Friday, August 14, 2015

Forecasters warn that "Godzilla El Nino" could hit U.S.

Forecasters are warning the West Coast could be hit by what may possibly be the strongest El Niño season on record later this year. Forecasters with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center told reporters Thursday warming ocean waters nearing North and South America could bring some much-needed rain -- along with some other potentially hairy weather -- to the region in what one climatologist described as a "Godzilla El Niño".  An El Niño -- meaning in Spanish "the little boy, or Christ child" -- is created when the equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean warm significantly. Expected to peak in the late fall or early winter, the annual weather phenomenon may yield more frequent and intense storms than in past seasons, along with an increase in tropical cyclones in the Pacific and heavy rainfall and snowfall...more

El Niño could be strongest ever — but can it match El Niño mania?

The El Niño brewing in the tropical Pacific is getting really big. So is the hype. In California, after four dry years, people are hungry for wet weather, not only prattling on about precipitation but also tracking monsoons on the Internet and schooling themselves on the fine points of the jet stream — all in hope that the climatic pattern named after a child delivers an adult-size punch of moisture this winter.  The U.S. Climate Prediction Center’s monthly update, released Thursday, fueled the enthusiasm. The agency noted that ocean conditions are on par with what forecasters saw before the monster El Niño winters of 1997-98 and 1982-83, when record storms pummeled the state. Equatorial waters are significantly warmer than average, and trade winds that normally push tropical seas away from the Americas continue to weaken, the agency said — signals that the El Niño that emerged in March is turning into the giant associated with worldwide weather changes, including more rain in the Golden State.  “We’re predicting that this El Niño could be among the strongest in the historical record dating back to 1950,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.  Halpert was quick to caution that the event holds no guarantee of above-average rain and snow for California. But he said the stronger the El Niño, the greater chance that wet weather will nourish a state gripped by wildfire and water shortages...more

EPA: Lead, arsenic levels soared in hours after spill

Water flows down Cement Creek on Thursday just below the site of the blowout at the Gold King mine
River-water testing released Thursday showed soaring levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium and other heavy metals when the sickly-yellow Gold King Mine plume of waste first flowed through Colorado and into New Mexico and Utah last week. The metals far exceeded government exposure limits for aquatic life and humans in the hours after the Aug. 5 spill, which sent 3 million gallons of wastewater through three Western states and the Navajo Nation. Lead was 3,580 times higher than federal standards for human drinking and arsenic 823 times the level for human ingestion. The Environmental Protection Agency, which released the results under increasing political pressure, also said its analysis shows the heavy metals quickly returned to “pre-event levels” once the plume passed through the area tested, on the Animas River between Silverton, Colo., and the downstream municipal water intake for Durango. No EPA results for the Animas and San Juan rivers in New Mexico were available yet, but preliminary data for the first few days after the spill from Farmington and state Environment Department testing showed unsafe levels of lead. EPA chief Gina McCarthy, in Farmington on Thursday, told local, state and tribal officials that the improving results show the river is “restoring itself.” “It gives us a sense that we are on a different trajectory than we were before, but clearly we need to continue to work, not just short term, to look at every segment of the river moving forward,” McCarthy told the Farmington Daily Times. She also announced that the EPA has released $500,000 to help supply clean water for crop irrigation and livestock in northwestern New Mexico because farmers and ranchers there have no access to river water and it’s unknown when they will.  Navajo President Russell Begaye told tribal members Wednesday night not to sign or submit EPA claim forms handed out at a public hearing until officials make sure they’re not waiving rights to future claims. In the president’s directive, Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch advised that the federal form “contains offending language that will waive future claims for individuals that sign the form and preclude our people from seeking full compensation for injuries suffered from the spill.” The EPA said claims must be submitted within two years, even though it may take much longer to learn the extent of the damage. McCarthy met with Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez on Thursday, touring both the San Juan River and also the Navajo Nation’s Eastern Incident Command Post. Begaye said there is uneasiness and uncertainty, especially since Navajo people have a natural distrust of the federal government based on their history working with them...more

Hotline, test results
Results of tests of river water in New Mexico can be found at
The EPA has a hotline residents can call for questions, 1-844-607-9700.

Coal supporters, faced with grim future, pack public meeting to blast federal reforms

GILLETTE -- Coal supporters packed a public meeting here Thursday to voice strong opposition to a U.S. Department of Interior plan to reform the federal coal program, describing a proposal to raise royalty rates as an attack on this mining reliant community. How much the government charges for coal mined on public land is generally a mundane matter debated by bureaucrats. But, coming after the release last week of President Barack Obama's plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions by a third in 15 years, Thursday's proceedings served as an outlet for the raw emotions of coal country, where mining firms are struggling to navigate wider shifts in the energy market and an onslaught of new regulation. "Pardon me, please, if I seem nervous and uneasy, my livelihood does lay in the balance here," said JJ Mendoza, a plant operator at Cloud Peak Energy's Cordero Rojo mine, in comments before a panel of senior Interior Department officials. Solid wages earned as a miner helped him provide opportunity to his children, Mendoza said, before concluding, "I say no to a new electricity tax, our nation can't afford it. And yes to coal, our nation depends on it." In all, some 375 people packed the Campbell County Public Library, offering comments that lasted more than four hours...more

Gillette speaks, hopes Washington, D.C., is listening

A loud, defiant voice rose from the Energy Capital of the Nation on Thursday afternoon with a simple message for Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell: Don’t burn the nation’s coal industry. Jewell has called for “an honest and open conversation” about updating federal coal lease program amid claims by some that undervalued leases and loopholes allow the industry to exploit the program and avoid paying a fair share to extract the mineral from federal lands. To put it bluntly, those who make those claims “don’t know what they’re talking about,” Kirby Eisenhauer said during a Gillette listening session to gather input into Jewell’s proposal to overhaul the federal coal program. The Campbell County School District associate superintendent received vigorous applause from the standing-room-only crowd in the Wyoming Room at the Campbell County Public Library. Eisenhauer continued to explain that he’s “offended” by the process so far. “I am offended by Sally Jewell (who said) that we need open and honest communication,” he said. That statement “insinuates something dishonest is going on here.” Thursday’s listening session is the third of five scheduled in Washington, D.C., and throughout the West. The BLM will gather more input in Denver on Tuesday and Aug. 20 in Farmington, New Mexico. While those attending the Gillette session expressed thanks to be able to have their voices heard, many also expressed frustration that their comments will fall on deaf ears, that an overhaul of the federal coal program is the next step in an Obama administration's war on coal...more

EPA denies pressuring Navajos into waiving rights to future payments in river disaster

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy moved to mend fences Thursday with Navajo Nation as the agency denied accusations that it tried to force Indians to waive their rights to future claims stemming from the Gold King Mine blowout. In a statement Thursday, the EPA described as “inaccurate” comments by Navajo President Russell Begaye, who told The Washington Times and other press this week that EPA workers were going door to door on his reservation asking residents to sign claim forms appearing to waive future rights for payments now. Mr. Begaye called it “underhanded” and posted a copy of the claim form online, but EPA officials insist it isn’t true. “EPA is not offering immediate reimbursements for damages from the Gold King Mine water and it is not true that if someone submits a claim that by doing so they limit or waive future rights,” the agency said. The EPA also said those who face damages from the Aug. 5 accident at the abandoned Colorado mine, which sent 3 million gallons of bright orange wastewater down the Animas River, have two years to file claims under federal law. Ms. McCarthy met with top Navajo officials for a private gathering Thursday on the reservation’s New Mexico side, then toured the San Juan River contamination site and the incident command center in Farmington, N.M...more

Activists Score Victory in Effort to Stop the Government Killing of Millions of Animals

Environmentalists fighting a federal program that routinely and, some say, indiscriminately slaughters millions of animals every year will get their day in court. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program ostensibly protects farmers by eliminating predators and other wildlife that could hurt crops or livestock. Some see it as an essential service; many conservationists, however, accuse the government of killing indiscriminately, using bad science and not keeping adequate records. Conservation groups are already suing the USDA in multiple states to compel more accountability for the agency’s actions. Now an old case that had been thrown out in Nevada is moving forward again after the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that it does, indeed, have merit. A federal judge dismissed the original case after the USDA argued that state of Nevada would step in to manage predator control if the federal program did not and thus the environmentalists’ claims were moot. The appeals court last week ruled that this is not a valid argument—and not just because Nevada has little history of wildlife removal and stated in a letter to the court that it has no budget to replace Wildlife Services’ activities. “The ruling makes it clear that just because you were being injured potentially by more than one actor doesn’t mean you can’t seek redress for injuries by one actor,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians, which filed the original suit and sought the appeal. The court cited several previous Supreme Court opinions including Massachusetts v. EPA, which stated the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon pollution within Massachusetts even though many states and nations besides the U.S. also contribute to global warming. “This is a big deal,” said Cotton, who noted that the ruling could affect similar cases filed in other states in the 9th Circuit’s jurisdiction...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1467

Its Friday but we're not slowing things down with Jimmie Widener - What A Line!  The tune is on the CD Hillbilly Bop 'n' Boogie - The Roots of Rockabilly on the Ace record label.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Months ago, Colorado town pleaded with EPA to not perform tests that caused toxic disaster


Five months before the Animas River toxic spill disaster, leaders from the tiny Colorado mining town of Silverton pleaded with EPA officials to not perform tests that would declare the area a Superfund site.

Yet the Environmental Protection Agency was intent on ferreting out “widespread soil contamination” from historic mines, even though the town was tested five years ago and no problems were found.

“The fact is that our mission is to protect human health and the environment and not to stick our heads in the sand and not look,” declared Steve Wharton, head of a Superfund response team. His comments were contained in a March 27 article that appeared in the local Silverton Standard newspaper.

On Aug. 5, an EPA crew breached a debris dam at the old Gold King Mine, and 3 million gallons of water containing lead and arsenic flowed into the Animas River. The poisons turned the water bright orange and have since flowed into Utah and New Mexico, creating an epic disaster affecting farmers, towns and the Navajo Nation, which rely on the water.

The crews had started to collect soil samples sometime after June 23.

One geologist thinks the EPA created the mess to give itself another Superfund site to work on.
Five days before the breach, the Silverton Standard ran a letter to the editor from a person identified as Dave Taylor, who said he had 47 years’ experience as a professional geologist.

The technical letter describes how the EPA will create a scenario where “the water will find a way out and exfiltrate uncontrollably through connected abandoned shafts, drifts, raises, fractures…contamination may actually increase due to the disturbance and flushing action within the workings.”

Taylor accused the EPA of creating the mess to get “a foot in the door to justify its hidden agenda for construction of a treatment plant.”

Taylor wasn’t too far off. When asked in the town meeting whether the EPA wanted to declare the area a Superfund site, EPA project manager Paula Schmittdiel said, “That’s still a point of discussion.”

 With mining now a bygone industry, Silverton relies on tourism for its livelihood, and town leaders said making the area a Superfund site would be “a knife in the economy.”

Was this all about money? Could it be that EPA was after the $$, additional regulatory authority and expanded responsibility that comes with a Superfund site?

Liberal group says White House should use Gulf of Mexico auction to secure parks spending

The Obama administration should postpone an August auction of Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leases in a bid to pressure Congress into reauthorizing a 50-year-old conservation program funded by coastal drilling, a liberal think tank argued Wednesday. The strategy, laid out by the Center for American Progress, would have the Interior Department using the upcoming offshore auction as leverage for the Land and Water Conservation Fund that helps support parks, trails and historic sites nationwide. The LWCF is set to expire Sept. 30 unless Congress reauthorizes it. If the fund disappears, CAP senior fellow Matt Lee-Ashley argues, Congress would be breaking a sacred promise it made when creating the LWCF in 1965: that the impacts of offshore drilling would be partly mitigated by investing some of the resulting revenue to parks, open spaces and recreational areas. “The Obama administration can save America’s best parks program, but it will need to engage in a bold fight for the basic idea that underpins the LWCF: Investment in conservation should be a condition for offshore drilling,” Lee-Ashley said. Currently, up to $900 million each year can go to the fund, with almost all of it siphoned from the oil and gas royalties companies pay the federal government for offshore production. But the bonus bids energy companies pay for tracts during the Aug. 19 sale of western Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leases might not be used to supply the LWCF if the fund expires in September. “Over its 50-year history, revenues from offshore drilling have helped conserve more than 7 million acres of land and funded more than 40,000 parks and preservation projects, from building new baseball diamonds to saving Civil War battlegrounds,” Lee-Ashley notes. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the principal source of money for land acquisition by four federal agencies, including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service. It also provides matching grants to help states build outdoor recreational facilities and buy new lands and waters for recreation. Some $17 billion has flowed through the LWCF through the program’s history...more

EPA likely to pay big price for toxic spill, 'the equivalent of an EPA-caused Love Canal here'

So now, EPA Administrator McCarthy will go there. None of this has eased concerns or quelled anger among people in the arid Southwest who depend on this water for their survival. “It’s not something that we have been too anxious about”, said Joanne Hudson, a spokeswoman for the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have the equivalent of an EPA-caused Love Canal here”. The contaminated water that flowed into a tributary of the Animas and San Juan rivers contained high levels of arsenic, lead and other potentially toxic heavy metals. All along the way, signs are posted warning people to stay out of the water. Officials increased the flow of water from the Navajo Dam, which increases the amount of water flowing through the river. From there it would proceed down the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon, and into Lake Meade, a major source of water for Los Angeles and other parts of drought-stricken southern California. He advises leaving the metals the place they settle, and relying on subsequent spring’s mountain snowmelt to dilute them extra and flush them downstream...more

DNA Is Said to Solve a Mystery of Warren Harding’s Love Life

She was denounced as a “degenerate” and a “pervert,” accused of lying for money and shamed for waging a “diabolical” campaign of falsehoods against the president’s family that tore away at his legacy. Long before Lucy Mercer, Kay Summersby or Monica Lewinsky, there was Nan Britton, who scandalized a nation with stories of carnal adventures in a White House coat closet and endured a ferocious backlash for publicly claiming that she bore the love child of President Warren G. Harding. Now nearly a century later, according to genealogists, new genetic tests confirm for the first time that Ms. Britton’s daughter, Elizabeth Ann Blaesing, was indeed Harding’s biological child. The tests have solved one of the enduring mysteries of presidential history and offer new insights into the secret life of America’s 29th president. At the least, they demonstrate how the march of technology is increasingly rewriting the nation’s history books. The Nan Britton affair was the sensation of its age, a product of the jazz-playing, gin-soaked Roaring Twenties and a pivotal moment in the evolution of the modern White House. It was not the first time a president was accused of an extracurricular love life, but never before had a self-proclaimed presidential mistress gone public with a popular tell-all book. The ensuing furor played out in newspapers, courtrooms and living rooms across the country. While some historians dismissed Ms. Britton’s account, it remained part of popular lore. Pundits raised it as an analog after revelations of President Bill Clinton’s affair with Ms. Lewinsky. HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” made it a subplot a few years ago. The Library of Congress effectively recalled it last year when it released Harding’s love letters with another mistress, Carrie Phillips. Ms. Britton, who was 31 years younger than Harding, had a harder time proving her relationship when she revealed it after his death because she had destroyed her own letters with him at his request and because his family insisted he was sterile...more

Many will recall that it was during the Harding administration that New Mexico's Albert Bacon Fall, while serving as Harding's Secretary of Interior, became involved in the Teapot Dome Affair.  That was the strange case where Fall was found guilty of accepting a bribe from Edward Doheny, and in a separate trial Doheny was found not guilty of offering the bribe.  Fall allegedly used the bribe money at his Three Rivers Ranch in the Tularosa Basin and other businesses.  I remember as a kid the big event of the summer was the Billy The Kid Rodeo at the Three Rivers Ranch, and while a youngster winning the best dressed cowboy award.  I still remember that whole carton of Doublemint chewing gum that was the prize.  I also recall a few years later smoking my first cigarette in a draw that ran by the rodeo arena.  In both cases I was totally unaware of the historical significance of the ground where I stood.

Prior to being elected a U.S. Senator from New Mexico, Fall, an attorney, had been involved in some significant trials.  He successfully defended Oliver Lee, Billy McNew & James Gilliland who were put on trial for the murder of Col. Albert Jennings Fountain, and he also successfully defended Wayne Brazel who was tried for the first degree murder of Pat Garrett.  The trials were held in Hillsboro, NM and Las Cruces, NM, respectively.  

All of this reeks of the history of southern NM.  For instance, the Three Rivers Ranch was once owned and developed by Susan McSween, the widow of Alexander McSween of  Lincoln County War fame, where she ran over 5,000 head of cattle and was dubbed "The Cattle Queen of The West."  The counties of Otero and Catron exist solely as a result of the Oliver Lee Trial.  It was even on a ranch owned by a nephew of Wayne Brazel, William "Mac" Brazel, where strange debris was found that led to the Roswell UFO incident.

And there is much more fascinating history surrounding these folks, and its certainly more interesting and relevant than what President Harding did in a closet in the White House.

Obama, Clinton Foundation Donors Sold ‘Green’ Fuel to Military for $149 per Gallon

The CEO and Board of Directors of Solazyme, a company the military paid $149 per gallon for “alternative” fuel, have donated more than $300,000 to Democratic candidates and committees, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis. Recipients of significant donations included the Obama Victory Fund and the Democratic National Committee. Additionally, Solazyme donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report found that the Department of Defense (DOD) paid Solazyme $149 per gallon for fuel made of algal oil, costing taxpayers a total of $223,500 in 2009. The group also received a $21 million stimulus grant from Department of Energy in 2009...more

Has L.A. gone nuts over the drought? No, just 'ballsy'

Desperate to preserve its water supply amid a four-year drought, Los Angeles is turning a reservoir into a ball pit. It may not seem like the most scientific approach, but officials say the “shade balls” will protect valuable H2O in the City of Angels. Bringing new meaning to the term “throwing shade,” authorities claim the black, plastic balls will preserve the Van Normal reservoir’s water supply in several ways. For starters, the shade provided by the balls is expected to prevent 300 million gallons of water from evaporating annually. “By reducing evaporation, these shade balls will conserve 300 million gallons of water each year, instead of just evaporating into the sky. That’s 300 million gallons to fight this drought,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said, as quoted by KABC News. That’s enough to provide drinking water for 8,100 people for a full year, Councilman Mitch Englander said, according to a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) press release. Unlike their colorful childhood counterparts, the balls contain water that weights them down and helps keep them in place. But it takes a lot of balls to shield a 175-acre reservoir from the sun – about 20,000 had to be deployed to achieve effective coverage.

Navajos say EPA should clean its spill rather than trying to swindle Indians

The EPA is trying to cheat Navajo Indians by getting them to sign away their rights to future claims from the agency’s Gold King Mine disaster, tribal officials charged Wednesday, adding more to the administration’s public relations problems over the spill that threatens critical Southwest waterways. Environmental Protection Agency officials were going door to door asking Navajos, some of whom don’t speak English as their primary language, to sign a form that offers to pay damages incurred so far from the spill, but waiving the right to come back and ask for more if their costs escalate or if they discover bigger problems, Navajo President Russell Begaye told The Washington Times. Mr. Begaye has promised a lawsuit on behalf of the Navajo Nation and said he suspects the EPA is trying to buy off as many Navajo as possible now to head off a bigger settlement later...more

Your government in action: They're supposed to protect the environment but are just protecting their ass.

Irrigation ditch flushing begins

On Wednesday evening, select irrigation ditches were inspected and flushed as a first step toward opening the ditches for farmers and ranchers who depend on the Animas River for watering livestock and crops. Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency coordinated the effort with Butch Knowlton, director of the La Plata County Office of Emergency Management. People just getting used to seeing the Animas looking more like itself should not be concerned if they see a short-term change. “I expect to see a slight temporary change in color of the Animas River as a result of the ditch flushing,” Knowlton said. They will develop a plan to open and flush remaining ditches based on the results of the initial flush. “Despite the opening of the ditches, owners of livestock are cautioned against allowing livestock watering at this time,” the county, city of Durango, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the EPA said in a joint news release Wednesday night...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1466

Lonnie Glosson - It'll Make A Change In Business is our selection today.  The tune is on Vol. One of the Jasmine label CD series Hillbilly Bob, Boogie & The Honky Tonk Blues 1948-1950.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

First Sketch Made in the West

Before 34-year-old Thomas Moran reached his ultimate destination of Yellowstone in Wyoming Territory in the summer of 1871, he stepped off the Union Pacific Railroad and viewed the towering cliffs of the Green River. The artist completed a field study that he later inscribed, “First Sketch Made in the West.” Moran would return to this first Western subject of his many times during his storied career. His 1896 oil of Green River, featuring a troop of American Indians in the lower right, was exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and appeared at auction for the first time, on May 21, 2015, at Christie’s New York. Not surprisingly, this rare work of art landed the top bid, at $7.5 million. The painting was sold from the collection of American businessman William Koch, who is most famously known in the Old West collecting arena for paying $2.1 million for the only known photograph of outlaw Billy the Kid. Koch has been collecting Western artworks for an Old West town he hopes to build, but he ran out of room and decided to put some of the treasures on the auction block. The Green River oil was painted a quarter century after Moran spent five weeks with Dr. Ferdinand Hayden’s surveying expedition to Yellowstone to complete an article assignment for Scribner’s Monthly. His visual documentation of more than 30 sites, along with photographs taken by William Henry Jackson, inspired the creation of Yellowstone as America’s first national park in 1872...more

Murder rates drop as concealed carry permits soar: report

The number of concealed carry handgun permits has skyrocketed since President Obama was first elected, while murder rates have fallen, according to a new report released Wednesday. Since 2007, the number of concealed handgun permits has soared from 4.6 million to over 12.8 million, and murder rates have fallen from 5.6 killings per 100,000 people to just 4.2, about a 25 percent drop, according to the report from the Crime Prevention Research Center. And the number of permits issued is increasing faster every year. Over 1.7 million new permits were issued last year — a 15.4 percent increase over 2013, the largest such single-year jump ever, according to the report from the center led by President John R. Lott and research director John E. Whitley. The number of concealed carriers is likely even higher, since permits are not required in eight states...more

Video - Wedge-Tailed Eagle takes down Drone

Plea deal given to man indicted in murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry

One of the men charged in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry pleaded guilty to one count of murder, Monday morning. Once a potential candidate for the death penalty after the murder of the agent, the drawn up plea deal now states that the U.S. and the defendant will ask for 360 months imprisonment, with credit for time served since his arrest in October 2012. The Justice Department indicted Rosario Rafael Burboa Alvarez last summer in connection with the killing. Alvarez was identified as the recruiter for the rip-off crew that ran into Terry's elite BORTAC unit in the desert in December 2010. Terry was killed in the ensuing gunfight with the rip-off crew and later two AK-47 variants found at the crime scene were identified as part of the notorious Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gunwalking operation, Operation Fast and Furious. Burboa was often identified in federal search warrants and charging papers as the recruiter of the group. Burboa, the U.S. said, recruited rip-off crews to rob drug smugglers of their marijuana loads, then paid them after they performed the robbery and returned to Sinaloa. In early December, the rip-off crew entered the U.S. from Mexico, retrieved a stash of weapons and food and went to work, hunting smugglers. Instead, they encountered Terry's tactical unit that had taken position at the top of a wash. As part of the plea agreement, the United States agreed not to execute Burboa and to dismiss all other charges against him, including charges of interfering with federal officers and killing Terry with "malice aforethought" the second charge in the superseding indictment...more

And this from Breitbart

The sentence was taken with great insult by the National Border Patrol Council which is the union that represents border patrol agents. “Sickening this happened at all, but just another slap in the face that it was announced on Brian Terry’s Birthday,” NBPC said in a statement. “Honor First Brian. Your government many not seek the justice that you deserve, but your brothers and sisters in green will always remember.” Brian Terry’s brother, Kent Terry, has been outspoken on the role of Eric Holder, the Department of Justice and the ATF in Brian’s death and the ongoing attempts to cover up information relating to this case and Fast and Furious. Responding to an inquiry from Breitbart Texas’ Bob Price, Kent Terry said, “Bob, it saddens me that the DOJ would even make a plea deal with a man that wasn’t even there that night. What information did he give..?” “So now he will serve 27 years of a 30 year sentence, allowing for time already served, and we can’t even get answers for why these guns where put there to begin with..sad!” the surviving brother said.

Red flags ahead of 'Ice Queen's' tumultuous reign

At U.S. EPA, Anne Burford was known as the "Ice Queen." Before that, she was known for being stubbornly inflexible about her political views, alienating people and being consistently late to work. But none of it stopped the Reagan administration from hiring her to be EPA's boss in 1981. Burford, who died of cancer in 2004 at age 62, is perhaps the most polarizing figure in EPA's history. She slashed her agency's budget, was cited for contempt of Congress after refusing to hand over toxic waste records and ultimately resigned after less than two years on the job. As federal investigators were vetting her for the post in 1981, former colleagues and associates raised concerns that could have served as red flags for the administration, according to FBI records obtained by Greenwire under the Freedom of Information Act. James Florio, a former New Jersey governor and Democratic congressman who authored the Superfund law and investigated Burford's EPA leadership, said in a recent interview that concerns raised in the FBI report suggest Congress didn't do its due diligence in vetting the EPA boss. "She was stubborn, she was very fixated on her views and didn't tolerate a lot of opposition," Florio said...more

Tough-minded?  Definitely.  But she was also a sweet lady who was fun to be with and who loved Sharon's Mexican food dishes.

The article says she refused "to hand over toxic waste records."  It was the White House that invoked Executive Privilege, not Anne.  She, however, paid the political price of that action.  As Jim Watt wrote, "Anne's biggest weakness was her loyalty to the President.  And in that loyalty she believed the members of the President's team would be loyal to her...".

We had many great times together, and in my copy of her book about her Washington, D.C. experience, Are You Tough Enough?, she wrote:

Dear Frank,

I didn't put in anything about the Wild Cowboy parties with the New Mexican crowd and it's a little sparse on sex, but otherwise a good read.

To a good friend,

Anne M. Burford

What the article doesn't say is whole experience broke her, and she was never the same.  It was a sad lesson in D.C. power politics that I've never forgot.

Grizzly Bear Pawed Through The Wrong Canadian’s Cupboard

After a harrowing encounter with a grizzly bear that broke into their home, one woman is glad her husband is a skilled hunter. Early Sunday morning, Niki Traverse’s dog wouldn’t stop barking like mad, prompting her to wake up and check to see what was wrong. The Traverses live in British Columbia, Canada, in a mountain region, CBC reports. As soon as she entered into the kitchen, she saw a male grizzly bear feasting on cat and dog food in a cupboard after it had climbed through a window left open because of the heat.  Niki immediately ran back to the bedroom and woke up her husband Mark, who then brought out his hunting rifle. “I went to the kitchen, turned the light on and where the bear was, he came at me and I took a shot,” Mark told CBC.  “By the time I reloaded the gun, he took a step more towards me, and I took another shot and he hit the floor, and he was still moving, so put another one in him, and that was the end of him,” he added...more

EPA officials visit mouth of Gold King Mine, explain what happened

Environmental Protection Agency officials met at the mouth of the Gold King Mine Monday afternoon to discuss last week's breach, which discharged 3 million gallons of heavy-metal laden water into a tributary of the Animas River. EPA on-scene coordinator Hayes Griswold explained to San Juan County, Colo., officials that an EPA team working at the mine on Wednesday underestimated how much pressure was hidden behind the debris that plugged the mine's entrance. He said the team was not attempting to dislodge the plug, but was instead attempting to stick a pipe into the top of the mine. The pipe would allow the team to safely pump liquid out of the mine for treatment, Griswold said. "We were very careful," he said, adding that he has 28 years of mining experience. However, the team removed too much material from the mine's roof, which caused the rupture, Griswold said...more

Hunting celebrity Randy Newberg battles federal lands takeover

The push by some conservative lawmakers to get states to take over management of federal lands in the West is a “cold, dead hands” issue for Randy Newberg. “It’s not something that’s going to happen without a fight,” said the Bozeman, Montana, accountant turned national television hunting celebrity. “I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands,” was a phrase popularized in the 1970s by a National Rifle Association bumper sticker. Newberg has revived a portion of the phrase to apply to a different fight that he said outdoors folks must wage to ensure federal public lands stay in the public’s hands. “We can’t be the polite people we are,” he said. “Don’t give these guys a break; tear them a new one.” Utah roots The push for states to take over federal lands was launched in a conservative Utah county in 2012 and has since spread across the West. At the core of the arguments for the takeover has been that states know best how to manage the public lands within their borders, can do it with less bureaucracy and can make money by charging higher fees for natural resources like timber, oil and gas. Newberg sees the numbers argument — that states can make more money than federal agencies for the same resources — as a poor claim. “To say that all of these public lands are a value written on paper, that’s B.S.,” he said. He prefers to look at them as a financial trust that should be kept intact for future generations. “If this were a financial trust — full of bonds, stocks and real estate — imagine how foolish this would sound,” he said. Legal maneuvers Other hunters and anglers have agreed. During this year’s Montana Legislature, they packed the Capitol rotunda to protest legislation aimed at exploring a federal lands takeover. Montana wasn’t alone. All together, there were 37 bills introduced in 11 states to promote the transfer of federal lands, according to the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Only six bills in four states passed.” Although the rhetoric from that confrontation and others across the West may have faded, the groups behind the push have continued their work, this time in the halls of Congress. In March, a budget amendment seen as a testing of the waters about disposing of federal lands was sponsored by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. It passed the Senate by a 51-49 vote largely along party lines with Montana Sen. Steve Daines voting in favor of the legislation while Sen. Jon Tester voted no. The wording of the amendment was to “establish a spending-neutral reserve fund relating to the disposal of certain Federal land.” According to a Washington Post story, such legislation has become more common among federal lawmakers. “These deficit-neutral reserve funds are popular because they carve out an area for future policymaking without having to specify upfront a precise mix of revenues and/or spending cuts to pay for them,” according to Sarah Binder, a rules expert at George Washington University and the Brookings Institution, that the Post quoted...more

Its amazing to me that some sportsmen want to continue the policy of nationalizing these lands, and have them controlled by the same federal gov't that has mismanaged these lands, limited access for hunting and shooting, and threatens their second amendment rights.

Center for Western Priorities links Colorado push on federal lands to extremist organizations

The Center for Western Priorities has a new report out today that draws links to politicians who support more state and local control of federal lands in their states as extremists by showing the same cause is supported by groups that are politically unpopular for anti-federal-government positions.

The report titled “Going to Extremes: The Anti-Government Extremism Behind the Growing Movement to Seize America’s Public Lands” names Colorado Republican state Sens. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling and Kent Lambert of Colorado Springs, among other Western legislators.

“The elected officials supporting state seizure of public lands couch their arguments carefully, using innocuous rhetoric to claim that their only goal is better land management. But in reality, these politicians are following directly in the ideological footsteps of Cliven Bundy, the scofflaw rancher who owes more than $1 million in grazing fees to American taxpayers and doesn’t recognize the U.S. government as ‘even existing.'”

...The report linking politicians to extremist groups is built on their support for similar issues, not any formal membership or direct participation in any group’s more radical statements or operations.

I asked the center if this correlation between politicians and activist groups would be any different from associating Democrats who introduce legislation protecting endangered animal species with a group such as the Earth Liberation Front, for example, whose members burned down the Two Elk Lodge near Vail in 1998 over concerns for Canadian lynx habitat.

“They aren’t just supporting similar goals — they’re trying to pass legislation that goes directly to the demands and ideology of the Oath Keepers and Bundy Ranch supporters,” Aaron Weiss, a spokesman for the Center for Western Priorities, responded in an e-mail about the state-control advocates.

“When Kent Lambert mentions ‘posse comitatus’ during a floor debate, that’s a dog whistle to the Oath Keepers — there’s a tiny group of people who even know what the term means, much less cite it during the legislative session.”

Lambert said he hadn’t heard of the Oath Keepers before Tuesday, so it wasn’t a dog whistle but a reference to the “Federalist Papers, No. 29,” a letter from Alexander Hamilton to the people of New York in 1788 to the clarify the role of state militia in enforcing provisions of the Constitution.  Further, the often-cited 1878 Posse Comitatus Act limits the federal government’s role in domestic police matters. Lambert’s unsuccessful Senate Bill 39 would have recognized that state and local governments already has jurisdiction over U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.

I think Senator Lambert pretty well sums it up:
Lambert said the report just seeks to vilify a political point of view the center doesn’t agree with.  “If you can’t debate an argument’s merits, then you make ad hominem attacks and try to vilify the message,”...

Calling it a report is a stretch, but you can see it here.

Can Federal Lands Save Schools? School Board member advocates state takeover

Shirley Dye, Payson Unified School District board member, thinks as Governor Doug Ducey does — the Arizona State Land Trust should pay for schools and she would like the school board to support her position. But Dye has taken it a step further; she actively advocates the state take over the federal government lands in Arizona and put them to use for schools. “ASBA (the Arizona School Boards Association) allowed us to give a presentation on the difference between the state trust lands and the federal lands (and) how both lands are being less productive because of federal regulations,” she said. Dye, like many others, believe the Environmental Protection Agency and Forest Service regulations on coal-fired energy plant emissions, mining land rehabilitation requirements, lumber harvesting and grazing limits have limited the ability of private businesses to make money off of the land. “It is all these environmental issues causing the problems,” she said. Dye believes if mines, lumber companies and ranchers start making money and paying taxes, the state budget would have enough to fully fund the schools. Currently, Arizona ranks near-last on per-student spending on schools. Dye has adopted the recommendations of The Property and Environmental Research Center report entitled “Divided Lands: State vs. Federal Management in the West.” The report took revenue and expenditure data provided by the state land trusts from Arizona, New Mexico, Montana and Idaho and compared that to federal land management numbers. The report suggests that state land trusts produce an average of $14.51 for every dollar spent on land management. In comparison, the report found that the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management only generates 73 cents for every dollar spent on land management. The PERC report came to the conclusion that the poor rate of return on federal lands stems from poor land stewardship, restrictions on using natural resources coupled with limited access...more

California’s Water Crisis

By Jack Dini 

 California is currently in the grip of one of the worst droughts in state history. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed an executive order that imposes water restrictions on residents, businesses, and farms across the state.

While the state is clearly experiencing this drought, the extreme weather shortages are an ongoing and man-made human tragedy—one that has been brought on by overzealous liberal environmentalists who continue to devalue the lives and livelihoods of California residents in pursuit of their own agenda. It comes down to this: which do we think is more important, families, or fish, asks Carly Fiorina.

She adds, “With different policies over the last 20 years, all of this could have been avoided. Droughts are nothing new in California—the state has suffered from them for centuries. The difference now is that government policies are making it much worse. Despite the awareness around this issue, liberals continue to develop and promote policies which allow much of California’s rainfall to wash out to sea.”

Specifically, these policies have resulted in the diversion of more than 300 billion gallons of water away from farmers in the Central Valley and into the San Francisco Bay in order to protect the Delta smelt, an endangered fish that environmentalists have continued to champion at the expense of Californians. This water is simply being washed out to sea, instead of being channeled to the people who desperately need it.

...Republican Devin Nunes said this about the water shortage in California: “In the summer of 2002, I sat through an eye-opening meeting with representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council. They told me something astonishing. Their goal was to remove 1.3 million acres of farmland from production. They showed me maps that laid out their whole plan: from Merced all the way down to Bakersfield, and on the entire west side of the Valley as well as part of the east side. Productive agriculture would end and the land would return to some ideal state of nature.

Nunes adds, “Much of the media and many politicians blame the San Joaquin Valley’s water shortage on drought, but that is merely an aggravating factor. From my experience representing California’s agricultural heartland, I know that our water crisis is not an unfortunate natural occurrence; it is the intended result of a long-term campaign waged by radical environmentalists who resorted to political pressure as well as profuse lawsuits.”

Seattle passes gun-violence tax bill

Seattle made it official Monday night, trying to tax its way into a lower crime rate. The city council voted 8-0 to approve a bill that would impose taxes on sales of both guns ($25 per weapon) and ammunition (2 cents to 5 cents per round, depending on the caliber), with the money designated for research into gun violence and other anti-gun programs. Gun-rights groups have promised a legal fight, arguing, among other things, that state law does not allow cities to regulate firearms...more

USTR Tells WTO That COOL Damages Are Much Lower Than Estimated

Last week, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) filed a legal brief in the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute over mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL), arguing that the $3 billion sought by Canada and Mexico in retaliatory tariffs are a dramatic overestimation of damages. The U.S. requested that the WTO Arbitrator reject the amounts requested by Canada and Mexico and set them at no more than $43.22 million and $47.55 million, respectively. The document called the economic methodology used by the two countries “flawed” and one that “severely overestimates the level of nullification or impairment attributable” to COOL...more


"[America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom." -- John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) 6th US President

"The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations to have as little political connection as possible... Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalships, interest, humor, or caprice?... It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world." -- George Washington (1732-1799) Founding Father, 1st US President

Sorry Mr. Presidents, here's the latest from Wikipedia

The military of the United States is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, with over 156,000 of its active-duty personnel serving outside the United States and its territories and an additional 70,000 deployed in various contingency operations as well as through military attache offices and temporary training assignments in foreign countries. US troops are spread across the globe: approximately 65,000 are stationed in Europe; approximately 80,000 in East Asia and the Pacific region; over 5,000 in North Africa, Southwestern and South Asia; over 1,700 in the Americas; less than 400 in Sub-Saharan Africa; and less than 100 in states of the former Soviet Union

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1465

Our selection today is by Rusty Gill & The Westernaires, a.k.a The Prairie Ramblers.  The tune is Roll Wagons, Roll Along and is on his Cowboy Songs and Mountain Ballads CD on the British Archives of Country Music label.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Military and enviros align in Arizona's public lands debate

...Such encroachment on military operations, created by development near bases, is increasingly a problem in Arizona, especially in the Sun Corridor — the megapolitan area that runs from Nogales to Prescott, where population is projected to hit 9.1 million by 2040. The associated demand for housing, recreation, solar and wind energy, and mining means military bases could lose essential buffer land and corridors to those other uses. A recent report from the Sonoran Institute, a community-focused nonprofit, recommends ways that military commands can protect their operations by reducing the threat of encroachment, especially through the conservation of publicly-owned land — thus aligning two values often seen as opposing.  Two days after the Sonoran Institute report was released, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Arizona, reintroduced a package of three public land bills. The bills would establish two National Conservation Areas and two Special Management Areas in the Sonoran Desert west of Phoenix and designate 3,325 square miles of the Santa Cruz Valley as a National Heritage Area, among other things...more

Residents demand health answers as mine spill fouls rivers

Farmers, towns and tribes slammed water-intake gates shut as a sludge-laden plume from a Colorado mine spill rolled down principal rivers in the desert Southwest on Monday, prompting local officials and families to demand answers about possible long-term threats from heavy metals borne along by the spill. No die-off of wildlife along the river has yet been detected. Federal officials say all but one of a test batch of fingerling trout deliberately exposed to the water survived over the weekend. As a precaution, state and federal officials along the river system have ordered public water systems to turn off intake valves as the plume passes. Boaters and fishing groups have been told to avoid affected stretches of the Animas and San Juan rivers, which are crowded with rafters and anglers in a normal summer. “There are more people who want to know, ‘OK, what’s going to happen now? Are you going to fix this?’ ” said Michele Truby-Tillen, a spokeswoman for the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management in New Mexico. ‘“How are we going to protect our families? How long am I not going to be able to shower at my house?” The state also has demanded that the federal government develop a plan for helping farmers who have been left without irrigation water. In Cedar Hill, N.M., a family farm that serves as many as 3,000 customers in the Four Corners region has been forced to stop irrigating dozens of acres of crops. D’rese Sutherland of Sutherland Farmers said she received advanced warning from farmer friends in Colorado last week about the approaching plume. “By the weekend, without any rain, we’ll be in trouble,” she said. “There’s nothing we can do but wait and see what happens.”...more

NM Gov. Martinez declares state of emergency following gold mine waste spill

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency Monday to free up more state money to help communities surrounding the Animas River affected by an EPA-caused waste spill that happened Aug. 5 at a mining site near Silverton, Colorado. Gov. Martinez's order frees up $750,000 in additional state funds that will be used to test wells, study potential effects of the spill, support a multiagency response team in the area and fund further efforts. The agency, which has been in place for days, will also remain in northwest New Mexico indefinitely to help local residents, as per Monday's order. The governor has also told administration officials to be prepared to take legal action against the EPA, likely in a broader lawsuit with others affected by the Gold King Mine...more

Assistant land commissioner Lane asked to resign

State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn on Monday asked Jim Lane to step down as an assistant commissioner after revelations that Lane’s resignation two years ago as director of the state Department of Game and Fish came after a subordinate accused him of sexual harassment. In a statement to The New Mexican late Monday, Dunn blamed “dirty politics” for what he said was the disclosure of contents of Lane’s personnel files. A spokeswoman for Dunn said that when the State Land Office conducted a background check before hiring Lane for his $92,000-a-year job in March, Game and Fish did not turn over any records related to the sexual harassment allegations. The spokeswoman, Laura Riley, said Dunn’s office learned about the allegations “significantly later.” Dunn, whose State Land Office is independent of the Martinez administration, avoided any mention of the sexual harassment accusations in his statement Monday that he had accepted Lane’s resignation “due to the recent disclosure of private personnel file contents.” Dunn noted that the personnel information about Lane became public at a time when Dunn’s office is negotiating with the Department of Game and Fish over the fees charged for hunter access to state trust land...more

EPA May Be Liable for Losses in Colorado Mine Spill

The Environmental Protection Agency and its contractors may have to pay millions of dollars in damages after mistakingly releasing toxic sludge that tainted a Colorado river, preventing its use by ranchers and residents. Mustard-colored water continued to leak Monday from the long-abandoned Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado, and into the Animas River, after the EPA said it “unexpectedly triggered” a Aug. 5 blowout. The agency set up a claims process for losses from the 3 million gallons that leaked, three times more than initially estimated. While the Clean Water Act and environmental rules often exempt federal agencies and clean-up personnel from legal liability, such protections are voided for negligence, or if the clean-up crew triggers a new pollution release. “It’s certainly a black eye for the EPA,” said Thaddeus Lightfoot, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis who often represents industry clients facing action by the agency. “If EPA causes this kind of release, they need to be held responsible, just as a private party would be.” Federal, state and local officials closed the Animas and San Juan rivers to fishing and boating, and barred water withdrawals for ranching or residential use. The rivers will be closed until at least Aug. 17, local EPA Administrator Shaun McGrath said Monday. “We’ll have an independent investigation to find out what happened,” McGrath said on a conference call. “We’ll be taking steps in the future to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”...more

SD, 12 other states seek to block new US law on waterways

Thirteen states led by North Dakota, and including South Dakota, are asking a federal judge in Bismarck to block a new rule that attorneys general say gives federal authorities too much control over waterways, especially on farms and ranches. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says a motion seeking a preliminary injunction will be filed Monday. The states filed a lawsuit in June challenging the rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The states say the new rule illegally expands the jurisdiction of those agencies under the federal Clean Water Act. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley has said the new law would make intolerable demands on farmers, ranchers and other businesses in regulating small streams and ponds. South Dakota Farmers Union officials also have voiced concerns about the new regulations, saying they don't recognize special problems for the Prairie Pothole region that includes much of eastern South Dakota. The law(sic)goes into effect Aug. 28. The injunction seeks to suspend the new rules until a court can decide the case. The other states joining the lawsuit with North Dakota and South Dakota are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada and Wyoming. The states sued June 29 challenging the Obama administration rule that gives federal agencies authority to protect some streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Stenehjem said the "Waters of the U.S." rule is "unnecessary" and "unlawful." He said it does nothing to increase water quality in North Dakota and other states...more

Most area ranchers won’t benefit from donation-funded fence because federal lands don't qualify

NOGALES — A state legislator pushing a bill to establish a donation-funded border fence on private property is getting a hat tip from area ranchers, though they wouldn’t benefit from the plan. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve Smith, a Maricopa County Republican, would set up a website to collect donations for construction of a border fence on private property (with landowner’s consent). It would also require the state to use prison labor as well as private contractors to build the fence cheaply, and invite other states to get in on the plan. The bill, SB 1406, has cleared all previous hurdles and now awaits only a full House vote before moving to the governor’s desk. Local ranchers said they would be all for a state-built border fence, except they wouldn’t qualify because their ranchlands along the border are owned by the federal government. “I don’t think there is anyone on private property (in Santa Cruz County) who doesn’t have a fence,” said Dan Bell, a third-generation rancher near Rio Rico who holds grazing leases on U.S. Forest Service land along the border just west of Nogales. “I think, in my estimation, pretty much all the private land has been fenced, and the obstacles now have become the federal land,” he said. Bell noted that in most of the border in Santa Cruz County is owned by the U.S. Forest service, and the other parts, mostly near the city of Nogales and a patch near Lochiel, have already been fenced. And it’s not just in Santa Cruz County, said Patrick Bray, director of Arizona Cattlemen’s Association. The organization has not taken a position on the bill because none of its members would qualify to have a fence built on their land, Bray said. Most don’t live right on the border, but lease mostly federal land along the line for grazing. Bray appreciates the effort of the state to take on the issue, but said the problem is so vast that the states cannot solve it — a solution has to come from the federal government. “The state is looking for ways to help out,” he said. “But you cant just dump a bunch of money into infrastructure and expect the border problem to be solved.” ‘No fence at all’ About one-third of Arizona’s border with Mexico is private property, according Smith, the bill’s sponsor. Smith did not return calls from the Nogales International, but said in committee meetings that his primary focus would be to build in the Tucson Sector, of which Santa Cruz County is part. J. David Lowell, of Atascosa Ranch, lives in western Santa Cruz County and the Tucson Sector and has seen plenty of the problems created by illegal immigration and drug smuggling, though he doesn’t actually own land abutting the border. “If I did own the land, I would enthusiastically ask them to build a fence,” Lowell said. Lowell said the border isn’t secure, and it’s messing up his ranching and putting him and his family in danger. Immigrants and drug smugglers constantly cut through his barbed wire fences, and though he’s never had a violent encounter with immigrants on his land, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed on Lowell’s ranch last year. “There’s been a lot of shouting and writing about the border, but the fact of the matter is there are some places along the border with no fence at all,” he said...more

High Desert Ranching Through A Photographer's Lens

Anna Fallini has dealt with winters of 10-foot snows, severe droughts, and even people wondering around her family’s property looking for space creatures. Fallini and her husband, Ty Berg, have helped keep Twin Springs Ranch thriving under some of the toughest conditions. Despite the hard work needed to keep the ranch going, Fallini, who has a degree in engineering from CalPoly, said she returned to the ranch for the lifestyle. “Being able to be outside every day, being able to do something different is key to my happiness,” she said, “It is so rewarding. There is something at the end of the day where you’ve produced something, you’ve created something to feed the American people.” Fallini and her two sisters are the fourth generation of ranchers who work about 1,000 square miles on the eastern edge of Nevada’s Great Basin. Her son Giovanni Berg is part of a fifth generation that will decide the future of Twin Springs Ranch. But now the Fallini’s family story is on display at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City in an exhibit by Las Vegas Review-Journal photographer Jeff Scheid...more

Monday, August 10, 2015

Animal Rights Terrorism Is Real

Long time Animal Liberation Front (ALF) activists Joseph Buddenberg and Nicole Kissane were arrested last week and charged with a long term cross country crime spree in 2013 that saw them attacking numerous animal related businesses and causing the death of hundreds of animals. It’s funny how so many people believe that animal rights will provide better lives for animals. All you have to do is follow the trail of dead animals to realize that “animal rights” means nothing of the kind, it is a movement that simply provides a moral cover to criminals. According to the federal indictment, the unemployed animal rights activists traveled more than 4,000 miles in the summer of 2013 alone to attack their victims, driving from Oregon to California to Montana, Iowa and beyond to commit their crimes. Proud of their actions and utterly unrepentant, they released “communiqués” to boast about what they had done. While on the run, using paint stripper, butyric and muriatic acid, bolt cutters, and lists of victims to attack and maps of the areas, they attacked stores in San Diego, Spring Valley, and La Mesa, and multiple locations in the San Francisco Bay area of California and later in Minnesota. In Montana, they attacked a farm , stole a bobcat and released it into the wild. The next day, they vandalized the Darby Chief of Police’s cars. They continued their spree by attacking farms in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. The farmers suffered damages estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars. Both activists are now facing a federal charge of violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), a law focused specifically on the animal rights terrorist front. This is the second time that Buddenberg has been charged with violating AETA. He and three fellow activists were able to beat charges in 2010 and continued their crime wave. They were defended by the left leaning social justice organization called the Center for Constitutional Rights who claimed that these violent thugs were simply exercising their free speech rights under the First Amendment. Besides attacking fur stores and farmers, both are accused of attacking meat businesses and medical researchers.

Burning Man will burn after BLM spat resolved

All the "Burners" out there can rest easy -- this summer's Burning Man desert festival has been greenlighted by federal officials. The annual gala in northern Nevada's Black Rock Desert last week received a needed permit from the Bureau of Land Management ahead of its scheduled Aug. 30 kickoff, festival organizers announced on the event's website. The weeklong counterculture festival -- which attracts tens of thousands of participants known as Burners and culminates with torching a giant effigy -- is slated to run through Sept. 7. BLM gave the go-ahead after a public feud over the specifics of the permit. Controversy erupted earlier this summer after reports that BLM was demanding the festival build a new compound for agency "VIPs" with "flushing toilets to be cleaned daily by Burning Man staff, a laundry with washers and dryers, on-demand hot water, air conditioning, vanity mirrors, refrigerators and couches." That prompted Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to write to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, saying part of the festival's philosophy is "living with the elements" and calling BLM's demands "outlandishly unnecessary". Event organizers and BLM officials agreed to eliminate a proposed second BLM facility, the festival's website says, and BLM will use the same catering contractor as Burning Man. Burning Man agreed under the permit to cap attendance at 70,000 at this year's event. The annual event -- started in 1986 on a San Francisco beach -- has attracted more than 50,000 visitors each year since 2010, according to organizers. During the event, Black Rock City becomes Nevada's sixth-largest city, according to BLM. Event operations occupy about 4,400 acres of public land for seven weeks, from preparations in mid-August until final cleanup in early October...more

Proposed increase to bear hunting limits draws fire

New Mexico officials want to increase the number of Sandias bears that can be killed by hunters, but the plan is drawing fire from critics. The Albuquerque Journal reports that officials want to raise the limit from five to 11 after a new study put the bear population of the Sandias at 132, nearly double previous estimates. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish biologists say the number comes from a three-year study used genetic testing of bear hairs. Sandia Mountain BearWatch founder Jan Hayes says the estimates are meaningless because a large number of the region’s bears have been relocated or killed over the past few years. She is concerned that the changes will threaten the bear population in the Sandias.  AP

EPA: Mine waste spill much larger than initially reported

The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed Sunday the contaminated mine waste that leaked from the Gold King Mine early Wednesday is much larger than initially reported. "The preliminary number that the stream gauge is showing is more in the range of three million gallons," said Shaun McGrath, the EPA's Region 8 Administrator. The EPA confirmed levels of arsenic collected around midnight Thursday at Baker's Bridge in Durango went from 2.5. Ug/l, which is undetected, to 264— more than 100 times the historic amount—around 9 a.m. Thursday. During the same time period in the same location, lead went from slightly detected to 5,720, or more than 3,800 times the amount detected before the plume passed into the area. However, EPA toxicologists noted lab results from the water samples show contaminants in the water are highest while the "plume" of sludge passes through and goes down significantly once the plume has passed. The EPA said the waste is still leaking from the mine. "It continues to discharge and it's at the volume of 500 gallons per minute," said McGrath. "The discharge is going into two settlement ponds that we created over the last couple days." McGrath said the agency is treating that water before it heads to Cement Creek. McKean offered advice to ranchers, worried about their livestock. "The plume location is relatively short lived in an area so if stock or wildlife accidentally or momentarily had ingested some of the water, we don't believe there will be any long term health effects with that exposure," explained McKean during a conference call with the media...more

Navajo Nation President demands restitution from U.S. EPA for toxic spill

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye announced that he intends to take legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the massive release of mine waste into the Animas River near Silverton, Colorado. President Begaye made this announcement Saturday evening at the Shiprock Chapter House, which was packed to capacity with concerned community members living along the San Juan River. “They are not going to get away with this,” Begaye said He said the sludge has migrated into the San Juan River and is wending through the Navajo Nation. “The EPA was right in the middle of the disaster and we intend to make sure the Navajo Nation recovers every dollar it spends cleaning up this mess and every dollar it loses as a result of injuries to our precious Navajo natural resources,” Begaye said...more

Utah stakes claim to Recapture Canyon citing repealed frontier-era law

The state of Utah has added a 9.22-mile "road" through Recapture Canyon to a list of 12,000 routes it is seeking to wrest from federal ownership. The archaeologically rich canyon outside Blanding, which federal authorities closed to motorized use eight years ago, was the scene of the 2014 ATV protest ride that resulted in the criminal convictions of San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman and Monticello City Council member Monte Wells. In a letter Wednesday to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, state officials say the state enjoys a "right-of-way" through the canyon under the repealed frontier-era law known as RS 2477. The law allows Western counties to claim title to routes over public lands if they can demonstrate 10 years of continuous use prior to the law's repeal in 1976. "The Recapture Canyon right-of-way is a small but important piece of the transportation system and economy of the State of Utah and San Juan County," wrote Kathleen Clarke, director of the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office. The claimed route stretches from Recapture Dam south to Perkins Road. Clarke's letter does not elaborate on the basis of the claim, but Lyman's supporters have argued that the canyon served as a historic thoroughfare between Monticello and Bluff and a conduit for cattle drives. So, the argument goes, the route should never have been closed and the protest leaders should not have been charged...more

Way to go, Utah!

NM Game and Fish chief resigned after improper texts to employee

The state Game Commission voted unanimously after a closed-door meeting in October 2013 to accept Jim Lane’s resignation as director of the Game and Fish Department. Neither the commission nor Lane, who went back on the public payroll in March as assistant commissioner for surface and special projects at the State Land Office, has ever explained publicly his abrupt departure from the job he had held for two years. But documents recently obtained by the Journal show that Lane’s resignation came nine days after the office of Gov. Susana Martinez received a letter accusing Lane of sexually harassing the human resources director for the agency he headed. The letter written by Diane Garrity, an attorney for HR director Sonya Quintana, accused Lane of making repeated sexual overtures, both in person and via cellphone text messages. In a settlement reached in February 2014, Game and Fish and the state Risk Management Division agreed to pay $65,000 to settle Quintana’s claims. She left the agency as part of the deal and now works for Santa Fe County...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1464

Its Swingin' Monday and here's David Ball with Swing Baby.  The tune is on his 2001 CD Amigo

Sunday, August 09, 2015

The EPA Doubles Down

But increasingly the regulatory state has solved the problem of agency capture by industry. It has instead become captive to ideological interest groups.

This is nowhere more evident than at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has for practical purposes become a wholly owned subsidiary of the environmental movement. Beyond a revolving door between environmental advocacy and senior EPA staff positions, there is ample evidence of close collaboration between environmental organizations and EPA staff in regulatory rule-making and even in permitting decisions. 

A cache of emails and other communication records that the Energy and Environment Legal Institute and Competitive Enterprise Institute pried from the EPA through Freedom of Information Act litigation reveals close connections between EPA and the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund. While these collaborations may not cross a legal boundary, they certainly violate any sense of transparency and the duty of a regulatory agency to be impartial. And as with Hillary Clinton’s private email server, senior EPA officials went out of their way to communicate through pseudonymous email addresses (like former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson’s “Richard Windsor” emails) and private accounts, in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to avoid public scrutiny. In addition, EPA staff sometimes arranged to meet environmentalists offsite to avoid having to log visits to EPA offices.

For example, documents discovered in the FOIA action demonstrate that the EPA had decided to veto the application for the proposed Pebble copper mine in Alaska even before it had conducted an environmental assessment, and that it relied on an “Options Paper” produced by a lawyer working for the mine’s opponents to justify its veto. Other documents show the EPA is determined to prevent new coal export terminals from being built in the Pacific Northwest, though permitting decisions for such facilities are outside the EPA’s jurisdiction.

The most significant collaboration, though, concerns Obama’s “Clean Power Plan,” the final rule for which was released on August 3. The record is clear that environmental organizations—especially the NRDC—had major input into the design of the Clean Power Plan that was first announced a year ago, and are likely responsible for the major changes in the final, tougher Clean Power Plan rule just released. 

The final rule calls for larger greenhouse gas emissions reductions by the year 2030, and will compel the use of wind and solar power over natural gas much more aggressively than the initial proposed rule of last year. The Sierra Club has openly said that after it succeeds in killing coal, natural gas is next on the menu. Having failed to stop the fracking revolution that has brought us cheap and abundant natural gas (the EPA recently gave fracking a clean bill of health after a four-year study), environmentalists now plan to constrict natural gas through the climate plan. The tougher conditions of the final rule came as a surprise especially to the natural gas and nuclear industries, reflecting the likelihood that environmentalists pressed the EPA, saying that its initial proposal wasn’t strong enough. Despite questions about the legal vulnerability of the rule, the EPA decided to double down.


Royal Dutch Shell cuts ties with Alec over rightwing group's climate denial

Royal Dutch Shell have announced they will end their membership of the far-right American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) because of its continuing denial of the science of climate change. In a statement released on Friday, a Shell spokesman said: “Alec advocates for specific economic growth initiatives, but its stance on climate change is clearly inconsistent with our own.”
Shell joins fellow oil major BP in a corporate exodus from the conservative, free-market lobby group. Shell’s decision comes after sustained pressure from campaign groups, in particular the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), for Shell to stop funding Alec. The group’s position statement on climate change calls it an “historical phenomenon”. “The debate will continue on the significance of natural and anthropogenic contributions,” it reads. Alec has lead an assault on renewable energy that observers are concerned could significantly hamper the industry. The move was flagged by Shell CEO Ben van Beurden in an interview with the Guardian in May when he was confronted over the company’s continued funding of climate denial. He defended Shell’s membership on the grounds that Alec worked on a broad range of policy issues, but “watch this space”, he said...more