states, not the EPA, primary responsibility for land use oversight. Farmers and ranchers say the proposal would expand regulatory authority to many common land features including puddles, ponds, ditches, and temporary and small wetlands. The proposal would give federal agencies power to regulate and potentially prohibit many common land-use and farming practices on or near privately owned land...more

National Park Service creates hazard by banning ‘hazardous’ cargo in National Monument

by Marjorie Haun

A Western Slope federal parks official’s decision to limit access to Monument Road has touched off angry reactions from residents who depend on the route for their livelihoods.
With little public input from Glade Park ranching community residents and without consulting with the Board of Commissioners in Mesa County, National Park Service (NPS) Director at the Colorado National Monument Lisa Eckert recently announced that vehicles containing “hazardous” cargo would be banned from using the route they have used for decades.
Monument Road adjoins to Glade Park just a few miles inside the boundaries of the Colorado National Monument (CNM). Ranchers and other residents of Glade Park — a rural community situated on the plateau above CNM — use Monument Road to haul goods, equipment, hay, fertilizer, livestock, fuel, and other necessities, to and from their operations.

Safety Concerns?

Eckert seeks to prohibit all these materials, whether or not they present a danger to traffic on the Monument and despite the fact that there been no reports of ‘hazardous materials’ being released into the environment due to an accident on the road.
A June 14 Grand Junction Daily Sentinel article by Gary Harmon details the unilateral decision made by the National Park Service:
Trucks hauling propane or other fuels to Glade Park no longer will be allowed to deliver to their customers via Monument Road as of Aug. 1, the National Park Service told residents.
Monument Road is being ruled out as a route for Glade Park deliveries because of safety concerns that were aired in listening sessions with Glade Park and other residents, Colorado National Monument Superintendent Lisa Eckert said.
Eckert’s decision deals a blow to Glade Park residents, most of whom use propane for heating and require shipments of gasoline and other fuels for their farming equipment. Ranchers and farmers depend on the easy access that Monument Road provides from the Grand Valley to Glade Park at the top of the Monument.

Poor Alternative

The only alternative route is Little Park Road to the east of Monument Road which is longer, more difficult to navigate, and must pass through neighborhoods on several narrow, unimproved byways. Little Park Road presents many obstacles to those hauling goods to Glade Park, and increases the likelihood of future accidents.
The action was taken without regard for the personal and property rights of the citizens living adjacent to protected lands. Harmon’s article goes on to illustrate the NPS’s “bad neighbor” attitude with the words of one Glade Park resident:
“The notice comes as two federal lawmakers are considering legislation to redesignate Colorado National Monument as a national park and it undermines promises that nothing about the monument would change,” Glade Park resident Lynn Grose said.
Grose sat on a committee that in 2011 and 2012 studied the pros and cons of park status.
“We were promised over and over that there would be no change,” Grose said. “Now they’re making changes without even a national-park designation.”
This development makes national park designation more problematic because it provides a real-time example of government overreach. The NPS has challenged a nearly 30-year-old precedent that established permanent access to Monument Road for vehicles traveling to Glade Park.

Court Order Challenged

In 1986, Wilkenson vs. Department of the Interior resolved the landmark lawsuit brought by residents of the ranching community. The United States District Court rebuffed the NPS by giving ranchers and other Glade Park residents — regardless of what they might be hauling — full, free, and permanent access to Monument Road as the main route to and from their homes. The court rejected attempts by the NPS to levy fees for use of the road, as well as to ban commercial traffic.
The decision on behalf of Glade Park residents was unequivocal:
ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED, that a public right of way exists in that portion of Rim Rock Drive extending from the East entrance of the Colorado National Monument to the Glade Park Cut-Off, and across the Glade Park Cut-Off, connecting the DS Road in Glade Park with the Monument Road to Highway 340, and the use of that road for the purpose of continuous travel through the Monument is a non-recreational use for which no entrance fee may lawfully be charged, and the defendants are enjoined from charging any such fee or otherwise preventing such non-recreational use of the roadways. The Clerk shall enter judgment, accordingly, and the plaintiffs are awarded their costs upon the filing of a bill of costs within 10 days from the entry of judgment.
In light of the Wilkenson ruling, the latest NPS decision is clearly unlawful, and ultimately damaging to the hoped-for redesignation of the Colorado National Monument to a national park. It’s unlikely that this is the end of the ongoing saga of the battle for Monument Road, now waged for decades by the NPS against residents of Glade Park over, what is in essence, a lifeline sustaining a small ranching community on the outskirts of the Colorado National Monument.
Eckert’s office has not responded to several requests for a statement from Watchdog Wire Colorado.


Farming and Food Evolution in the US as Explained in 40 Pics

What’s wrong with the state of farming and food in America?  Vox writers Ezra Klein and Susannah Locke posted a collection of maps, graphs, and charts that tell the story in an enjoyable way. You should go take a look at all 40 images, but here are a few of my key takeaways.

The Story Begins with Strong Agricultural Roots

In 1922, the meatpacking firm Armour and Company published the festive map at the top of this post. (Here’s a larger version for those like me with old eyes.) Statistically questionable as admitted by the company, the map provides an overview of agricultural products — livestock, seafood, crops — popular in each state at that time. Armour’s Food Source Map boasts: “The Greatness of the United States is Founded on Agriculture.” America was a land of farmers and ranchers.

Since Then, We’ve Lost Farms and Farmers

In 1840, almost 70% of American workers were in agriculture. By 2000, that number had dropped to 2%. Yes — 2%! Farms have disappeared too. Between 2007 and 2012, we experienced a net loss of 90,000 farms across the country. Having said that, farming output has increased as a result of agricultural supply and productivity improvements. The losses will continue, because our farmers are getting old. In 2012 about a third of them were older than 65.

Cows and Corn are King

The maps in the Vox collection provide us with views of USDA data showing which animals are raised and which crops are harvested in what US regions. Today, cows are raised everywhere. Who’s eating all that meat? As a country, China consumes the most, but America and Australia are among the top meat eaters per capita. According to the Vox article, “Each person in the US is consuming roughly 250 pounds of meat — that’s about three quarter-pounder burgers a day.”

Central American migrants overwhelm Border Patrol station in Texas

Behind the beige brick facade and the barbed wire of the Border Patrol station here, crowds of Central American women and children are sleeping on concrete floors in 90-degree heat. The sick are separated by flimsy strips of yellow police tape from the crying babies and expectant mothers. They subsist on bologna sandwiches and tacos, with portable toilets and no showers, and their wait can last for days. These are examples of the detention conditions, captured on a surreptitious video obtained by The Washington Post, that prompted President Obama to declare a “humanitarian crisis” this week, as illegal migrants, including thousands of women and children, stream into south Texas. Every day, hundreds of Central American migrants, in groups as large as 250 people, are wading across the muddy Rio Grande and turning themselves in to the Border Patrol as helicopters and speedboats with mounted machine guns patrol the river. Fleeing gang violence and poverty, and driven in part by the belief that Central American women and children will not be deported, many of the migrants are not trying to sneak into the country but are crossing in plain sight.
The spike in numbers over the past three months, particularly of children traveling without their parents, has overwhelmed the Border Patrol’s detention centers in South Texas, prompting authorities to ship young children to converted warehouses and military bases as far away as California. Obama has pledged $2 billion to construct temporary housing and has ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to take charge...more

Dem Rep: Illegals Not Showing Up at Hearings as Rumors Spread of 'Permisos'

Illegal immigrants from Central America who are flooding across the border are given documents instructing them to appear before local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents or immigration judges, usually within fifteen days. A Texas Democrat says illegal immigrants are using those documents as "permisos" to permanently remain in the United States and are not showing up to their scheduled hearings.  Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) told local outlets in Texas that most illegal immigrants have already been skipping their scheduled hearings. “If you're a pregnant woman, or you're a family unit, they’re gonna give you a piece of paper where you promise to show up in 90 days,” Cuellar told Fox News on Monday. “And I tell you, they're not going to show up in 90 days. No way.” As Breitbart News has reported, illegal immigrant youth have been flagging down border patrol agents to gain entry into the United States and receive what they have been told are "permits" to remain in the United States. Many of the illegal immigrants have been lured by promises from Republicans and Democrats of amnesty legislation, especially for children. “Somebody said they are giving permits for people to stay here,” Carmen Avila, a pregnant mother from Honduras, told Fox News. “Some are coming to work, but they are being told they're getting permits to stay here.”...more

Diseases and gangs feared to hit U.S. as immigrants flood the border

Border Patrol officials in Texas have confirmed that many of the illegal teens are members of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), a transnational criminal gang notorious for violence and revenge killings. In a Washington Times article, it was alleged that MS-13 members have been sent to Arizona to target U.S. Border Patrol agents. The gang members are easily identifiable with their total face and body tattoos.
Border Patrol Agents have been instructed to treat gang-affiliated minors the same as the innocent children who have crossed the border. The scope of what to do with the undocumented gangs is beyond the “pay scale,” so to speak, of the local agents; it now rests at a federal level. Chris Cabrera, one Texas Border agent has been very vocal about the gang members as well as the diseased immigrants. At the end of last week he reported seeing chickenpox, staph infections, multiple viruses, and scabies, all diseases he fears will run rampant inside the government facilities as they await a decision on repatriation. Border Patrol agents hope the 3,458 cases of whooping cough that have hit California since the start of 2014, will be a wake-up call for the U.S. government. With the massive warehousing of unvaccinated children health concerns multiply for healthcare workers on the bases and nearby communities where infectious diseases are very likely to “jump the fence”...more

Unimaginable Human Tragedy On The Texas Border

June 17, 2014
Unimaginable Human Tragedy On The Texas Border
1.  The Inhumane Immigration Disaster in South Texas
2.  Border Patrol Detention Centers Are Overwhelmed
3.  How Do These Young Illegal Immigrants Get Here?
4.  Did Obama Administration Allow This to Happen?
5.  Conclusions – Even the Left is Starting to Criticize
The Inhumane Immigration Disaster in South Texas

Thousands of illegal immigrants are flooding across the border into Texas and other border states every day, but two things distinguish this wave from earlier illegal immigration waves.

First, Hondurans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans now make up about 75-80% of illegals caught in South Texas, whereas previously most people who crossed the border illegally originated in Mexico. Second, large numbers of these illegal migrants are unaccompanied children.

The number of children making these journeys by themselves has doubled each year since 2010. US authorities estimate that between 60,000 and 80,000 children will seek safe haven in the US this year, up from about 6,000 in 2011.

Some immigrant rights agencies project that number could soar to 130,000 next year. That’s more than all the people who came over from Cuba during the Mariel boatlift in 1980, which would make this the largest refugee crisis on US soil.

Some of the children are as young as four. Many have notes pinned to their shirts giving authorities a name and phone number or address of a relative or some other contact in the US. Others have nothing in the way of a US contact.

Rep. Price: Obama 'Deceitful' on Border Security

President Obama was "being deceitful" when he told the American people in 2011 that the U.S. border is secure, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) told "Fox News Sunday." "The American people understand and appreciate, given the events over the past couple of weeks, that the president was being deceitful with the American people on this. There's a human tragedy going on the Southern border right now, and the president's doing nothing. What did he do this weekend to correct that? He gave a hyper-partisan commencement speech and then went and played golf. In a speech in El Paso, Texas in May 2011, President Obama declared the U.S. border was secure, and he said it was time to concentrate on immigration reform. He even mocked Republicans for their concern about border security...The mass influx of Central American children crossing into the United States in recent months has forced the Obama administration to start retrofitting military bases to house them. More than 47,000 children traveling alone have been found at the U.S.-Mexico border since the start of the budget year in October, the Associated Press reported. President Obama has called it a "humanitarian crisis." The AP also reported that an assistant chief patrol agent, Eligio "Lee" Pena, sent an email to more than 3,000 Border Patrol agents warning them not to speak to reporters without permission. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske told the AP on Friday he was not aware of Pena's email warnings but said generally, "I am not a fan of telling people not to talk." He did not formally disavow the directive but added that Border Patrol agents should be focused on their jobs while on duty. Pena's email was issued as national news organizations descended on the border to cover the immigration surge, especially children crossing the border alone from Central America...more

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tensions Still High In ‘Nevada Land’ Over Cattle Dispute

Cliven Bundy’s ranch is just a few miles off Interstate 15 in southern Nevada, near the tiny town of Bunkerville. The dirt road that gets you there snakes through a hot and forlorn patch of desert. You know you’ve found it when you see a spray-painted sign for Bundy Melons. “What we say is, we raise cows and melons and kids. That’s what we do here,” says Bundy, smiling as he hoses down a dusty sidewalk that leads into the family’s ranch house. Bundy has 14 children. In his living room, there are prominent photos of all of them. A swamp cooler rattles in one corner. In another, next to his favorite rocking chair, is a copy of the Book of Mormon. Bundy’s ancestors were LDS pioneers, the first white settlers in this part of the country. His family has been raising cattle on the mesas above this house since then. That’s partly why he’s at the center of a grazing lease dispute with the U.S. government — one with implications far beyond southern Nevada. Or at least he sees it that way...Indeed, right now, things are pretty quiet... Back on the highway, just a handful of militia men are still camped at a guard post near the ranch. And it’s pretty much true what Bundy said: The federal government has effectively been driven out. The BLM isn’t staffing anyone here or patrolling the vast public lands due to safety concerns. What you do see are a lot of American flags tied to guardrails. Homemade signs read “BLM Get Out.” There’s even an official-looking blue one in the shape of Nevada that reads, “Welcome to Nevada Land.” “I’m assuming that whoever put that sign up believes that the land in Clark County, Nevada, should belong to the people of Clark County, Nevada,” says fellow rancher Dwayne Magoon. Around Bunkerville, you’ll find folks like him, who didn’t take part in the armed standoff but are sympathetic to Bundy’s cause. Tensions here have been simmering for decades. More than 80 percent of Nevada is federal land. Ranchers here feel like the BLM has been steadily trying to force them out of business due to tighter environmental restrictions on grazing and other uses of the land. In fact, according to Magoon, Bundy is the last remaining full-time rancher in Clark County. “This particular issue was about a rancher who wouldn’t give up and pick his marbles up and go home,” Magoon says. “He left his marbles scattered out and said, ‘Come play by the rules,’ and our federal government is not used to that.” Magoon is sure that the federal government is coming back, and he’s worried about another confrontation...For now, one gets the sense that both sides are waiting for the other to blink. Back at the Bundy property, the rancher sees the battle as symbolic of a lot more than just a few cows. Asked what’s at stake, he says, “What’s at stake here? Freedom and liberty and statehood, that’s what’s at stake here.” If the federal government comes back, Bundy promises his militia supporters will also return in force...more