Saturday, November 15, 2014

500+ teachers pack conceal carry class at Centennial Airport

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - More than 500 Colorado teachers showed up for a free conceal carry class Saturday at Centennial Airport. The Centennial Gun Club -- the largest gun club in the Rocky Mountain West -- said more than two-thirds of those who signed up for the class are women. The gun club organized the class as a response to the "ongoing epidemic of school shootings and other illegal gun violence perpetrated in gun-free zones throughout the United States." The 8-hour class was held inside an airplane hangar at Centennial Airport. The educators learned the basics of handling a firearm, shooting fundamentals, drawing from a holster, and more. There were also presentations by Sheriff David Walcher, D.A. George Brauchler, and Senator Ted Harvey ...more

Nampa biology teacher slaughters rabbit in class

A Columbia High School biology teacher killed and slaughtered a rabbit in front of 16 sophomores to show them how livestock is processed into food, Allison Westfall, the Nampa School District spokeswoman, said Thursday. The matter has been turned over to the district’s human resources department, Westfall said. She would not speculate on what might happen to the teacher because it is a personnel matter. She said she didn’t have the name of the teacher. The teacher expressed remorse for his action in class on Monday, Westfall told the Idaho Statesman. “That is not part of the biology curriculum,” she said. Students had asked the teacher to show them how livestock was processed on more than one occasion. He initially declined. But then he arranged to have a rabbit brought into the class, where it was killed and butchered on Nov. 6, Westfall said...more

Nothing New, as China “Intends” to Cap Emissions

By Patrick J. Michaels

Most every paper in the country is trumpeting today that China has finally agreed to limit its emissions of carbon dioxide, gutting the principal objection of people opposed to unilateral and expensive reductions in ours.

Too bad it’s not true.

According to the official pronouncement, all China said was that they “intend” to cap their emissions “around 2030”. Anything new here?  In November, 2009, prior to the (failed) UN climate fest in Copenhagen, they announced their “intention” to reduce their emissions per unit economic output (called “carbon intensity”)  by 40-45% by 2020. Since then, things haven’t appreciably changed—so they now have five years to execute this huge drop, which isn’t going to happen.

The road to global warming is paved with China’s good “intentions”.

We also note that they “intend” to derive 20 per cent of their energy from non-carbon based sources by 2030. No doubt working late into last night (as did we; this story broke at 10:30), the estimable Roger Pielke, Jr., has already calculated that this means that the Chinese will have to put the equivalent of one nuclear power plant per week on line between now and then. As Roger wryly noted, “some people take it seriously”.

Don’t. But we should take seriously President Obama’s announcement that the US will double its scheduled emissions reductions by 2025. Thanks to the 2007 Supreme Court (5-4) decision that incredulously said that the 1992 Clean Air Act Amendments gave the President the power to command and control virtually our entire energy economy, he indeed can do what he just said.

It would take an act of Congress to prevent him, an act that would most certainly be vetoed, without the necessary two-thirds majority to override.

Federal ban sought for animal testing on cosmetics

Hoping to build off recent bans in Europe and India, opponents of animal testing for cosmetics plan to make a big push for a similar prohibition in the United States. The effort could be a tough sell in a Republican-controlled Congress. Virginia Democrat Don Beyer is expected to take the lead on the issue when the new Congress convenes next January. He is succeeding retiring Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., who has introduced legislation that would prohibit testing cosmetic products on animals, as well as the sale of any new cosmetics if the final product or any component was developed using animal testing. "The United States must be a world leader and not a follower," Beyer told supporters in a campaign email highlighting the issue. His state is home to several cosmetic companies, such as Tri Tech Laboratories of Lynchburg, a custom manufacturer of personal care products. Last year, the European Union banned the sale of new cosmetic products containing ingredients tested on animals, and India followed with a similar ban. Sara Amundson, executive director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, called the Moran bill a "marker" to build political support, with a sustained lobbying effort to follow next year. To date, more than 140 cosmetic companies have endorsed the bill, including Paul Mitchell, the Body Shop, LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics and Burt's Bees. The legislation might not face the most receptive environment next year, with regulation-averse Republicans running both houses of Congress, but Amundson said that proponents will cast it in a pro-business light. "If U.S. companies have to comply with what's already transpiring, for example, in the EU, one would want to ensure there aren't any trade barriers," she said. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, said if a bill is introduced next year, "we could take a look at it to get a better understanding at that time." Of the 55 co-sponsors of the Moran bill, only one was a Republican — Michael Grimm of New York. The Humane Society Legislative Fund donated $5,000 to Grimm's campaign, citing his leadership and advocacy on animal protection issues. "I have a puppy that I rescued from a puppy mill and I think that these are issues that are close to my heart and close to the hearts of many of my constituents back home in Staten Island and Brooklyn," Grimm said...more

Friday, November 14, 2014

Obama’s AG nominee has seized $904 million in private property through “civil asset forfeiture”

The early reporting on President Obama ’s choice to be the next Attorney General is that few in Washington know much about her. That may be one of the reasons Mr. Obama picked Loretta Lynch after last week’s election rout. Barring some future revelations, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York isn’t likely to stir a partisan brawl with the new Republican Senate. As a prosecutor Ms. Lynch has also been aggressive in pursuing civil asset forfeiture, which has become a form of policing for profit. She recently announced that her office had collected more than $904 million in criminal and civil actions in fiscal 2013, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Liberals and conservatives have begun to question forfeiture as an abuse of due process that can punish the innocent...more

Interior IG probes VIP trips, tells agency to back off

The Department of the Interior inspector general has begun a review of senior Obama administration officials using a vacation lodge in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. Earlier this month, the IG for the department stepped in and requested that the National Park Service back off its own investigation, according to a memorandum obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Greenwire.  In the Nov. 6 memo to NPS Director Jon Jarvis, Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall said her office would be conducting a review of his agency's "management and operation" of the park's Brinkerhoff Lodge. That review "will include an examination of management policies and practices associated with the operation of the Lodge, to include identifying what guests have used the Lodge without payment and for what purpose." Kendall also asked for NPS to hand over to the IG any documents that agency officials had collected in their own investigation of the lodge's use. In addition, she requested that the agency suspend its probe into the matter...more

Wyden pushes water, logging bills

Sen. Ron Wyden moved forward Thursday on his plan to get two top-priority bills — one to implement Klamath Basin water agreements and the other to boost logging in Western Oregon — through the lame-duck session of Congress before Democrats lose their majority in the Senate. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources endorsed the bills. One would increase logging on the federal O&C lands of Western Oregon that provide revenue to timber counties. It does not include a revival of federal subsidies to struggling timber counties, but Wyden says he remains committed to passing that legislation. The vote was 15-7. “This legislation won’t make everybody happy,” Wyden said, “but after years of working with stake­holders from every side of this complex issue, I’m confident this bill at last will deliver everyone in the O&C counties what they need.” The committee also passed a bill to implement long-stalled agreements to remove dams from the Klamath River to help salmon, give farmers and ranchers predictable water supplies, and restore fish habitat. The vote was 17-5. “If we don’t succeed now, the whole deal may fall apart, which would be a tragedy for the region,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. “I have conveyed to my Republican colleagues that this is a moment of opportunity that is incredibly important to farmers, ranchers and tribes, and we’ve got to get it done.” Wyden hopes to attach the bills to must-pass legislation and win passage in the Republican-controlled House...more

Leading Scientists, Over 200 Groups and Companies Call for Monarch Butterfly Protection

In the face of staggering declines of monarchs, more than 40 leading monarch scientists and ecologists and more than 200 organizations and businesses today urged Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to protect these butterflies under the Endangered Species Act. Today’s letters come in support of a formal petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking federal protection for monarchs. The petition was filed in August by the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower. The North American monarch butterfly population has declined by 90 percent in the past 20 years, dropping from a high of approximately 1 billion in the mid-1990s to fewer than 35 million butterflies last winter – the lowest number ever recorded. The dramatic decline is being driven by the loss of milkweed plants – the monarch caterpillar’s only food – caused by increased herbicide use resulting from the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops in the Midwest, where most monarchs are born...more

Box Elder ranching family held up as examples of sage grouse stewardship

Don’t bother asking rancher Jay Tanner the first time he saw the mating dance of a greater sage grouse. He can’t remember. The bird is as ingrained in his brain as the landscape of the Della Ranch in Grouse Creek that he runs with his brothers. "It is just something I grew up with. Asking when I saw my first sage grouse is kind of like asking when I saw my first sunrise," Tanner said. For more than 140 years, the Tanner family has worked the land and run cattle on private and federal lands in western Box Elder County. The sage grouse has been a part of the northwestern Utah landscape they cherish, and also make a living on, from the start. They don’t want to see either go away. Neither does the federal government, which is continuing to work toward a September 2015 Endangered Species List announcement about the greater sage grouse. Tanner has been pitching his conservation message to fellow ranchers and landowners for years. He attended the International Sage Grouse Forum in Salt Lake City Thursday, where federal and state officials, along with conservation and wildlife advocacy groups, are reviewing regional efforts to keep the greater sage grouse from ending up on the list. Officials from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert all acknowledged that involvement of private landowners like Tanner are key in keeping the birds from making the list. Herbert used the example of the Tanners to make the case for Utah’s unprecedented campaign to discourage listing the sage grouse as threatened. Last May, state lawmakers paid a lobbyist $2 million to write a report on sage grouse that they intend to use in the campaign. The governor told more than 300 audience members that he doesn’t like the "one-size-fits all" philosophy that comes with a species being listed under the Endangered Species Act. "States should take the lead in trying to solve their unique problems...more

Agriculture groups see benefits to Republican Senate majority

Montana farm and ranch groups will appeal to a Republican U.S. Senate to turn back federal land and environmental laws challenging their industry, representatives said this week. Federal policies addressing water regulation, endangered species and national monuments are among those the agriculture lobby has attempted to change in the current Congress of split majorities. House Republicans were sympathetic, but Democrats in control of the Senate were not. In two months, the GOP will control both houses. “Potentially this will allow some cooperation between the two houses on issues that we see as valuable from a land management perspective,” said Jay Bodner, of Montana Stockgrowers Association. The first issue up would be the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to extend its regulatory reach under the Clean Water Act. The EPA wants the authority to add seasonal wetlands and drainages to the waterways it regulates under the “waters of the United States” definition of the Clean Water Act. Farm and ranch groups bristle at the thought. “The rule is probably the biggest property rights violation affecting farmers and ranchers in Montana that I can think of, at least in my lifetime,” said Nicole Rolf, who tracks EPA water actions for the Montana Farm Bureau Federation. Many pastures are crisscrossed by seasonal streams, where cattle get water. After streams dry up, cattle continue to graze in the area and manure can collect in the dry channel. Ranchers worry the manure would be considered a pollutant under the proposed rule, which the EPA could regulate and opponents to agriculture would use to protest ranch practices. House Republicans this year passed a bill prohibiting the EPA from broadening its authority. Democrats in the Senate wouldn’t consider the bill...more

Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act Clears Senate Committee

Today, the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act, a bill introduced by U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), cleared the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The bill now awaits passage by the full Senate. The Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act, which has broad support from the local community, would designate the 45,000-acre Columbine-Hondo area in Taos County as wilderness. The bill would also expand the Wheeler Peak Wilderness by approximately 650 acres while modifying a boundary in order to create a loop trail accessible by mountain bikes along the Lost Lake trail from Taos Ski Valley to the East Fork trail to Red River. Last month, Senator Heinrich joined the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Coalition, regional stakeholders, and local officials for a hike in the area to highlight conservation and water initiatives and growing the outdoor recreation economy. There is strong, local support for the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act, including from business owners, tribal leaders, ranchers, sportsmen, acequia parciantes, mountain bikers, conservationists, and others. Local residents discussed why they support permanently protecting the Columbine Hondo and what the area means to them. Located in the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico, the Columbine-Hondo has been managed as a Wilderness Study Area since 1980...more

Heinrich Introduces Bill To Protect And Restore Watersheds On National Forest Lands

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, today introduced a bill to protect, restore, and improve the health of New Mexico watersheds on national forest lands. The proposal, the Restoring America's Watersheds Act, would direct greater resources toward fire-impacted watersheds and encourage partnerships with non-federal stakeholders to invest in forests that provide important water resources. The Restoring America's Watersheds Act would provide funding to reduce runoff and sediment pollution from roads into forest streams and encourage collaboration in restoring our forests' health. The proposal would also establish the Water Source Protection Program within the U.S. Forest Service. The program builds on partnerships between cities, businesses, water utilities, farmers and ranchers, and the Forest Service to provide matching funds for forest health projects on lands that provide water resources for downstream users...more

Price crash could end New Mexico’s oil boom

The huge drop in crude oil prices since September is a double-edged sword for New Mexico that provides welcome relief at the pumps for consumers but puts the state’s seven-year production boom in jeopardy. And any slowdown in New Mexico output will affect everybody, since nearly one-third of state revenue comes from the state’s oil and gas production. For now, industry experts aren’t projecting a new bust cycle in the Permian Basin in southeastern New Mexico, but rather a marked reduction in growth. But if prices remain depressed, or decline further, it could begin to reverse one of the longest-running booms in the New Mexico Oil Patch since the 1970s. “We’ve crossed the break-even point on prices for most New Mexico producers,” said Daniel Fine, associate director at the New Mexico Institute for Mining and Technology’s Center for Energy Policy. “Much of New Mexico’s small-cap and independent producers are at risk.” Even if current production levels remain steady, dropping oil prices and slower growth will have a significant impact on New Mexico’s finances. In August, state officials projected $285 million in “new” money for the fiscal year that begins next July, mostly from oil and gas revenue. “The state budget will take a big hit, because those projections were based on oil at $95 per barrel,” Fine said. There is, of course, a thick silver lining for consumers. Average prices for unleaded gasoline fell on Thursday to $2.92 per gallon nationally and to $2.77 in New Mexico, according to AAA. If those prices hold, it would save U.S. consumers about $61 billion at the pumps next year. Fine, who was recently appointed project leader for state energy policy, said the tipping point between profit and loss for newly drilled wells is $70 per barrel. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate is trading at about $77 per barrel, down from about $100 this summer. But New Mexico producers receive up to $12 per barrel less for the Midland Sweet Sour that comes from the Oil Patch, largely because of higher costs from bottlenecks in transporting the crude to refineries. “For small, undercapitalized – or low-cap – oil and gas producers in southeastern New Mexico, the price has crossed the tipping point,” Fine said...more

Tsunami takes Texas longhorn contest

Tsunami won all three categories in his age bracket in the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America’s annual Horn Showcase in Fort Worth. Not a bad feat considering Tsunami has never set a hoof inside Texas. The 1,000-pound bull, owned by Heather and Mike Vincent of Snoqualmie, was a mere 23 months old in October when his horns took his division by storm. His horns measured 63 1/8 inches. The Vincents, owners of the Snoqualmie Cattle Company, trucked Tsunami to satellite measuring station in southwestern Oregon. The measurements were then sent into the Association in Texas. Tsunami won the Tip-to-Tip, Total Horn and Composite Horn contests. “The Horn Showcase is a competition among Longhorn breeders all over the world,” said Heather Vincent. “It is a really big deal for Tsunami to win.” The Vincents, who have only been breeding and raising longhorns for the last decade, are relative newcomers compared to other ranchers. “We would have been thrilled to win this after 40 years of raising longhorns,” said Heather. “We never figured we’d do it after just a decade in the business.” This is the first time they’ve ever entered one of their cattle into the event...more

Edmonton DNA lab lets ranchers take a look under the hide

The tufts of hair that ranchers pull from their livestock and send to Edmonton-based Delta Genomics could be key to helping feed a hungry planet. The not-for-profit company — spun off from the University of Alberta’s Livestock Gentec genetic research centre and celebrated Thursday for graduating from TEC Edmonton’s business incubator — is the first full DNA lab specializing in livestock in Canada. “The livestock industry will send us samples of their animals, and we can look under the hide for them,” said Delta chief executive Colin Coros. “We look at the DNA sequences and from that, we can infer traits of importance for those producers.” Genomics is the extraction and analysis of DNA to identify genetic markers. Ranchers are looking to encourage traits that make animals feed more efficiently and improve the quality of their meat. “We provide that information back to the breeders and producers to allow them to make better breeding decisions.” Farmers who breed livestock and typically rely on observable qualities such as physical size can now get an animal’s full hereditary information. “What we can do now is add another layer of information to them, looking at the genotype as well,” Coros said. As global demand for protein rises due to population growth and a burgeoning middle class, Coros says Delta will help the livestock industry boost its production using fewer resources...More

The ‘Big Drift’ of 1884-1885 left cattle industry, cowboys in tatters

MIDLAND - The “Big Drift” of 1884-1885 is an event still being written about now — 130 years later.

The cattle migration spawned by a major snowstorm on the Texas Plains that winter, pushed cattle on the open range over 600 miles, from the Arkansas River country of Colorado to the Pecos River, the Devils River and the Frio River of Texas, and resulted in the death of literally hundreds of thousands of cattle.

Novelist and historian Patrick Dearen of Midland reawakened interest in the cattle migration when his latest book, titled “The Big Drift,” was released in September by TCU Press.

While Dearen’s novel is a fictional account of the astounding event, the “big drift” actually did occur and is verified by some scattered written accounts and a number of tales passed down through word of mouth stories by ranchers and early day settlers.

Dearen, a native of Sterling City who grew up in the Middle Concho country where the action in the novel is set, said as many as 200,000 cattle drifted to the Devils River. It’s not known how many died along the Devils, but the surviving beeves were so weakened that loses amounted to 30 percent when cowhands drove them back toward their home ranges. At least 150,000 were returned to ranches from the Pecos River region, although his research indicated that another150,000 were dead at that location. “It created all kinds of problems for Pecos River ranchers and Devils River ranchers,” Dearen said. He said his research revealed that at least 30 percent of the cattle driven south by the storm died en route.

Although many thousands of cattle died in the “big drift,” Dearen said he did not find any accounts of cowboy deaths during the storm. He did note there was an account of cowboys chasing cattle up to 30 miles during the storm.

In Dearen’s novel, several cowboys battle howling winds and biting cold as they search for Slash Five cattle drifted by the notorious winter storm.

Dearen’s knowledge of the Middle Concho region and of general cattle ranching practices makes the book an enjoyable read.

Dearen drew heavily on interviews of early day ranchers and others conductedby the late Midland historian J. Evetts Haley and his own interviews of 76 early day cowmen. One was Mrs. Eugene Cartledge who Haley interviewed on Feb. 2, 1946.

Mrs. Cartledge said she recalled that her brother came in from the storm that had passed through Coke County and he stopped in for a cup of coffee. He told her of the many cattle scattered by the storm. Another Haley interview about the storm was conducted with Will C. Jones who said cattle fleeing the wrath of the blizzard passed by his ranch near San Angelo in a nonstop stream for an entire day and night with no break.

 Yetanother rancher interviewed, W.J.D. “Bill” Carr, said he had been sleeping outside and duringthe storm awoke covered with snow “to a whole world covered with cattle.” In the open range years before individual ranches were fenced, a change which blocked the free movement of cattle, it was not uncommon for livestock to flee snowstorms and other types of inclement weather. In fact, numerous cattle drifts are documented in early day newspaper and magazine accounts.


Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1325

In addition to good country, 1960 had some real, mossy-backed records still making the charts, like the #63 ranking:  Lonnie Irving - Pinball Machine.  Irving, a truck driver from N. Carolina, was struck down by leukemia at the early age of 28.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The importance of water

Reporter: Can you give us some health tips for reaching the age of 101?
Hattie: For better digestion, I drink beer. In the case of appetite loss, I drink white wine. For low blood pressure, I drink Red Wine. In the case of high blood pressure, I drink Scotch. And when I have a cold, I drink Schnapps.
Reporter: When do you drink water?
Hattie: I've never been that sick.

Way To Go Jay Hill - New Mexico farmer wins a spot in national “Faces of Farming & Ranching” program

A farmer in southern New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley is now a face for all of American agriculture. Jay Hill, a 30-year-old from Mesilla Park, got the official word this afternoon: the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) has selected him and four other farmers from across the United States to serve as the “Faces of Farming & Ranching”. USFRA flew the five winners out to Kansas City, where the announcement was made. USFRA tapped Hill and the others based in part on the votes they recently earned on the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance Facebook page. There voters had the chance to watch a video about each candidate; here’s Hill showing his farm and talking about his approach to agriculture. “I’m ready to talk with people about how I grow their food,” Hill said. “This is an opportunity for me to answer their questions and really bridge the gap between my farm and their fork.” According to USFRA’s website, the Faces of Farming & Ranching “is designed to help put real faces on agriculture for American consumers. The winners will be active participants in the national dialogue about food production. They will share their personal stories and experiences through public appearances, events, media interviews and social media.” Hill and the other winners will each be given a stipend to help them travel to and from speaking engagements in such cities as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Boston, and Austin over the course of the next year. Since he was 15, Jay has been working at Hill Farms in Las Cruces and at Shiloh Produce in Hatch, increasingly taking on more responsibility and more ownership. Thanks to his involvement in the two farming operations, Jay’s knowledge spans green and red chile, onions, lettuce, pecans, pinto beans, corn, and hay. He’s also building a small herd of cattle...more

And thanks to everyone who supported him through Facebook.  There is some bad news though:  If my little neighbor Jay Hill is now 30...I'm feeling really old.

Obama should act to preserve the Grand Canyon Watershed

by Steve Martin

With all of the national parks and monuments in the United States, one may wonder whether there is a need to designate more.

The answer is yes. We need to continue to set aside critical lands, emphasizing conservation, recreation, tourism, education, community prosperity and spiritual values.

...The Grand Canyon ecosystem is far more than a narrow canyon cut through the Kaibab Plateau. The forests, grasslands, tributaries and entire watershed are an integral part of the Grand Canyon. It keeps this unique and inspiring landscape alive and vibrant.

...This area is also important for protecting the water quality of the Colorado River, important for agriculture and drinking water for millions of people.

The value of protected public lands should not be underestimated. They contribute to the health of the environment, wildlife and people. These lands nourish our spirit and inspire our youths. Park and forest lands preserve many values important to Native American tribes and the American public and are economic drivers for both communities and tribes.

The splendor of the Grand Canyon doesn't stop at the park boundaries. In the absence of protections for surrounding lands, threats such as logging and uranium mining loom.

With 13 national-monument designations during his presidency, President Obama understands the importance of safeguarding our natural and cultural heritage. The forests and high deserts of the Grand Canyon Watershed are worthy of national-monument designation. This administration still has time to bring together the tribes and communities of this region to develop a world-class area to protect the values inherent in this landscape.

 Steve Martin is a former superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park

Editorials and op-eds like this are popping up all over the West.  The enviros are doing a great job in pushing for more monuments.  Combine that with a President just itching to use his pen as a payback to the enviro groups and we can expect more designations.  

One also has to wonder what role, if any, the keystone pipeline will play in all this.  With the recent news the Senate will hold a vote on the issue to help Mary Landrieu's re-election, its not hard to visualize a scenario where Obama would approve the pipeline and in return designate millions of acres as national monuments.  If that be the case, the oilies get a win, the enviros get a win and us poor raggedy folks in the public lands states will take it in the shorts once again.  This is another reason we should seriously look at transferring the majority of these lands back to the states.  As it stands now, we are nothing but fodder to be traded in the political marketplace. 

Utah Court Bucks the Trend: Holds Congress Lacks Power to Regulate Intrastate Species on Private Land

Contrary to every federal court of appeal decision that has addressed the issue, a federal court in Utah has held that the broad authority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to regulate "take" of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) does not extend to an intrastate species.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., No. 2:13-cv-00278, Doc. No. 68 (Utah D.C., Nov. 4, 2014).  Given the strong likelihood of an appeal and the substantial contrary authority, which includes decisions by the Fourth Circuit, Fifth Circuit, Ninth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeal, the long-term impact of the Utah court's decision is still very much up in the air.  However, for the time being, private property owners in Utah have scored an unprecedented victory. In 2012, relying on section 4(d) of the ESA, the Service issued a special rule for the threatened Utah prairie dog, a species that only inhabits Utah.  The rule authorized "take" of the species by permit only on "agricultural lands, [private property] within [.5] miles of conservation lands, and areas where prairie dogs create serious human safety hazards or disturb the sanctity of significant human cultural or human burial sites."  Thus, if a private land development project would result in the "take" of a prairie dog, the rule would prohibit that development if the property owner was unable to obtain a permit from the Service. A group known as People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners (PETPO) sued the Service under the federal Administrative Procedures Act, alleging that the Service lacked the authority to regulate a purely intrastate species on non-federal land. As to the Service's first substantive argument, the court explained that the question is not whether the special rule substantially affects commercial activity, but whether "take" of prairie dogs substantially affects interstate commerce. Thus, the Service could not rely on the fact that the rule prohibits property owners from engaging in commercial activities to demonstrate a substantial relation to interstate commerce; instead, the Service needed to show that "take" of prairie dogs, in and of itself, substantially affects interstate commerce. The court also rejected the Service's second argument, that the rule is valid because the prairie dog has biological and commercial value, finding that the connection was "too attenuated to establish a substantial relation between the take of the Utah prairie dog and interstate commerce." Specifically, while the court acknowledged that the species affects the ecosystem by providing food for other species and that it has been the subject of scientific research and published books, it ultimately found the Service's argument wanting, stating that "[i]f Congress could use the Commerce Clause to regulate anything that might affect the ecosystem . . . , there would be no logical stopping point to congressional power under the Commerce Clause. Accordingly, the asserted biological value of the Utah prairie dog is inconsequential in this case." The court also found that the Service's claim of "commercial value" was simply not supported by the evidence, as there was no evidence that tourism in Utah would suffer from "take" of the prairie dog on non-federal land. Finally, the court rejected the Service's third argument, that the prairie dog rule is essential to the economic scheme of the ESA, because it found that take of the species would not substantially affect the national market for any commodity regulated by the ESA. The court distinguished the special rule for prairie dogs from the Service's special rule for the take of bald eagles by noting that there is a national market for bald eagle products, whereas there is no national market for the prairie dog. Consequently, unlike the prairie dog, even purely intrastate take of bald eagles substantially affects the interstate market for the species. The court also found that the prairie dog is not a major food source for any federally protected species for which a national market exists, and thus the fact that the bald eagle and other protected species may prey on the prairie dog is inadequate to justify the rule. Accordingly, the court held that the neither the Commerce Clause nor the Necessary and Proper Clause of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the take of "purely intrastate species that has no substantial effect on interstate commerce" and whose regulation "is not essential or necessary to the ESA's economic scheme."...more

Environmental groups file lawsuit on Mexican gray wolf recovery

Four nonprofit organizations and one individual, retired Mexican wolf recovery coordinator David R. Parsons, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Tuesday alleging they have not provided a complete recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf, an endangered species. The four nonprofit agencies are Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Wolf Conservation Center and Endangered Wolf Center. The original 1982 Mexican gray wolf recovery plan is far from complete and "later amendment of the plan is obviously required for its realistic completion," authors of the plan stated. The Mexican gray wolf has long been in conflict with ranchers in the West. There are some who feel that having even 83 Mexican gray wolves in the wild is 83 too many. But not everyone sees the situation in such black and white terms. Wendy Peralta, owner of Glenwood Store and Trading Post, describes herself as neither a rancher nor an environmentalist. She says she is not "anti-wolf" and calls herself a conservationist. But she says a Mexican gray wolf recovery plan has hurt small shops like hers in remote, rural areas of southwest New Mexico. She points out that the more ranchers lose ground to Mexican gray wolf recovery, the fewer cattle there are to graze on the land. Since cattle are taxed as property tax, that means a smaller tax base for the area, and property taxes affect the local schools. "The wolf recovery program has hurt ranchers, but it has hurt us in a different way," Peralta said. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit contend that with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's lack of implementation of a complete recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf, the nearly extinct animal may not survive in the wild. The current population suffers from serious inbreeding, which leads to animals more prone to disease and animals unable to adapt to environmental changes...more

Proposed rule changes could hamper efforts of groups working on mexican wolf recovery

The New Mexico State Game Commission could give itself the power to prevent private property owners from keeping captive Mexican gray wolves for recovery and reintroduction of the endangered species. The Game Commission on Thursday is scheduled to consider a change to the state’s captive wildlife rule. The change proposed by staff would require the commission to review permit applications “for the possession or use of any carnivore that is held, possessed or released on private property for the purpose of recovery, reintroduction, conditioning, establishment or reestablishment in New Mexico.” Currently, the State Game and Fish Department director can approve permits for wildlife on private land without the commission’s approval. While the rule change doesn’t specifically mention the Mexican gray wolf, Mary Katherine Ray of the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter said it appears aimed at the species, since wolves are carnivores and only an endangered species would need to be recovered and reintroduced. She said she’s called the department asking for clarification on the rule change. “They haven’t given any reason for it,” she said. “We might be wrong in our supposition this is about wolves. But right now, this rule change is fraught with the potential for abuse.”...more

House, Senate to vote on Keystone XL pipeline

Long-stalled legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline got new life on Wednesday after Senate Democrats suddenly abandoned efforts to block the measure in hopes of helping endangered Sen. Mary Landrieu keep her seat in energy-rich Louisiana. Republicans responded swiftly to Landrieu’s maneuvering, scheduling a vote in the House Thursday on an identical bill sponsored by her Republican rival, Rep. Bill Cassidy, in a Dec. 6 runoff. It was unclear what impact the votes would have on the Senate race, but Senate passage of the bill as early as next Tuesday would force President Barack Obama to either sign it into law or veto the measure just weeks after a Democratic drubbing in midterm elections. Republicans and several moderate Democrats insist that construction of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs. Environmentalists maintain that the project would have a negative impact and contribute to climate change. The White House had no immediate comment on the day’s developments...more

Next environment battle: greater sage grouse

Federal officials say their decision to protect dwindling Gunnison sage grouse populations in Colorado and Utah has no bearing on next year's highly anticipated ruling on the far more widespread greater sage grouse — but advocates on both sides already are placing their bets. "I think that this does not bode well for the greater sage grouse," said Amy Atwood, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. Atwood said she hopes the greater sage grouse will be protected, but she fears the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will succumb to pressure from industries that oppose the land-use restrictions that such protection would bring. Rep. Doc Hastings, the Republican chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, came to the opposite conclusion. Hastings called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision, announced Wednesday, to protect Gunnison grouse drastic and wrong. He said it "foreshadows the intentions of the Obama administration" as it considers protections for greater sage grouse in portions of 11 Western states. The Fish and Wildlife Service faces a court-ordered deadline of September 2015 to rule on the greater sage grouse. That decision could affect development, energy exploration, hunting and ranching across the bird's vast range, which covers 290,000 square miles in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The greater sage grouse also is found in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Scientists say the greater sage grouse and the Gunnison sage grouse are related but separate species. About 5,000 Gunnison sage grouse remain in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. The agency estimates the greater sage grouse population at 200,000 to 500,000...more

Bison plan allows them to roam if population drops

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A proposal requested by Gov. Steve Bullock would allow bison to roam year-round west of Yellowstone National Park if the population drops below 3,500 animals. Details of the proposal were released Wednesday. If adopted, it would break a longstanding impasse over where and when bison should be allowed to roam in areas of Montana bordering Yellowstone. Bullock intervened after state livestock and wildlife officials could not agree on a solution. Fears of bison spreading the disease brucellosis have prompted government agencies to capture and slaughter thousands of bison attempting to migrate from Yellowstone in recent years. Wednesday's proposal would let the animals stay year-round in areas near West Yellowstone. At populations exceeding 3,500 animals, they would be subject to slaughter, increased hunting and hazing back into the park. Yellowstone had about 4,900 bison at last count.

Former, Current Grand Canyon Workers Allege Abuses

Federal investigators are looking into allegations of discrimination, retaliation and a sexually hostile work environment in the Grand Canyon's river corridor. A group of 13 former and current Grand Canyon employees sent a letter to the Interior Department in September, alleging abuses of women during the past 15 years and prompting an investigation by the agency's Office of Inspector General. The agency formally requested the investigation after receiving the letter that also was sent to members of Congress in Arizona, National Park Service spokeswoman April Slayton said. The agency takes "allegations of this nature and all personnel-related matters seriously," she said. Agents from the Office of Inspector General have been conducting interviews. Spokesman Kris Kolesnik declined comment Monday. According to the letter obtained by The Associated Press, Grand Canyon employees who conduct the river trips have requested sexual favors from women, retaliated against them when they were rebuffed, engaged in heavy drinking and blamed the victims when they complained. The letter addressed to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said that women have been threatened, fired and had their reputations damaged and work sabotaged when they reported abuses to management in the past...more

With fewer cows, leather bags cost more

Beef lovers aren't the only ones with sticker shock from the shrinking U.S. cattle herd. Fewer cows also mean tighter supply of hides used in luxury car upholstery, handbags, shoes and Anita Dungey's dog collars. "The last couple of years have been horrendous," said Dungey, the president of Auburn Leathercrafters, a collar and leash maker in Auburn, N.Y. Her leather costs rose 83 percent in two years to $8.25 a foot. "It's been hard to keep up," forcing Auburn to boost prices by as much as 10 percent, the most in at least three decades, she said. While ranchers raise cattle mostly for meat, a single hide can produce enough leather for 11 cowboy boots, 20 footballs or one bucket seat. The herd began the year as the smallest since 1951, after record feed costs and drought over the past decade. Output is dropping just as Americans boost spending on leather goods and luggage to the most in at least 14 years. The cost of U.S. beef has surged to a record this year, and leather isn't far behind. Heavy native steer hides rose 17 percent in the 12 months through Nov. 8 to $122.30, the highest since the government began tracking the benchmark in 1998. Global demand is growing with improved sales of cars and luxury items, especially in China. Boot-maker Wolverine World Wide Inc., which bought $300 million of leather last year, says prices will remain near all-time highs...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1324

The #6 song for 1960 was Buck Owens - Excuse Me I Think I've Got A Heartache

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Obama's Executive Amnesty for 4.5 Million

Wednesday on Fox News Channel's "Special Report With Bret Baier," chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel reported on a Fox News exclusive after obtaining government documents that detail President Barack Obama's plans for his executive amnesty. Emanuel reported, "In this draft proposal from a government agency, up to 4.5 million illegal immigrants living with American-born children would be allowed to stay in the U.S., an expansion of deferred action, also expanding deferred children for DACA who came to this country with their parents following President Obama's action of June 2012. Also included in the ten point plan is a pay raise for ICE officers in order to increase morale. The draft also includes allowing family members who enroll in the military delayed entry program another avenue for citizenship. A source tells Fox that category is likely to be exploited because people will join to get american citizenship and not show up for boot camp."  Fox News

The coming Obama climate onslaught

The Obama administration is set to roll out a series of climate and pollution measures that rivals any president’s environmental actions of the past quarter-century — a reality check for Republicans who think last week’s election gave them a mandate to end what they call the White House’s “War on Coal.” Tied to court-ordered deadlines, legal mandates and international climate talks, the efforts scheduled for the next two months show that President Barack Obama is prepared to spend the remainder of his term unleashing sweeping executive actions to combat global warming. And incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have few options for stopping the onslaught, though Republicans may be able to slow pieces of it.   The coming rollout includes a Dec. 1 proposal by EPA to tighten limits on smog-causing ozone, which business groups say could be the costliest federal regulation of all time; a final rule Dec. 19 for clamping down on disposal of power plants’ toxic coal ash; the Jan. 1 start date for a long-debated rule prohibiting states from polluting the air of their downwind neighbors; and a Jan. 8 deadline for issuing a final rule restricting greenhouse gas emissions from future power plants. That last rule is a centerpiece of Obama’s most ambitious environmental effort, the big plan for combating climate change that he announced at Georgetown University in June 2013. The pending EPA actions alone could amount to the most ambitious burst of environmental regulatory activity from Washington since President George H.W. Bush approved a crucial set of amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990 — although Obama’s administration has already taken several big strides of its own, including limits on mercury pollution from power plants. The U.S. is also expected to announce in the coming weeks how much money it will contribute to an international fund for helping poor countries deal with the effects of global warming. Developed countries have pledged to raise $100 billion a year from government and private sources for that cause by 2020, with some of the money going to the fund. But the prospect of handing billions of dollars in climate aid to the developing world is not going to win much applause from Republicans, who could block the money through the appropriations process...more

Fossil Fuels and Morality

“A few more decades of ungoverned fossil-fuel use and we burn up, to put it bluntly.”
  — Bill McKibben, leading environmental activist, 1989

I came across this quote, along with many others of comparable value, while reading Alex Epstein’s just-published book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. But Epstein’s book is much more than a fantastic collection of such delightfully mad environmentalist pronouncements — although that part alone is worth the purchase price. Rather, what Epstein presents is a powerful, systematic, and relentlessly logical philosophical case for the moral value of the fossil-fuel industry, and the fundamentally immoral basis of the movement that is seeking to demonize and destroy it. In short, the book is unique, and utterly terrific. Epstein is a clear-minded philosopher, so he begins by stating the ethical standard of his case. “This book is about morality, about right and wrong. To me, the question of what to do about fossil fuels and any other moral issue comes down to: What will promote human life? What will promote human flourishing — realizing the full potential of life? Colloquially, how do we maximize the years in our life and the life in our years?” He then proceeds rapidly through a great number of well-known data, demonstrating the powerful historical link between increased fossil-fuel use and rising living standards, increased life expectancy, decreased infant and child mortality, and so forth, as well as some surprising material showing drastic drops in climate-related misfortunes, including deaths from droughts and storms. He has a nice section dealing with the global-warming debate itself, where he cleanly separates the truthful introduction to the climate alarmists’ argument — that enriching the atmospheric CO2 content will cause the trapping of some infrared emissions from the Earth’s surface in the troposphere — from its completely unsupported and demonstrably false conclusion that this phenomenon will generate self-accelerating feedbacks with catastrophic consequences...more

Gunnison sage grouse gets federal protection

Federal officials granted protection to the Gunnison sage grouse on Wednesday, a move that could bring restrictions on oil and gas drilling and other activity to preserve the bird's habitat in parts of Colorado and Utah. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper immediately renewed the state's threat to sue to block the measures. He said the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ignores 20 years of work by state and local officials to protect the bird. Utah officials were also critical. Some environmental groups praised the decision, while others said it did not go far enough. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe said the bird qualifies as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, meaning it's likely to be pushed to the brink of extinction soon. Threatened status is less serious than endangered, which means a species is on the verge of extinction now and requires tighter restrictions. An estimated 5,000 Gunnison sage grouse remain in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. About 2,200 square miles will be designated as critical habitat...more

Senate Democrats are weighing plan to approve Keystone — and save Mary Landrieu

Senate Democrats are working on plans to hold a vote authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline -- approval that Democrats believe might bolster the chances of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who faces a tough runoff election next month. It was not immediately clear Tuesday night whether Republicans would consent to proceeding with such a vote during the lame-duck session that begins on Wednesday -- especially given the high stakes surrounding Landrieu's reelection race. Such a move would also draw howls from the environmental movement who had hoped that President Obama would resolve a years-long dispute over a long-awaited energy project in their favor. Several Senate Democratic aides confirmed on Tuesday evening that talks are underway to allow for a vote authorizing construction of the pipeline in the coming days. The aides, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said that details on language of the bill authorizing and its timing were not yet settled, but likely would be among the topics of conversation as Congress reconvenes Wednesday. Landrieu is expected to make a formal announcement of plans to hold a vote later Tuesday or on Wednesday, the aides said...more

We all know the R's want the pipeline, but if they agree to this they ought to get something in return.  Some WOTUS language would be a good candidate.

Planned student boycott of Obama school lunch act is being watched nationally

Monday morning, we told you about how a D.C. Everest High School student is organizing a school lunch boycott November 13th, as a protest to Michelle Obama’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act’s menu and calorie restrictions. Since WSAU brought you that story, it has been reported by several national and world media outlets. Organizer Meghan Hellrood says the reaction to the story surprised her, but says it has helped make her fellow students pay more attention to the school food issue.  “I think so. I think that more students are now aware of the whole issue, and are more excited now that it’s gotten so much attention, and they feel that, now that they’re definitely being watched, that this actually has an effect. They feel that there’s actually a purpose to it.” Once the national media heard about the planned boycott and the D.C. Everest district’s rationing of mayonnaise and barbeque sauce packets to keep lunch calories down, Meghan says her parents’ phones started ringing.  “My dad texted me during the day saying I needed to call him, and when I finally got around to the phone and called him, he said that it reached the Drudge Report, which I thought he was kidding about. I was like, very funny dad, but it turns out it actually did, and then it went to Fox, and then they got in contact with me.”...more

Knives Kill More People Each Year Than Rifles: Time For Knife Control?

According to crime statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), knives are consistently used to kill people far more often than rifles are used. And the numbers aren’t even close: five times as many murders were committed with knives than were committed with rifles last year. The FBI statistics show that knives have been used as a murder weapon far more often than rifles — even those evil “assault weapons” we hear so much about — for quite a while. In 2013, knives or other cutting instruments were used to kill 1,490 victims. In contrast, rifles were the cause of death of 285 murder victims. Shotguns were used in 308 murders. In 2009, the ratio was very similar: knives were used in five times as many murders as rifles. The 2013 numbers are even more interesting when you compare them to data from 2003, the last year in which the 1994 federal “assault weapon” ban was in effect. In 2003, 390 people were murdered with a rifle. That’s right. The number of rifle murders is 27 percent lower today — ten years after the expiration of the “assault weapon” ban — than it was in 2003, the last year “assault weapons” were banned by the federal government...more

Court to hear arguments on Valles Caldera claim

A federal appeals court will hear legal arguments Thursday in Albuquerque on a case involving the Jemez Pueblo's claim to recover land now included in the Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider the Jemez Pueblo's appeal of a federal judge's 2013 ruling that dismissed the tribe's 2012 lawsuit over 89,000 acres that it considers sacred. The judge ruled in September 2013 that the federal government did not consent to being sued. The preserve is home to vast grasslands, the remnants of one of North America's few super volcanoes, and one of New Mexico's most famous elk herds...more

New court decision could end California's restrictions on conceal-carry permits

Law-abiding Californians may not need to justify their need to carry concealed weapons, after the same three-judge panel that struck down restrictions on the permits earlier this year ruled Wednesday that it is too late for new opponents to join the fight against the ruling. The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would bar other law enforcement officials, including state Attorney General Kamala Harris, from gaining "intervener status" to join in further challenges of its ruling in a case originally brought by an independent journalist who sued the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department over its policy of requiring a specific reason for being allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public. San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore has said he will not fight the ruling, meaning there is no one with standing left to challenge the decision made in February. “Since becoming Sheriff, I have always maintained that it is the legislature’s responsibility to make the laws, and the judiciary’s responsibility to interpret them and their constitutionality,” Gore wrote in a letter to the county board of supervisors earlier this year, in which he said the court’s decision gave him clarity on the issuance of licenses. “Law enforcement’s role is to uphold and enforce the law.” Edward Peruta sued Gore’s department over its policy of requiring a specific reason for being allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public, restrictions other counties around the state also had in place...more

'Major Milestone': U.S., China Announce Climate Breakthrough

The U.S. and China, which together account for more than a third of all of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, have negotiated a sweeping agreement to cut emissions drastically by 2030, a deal that President Barack Obama called a "major milestone" Wednesday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing. The White House said the U.S. would seek by 2025 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below a baseline level from 2005. At the same time, China said it intended to begin reversing the rise of its carbon emissions by 2030 and to increase the share of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero-emission power to 20 percent of all of its energy consumption by that year. At a joint news conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Obama said he hoped the deal — the first time China has ever agreed to "peak" its carbon emissions — would jump-start negotiations with an eye toward reaching a worldwide climate agreement in Paris next year...more

I wasn't much of a horse trader (didn't have the patience), but even rowdies like me can see this is a bad deal.  Obama's original proposal was to cut emissions 17 percent and now we're gonna cut them by more than 25 percent just so the Chicoms will "reverse the rise" of it's omissions by 2030?  Obama would starve to death in the private sector.

Study: Farmers and scientists divided over climate change

Crop producers and scientists hold deeply different views on climate change and its possible causes, a study by Purdue and Iowa State universities shows. Associate professor of natural resource social science Linda Prokopy and fellow researchers surveyed 6,795 people in the agricultural sector in 2011-2012 to determine their beliefs about climate change and whether variation in the climate is triggered by human activities, natural causes or an equal combination of both. More than 90 percent of the scientists and climatologists surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with more than 50 percent attributing climate change primarily to human activities. In contrast, 66 percent of corn producers surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with 8 percent pinpointing human activities as the main cause. A quarter of producers said they believed climate change was caused mostly by natural shifts in the environment, and 31 percent said there was not enough evidence to determine whether climate change was happening or not. The survey results highlight the division between scientists and farmers over climate change and the challenges in communicating climate data and trends in non-polarizing ways, Prokopy said...more

There's a lot of mumbo-jumbo here about how to approach farmers with climate science, but as it turns out those farmers in Indiana & Iowa were closer to the truth than the scientists.  I wonder what the numbers would be today after all the disclosures of the scientific community becoming political whores for federal research dollars and turning tricks with their data.  On Climategate see, for example:

Climategate II: leaked emails show struggle to deal with warming lull  
The New Hockey Stick
Another Global Warming Advocate Caught Falsifying The Truth
Climategate 2.0: New E-Mails Rock The Global Warming Debate
The Climate Scam Continues 
Scientist who said climate change sceptics had been proved wrong accused of hiding truth by colleague 
Medieval Warming Period Cools Climate Change Alarmism 
The CO2 Lie 

Look at the above study and you will find that it too was funded by the feds.

Business groups brace for deluge of regs

Business groups are bracing for an onslaught of regulations, with the Obama administration bent on completing a host of the president’s unfinished policy goals and the midterm elections now in the rearview mirror. Agencies across federal government are expected to drop a host of major rules over the next few months, with regulations running the gamut from calorie label requirements on restaurant menus to new rules for hydraulic fracturing and air pollution. There are at roughly two dozen major rules that are scheduled to drop between now and late January, according to a review of the administration’s official regulatory agenda and rules now awaiting approval at the White House. Groups including the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute said they are most concerned by expected costs associated with a slate of rules now in the pipeline at the Environmental Protection Agency. “The EPA’s regulatory march is very concerning to the business community,” said Matt Letourneau, spokesman for the Chamber’s energy institute. "We’re fighting these regulations,” he added. "We’re trying to encourage EPA to listen to our concerns. We’re hoping EPA backs off or changes course.” Environmental and public health groups are urging the administration on, arguing that the public’s wellbeing should come ahead of industry concerns. Meanwhile, other regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are preparing to drop their own set of rules that have business groups scrambling. The FDA’s menu labeling rules could shake the restaurant industry. Under the plan, eateries could be required to post calorie counts on menus, which they say would cost the industry billions of dollars. The rules would also affect delis and bakeries at grocery stores. Also potentially coming any day are BLM regulations for hydraulic fracturing, requiring companies to disclose the chemicals they use while drilling for natural gas, experts say. “Fracking has a major impact on the landscape and can pose risks to water and air quality,” Goldston said...more

Painting the Bruneau-Jarbidge Wilderness

Earlier this year, JanyRae Seda saw a small ad calling for applicants for the first-ever Idaho Bureau of Land Management artist-in-residence program. Seda wouldn't characterize herself as being particularly outdoorsy—the last time she'd been camping was in Girl Scouts, but she filled out the application and submitted a resume. She didn't think she would even hear back. "I was hesitant to apply for the BLM thing because I didn't think I was going to get it," Seda said. Then she found out her colorful, somewhat abstract, mosaic-like oil paintings were exactly what the BLM was looking for. For the immersive wilderness experience Seda would need, the BLM gave her a choice: raft down the Bruneau River or travel by horseback into the Owyhee Canyonlands. Having no idea what to expect, Seda hastily picked the first option. Then she found out she was going to spend four days in the Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness, floating 40 miles down the Bruneau River during high-water season. Seda had floated some Class II rapids before, but would be facing 10 miles of Class IV rapids on the last day of the trip. "Some of my paintings represent my experience and remembering the sound," Seda said. "It was so loud. And looking at these huge boulders and just wondering how [the guide] is going to get us through this. Then there's the next Class IV. Then to be done with it—it was relief, but it was almost like, 'Can we go back and do it again?'''...more

Keep the above in mind the next time you hear BLM complaining about not having enough money.

Scientists Launch Massive Plant Database with Information from Species Across the Globe

Scientists have taken a big step forward when it comes to plant research. Botanists have launched a database with information that documents significant events for nearly 600 plants species across the globe. The findings could help with future research in plants. As our climate changes and human populations increase, it's important to examine how plants are being re-shaped through their distribution and even through their very genetics. That's why the scientists created the new database, called the COMPADRE Plant Matrix database. They hope that it will help foster collaborations between scientists in order to answer questions such as how best to conserve species...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1323

In 1960, Stonewall Jackson - Why I'm Walkin', was the #30 song for the year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Earthjustice sues feds to save walruses from Arctic oil drilling

Earthjustice says drilling for oil in the Arctic could chase away walruses, so they’ve launched a lawsuit demanding the Fish and Wildlife Service make it stop. Specifically, a coalition of environmentalists has mounted a legal challenge to the FWS regulation that OKs a certain number of injuries and deaths to species during permitted company drills — the federal “incidental take” program, The Hill reported. Earthjustice and the group’s cohorts say that rule lets the likes of Shell Oil run roughshod over walruses when they drill in the Arctic. “The Fish and Wildlife Service needs to do a much better job of protecting walrus mothers and calves struggling to survive in the dramatically changing Chukchi Sea,” Earthjustice attorney Erikl Grafe said, The Hill reported. “Today’s challenge seeks to protect walruses from suffering potential serious harm and harassment at the hands of companies like Shell Oil, which crashed and burned during its Arctic Ocean drilling efforts in 2012.” The group said that drilling scares walruses from feeding areas and hurt their hearing, as well as trigger stampedes, The Hill reported...more

2 Mexican gray wolves killed in New Mexico

Wildlife managers are investigating the deaths of two Mexican gray wolves in New Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department says both were found shot to death last month. This came shortly after several recorded attacks on livestock, but it’s unclear if the killings were connected. There has been a big effort to grow the wolf population in southwestern New Mexico and Arizona. The Arizona Game and Fish Department says they recorded 59 wolves with 18 packs and six single wolves at the end of October. The program has been hampered by a number of issues ranging from politics to shootings. Rewards are being offered for any information leading to those responsible for the killings.  KRQE

Coyote hunt continues to draw controversy

This week hunters across New Mexico will open fire on coyotes. It's all part of a contest -- the Third Annual Great Coyote Hunt -- that has animal rights activists outraged and pushing for legislation to make these types of events illegal. "They shoot as many coyotes as they can so it's purely a numbers game for material profit or financial profit," said Phil Carter, with Animal Protection of New Mexico. “We cannot allow our state to be so definitely associated with these thrill-killing contests that just celebrate death and destruction of animals.” Larry's Gun Shop in Roswell is putting on the contest. Contestants pay $300 for a two-person team. Other than not killing in city limits, there are few restrictions. Whoever kills the most coyotes wins an assault rifle for each team member. Event organizers disagree with the activists. "(It’s) not inhumane at all. These are a nuisance," said Colby Griffin, a manager at Larry's Gun Shop. The gun shop argues that thousands of coyotes cause problems for ranchers and dairy farmers. They said they are just helping out and giving a prize just encourages people to participate in the hunt. Animal activists are taking their fight to Santa Fe’s Roundhouse. They are drafting up a bill for the 2015 legislative session to outright ban hunting contests and make it a misdemeanor crime...more

Feinstein Releases Discussion Draft of California Desert Protection Bill

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released a discussion draft of the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act, a bill Feinstein will introduce in January when the new Congress convenes.

 The draft bill’s key provisions:

Creates two new national monuments:
The Mojave Trails National Monument, which would encompass 942,000 acres of land, including former Catellus-owned lands.
The Sand to Snow National Monument, which would encompass 135,000 acres of land from desert floor in the Coachella Valley to the top of Mount San Gorgonio.
Designates five new Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wilderness areas covering 235,000 acres.
Designates 77 miles of waterways as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
Adds acreage to Death Valley National Park (39,000 acres), Joshua Tree National Park (4,500 acres) and the Mojave National Preserve (30,000 acres).
Designates four existing BLM Off-Highway Vehicle areas (covering approximately 135,000 acres of California desert) as permanent Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreation areas, providing off-highway enthusiasts certainty that these uses will be protected as much as conservation areas.
Provides a balanced approach to renewable energy development by:
Requiring the Department of the Interior to exchange 370,000 acres of federal land for state land, allowing the state to use these new areas for commercial purposes including clean energy. The bill also releases 126,000 acres of wilderness land that could be used for renewable energy.
Allowing for new transmission lines in the Mojave Trails National Monument on existing transmission corridors.
Sharing with state and local governments the revenue generated from leasing of federal land within the desert.


Diverse Group Issues New Reports on Ag & Nutrition

Calling themselves a "highly and remarkably broad group of farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, environmentalists, nutritionists and other experts" the group AGree has issued recommendations that call for far-reaching changes to federal policy and private-sector action. Their recommendations focus on a creating a major shift in how conservation of working landscaptes is undertaken and funded toward watershed-scale partnership approaches. According to Deborah Atwood, executive director, AGree: "AGree's consensus recommendations will serve as roadmaps for action. For three years, AGree has focused on achieving consensus. With wide-ranging and often divergent points of view around the table, it has been a long, at times difficult, but very fruitful journey. AGree will now focus on implementation and advocacy." The group moves ahead this week with its initiative-focused and partner-driven effort. Each initiative will work on a key dimension of the food and agriculture system and tackle specific areas of concern. This initiative, given its diverse makeup, could impact future policy in new ways. To inform its work, AGree convened more than a thousand leaders in food, agriculture and related sectors and published a considerable body of research and white papers to advance understanding on critical issues. "Through substantial engagement and dialogue across a wide variety of interests, AGree has achieved consensus. We offer a compelling vision for the future of food and agriculture in the U.S. and around the world, as well as a range of strategies and recommendations to achieve it," said Dan Glickman, AGree Co-Chair and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The AGree initiatives launched this week include Working Landscapes: Achieving Productivity, Profitability, and Environmental Outcomes; Food & Nutrition: Cultivating Healthy Communities; and,  International Development: Promoting Development through Food and Agriculture. Immigration Reform: Achieving a Stable, Legal Workforce was launched earlier this year...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1322

We'll be looking at 1960 this week, starting with the #21 song that year:  Warren Smith - I Don't Believe I'll Fall In Love Today.

Behind Closed Doors, Las Cruces City Attorney Makes Shocking Comments About Civil Forfeiture

by Nick Sibilla 

Without even needing to charge someone with a crime, law enforcement can seize and keep cash, cars and even homes, by exercising civil forfeiture. Now the Institute for Justice has uncovered recordings of government officials from across the country making unsettling comments about this controversial power

...Speaking at a forfeiture conference on September 10, 2014, Pete Connelly, City Attorney for Las Cruces, New Mexico, detailed his plan that would let police take the homes of people caught with tiny amounts of marijuana, even in states where the plant is legal: “I got to thinking this morning, in the paper that everybody is running around liberalizing marijuana or thinking about it. Putting it on the ballot. Taking it off the ballot. And I thought, boy, what a trap. You liberalize marijuana so somebody can sell it, they sell the marijuana out of the house, then you seize the house, which is like 10 bucks of marijuana and you [the police] get a $300,000 house. What a deal. That’s really exciting. They get what they want, and you get what you want. And the title of that article in the [Wall Street] Journal was ‘What’s Yours Is Theirs.’ I want to turn it around as ‘What’s Theirs is Yours.’” 

...During one of his presentations, Connelly offered tips on how to write an effective forfeiture complaint (i.e. the legal papers the government files). If done well, “the complaint is, what I call, a masterpiece of deception,” filled with statements that are “very hard to deny.”

...If civil forfeiture truly targeted drug kingpins, then police would regularly seize all kinds of high-end, flashy cars. But according to Connelly, “we’re not dealing with the Beemer [BMW] crowd so much. We deal with just down-to-earth human beings that have their cars seized.” He even joked, “Under our ordinance, we have cornered the 1978 Cadillac motor vehicle part of southern New Mexico.”

According to Connelly, “we always try to get, every once in a while, maybe a good car.” He recounted how police tried to seize a 2008 Mercedes-Benz, during a stakeout at a bar: “The cops were undercover and were like ‘Ahhh!’” when they saw it. Had police forfeited the Benz, it would have been “the big seller” at a police auction. But they acted too hastily and so the car was ultimately returned to its owner.

 During a presentation, Connelly let it slip that he thinks forfeiture ordinances are “self-serving.” Though if any law enforcement officers feel guilty or remorseful about seizing property, Connelly paraphrased a New Mexico court decision to assuage them: “If you make money on motor vehicle seizures, it’s ok, don’t feel bad.”

Also at the forfeiture conference in New Mexico was Stanley Harada, Chief Hearing Officer for Albuquerque and a “significant architect” for that city’s vehicle forfeiture law. He was asked just how much Albuquerque takes in from civil forfeiture. While he didn’t have that information, Harada did drop this bombshell: “I think they would rather not talk about those numbers because then it starts becoming more of a bullet-point for people that are trying to fight the program.”

In New Mexico, agencies are not required to collect data on how much revenue civil forfeiture has raised. That clearly prevents the public from holding police and prosecutors accountable for their actions. Moreover, if voters were aware just how often the government seized property, they’d be more likely to demand reforms...

Editor's note:  Their are 8 short videos showing Mr. Connelly making his remarks at the link below.  For a great backgrounder on asset forfeiture see this video.