Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bourbon bandits...Wild Turkey whisked away

The mystery of who's been spiriting away barrels of Kentucky bourbon might soon have a resolution, as authorities seem close to revealing details about a possible theft ring. So far, one person has been arrested in the theft of Wild Turkey bourbon from a Kentucky warehouse, but a prosecutor signaled Friday that the case is much broader. Franklin County Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Cleveland said he expects multiple people to be indicted as his office prepared to present the case to a grand jury in Frankfort, Kentucky. "If all things fall into place and nothing else develops, we'd go and present that case for indictment on Tuesday," he said. Investigators have recovered barrels and bottles of stolen whiskey; the volume is significant, the prosecutor said. "It's more than I could imagine one person drinking in a lifetime," Cleveland said. Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said the case has mushroomed from an investigation that began with the recovery of barrels of Wild Turkey bourbon found behind a shed, with spray paint covering the labeling on top of each barrel. Bourbon barrels weigh hundreds of pounds each when filled with aging whiskey. "I'm amazed at the amount of bourbon that we've recovered, the amount of bourbon that's been stolen," he said...more

Court: Navajo presidential election cannot be held Tuesday

A Navajo Nation judge has ruled that election officials cannot move forward with Tuesday's belated presidential contest, but the decision is likely to be appealed. Window Rock District Judge Carol Perry's ruling Friday centers on a bill tribal lawmakers passed earlier this year to fund a referendum that essentially would eliminate the Navajo-language fluency requirement for the tribe's top two posts. Perry said she knows Navajo voters and the presidential candidates have been affected greatly by a widespread debate over the role the tribe's language plays in politics and culture. But she said the bill is clear that the referendum must be held before Navajos choose their next leader. "The logic in determining the qualifications of candidates first and thereafter holding an election is not only sensible, but it is the law," she wrote...more

Texas Thieves Target Beef Brisket

A smoking new crime trend has taken off in barbecue-obsessed Texas this year, mirroring a spike in the price of beef: People are stealing brisket. Even after the capture of a brisket bandit in San Antonio this month, restaurateurs aren't resting easy, because of fears that copycat criminals could prey on their barbecue pits. San Antonio police caught up with Allen Meneley on April 12, nearly two months after he became a prime suspect when a surveillance video appeared to show him snatching 13 smoked briskets and 10 cases of beer from Augie’s Barbed Wire Smoke House.  Texas-style smoked brisket has become trendy across the country in recent years, helping fuel a surge in prices that has also been linked to a string of barbecue-related thefts in Austin. Brisket prices have somewhat come down recently, though they remain well above their historic levels.  In Austin, a Texas man was convicted this year of stealing at least $2,000 worth of brisket from several local supermarkets. Detective Rickey Jones, who is investigating the case, said he is still trying to determine the whereabouts of his accomplices—as well as the pilfered meat. He suspects the thief might have sold it on the black market...more(subscription)

President Says ISIS Camp in Mexico Vindicates His Amnesty Policy

President Obama says that evidence that the Islamic State has opened a training camp in Mexico, just a few miles from El Paso on the Texas border, vindicates his decision to grant expedited amnesty to illegal immigrants from Latin America. "We've all seen the atrocities these terrorists are capable of," the President observed. "Who can blame Mexicans for fleeing? To deny these refugees sanctuary would be inhumane. To deport them would be cruel and unusual punishment. To delay their integration into our society merely on the grounds that Congress has failed to enact the necessary legislation would be barbaric." Obama ruled out the possibility of any aggressive action aimed at neutralizing the ISIS threat near El Paso, claiming "it would be an unconscionable intrusion on Mexico's sovereignty...more

ok ok, so its satire...I just had to post it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

'Mad Cow' Disease In Texas Man Has Mysterious Origin

It began with anxiety and depression. A few months later, hallucinations appeared. Then the Texas man, in his 40s, couldn't feel the left side of his face. He thought the symptoms were because of a recent car accident. But the psychiatric problems got worse. And some doctors thought the man might have bipolar disorder.  Eventually, he couldn't walk or speak. He was hospitalized. And about 18 months after symptoms began, the man died.  An autopsy confirmed what doctors had finally suspected: the human version of mad cow disease, called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.*  The case, published Wednesday in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, is only the fourth one diagnosed in the U.S. In those previous cases, people caught the disease in another country. It can take more than a decade for symptoms to appear after a person is exposed to the mad cow protein. But in every reported case, people had eaten beef in the U.K. or in a country known to have imported contaminated meat.  The source of the infection in Texas is less clear, says Dr. Atul Maheshwari, a neurologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Maheshwari was one of the doctors who took care of the patient with vCJD, and he led the study. The patient had lived in the U.S. for 14 years before becoming sick. Maheshwari says he most likely didn't catch the disease here. The country has recorded only a handful of mad cow cases in cattle since it began testing in 2003. And the U.S. didn't import contaminated beef from the U.K...more

Billy Currington Pulls Out Of Tim McGraw’s Gun Control Concert Amid Fan Outrage

Country fans were outraged and on April 16, Currington announced he was pulling out of the concert.
According to the International Business Times (IBI), the gun control concert got the wrong kind of exposure when Breitbart News reported that concert beneficiary Sandy Hook Promise “is a vehicle through which various relatives of Sandy Hook victims have joined to push gun control until it passes.”
Currington announced his decision to pull out via Facebook:
I’ve never been one to take on controversial issues – I’m a singer. I do feel strongly about honoring and supporting the Sandy Hook community and will be making a donation to a local organization. I appreciate people’s freedom and passion for whatever cause they want to support, however, I am choosing to step aside from this fundraiser and will focus instead on the rest of the tour dates as I look forward to being on the road with Tim and Chase and having a blast with all of the fans.

Tim McGraw, Billy Currington headline fundraiser for gun control

On July 16 2015, country singer Tim McGraw along with Billy Currington will headline a fundraiser for gun control group Sandy Hook Promise in Connecticut.  Sandy Hook Promise is a vehicle through which various relatives of Sandy Hook victims have joined to push gun control until it passes. Newtown father Mark Bearden joined the group pledging to “dedicate the rest of his life” to pursuing gun control.
McGraw says he supports the Sandy Hook Promise, “Sandy Hook Promise teaches that we can do something to protect our children from gun violence and as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News has repeatedly reported the phrase “Gun Violence”, especially in Connecticut, is gun banner speak for more Gun Control.  Well 10,000’s McGraw fans did not take well to him kicking their 2A rights in the groin and took to McGraws Facebook page to protest. That is where the Mcgraw team decided free speech was bad too.  As the protest comment filled their Facebook page they proceeded to delete any unfavorable comments from pro gun fans...more

Oregon gold miners in BLM dispute call on armed supporters to stand down

A man who owns a gold-mining claim on federal land in southwestern Oregon asked for help defending it after U.S. authorities ordered him to stop work, but he is now telling his armed supporters to back off. Rick Barclay said Thursday that he hoped to prevent his fight with federal regulators from turning into the kind of high-profile standoff at a Nevada ranch last year.  He initially called in a local chapter of constitutional activists known as the Oath Keepers because he thought the U.S. Bureau of Land Management would seize the equipment on his mining claim outside Grants Pass. The agency had served an order to stop work at the mine after finding it lacked the necessary paperwork. Armed activists started showing up Monday at the mine and a rural property about 20 miles away, Oath Keepers spokeswoman Mary Emerick said. She said the group was still recruiting people to help provide security for the mine but would not say how many activists were there. Now, Barclay is telling his supporters that the mine is not under attack, posts online by "keyboard warriors" have gotten out of hand and he was not interested in a repeat of the Cliven Bundy ranch standoff.  "We are not looking for Bundyville. We are not looking to challenge anything. We are just holding our constitutional rights and property rights in reserve until we get our day in court," Barclay said.  He and his partner, George Backes, believe they do not have to file an operations plan demanded by the Bureau of Land Management because they hold the surface rights on the mining claim, Barclay said. The claim has been continuously owned since 1858, predating the Bureau of Land Management's authority and other mining laws, he said...more

Criticism of federal-to-state land transfer idea is a sign of traction

By Fred Birnbaum

You can tell when an idea is gaining some traction, critics will attack it from all angles. The transfer of federal lands to Idaho, and other Western states, is one such idea.

And it’s an idea whose time has come.

If we go back to our history books, we see the federal government has already transferred more than 1.275 billion acres to the states and their residents since the country was formed. It is easy to forget states like Illinois and Missouri were once more than 90 percent federal land. This transfer process slowed down greatly in the late 1800s after the Western states were admitted into the union.

Even if we suspend the discussion about whether further legal claims to federal lands by the states have merit, it cannot be disputed that the U.S. Congress has the power to transfer federal lands under Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution, and that Idaho could accept these lands if Congress agreed to give them up.

Opponents of the transfer of federal lands to Idaho make the following points: Idaho could not afford to maintain these lands and would have to sell all or some of them and therefore access and use would be restricted or eliminated. These same critics apparently have failed to notice access and use restrictions continue to grow on federal lands.

It is the endless repetition that access and use will be restricted that has generated opposition by some sportsmen and recreationists to transfer. However, there is every reason to believe transfer could be completed in a manner that had the federal government retain ownership of national parks and other sensitive areas, with states retaining perpetual ownership of the balance.

House Bill 265, which would have had Idaho join the Interstate Compact on Transfer of Public Lands, died in the Senate Resources and Environment Committee after passing the Idaho House. However, the sentiments of both the House and Senate committee members were overwhelmingly in favor of the view that Idaho could better manage these lands than the federal government. Support for the legislation foundered on the language of the legislation, not its intent. A better bill will likely come back next year, providing Idaho with the opportunity to join Utah and Arizona in the compact.

Support for the view Idaho could better manage these lands is partly grounded in research conducted by the Property and Environment Research Center of Montana, in its report, “Divided Lands.” Four Western states that manage similar state trust lands spend one-sixth of the cost per acre versus what the federal government spends in its management of public lands. The Forest Service and BLM lose $2 billion each year managing federal lands. This is important because it debunks the notion states can’t manage public lands effectively and would have to sell them. States already do manage public lands, and the view that states would follow the poor management practices of the federal government is simply not supported by decades of evidence.

The evolution of U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo’s view on public lands is to be applauded; it does not represent a flip-flop. Rather, it is the federal agencies that have done the political somersault. If anything, congressmen from Western states have been too slow to recognize that federal agencies have moved away from genuine multiple use and wise resource management to policies of restriction and environmental gamesmanship. These practices are choking urban residents with smoky fires from ill-managed timber lands and plunging rural communities into poverty.

The collaborative approach to federal land management is working as designed, by slowly squeezing rural residents out while providing political cover to unelected federal bureaucrats. Recognition of this situation has led many members of Congress, as well as legislators in Western states, to call for the transfer of federal lands back to the states. The issue of land transfer will not go away because the underlying problems of federal land management will not improve. Idaho’s congressional delegation and state lawmakers should press this issue.

At some point sportsmen and recreationists will have to decide whether to continue to side with the “bicoastal” environmental gentry or partner with Idahoans who understand that multiple-use can work; with peaceful co-existence among hunters, anglers, back-country enthusiasts and foresters.

Fred Birnbaum is vice president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

Idaho Statesman 

Read more here:

NPS centennial aims to attract millennials, raise big money

Corbin Hiar, E&E reporter

In 1953, an influential magazine piece lamented that national parks were beginning to "go to hell" from a lack of maintenance and reluctantly called for closing many of the most popular sites.

That Harper's essay is credited with helping launch "Mission 66," the last major campaign to restore the park system, which was timed to coincide with the National Park Service's 50th anniversary.
Nearly half a century later, the service is still dogged by maintenance issues and budgets that supporters believe are inadequate to address them.

But it is also facing a new challenge: the need to connect with millennials -- a generation of potential visitors who are more comfortable in front of a screen than a sweeping vista.

To address these twin challenges, NPS this month launched a pair of landmark campaigns to promote its centennial celebration next year and to lay the groundwork for the service's next 100 years.

One effort will use social media, interactive kiosks and other digital tools to attract a more diverse range of visitors to parks. That awareness campaign will be funded by large corporate sponsors and be led by a major New York advertising agency.

The other push will be an unprecedented fundraising drive. It will include a specific list of projects donors can give to. It also will feature local events such as biological surveys or 100-mile hikes and bike rides, playing on the centennial theme.

The most visible component of the centennial effort is an awareness campaign encouraging Americans and international visitors to "Find Your Park." A website and social media campaign of the same name are attempting to connect the tech-savvy millenial generation to public lands.

The awareness campaign is something of a digital-first reimagining of the "See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet" radio and television jingle that NPS co-opted to promote public lands during its Mission 66 effort, according to NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis.


Elk Deaths Are National Park Service's Fault, Says Group

More than 250 native tule elk have died at Point Reyes National Seashore since 2012, and a wildlife protection group says fences are to blame. At issue is the Pierce Point herd of tule elk, which roams the extreme northern extremity of the Point Reyes peninsula in western Marin County. The herd's numbers have fallen from 540 in the autumn of 2012 to 286 two years later. According to the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, that's because an elk-proof fence maintained at the urging of Point Reyes dairy farmers is keeping the elk away from sources of fresh water, and the animals are dying of thirst as a result. The news comes as the Park Service considers a plan to install more elk-proof fencing elsewhere in Point Reyes National Seashore, which activists say could consign Point Reyes' other elk herds to the same thirsty fate. As part of a proposed Ranch Management Plan that would cover 28,000 acres of dairy and beef ranches in the Seashore and the nearby Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Park Service is considering fencing in or removing other elk herds while extending grazing leases to a 20-year term. Miller charges that move would benefit ranchers at the expense of wildlife...more

House approves estate tax repeal

House members on Thursday voted 240-179 to repeal the estate tax, a tax that some ag groups say unfairly hurts farm businesses. The tax, also called the "death tax" by some groups and legislators, imposes taxes of up to 40% on some estates. Ag groups argue this hurts capital-intensive family farms, and effectively penalizes the transfer of family farms from one operator to the next.A similar bill to repeal the "death tax" also has been introduced in the Senate by John Thune, R-S.D. But the White House has previously threatened to veto estate tax repeal legislation, favoring tax cuts that focus on education or lower-income Americans. Other opponents of the bill suggest the revenue it eliminates – nearly $269 billion over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation – is a drawback...more

American Cowboy Magazine Receives 2015 Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Magazine Article

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum has selected “Not for Sale”—written by American Cowboy’s Editor-in-Chief, Bob Welch—as the 2015 Outstanding Magazine Article recipient of this year’s Western Heritage Awards. The article was originally published in the October/November 2014 issue of American Cowboy and features the victory of southeastern Colorado’s ranching community over the United States Army in a modern-day fight to preserve their land, their livelihood, and their families. “Of course, receiving the Western Heritage Award is extremely humbling,” said Welch in response to the recognition. “However, I’m more humbled by the chance to tell the story of these ingenious and tenacious ranchers. They were smart in their tactics, steadfast in their approach, and committed to save their land. Their story serves as an example to anyone facing any kind of challenge. Some might say that the cowboy has become merely a symbol—even a myth. But the men and women in this story prove that the American cowboy is alive and well, still pointing the herd toward greener pastures.” Welch will be presented with the award on Saturday, April 18, 2015, at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Patrick Wayne and Ethan Wayne will be the Masters of Ceremonies for the event...more

You can read the article here.

Ranch Radio Share

Didn't have time to "roll my own" this morning, so sharing Billy Mata & Texas Tradition performing Stars Over San Antone.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Clean Power Plan Litigation Begins

The first major step in what will likely be a long, drawn-out legal process will begin today, April 16. Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments from 16 states and a handful of energy companies. The two consolidated cases led by the state of West Virginia and the Ohio-based Murray Energy Corporation seek to prevent EPA from finalizing the already proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP). The two lawsuits contend that EPA cannot legally regulate greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act since – in finalizing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) – the agency already regulates coal-fired power plants under Section 112. This prohibition is meant to prevent duplicative or redundant air standards. Supporters of EPA, however, contend that the law prevents EPA from doubly regulating the same pollutant rather than source under the Clean Air Act. The biggest hurdle that the petitioners will likely face during this initial hearing will be whether or not they have standing before the rule has been finalized. EPA’s brief contends that the 16 states and Murray Energy cannot demonstrate injury until after the regulation has been finalized...more

Surprised solar customers find themselves with liens

Jeff Leeds says installing SolarCity’s panels on the roof of his home in the Northern California city of El Granada was the sorriest day of his life. Agreeing to the company’s 20-year lease was like partnering with the devil, he claims. He says he has endured skyrocketing electric bills, installation of an inferior system and contract violations because SolarCity refuses to clean the panels or to provide a payment for his system’s poor performance. The latest surprise: a notice from his bank telling him that SolarCity had placed a lien on his home, and that his equity line of credit application could not proceed until the lien was removed. SolarCity say it’s not a lien, but a “fixture filing” that stakes the company’s claim to the panels, which it owns if consumers have taken part in its popular 20-year lease program. Owning the solar electricity-generating system allows SolarCity to claim lucrative state and federal subsidies available only to system owners. SolarCity has received approximately $500 million in tax subsidies and grants over the years. During a Feb. 12 Capitol Hill hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., grilled Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz about solar company liens. Flake singled out SolarCity’s rival Stealth Solar as the offender.  “After entering into these long-term agreements, a lot are in for a surprise when they realize they have to pay off a lien put on their house,” said Flake. “What role, if any, can or does DOE plan to play in ensuring these companies who access federal tax incentives in particular  … aren’t misrepresenting what they are doing to their customers?” Moniz was apparently caught off guard by the question and stammered that he didn’t know anything about liens but would look into it...more

Obamaville song

This made the rounds a coupla years ago, but still worth a listen...

California water wars: Farms vs. everybody else

If you tuned in to talk radio in Los Angeles last week, you might have heard some screaming. "The farming industry is using 80 percent of the water, and they're 2 percent of the economy, justify that!" shouted John Kobylt of KFI radio's "John and Ken Show." Kobylt was ripping into Brad Gleason, who manages almond and pistachio operations in California . When Gleason argued that the actual water usage was lower, and that nuts use less water than other California commodities like dairy cattle, Kobylt wasn't having any of it. California has the most people and the biggest farm economy, but an epic drought is turning the two against each other. Craig Underwood's family has been farming in California for decades. He's survived pests, floods, and (so far) drought. Nothing, however, has prepared him for the PR onslaught farmers now face as California runs dry. "We're producing food and fiber which is vital to our existence," Underwood said, standing in a lemon grove. "Currently crops are doing better, farms are doing better, and all of a sudden we're being criticized for doing better." Farmers are being criticized for using too much water and not sacrificing enough in the state's four-year drought. "They're growing almonds, which takes 10 percent of the water supply in a desert climate. How nuts is that?" Kobylt asked during a break at the KFI studios. (Disclosure: This reporter occasionally fills in on KFI.) Co-host Ken Chiampou believes that asking cuts from city residences and businesses, who use only 10 percent of the state's water, is penalizing the wrong group. "I need to eat," he said, "but I don't need to eat pistachios." The threat of less water and higher prices now has some farmers taking aim at each other. The Associated Press reports that authorities are investigating the disappearance of water from the Sacramento Delta after complaints from water agencies representing some farmers in the Central Valley. The main culprits could be farmers closer to the source who tell the AP they aren't breaking any rules because they have senior water rights in a system that goes back a century...more 

New California Water Restrictions' Impact on Horses

Jim Hendrickson, president of the California Horseman's Association, does not believe that Brown's restrictions will have a major impact on horse owners. Many horse owners reside in rural areas and water horses with wells on their own properties, Hendrickson said. Those lucky enough to live near rivers will fare better than those who do not, he said, adding that the hardest hit will be those whose wells are already burdened by the drought “In some areas the aquifer that feeds wells is so low that they have to truck in water,” Hendrickson said. Tawnee Preisner, operations manager for the Horse Plus Humane Society in Bangor, California, hasn't had to secure outside water yet. But no matter what owners and ranches do to conserve resources, Hendrickson believes that the real cost of the drought lies in the loss of the state's hay fields. “It's not a water issue, it's a feed issue,” Hendrickson said. “Some farmers have already stopped growing alfalfa and started growing trees.” As a result, Hendrickson said he's seen the price of alfalfa hay rise from $6 to $25 or $30 per bale this year. In response, he said, some ranchers began using alfalfa pellets. However, he said he's seen the cost of the pellets rise, as well, from $54 per 250-pound barrel to $75 per barrel. Still, no matter how many rules horse owners impose on themselves, Preisner expects California to mandate more water restrictions in the future. “It has only rained five times this winter," she said. "The longer this drought continues, the more regulations we are going to see.”...more

NM Governor says state’s water crisis is ‘real and it is serious’

Without sustainable sources of clean drinking water, New Mexico won’t be able to attract companies or capitalize on economic development opportunities, Gov. Susana Martinez said Wednesday. Martinez spoke to a roomful of water managers gathered for a meeting hosted by the New Mexico Rural Water Association. The association’s members have been looking for ways to make the most of the drought-stricken state’s limited fresh water supplies while grappling with aging wells and pipelines. New Mexico needs an estimated $1 billion for water infrastructure, according to state officials. “The water crisis we face is real and it is serious,” Martinez said. “And as I’ve said before, we cannot control the duration or intensity of the drought, but we can control how we respond to it.” In 2013, when New Mexico led the nation with the worst and most widespread drought conditions, the state identified nearly 300 drinking water systems that were considered vulnerable. Many of them depended on a single source of water and had no backup plan if conditions worsened. Lawmakers answered in 2014 with nearly $90 million in state funding for public works projects related to water and wastewater improvements, as well as the restoration of watersheds. New Mexico has been through four straight years of severe drought, and the past decade has seen more dry years than wet ones. However, the last two monsoon seasons have helped, and forecasts call for above-normal chances for precipitation this spring...more

Cyclists geared up for a fight

The Bitterroot National Forest recently released the final draft of its first new forest-wide travel plan since 1976—and some local mountain bikers aren’t happy with the proposed limits on cycling. The new plan closes off about 102,000 acres of the Blue Joint and Sapphire Wilderness Study Areas to motorized and mechanized transport, which includes snowmobile and mountain bike use. Bitterroot Backcountry Cyclists President Lance Pysher says he was “pretty shocked” by the final draft, which restricts motorized and mechanized access from 178 miles of trails, including popular paths in the Bitterroot like Blodgett Canyon and Bear Creek Overlook. Bitterroot Forest Supervisor Julie King says she views mountain bikers as “a valuable partner,” but she believes the Forest Service’s hands are tied by federal law regarding wilderness and proposed wilderness areas. The Wilderness Act doesn’t mention bicycles, but explicitly bans motorized vehicles and “mechanical transport,” which has been interpreted as including bicycles. Additionally, King says they took into consideration the precedent set by a 2011 case in the Gallatin National Forest, where wilderness groups won a lawsuit that demanded more restrictions on snowmobile and bicycle use. Mountain biking advocates nationwide have long argued against the Forest Service’s interpretation of the Wilderness Act, citing studies that indicate cycling has less impact on trails than other kinds of recreation. A 2006 National Park Service study concluded that “Horse and ATV trails are significantly more degraded than hiking and biking trails.”...more

Audit: ‘Broad and Pervasive Mismanagement’ of USDA Farmers Program

A program intended to give financial assistance to “socially disadvantaged” farmers is riddled with “broad and pervasive mismanagement,” leading the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector general to question millions of dollars in taxpayer funds. The Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO), established by the 2008 Farm Bill, administered $38 million in grants in fiscal years 2010 and 2011. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found no supporting documentation for any of the grants issued in those years, and suggested that the USDA may have awarded them in violation of federal law. “OIG found a pattern of broad and pervasive mismanagement of OAO grant funds in FYs 2010 and 2011,” the audit said. “This occurred because grant approval processes were informal and undocumented and regulatory processes were disregarded.” Among the audit’s findings included $20 million in “potential” Anti-Deficiency Act violations issued under the OAO’s Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as Section 2501. The report found that the office issued grants to applicants “who may not have been the most meritorious,” did not monitor grant spending, and did not ensure that recipients followed regulations. The OIG questioned the program’s grants because the USDA did not use a competitive process, despite it being required by law. The OIG found similar problems with the program in prior audits, noting that lack of oversight of the program, nepotism, and conflicts of interest have been a “consistent theme.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1415

Here's a song written and sung by Ray Batts titled Bear Cat Daddy.  The tune is on Disc 2 of the Bear Family Records collection Tennessee Jive.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

BLM crafting guidance on social cost of carbon -- internal memo

The Bureau of Land Management is developing comprehensive guidance on calculating the climate change impacts of mining oil, gas and coal from public lands, according to an internal memo obtained by Greenwire. The memo, sent this month by Ed Roberson, BLM's assistant director of resources and planning, says the rapid warming of the planet is primarily caused by humans and that BLM should acknowledge this as it weighs the trade-offs of extracting more carbon-intensive minerals from the earth.
"Anthropogenic climate change is a reality," Roberson wrote in an email to BLM senior managers across the country. "Please ensure that all discussions of climate change in BLM's [National Environmental Policy Act] documents are consistent with this conclusion." Roberson's name does not appear in the document, but the agency confirmed he was the author and that it was sent earlier this month. The memo says BLM will be issuing "a comprehensive instruction memorandum" addressing climate change and the social cost of carbon in the next few months. While the impact of that guidance remains unclear, environmentalists said Roberson's memo is a sign that the agency intends to take better stock of how its land management decisions affect the climate...more

Another Showdown? Armed Members of Oath Keepers Group for Standoff Against BLM

The owners have been mining there for a century. The Bureau of Land Management is trying to step in and assert control. Now the armed citizens of the Oath Keepers are streaming in to take a stand against the government. The developing standoff is centered around the Sugar Pine Mining Claim in the Galice Mining District in southwestern Oregon, where KDRV-TV reported Oath Keepers are gathering to defend mining claims from the BLM. The Raw Story reported that the government had given the miners a deadline of April 25 to get their equipment off the land — and the miners don’t intend to comply.
According to the miners, fighting back against the BLM is expensive but the miners believe the law is firmly on their side, writing in a statement:
This case is headed in a direction that presents what is probably a once-in-a-generation prime opportunity to strike at the heart of the very surface management authority of the [Department of the Interior] and USDA and to restore the “as patent” rights of every mining claim owner in the United States by striking down the actual source of that intrusive authority.
The Sugar Pine claim was established in 1876, the Shasta Lantern noted, making it one of America’s oldest claims.  The miners contend the BLM lacks authority there since Congress set aside the Galice Mining District as a “local governing body for and by miners,” granting them “the right to create and enforce local rules and regulations” provided they did not conflict with U.S. law. The miners also say the BLM hasn’t produced evidence that the Interior Department had severed its rights under the 1955 Surface Resources Act, the only way the miners could lose their exclusive rights to the well-established claim, the Raw Story noted...more

Cliven Bundy supporter pleads guilty to threatening federal official

An out-of-state supporter of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has pleaded guilty in a federal court in Pennsylvania to making threats against a Bureau of Land Management enforcement official during Bundy’s 2014 standoff against federal officials over land grazing rights. Some Bundy supporters, as well as Bundy himself, wonder whether this is the first in a series of legal moves the federal government might take against the recalcitrant rancher, whose so-called citizen militia challenged BLM officials in an armed face-off last April. Will Michael, 24, pleaded guilty this week to threatening a federal law enforcement official as well as making interstate communication threats. A profanity-laced phone message left for Mike Roop, the chief BLM ranger for Washington and Oregon, claimed, “We’re going to kill you,” according to federal court documents. Officials say it was one of 500 threatening messages that Roop received. Michael did not travel to southern Nevada to join hundreds of Bundy supporters – many armed with semiautomatic weapons – who converged on federal land after agents swooped in to seize Bundy’s cattle. Michael told authorities that he saw a video on social media showing Roop shoving aside Bundy’s sister, who was blocking BLM vehicles in the cattle raid, officials said. Michael will be sentenced in July. Michael Green, a University of Nevada Las Vegas historian, says he believes there will be more government moves to come. "I believe the other shoe will drop; the question is when," he said. “There is certainly a political calculation involved.” "It sort of seems like this could be the government’s first move – I hope not," Bundy told The Times. “I feel that they’re picking on this guy to make an example of him, as a way to get to me." Bundy said there was misconduct on the government’s side as well. He said his supporters filed two dozen crime reports with Las Vegas police against federal agents. No arrests have been made in the case, he said...more

New documents reveal little about 2014 Bundy-BLM clash

Plodding along seemingly slower than desert tortoises that spawned the dispute between Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management more than 20 years ago, the BLM has finally provided a watchdog group with a few dozen pages of documents under a Freedom of Information Act request. But none of the heavily redacted documents sheds light on what led to last year’s armed standoff between Bundy’s supporters and federal agents. The standoff occurred after the BLM hired a helicopter firm to round up more than 300 of his free-roaming cows from the Gold Butte range only to let them be released from a makeshift corral on April 12, 2014, as a potentially violent confrontation loomed. “There’s so little information; we don’t know why it took a year to find 44 pages,” Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said in a telephone interview Wednesday. His group requested the documents in late April for an FOIA lawsuit it filed against the BLM in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “This is more of a reflection of the way the BLM operates than the frailty of the FOIA,” he said. “The absence of documents raises questions if this is a professionally managed outfit.” On April 13, 2014, hours after the standoff ended, the Las Vegas Review-Journal filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking copies of receipts, bills, contracts and other financial records pertaining to the cost of the 2014 roundup in addition to emails about the roundup that were copied to BLM Southern Nevada District Manager Tim Smith, BLM Director Neil Kornze and then-Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie. “The Review-Journal requested BLM FOIA documents on activities at the Bundy Ranch more than a year ago. To date, the BLM has not provided the requested documents,” said Mark Hinueber, vice president of the Review-Journal...more

One of Obama's Biggest Climate Change Obstacles Is His Own Administration

In February, a Bureau of Land Management field office in Cedar City, Utah, released a report assessing the environmental impact of leasing 41,000 acres of federal land in Beaver County for oil and gas development. One sentence in particular, in the final appendix of the 69-page document, infuriated environmentalists. In a reply to a comment letter submitted by the nonprofit WildEarth Guardians, the report stated, "At the present time, there is a substantial amount of professional disagreement and uncertainty as to what impacts greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have on climate and, as a result, it is not possible to determine what social costs, if any, could be caused by emissions of GHGs."

Most climate scientists, of course, would disagree that there's any "uncertainty" surrounding the fact that greenhouse gases cause climate change. The BLM's boss would disagree, too. Last month, President Barack Obama ordered federal agencies—including the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), which oversees the BLM—to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade by 40 percent from their 2008 levels.

No government agency will have a tougher time meeting that deadline than the DOI, which manages more than 500 million acres of lands across the country—bigger than Texas, California, and Alaska combined—and another 1.7 billion acres offshore. The fossil fuel energy that’s developed from these lands could be responsible for as much as 24 percent of the U.S.’s climate change emissions; the lands account for 40 percent of the nation’s coal production (concentrated in the Wyoming and Montana's Powder River Basin), and 23 percent and 16 percent of oil and natural gas respectively. Federals lands also include national forests and pastures, which help absorb greenhouse gas emissions, but overall the lands contribute nearly four-and-a-half times more carbon to the atmosphere than they absorb.

This makes the Department of Interior crucial to the future of climate change action, but the agency—the BLM in particular—only haphazardly considers climate change in its everyday decisions. How can the administration lead by example when one of its departments is responsible for nearly a quarter of all U.S. emissions—and seems to have no intention of reducing fossil-fuel development? It's a question more and more environmentalists are demanding that Obama answer.`


Dispatch from Cliven Bundy's latest gathering

by Tay Wiles

...By last Friday, a rag-tag collection of militia, Constitutionalists, Patriots and other Bundyites from as far away as Florida and Oregon had camped themselves on the side of the highway that leads to the Bundy Ranch in Clark County. A large “Info” sign hung on a trailer parked beside a table of schedules, “We Made a Difference at Bundy Ranch” t-shirts and “Bye Bye BLM” stickers. A couple of organizers shuffled about, answering questions and greeting the occasional arrival. An event was brewing.

The three-day “liberty celebration,” as the Bundys call it on their Facebook page and in emails, didn’t draw the estimated 300-plus supporters that descended last April when BLM-contractors began rounding up Bundy cattle from unpermitted federal rangeland. But over 100 supporters showed up to mark the anniversary of the tentative victory over the feds; Bundy has yet to be charged for grazing his cattle illegally on federal land on and off for decades, nor have his armed defenders been taken to account for aiming weapons at federal agents.

Speakers included Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who has introduced a bill with Bundy's support, to transfer federal administration of public lands in Nevada to the state. Former Arizona sheriff and states’ rights advocate Richard Mack, militia leaders and members of the Bundy family also spoke to the crowd.

The one-year anniversary event was, on the surface, a celebration of ranchers standing up not only to the government, but also to the other forces that conspire to wipe out this traditional livelihood. But there weren’t many ranchers in attendance. Really, it was the one-year birthday of a rekindled anti-federal government movement, one that is gaining strength Westwide. Over three days of milling in the sagebrush expanse between tourist-town Mesquite to the north and Las Vegas to the south, I met ex-cops, ex-firefighters, ex-military, a real estate agent, roofer, tattoo artist, general contractor, mom-turned Constitutionalist activist, retired San Diego fisherman, and others. Some of Bundy’s fellow livestock producers did in fact show up—and maybe more would have, had the county fair and rodeo down the road not have been the same weekend—but the demographics were telling.

Congressman criticizes Forest Service on water rights

Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, slammed the federal government for what he described as an attempt to interfere with long-standing state laws and takeover private water rights. Testifying before the House Natural Resources Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee oversight hearing on Tuesday, Tipton criticized a directive proposed by the U.S. Forest Service aimed at establishing direction for management of groundwater resources on National Forest System lands. “In recent years, the federal government has repeatedly attempted to circumvent long-established state water law in order to hijack water rights,” Tipton said. “These efforts constitute a gross federal overreach and a violation of private-property rights. “Although the Forest Service has announced its intention not to require transfer of ownership of water rights in a ski area special-use permit, outside of the ski area permit context, the agency is keeping the policy on the books that requires permittees to transfer their water rights to the U.S. and apply for new water rights in the name of the U.S.” Tipton also announced his plans to reintroduce the Water Rights Protection Act this week. The measure seeks to protect those that rely on privately held water rights for their livelihood from losing those rights to federal agencies. Protected parties would include communities, businesses, recreational operations, farmers and ranchers. The proposed legislation would prohibit these agencies from extorting water rights through the use of permits and leases. “The purpose of this legislation is to be able to address what we continue to see out of the federal government,” Tipton told The Durango Herald. “The overreach by the government now stems beyond the ski areas, beyond our farm and ranch communities and now potentially having an impact on our municipalities as well.” Tipton introduced the bill in March 2014, but it died in the Senate after passing the House...more

US federal law agencies say report of ISIS in Anapra, Mexico is unsubstantiated

A rumor is circulating online that the terrorist group ISIS has set up a camp in Anapra, Mexico, not far from the U.S. Mexico border - and El Paso. It is similar to a rumor that U.S. federal officials dismissed months ago.  ABC-7 checked with several federal law agencies involved with border security and were told the report is unverified, and it is unlikely that ISIS is in Anapra or Juarez, Mexico.  Judicial Watch reported Tuesday that a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector told the website that ISIS had a camp in Anapra and that were documents allegedly from the group that were found in Anapra. Read the full Judicial Watch article here.

The interesting thing here is the new National Monument covers this area to within a few miles of the border (including the Potrillos), and while the Border Patrol and other law enforcement may travel on existing roads, they are prohibited from traveling off road unless they are in hot pursuit, i.e., no regular patrolling. Also keep in mind this is the area where Udall/Heinrich have introduced legislation to designate as Wilderness, where no vehicular traffic or mechanical equipment is allowed, further limiting law enforcement presence and effectiveness. If indeed ISIS has picked this area, you can certainly see why.

Happy Tax Day! Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1414

Happy Tax Day! Penny and Cash, two fitting names to sing about Taxes.  Hank Penny - Taxes, Taxes followed by Johnny Cash - After Taxes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

ISIS Camp a Few Miles from Texas, Mexican Authorities Confirm

ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas, according to Judicial Watch sources that include a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector. The exact location where the terrorist group has established its base is around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as “Anapra” situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Another ISIS cell to the west of Ciudad Juárez, in Puerto Palomas, targets the New Mexico towns of Columbus and Deming for easy access to the United States, the same knowledgeable sources confirm. During the course of a joint operation last week, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss – the sprawling military installation that houses the US Army’s 1st Armored Division. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation. Law enforcement and intelligence sources report the area around Anapra is dominated by the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Cartel (“Juárez Cartel”), La Línea (the enforcement arm of the cartel) and the Barrio Azteca (a gang originally formed in the jails of El Paso). Cartel control of the Anapra area make it an extremely dangerous and hostile operating environment for Mexican Army and Federal Police operations. According to these same sources, “coyotes” engaged in human smuggling – and working for Juárez Cartel – help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border between Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico. To the east of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, cartel-backed “coyotes” are also smuggling ISIS terrorists through the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas. These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing. Mexican intelligence sources report that ISIS intends to exploit the railways and airport facilities in the vicinity of Santa Teresa, NM (a US port-of-entry). The sources also say that ISIS has “spotters” located in the East Potrillo Mountains of New Mexico (largely managed by the Bureau of Land Management) to assist with terrorist border crossing operations. ISIS is conducting reconnaissance of regional universities; the White Sands Missile Range; government facilities in Alamogordo, NM; Ft. Bliss; and the electrical power facilities near Anapra and Chaparral, NM.   Judicial Watch

One Washington, two sides

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Residents of Eastern Washington are frustrated with the more populous Westside of the state. And nowhere was that frustration more prominent than one day last month in the Capitol. On the docket were cougars and wolves, two hot-button issues that split the state right down the center of the Cascade Range. In one hearing, Eastside ranchers were asking senators to loosen the state’s law against using hounds to chase cougars and keep the predators away from livestock. In another hearing, an Eastside county commissioner told legislators that his constituents were fed up with wolves. They continue to attack cattle and sheep, costing ranchers tens of thousands of dollars. All the while wolves remain protected under state and federal endangered species laws that draw most of their support from Westside groups and individuals. In the weeks since, lawmakers have agreed to take a close look at the wolf problem. The hounds, however, will remain on the leash. For the day, Eastern Washington was 1 for 2. Not bad, considering the Westside’s population — and representation in the Capitol — is more than three times as large as the Eastside’s. The state’s longstanding east-west divide has popped up several times this legislative session, and it usually involved agriculture. Divisive issues such as wolves, cougars, trails and even honeybees have all surfaced this session in the state Capitol. It’s not surprising, or new. The issues change, but the division between Eastern and Western Washington — sometimes called the Cascade Curtain — predates statehood. As the pioneers debated how best to divvy up the Oregon Territory into states, they argued about East versus West. More than 125 years later, some Eastside lawmakers want a re-do. Kennewick Rep. Brad Klippert and Spokane Valley Rep. Matt Shea both introduced bills this year to study carving out a 51st state on the Eastside...more

East-West, North-South, Rural-Urban...This is happening all over.  Take the time to read and compare to the situation in your state.

Four ways Interior Secretary Jewell can salvage her legacy

By Randi Spivak

For anyone who cares deeply about America’s wildlife, wild places and the future of our climate, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has been a disappointment.

Despite a quickly warming climate, she’s opening vast tracts of public lands and ocean to dirty fossil fuel development—places like Utah’s iconic canyon country, Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, and the Atlantic Coast, which has been off-limits for three decades. She’s also promised to open millions more acres of public lands for drilling and mining and just released new rules for fracking that are riddled with loopholes for polluting companies.

Jewell’s Department of the Interior has also proposed to end Endangered Species Act protection from nearly all wolves in the lower 48, abandoning the recovery effort long before scientists recommend. Thus far, Interior has also blessed inadequate management plans to save the greater sage grouse, despite the recommendations of its own scientists. When push comes to shove, our public lands – and the endangered wildlife they’re home to – lose out, time and time again. All to curry favor with big oil, mining, livestock, timber and multinational corporations.

It’s hardly the record of an Interior secretary who should want to be remembered for protecting America’s most iconic places and species. Much less of a civic leader trying to keep us from climate disaster.

Jewell’s final chapter at Interior, though, has yet to be written. She can begin righting her legacy and our public lands future with four crucial steps...

Spivak is public lands program director for the Center for Biological Diversity. 

And they are, surprise, surprise: 1) More Wildlife Refuges and corridors, 2) Don't Drill, 3) Don't mine, and 4) Protect Native American areas.


Is the estate tax killing small farms and businesses?

Efforts to repeal the estate tax (a.k.a. “death tax”) occur on an annual basis, usually around tax filing season. One year, in 2010, the estate tax actually was repealed — but then it came back again the next year. (It turned out that the taxes due at death were even more onerous for most people than with the estate tax in place.) In the meantime, Congress has increasingly cut the tax rate and boosted the exemptions, making it less and less likely that Americans would face the tax. In 2001, for instance, $675,000 ($1.35 million for couples) of an estate was exempted from the tax before a top rate of 55 percent tax rate kicked in. Now, the exemption is $5.43 million (nearly $11 million for couples) and tax rate is 40 percent on any amount after that. So the effective rate for most estates facing a tax is significantly lower than 40 percent. These exemptions have made a huge difference in terms of who gets affected. In 2000, 2 percent of estates had to pay taxes; in 2013, just 0.18 percent had to pay taxes, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Put another way, there were 52,000 taxable estate tax returns filed in 2000 and just 4,687 in 2013. (In 1977, by contrast, 139,000 estates had to pay tax—nearly 8 percent of deaths.) Ironically, the relatively little revenue raised by the estate tax (about $20 billion a year) has given opponents a new reason to eliminate the tax—because killing it would not make much of an impact on the budget. So, here we are, with objections still raised about the impact on farms and small businesses. As in the past, the concerns are bipartisan, with some Democrats joining the anti-estate-tax bandwagon. What does the data show?...more

The article is a back and forth on who pays and who doesn't.  In the end, the author concludes it's "a philosophical issue."  That is amply demonstrated by the farmer from Tennessee and the professor from Iowa State.  It is made clear the large increase in land values on the Tennessee farm are because of urbanization, otherwise, why would the farm owner say he wants to "maintain the farm as an example of modern agriculture within an urbanized area."?  The ag professor says this "makes no sense", that the average value of farmland in Iowa is much lower.  He then goes on to say the "super wealthy" are accumulating farm assets and are behind the "push" to kill the inheritance tax.  You can hear the envy spewing from his lips.

Not discussed in the article is the fairness of the death tax.  Why should a person pay income taxes all their life, pay property taxes on assets every year and so on, and then have to pay another tax on what is left over?  Its a tax on what's left over after taxes.

All this reminds me of my first year on the D.C. staff of Senator Domenici.  It was my first trip back to the state with him and we were hitting many of the smaller towns and rural areas.  This particular late afternoon we landed the small plane, if memory serves me right, in Fort Sumner, NM.  The pilot told us to be sure and get back before dark because there were no lights at the airport.  Domenici gave his speech and then stayed to answer questions.  

We were running late and it was my job to run interference and get us out of there.  I just about had him out the door when this physically impressive rancher grabbed me by the arm and demanded "just a minute" with the Senator.  We stopped and the rancher explained his father had passed away and now they were being forced to sell most of the ranch just to pay the inheritance taxes.  His eyes teared up when he said he had fought for his country in Korea, and now that same country was taking his family ranch away.  That did a much better job of convincing Domenici the death tax needed revision than all the issue briefs I had prepared.

Problem was, now it was dark.  The call went out, and the good folks lined their cars and pickups on either side of the runway with their headlights on, and that's how we took off that night.  I'll always remember that rancher, and those headlights.

A parched California points fingers towards agriculture

“'I feel like I've got a target on my back.”

This is the repeated phone call coming across the lines, says president of the California Farm Bureau, Paul Wenger, in an interview with Reuters.

After an executive order was issued by California’s Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on April 1, for the state’s first ever mandatory water reductions, a lot of criticism has been issued, saying not enough pressure was put on agricultural producers. The executive order, which comes a little over a year from when Governor Brown proclaimed California in State of Emergency in January 2014, due to severe drought conditions, sets a goal of cutting water usage by 25 percent.

The executive order highlights water conservation through banning the watering of ornamental grass, cut backs on campuses, cemeteries and recreational parks, and a rebate program to assist in replacing old appliances with more effacement models.

The order also states, “Agricultural water users – which have borne much of the brunt of the drought to date, with hundreds of thousands of fallowed acres, significantly reduced water allocations and thousands of farmworkers laid off – will be required to report more water use information to state regulators, increasing the state's ability to enforce against illegal diversions and waste and unreasonable use of water under today’s order. Additionally, the Governor’s action strengthens standards for Agricultural Water Management Plans submitted by large agriculture water districts and requires small agriculture water districts to develop similar plans. These plans will help ensure that agricultural communities are prepared in case the drought extends into 2016.”

Since then, environmental groups have publicly criticized the state’s leading industry. However, California’s agricultural industry has already been taking a hit prior to the executive order due to historically low precipitation levels, with over 500,000 acres of farmland going out of production in the just in San Joaquin Valley alone this year, according to the California Farm Water Coalition (CFWC).
“Farmworkers who are at [the] very low end of the economic scale here are out of work,” Governor Brown says in an article by the LA Times. “There are people in agriculture areas that are really suffering,” noting that hitting agriculture harder by shutting off water would jeopardize “hundreds of thousands of people.”

A domino effect

In a breakdown by the CFWC, a non-profit organization founded in the heat of a six-year drought in 1989 to educate the public on farm water use, these figures are given:
  • $640 billion in goods are processed by the ports in Los Angeles, San Diego and Bay Area counties.
  • 1.6 million jobs throughout the Southern California region are related to the movement of goods.
  • Total value of California’s agricultural exports in 2012 - $18.1 million.
  • More than 150 countries import California agricultural products such as almonds, rice, wine pistachios and walnuts.
  • California farmers and ranchers export 22 percent of the products that they produce.
Water supply + increased agricultural production = growing state economy
  • 9 percent of GDP is tied directly to agriculture and this grows to about 21 percent when we include the ripple effects.
  • When considering direct, indirect and induced effects, agricultural production and processing accounts for 6.8 percent of the state’s 20 percent million jobs, 6 percent of the state labor income, and 5.9 percent of the state value added.
  • 40 percent of Central Valley jobs are linked to farm processing
  • The San Joaquin Valley accounts for nearly 50 percent of the state’s agricultural output.
  • Each job in agricultural production and processing accounts for 2.2 jobs in the California economy as whole.
  • In the Central Valley, agricultural production and processing accounts for 22 percent of the private sector employment and 20.1 percent of the private sector labor income.
"Agriculture in California produces the food we all rely on," says Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird told Reuters. "Folks want to point fingers, but we're all in this together."

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1413

Sam Nichols & The Melody Rangers have some good advice for us with Keep Your Motor Hot.  The tune is on the CD Hillbilly Bop, Boogie & The Honky Tonk Blues, Vol. 1

Monday, April 13, 2015

States outpacing feds in safety regs for fracking

The Department of the Interior recently introduced a rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal lands to much fanfare. Stating the need to update 30-year-old regulations, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell characterized Interior’s action as taking the lead and giving the states an example to follow. An example? Only in the logic of leading from behind. States have not been waiting for the federal government. They have long acted to strengthen their regulations and ensure that fracking is done safely while protecting the environment. Colorado has completed multiple rounds of rulemaking over more than a decade, with increasing intensity in recent years. Wyoming is in a race to the top with Colorado in claiming the mantle of the state with the most stringent regulations. North Dakota, Texas, and in fact all western states with sizeable oil and natural gas development had updated their rules well before the federal government jumped in. In fact, 99.97 percent of the permits to drill approved last year by the Interior Department are in states with recently updated fracking regulations, with just one well in a state currently updating its rules...more

Years of wrangling, $1.7M needed to fix crumbling park in heart of D.C.

Thanks to the military spending bill signed into law in December 2014, Pershing Park in Washington, D.C., is set to get a major makeover. And it can't come soon enough for one of the companies that owns the Willard Hotel, a District landmark located across the street from the run-down memorial. Redesignated as the World War I Memorial by a provision of the 697-page Defense authorization package, the 1.76-acre, trapezoid-shaped park was formed on top of a traffic island between E Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest and is a short walk from the White House. The amphitheater-style plaza has fallen into disrepair since it was opened in 1981 to honor Gen. John J. Pershing, who led the American armed forces to victory over Germany in World War I. To advocates of the National Park Service, which is in charge of managing the site, it is a microcosm of the broader funding challenges facing the agency: Congress has grand plans for the revamped memorial but promises no new funding. Meanwhile, the decaying park is another line item in NPS's yawning $11.5 billion deferred maintenance backlog...more

Feds propose new offshore drilling rules 5 yrs after BP

It took five years, but federal regulators took a major step in offshore drilling safety Monday by proposing new rules requiring improvements to blowout preventers and other key well-control functions that failed so spectacularly in the Deepwater Horizon blowout on April 20, 2010. The proposed rule, which now goes through a 60-day public comment process, was formulated through years of coordination with industry, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Brian Salerno said implementing the rule could cost the whole industry approximately $883 million over 10 years, mostly for retrofitting and updating blowout preventers and instituting real-time monitoring of offshore operations from shore, another key part of the rule. The industry had already adopted much of the rule as best practices, and criticism of the Interior Department's deliberate pace came from both sides of the aisle Monday...more

DC Earth Day rally to feature performances by Usher, Common

Usher, Mary J. Blige, No Doubt, Common and Train are scheduled to headline an Earth Day rally and concert on the National Mall, hosted by and Soledad O'Brien. The rally on Saturday on the Washington Monument grounds will be free and open to the public. Fall Out Boy and My Morning Jacket are also set to perform. The event is a joint initiative between the Earth Day Network and the Global Poverty Project, pushing to end extreme poverty and solve climate change. Organizers announced Monday that the speakers will include United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and numerous lawmakers. The event is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. AP

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1412

Its Swingin' Monday and here's Merle Travis with his November 25, 1947 recording of Get Along Blues. The tune is on his British Archives of Country Music CD Dapper Dan.

Mighty Rio Grande Now a Trickle Under Siege

On maps, the mighty Rio Grande meanders 1,900 miles, from southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. But on the ground, farms and cities drink all but a trickle before it reaches the canal that irrigates Bobby Skov’s farm outside El Paso, hundreds of miles from the gulf. Now, shriveled by the historic drought that has consumed California and most of the Southwest, that trickle has become a moist breath. Drought’s grip on California grabs all the headlines. But from Texas to Arizona to Colorado, the entire West is under siege by changing weather patterns that have shrunk snowpacks, raised temperatures, spurred evaporation and reduced reservoirs to record lows. In a region that has replumbed entire river systems to build cities and farms where they would not otherwise flourish, the drought is a historic challenge, and perhaps an enduring one. Many scientists say this is the harbinger of the permanently drier and hotter West that global warming will deliver later this century. Drought’s grip on California grabs all the headlines. But from Texas to Arizona to Colorado, the entire West is under siege by changing weather patterns that have shrunk snowpacks, raised temperatures, spurred evaporation and reduced reservoirs to record lows. The perils of drought are on ample display along the Rio Grande, where a rising thirst has tested farmers, fueled environmental battles over vanishing fish and pushed a water-rights dispute between Texas and New Mexico to the Supreme Court. But you can also see glimmers of hope. Albuquerque, the biggest New Mexico city along the Rio Grande, has cut its water consumption by a quarter in 20 years even as its population has grown by a third. Irrigation districts and farmers — which consume perhaps seven of every 10 gallons of river water — are turning to technology and ingenuity to make use of every drop of water given them. John Fleck, a journalist and scholar at the University of New Mexico Water Resources Program who is finishing a book on the Colorado River, said no one should dismiss the gravity of the West’s plight. But neither is it necessarily ruination. “This whole running-out-of-water thing isn’t really doom,” he said. “When water gets short, farmers get very clever.”...Mr. Skov, 44, is at the very end of that pipe. The canal that supplies his farm intercepts the Rio Grande near downtown El Paso, and flows through the city zoo. From parts of his 1,500 acres where he tends pecan trees and grows onions and alfalfa, he jokes, he could hit a nine-iron across the barren Rio Grande channel into Mexico. In a perfect world, his crops could consume up to four feet of water in a growing season, and in flush times 15 years ago, the canal gave him most of that. “We’d double-crop — do onions and come back with corn after that,” he said. “We used to grow a lot of chiles, a lot of jalapeños. When water was abundant you could do a variety of things.” That is a pleasant memory. Today Mr. Skov fallows a fifth of his fields, and canal water that once flowed from March to October arrives in June and vanishes as early as August. He makes up the deficit with two inches of treated water from the city sewage plant and a deluge of salty groundwater, brought up by once-abandoned wells that his grandfather dug, and that he has brought back to life...more

WOTUS - Name change not enough

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent its proposed “Waters of the United States” (a.k.a. WOTUS) rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review—but not before changing the name to the “Clean Water Rule.” The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs received the rule on April 6 and will take 90 days to review. EPA has said for a while now the final rule will be released sometime this spring. But let’s get real: This is Washington. The White House will undoubtedly use all 90 days to review the rule and can extend the period for at least another 90 days. It’s safe to say it’ll be awhile before the final rule is published. In a nutshell, the proposed WOTUS rule grants the federal government an uncomfortable amount of dominion under EPA’s Clean Water Act. It’s no secret a large majority of America’s farmers want this rule “ditched.” Many farm groups have spoken out against the rule, telling dramatic (but truthful) stories of the problems such a rule would cause. Just a couple weeks ago, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on WOTUS. Suffice it to say, witnesses were not too pleased with the rule. EPA has continued to ignore farmers’ and ranchers’ concerns and march full steam ahead with the rule. However, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said the final rule clarified the definition of tributaries so that erosion in an agricultural field wouldn’t be subject to the WOTUS rule. McCarthy has also said the WOTUS rule will only have jurisdiction over ditches that “function like tributaries and can carry pollution downstream—like those constructed out of streams. Our proposal talked about upland ditches, and we got feedback that the word ‘upland’ was confusing, so we’ll approach ditches from another angle.” But given EPA’s tumultuous relationship with one of the world’s greatest industries (that would be American agriculture), rural America has a hard time, and rightly so, believing much of what EPA says about exempting certain farming practices from the WOTUS rule. Last month, the U.S. Senate proved opposition to WOTUS is bipartisan. During the budget vote, the Senate passed on a 59-40 vote, a non-binding amendment, which would clarify several items that would not be subject to the anti­pollution law. Such a tight vote signals the Senate has a good shot of a filibuster-proof (60 votes) margin for future WOTUS legislation. (Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, missed the vote but would likely have supplied the 60th vote.)...more

U.S. and Mexico Officials Signed the Wildfire Protection Agreement as a Collaboration Effort

The United States and Mexican officials are working together to fight wildfires. They signed an agreement Friday, called the Wildfire Protection Agreement, that will allow the partnership to bring both sides of the border together to help prevent and manage wildfires that can be very dangerous the environment of the Big Bend-Rio Bravo region. Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, said, "It will be nice to sign a new agreement, that updates the agreement from 1999, that will take us beyond 10 miles or 16 kilometers to cross our border and in to both countries as we fight the wildlife fires that are going to be getting hotter, dryer, and more dangerous in this time of a changing climate." With such a long area of border shared between Mexico and the U.S., it was time to make a change. U.S. Secretary Jewell and Juan Jose Guerra Abud, the Mexican Environment and Natural Resources Secretary along with other U.S.-Mexico officials came together to sign the Wildfire Agreement as another step in preserving the Big Bend-Rio Bravo region...more

NM family says letter proves Jesse James lived to age 107

In the realm of gun slinging outlaws, his name tops the list. Jesse James, the notorious Old West outlaw known for robbing banks and trains and killing anyone who got in his way, is alleged to have been shot by a member of his own gang on April 3, 1882. However, now 133 years after the alleged assassination, one Four Corners family is coming forward with proof that may suggest the famous outlaw lived a lot longer. "Grandpa died August 15 at 6:45 p.m." reads the first line of the letter, written in old-timey cursive. Dated August 20, 1951, the missive could have been written about anyone. “So Jesse Woodson James at age 107 went to his death still answering questions,” the second to last paragraph fully identifies the dead relative in question. Yes, it is the famed outlaw Jesse James who is written about in this letter. Proof, says the letter’s owners, which could re-write the history books. “No doubt,” Patricia Brock said. She says they found the letter amongst love letters from her father to her mother. The letter is purported to be to Brock’s grandfather, Albert Connie, of Stanley, New Mexico and is from his cousin, O. Lee Howk, of Granbury, TX. Now first let’s rewind. Here's what the history books say, after an illustrious career as a bank and train robber, the gang leader and all around bad guy , Jesse Woodson James was shot in the back of the head by gang member Bob Ford on April 3, 1882. Legend says the man was after a bounty placed on James' head. Instead of dying that day, though, this letter claims that Jesse James lived in Granbury, Texas until the age of 107. “Wow!” laughs Brock, who claims to be James’ distant cousin, “Wow, wow!” As incredible as it may seem, a newspaper clipping from 1966 talks about the former sheriff of Hood County Texas sharing the very same details about a man's body he examined and found to be James. The article also includes a picture, alleged to be the aging James. “I would have loved to [have] met him, but I understand he had 78 aliases,” Brock said. The family tells us that they have authenticated a signature on the envelope to be that of Jesse James, probably signed before his death. The seal of the envelope also bears three symbols, allegedly used by James when he hid treasure. “When he wrote, he printed, Jesse James did,” Brock said as to confirm the printed name on the flap. And they have authenticated the hand writing in the letter to be that of O. Lee Howk--alias of Jesse Woodson James' grandson, Jesse Lee James III. “In Granbury, Texas I don't know why anyone would go to that length,” Brock said. Leaving this family - who claims to be distantly related to Jesse James - excited to share this proof of his long, albeit crime-ridden, life...more

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Magical timing

by Julie Carter

Most dilemmas for the ranch wife occur because of her husband’s presence in general -- as in his very existence beckons disaster. However, more frequently the bigger problems in ranch life seem to arise only in his absence.

Just let him slip off to the other side of the state to buy something—cattle, horses or equipment – or find time in his ranching schedule to partake in some guy-time at hunting camp, a team roping or other such recreation, and the hammer will fall. Anything and sometimes everything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Water problems always top the list for guaranteed “situations” when the little woman is left alone. The absence of water sets off a chain of actions that begin with a reporting call to the boss who will impatiently respond with “What in the hell do you want me to do about it from here?”

The call is usually not a “how to” request, but a “Where is it?” because the head cowboy almost always has things rigged in such a way only he will know the combination for doing or undoing. This is proven over and over with waterlines and shut-off valves that take a combination of actions to achieve the desired effect.

Let the wandering boss leave home in winter and the power will go off amidst a blizzard and for five days the little woman will fight frozen water lines, chores in the dark and no heat anywhere there should or needs to be. She will manage either on her own or by throwing herself on the mercy of kind neighbors who willingly respond to damsel-in-distress calls day or night. It’s just the neighborly way of the west.

Calving season brings on a new set of possible situations that “will happen” not “if they happen.”
The day the little woman has a meeting to get to, a funeral to attend or has to get to the mail box in town, guaranteed, she will end up with a job that includes calf pullers. That last check on the heifers on her way off the ranch is her undoing.

In her go-to-town clothes, she will muck around in the corral trying to coax a wild heifer, who should be down on the ground but isn’t, into a chute where the calf can be pulled. The bonus for success is bodily adornment of manure, amniotic fluid and a little blood for color.

By the time she has wallered the slimy calf around to save his life so his wild-eyed mother doesn’t step on him and then wallered him a little more to get him to stand up and suck his mama, her appearance is not fit for polite company. More often than not, this is in the same miserable cold weather she had to fix the tank float the day before.

Somewhere amidst this routine, she will find that the milk cow has milk fever and the pickup he left her has a flat tire, and the good jack and four-way tire wrench left in the boss’ pickup.

Dedicated to her job, it’s not been unusual to see the little woman in town on errands pulling a gooseneck trailer with a dogie calf or two loaded in it. The logistics of time and distance require her taking her wards along for bottle feeding because she won’t be home soon enough to tend to them.

By the time he gets home, a party has been planned. Invitations to his lynching have been printed and mailed out and with great mirth among his peers, it will be well attended.

Julie can be reached for comment at