Saturday, September 19, 2015

How Green Is Joe Biden?

Here’s a bit of trivia: The first sen­at­or to in­tro­duce a bill deal­ing with cli­mate change was none oth­er than Delaware’s Joseph R. Biden Jr. Biden’s 1986 Glob­al Cli­mate Pro­tec­tion Act didn’t pass nor did it ig­nite a stam­pede of con­gres­sion­al ac­tion to stem what was then a less-known threat. (NASA sci­ent­ist James Hansen’s land­mark testi­mony on the top­ic wouldn’t even come un­til 1988.) But it has be­come a handy ref­er­ence point when Biden touts his cli­mate leg­acy. On Wed­nes­day, Biden made ref­er­ence to the pro­pos­al in a speech at a sol­ar-power con­fer­ence. He re­called that at the time, he warned, “Real­ity has a way of in­trud­ing,” and now real­ity had made its way. As Biden con­siders a run for the White House, that’s a memory that could be brought up over and over again. All of the Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates have made en­vir­on­ment and en­ergy a pri­or­ity, and with big money com­ing from en­vir­on­ment­al­ists like Tom Stey­er, it is nearly im­possible for a can­did­ate on the left to ig­nore cli­mate change. So the ques­tion then be­comes, how green is Biden? Biden’s plat­form over the last six years is, by nature, in­dis­tin­guish­able from Pres­id­ent Obama’s. Giv­en that it in­cludes the biggest steps any ad­min­is­tra­tion has taken to tackle cli­mate change, it would seem to be a strong start­ing point. But des­pite the in­creas­ing in­terest in him as an al­tern­at­ive to Hil­lary Clin­ton, en­vir­on­ment­al­ists don’t seem to have much in­terest in hav­ing Biden build on an­oth­er term of the Obama cli­mate agenda. “I know very little about his re­cord oth­er than as an Obama spokes­per­son,” said R.L. Miller of the Cli­mate Hawks Vote su­per PAC. “And there’s not much in­terest in it. There’s just no chat­ter at all.” In a state­ment, Si­erra Club polit­ic­al dir­ect­or Khal­id Pitts said that Biden “has helped lead the fight to pro­tect our com­munit­ies and fam­il­ies from tox­ic pol­lu­tion, so we can be sure that any pub­lic de­bate he is a part of is guar­an­teed to in­clude a ro­bust and thor­ough dis­cus­sion of cli­mate ac­tion and clean-en­ergy is­sues.” But groups fur­ther to the left say that Biden is go­ing to have to prove he would be more than just a third Obama term to get any sup­port. Greens have been left want­ing by the White House when it comes to fossil-fuel pro­duc­tion, say­ing that Obama has been too eager to em­brace nat­ur­al gas and has done too much to open up off­shore areas to oil-drilling, es­pe­cially after Shell was gran­ted a per­mit to drill in the Arc­tic this sum­mer. “The next pres­id­ent is go­ing to have to do a lot more than Barack Obama on cli­mate change,” said Karthik Ganapathy of “So the ques­tion be­comes, will Joe Biden be an ex­ten­sion of the Clean Power Plan and an am­bas­sad­or of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, or is he ready to out­line an ag­gress­ive agenda?”...more

Mexican wolf restoration hits (another) snag

by Cally Carswell

Earlier this year, things seemed to be looking up for the long-struggling effort to restore Mexican wolves to the Southwest. The population grew to more than 100, a threshold the 17-year-old effort hadn’t reached before. And wolf advocates cheered changes to the ground rules of the federal recovery program that seemed poised to benefit wild wolves at a critical juncture.

As the population has grown, it's also become increasingly inbred thanks to past removals of genetically valuable packs and the outsized reproductive success of one that remained. Animals from the captive population could help to shake up the gene pool if they're introduced soon, while the wild population is still small. But though the recent rule changes looked like they would free the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service up to make releases they couldn't before, the state of New Mexico is not on board – and it's where releases are needed most.

In January, though, the Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a new rule that cracked open the bureaucratic handcuffs hobbling recovery. Wolves would be free to roam through an expanded area, and the revisions allowed for the reintroduction of animals directly into New Mexico. 

New Mexico, however, still hasn’t warmed up to the idea. So far, state officials are standing in the way of reintroductions that biologists say are essential for improving the long-term viability of the wild population.

Later this month, the state’s Game and Fish Commission will make a final decision on permit requests from the Fish and Wildlife Service for new releases. The agency hoped to release a mating pair of adult wolves and also to “cross-foster” pups, where captive-born wolves are swapped with wild pups before two weeks of age. But earlier this summer, the state denied the permits; the feds appealed at a commission meeting in August. 

For the first time, the state also declined to renew a permit for a captive wolf facility on a private ranch in southwestern New Mexico owned by Ted Turner. That facility is considered crucial for the recovery program because space is limited for the captive population, and because it allows captive wolves to live in an environment that more resembles the wild landscape, better conditioning them for potential release. 

“It has the appearance to me of just being political monkey wrenching in the process,” says David Parsons, who headed the Mexican wolf program for Fish and Wildlife in its early years and is now with the Albuquerque-based Rewilding Institute, which advocates for large carnivores.

The Rewilding Institute accusing the Game Commission of monkey wrenching?  What an ironic laffer that is!

As far as politics influencing the program, it always has.  Politicians passed the ESA, appoint the Director of the USFWS and annually fund the program.  Politicians perform the same function on the state side of things, and it was a political decision to start the recovery program in the first place.  So politics has always been a key factor.  Their real concern is the politics isn't going their way right now.

Industry says half the country can't comply with EPA's new ozone rule

If the rumors about the new ozone standards being considered by the Environmental Protection Agency are true, nearly half of the counties in the country will be out of compliance, according to an industry official. Howard Feldman, senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, said Friday the scientific advisers at the EPA have recommended setting the new ozone limits at between 60 and 70 parts per billion. Some trade publications have reported the new standard for ozone, the main component of smog, could be 68 parts per billion. If that speculation is correct, 1,433 counties in the United States will not be in compliance with the new standards, Feldman says. There are a little more than 3,000 counties in the country. "You're starting to affect smaller and smaller towns, many more counties across the nation," Feldman said. "This is a very large and severe rule that could have major economic impacts and could be the most expensive regulation ever." The estimate on compliance was derived from the EPA's own statistics from 2014, which were recently released...more

Friday, September 18, 2015

EPA Chief Refused To Sit With Tribal Officials In House Hearing

Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop tore into EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for refusing to sit at the same table as state and tribal officials during a congressional hearing on the massive mining spill caused by agency workers. “I understand Administrator McCarthy agreed to come only if she appeared first and on her own panel — refusing to sit alongside representatives of states and tribes that traveled across the country to discuss the disaster her agency unleashed in their backyard,” Bishop said during Wednesday’s hearing. McCarthy appeared on her own panel that came before a second panel that included officials from the Navajo and Ute tribes, whose lands were impacted by the EPA-caused mine spill, along with state officials from Colorado and New Mexico.  State and tribal officials have been furious with the federal government’s response to the spill. Critics say the EPA didn’t notify states and tribes quickly enough and was reluctant to share informationwith those affected by the spill...more

There's a certain pecking order in D.C., and to have a federal agency lower itself to be co-equal with a state or tribal nation is a no no.  

One way to see what has happened to our nation would be through a Pecking Order Index (POI).  Under the Articles of Confederation the states were at the very top and the federales way down at the bottom, and this was the case for 12 years.  Then came the U.S. Constitution which set up a system of dual sovereignty, with the states delegating a larger number of powers to the feds.  The feds were supposedly limited to the increased delegated powers.  Over time, through wars, laws and federal court decisions the POI has totally reversed.  Now the feds are clearly at the top of the pecking order, and boy aren't they a bunch of peckers.

Interior Secretary Refuses To Testify On EPA Toxic Mine Spill

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell is refusing to testify before Congress about her department’s ongoing investigation of the massive toxic mine spill caused by EPA workers last month. Despite an invitation Republican lawmakers to get Jewell to come before the committee Thursday to testify on the Interior’s investigation, the former CEO of REI has declined. Instead, Jewell’s staffers sent an unsigned statement to House lawmakers. “Despite nearly every one of its agencies having jurisdiction over lands impacted by the spill and responsibilities to uphold for impacted communities, including tribes, Interior has been nearly invisible in the wake of the spill,” Wyoming Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an emailed statement...more

EPA accused of keeping New Mexico in the dark

New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn on Thursday accused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of withholding detailed water quality data from the state for several weeks after toxic waste from a mine spill contaminated water in the Animas and San Juan rivers. Flynn told the House Natural Resources Committee the lack of information hampered the response of New Mexico environment officials, who were unsure of the best way to react to the Aug. 5 spill that polluted waters in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. “The lack of timeliness with respect to providing data – we had all kinds of excuses (from the EPA) – but the bottom line is we just really needed that information to help develop a response plan,” Flynn testified. “Not having data in the first couple of days and continuing to have to make that fight put us in a position where we had to take very conservative actions.” Flynn, who appeared before the committee, also submitted written testimony saying the information put forth in the initial days after the accident “was summary level data, cherry-picked.”...more

Questa mine water plant still in the works

From the highway, the new water treatment facility at Chevron’s Questa mine looks big. But up close, the two-acre, five-story-tall building could aptly be called a behemoth. As crews and contractors work to get massive tanks, filters and heating and cooling systems installed, Chevron is pushing closer to its 2016 deadline to have the plant operational and to retire its existing tailings ponds and pipeline. That’s assuming they go by the “schedule for the plant to be functional by April,” said Mike Coats, site manager for the Questa mine, during a tour of the facility Thursday (Sept. 10). Having all the systems in place and running by spring gives Chevron several months to work out the kinks in the equipment and processes before the EPA-imposed October 2016 deadline. At that point, any potentially harmful water captured at or discharged from the Questa mine must go through the water treatment plant before going back into the Red River. If the treatment facility isn’t operational by this time next year, “it’ll gum up a lot,” Coats said. But on Thursday, about 12 different contractors were busy installing parts of the water treatment facility that will ultimately house nine massive tanks to treat all the groundwater and storm runoff at the mine site. After water runs through the plant, it’ll be cleaner than the water already running down the Red River, said Armando Martinez, environmental manager with Chevron Environmental Management Company (EMC), a Chevron subsidiary that’s in charge of remediation, reclamation and abandonment of mines throughout the world...more

They should request a restraining keep the EPA away.

Editorial - Does Oregon care more about EPA than its ranchers?

The saddest part of the following question is that we even need to ask it.

Does Oregon’s state government care more about empowering federal bureaucrats than it does about the ranchers and farmers whose operations contribute billions of dollars annually to the state economy?

We don’t blame the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association for posing that query.

The issue revolves around which waterways the federal government has the authority to regulate under the 1972 Clean Water Act.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in late June opined that its authority under the Clean Water Act extends to “waters of the United States” rather than only to major rivers and lakes defined as “navigable.”

This is a significant change.

Waters of the United States, based on the EPA’s proposed definition, could include tributaries to navigable waterways.

The definition is sufficiently murky, moreover, that it’s not implausible to believe the EPA could claim jurisdiction over seasonal waters such as irrigation ditches.

Ranchers and farmers, naturally, worry that the EPA’s potentially expanded authority could threaten their access to water, a commodity every bit as vital to a ranch or farm as it is to a person.

Thirteen states, most in the West, are challenging the EPA’s definition in court. In late August a federal court in North Dakota (one of the 13 plaintiff states) granted an injunction preventing the EPA from using its definition of waters of the United States to enforce the Clean Water Act in those states.
We’re disappointed that Oregon is not among those 13 states.

But that’s hardly the worst of it.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum didn’t merely decline to join those states in defending a vital industry against an overzealous executive branch, which insists on redefining its jurisdiction even though the U.S. House of Representatives both this year and last passed a resolution calling for the EPA to withdraw such a proposal.

Instead, Rosenblum went along with six other states and the District of Columbia in filing a legal motion supporting the EPA’s definition and its expanded authority to regulate water.

Rosenblum did so with the support of Gov. Kate Brown and officials from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Division of State Lands, said Ellen Klem, a spokeswoman in the Attorney General’s office.

Oregon fire raises questions about forest management

The Canyon Creek Complex continues to burn, but many people are already asking whether the blaze would have been less severe had the forest been managed better. Dave Traylor, a member of the Grant County Public Forest Commission, is one of many voices questioning whether enough thinning and slash cleanup was done in past years on the 1.7-million-acre Malheur National Forest. “We’ve got to make some changes because we’re losing our forest,” he said as the blaze reached 110,000 acres. “What we’re doing is not working.” Perhaps surprisingly, Malheur National Forest Supervisor Steve Beverlin agrees. “We do need drastic change,” he said. Even Aron Robertson, communications director for environmental group Oregon Wild, thinks there are ways to decrease wildfire risks with precise thinning practices. But overall, their prescription for change is vastly different. Traylor thinks the forest needs more active management, including a significant increase in grazing and logging. “That means cattle in the woods eating grass down and not letting it just dry up and become fuel, and we need to do some logging. Not clear-cutting, but spacing out trees and taking out dying trees. We can provide jobs and create a healthy forest that is fire-resistant and protects the water.” A lack of proper forest management, including thinning, salvage sales and slash cleanup, was a significant factor in the size and severity of the Canyon Creek Complex fire, says Prairie City resident Levi Voigt. “The only control you have over a wildfire is to reduce the amount of fuel in the forest,” he says. “I believe a reduction in the amount of fuel out there would have reduced the severity of the fire.”...more

Wildfire Managers Plan Drone Test over Idaho Blaze

A high-tech drone is spending a week flying over a west-central Idaho wildfire to see if it's capable of supplying real-time information that incident commanders can use when directing ground-based firefighters and manned aircraft. Testing of the 55-pound craft with a 12-foot wingspan is scheduled to start Thursday night, Air Operations Branch Director Gary Munson of the U.S. Forest Service said. "If the night flights go well, we hope to gradually integrate it into daytime operations," Munson said. The Aerosonde Mark 4.7 operated by Textron Systems launches from a catapult and is recovered with a large net. It can cruise at up to 70 mph. The company in an email to The Associated Press said the system has more than 100,000 flight hours with flights in hurricanes and in the Arctic, but this is its first use on wildfires. The "aircraft's sensors can give responders real-time date on fire growth, burn intensity, fuels and heat concentrations," the company said. It also said data supplied by the vehicle can be used by fire managers to look at erosion risks and impacts on wildlife and vegetation in remote areas. Wildfire managers say they currently lack a good way to determine the exact location of a fire on days when smoke or clouds obscure visibility, typically during inversions when smoke is trapped in valleys. The craft's infrared camera can see through smoke and clouds...more

Conservation group: Sage grouse, drilling can coexist

A conservation group says the federal government’s proposed plan to protect the greater sage grouse won’t have an impact on oil and gas drilling operations in the West.  The Western Values Project released a report Thursday showing that the area of the grouse’s habitat that federal regulators are considering for protection covers less than 13 percent of existing oil and gas drilling land in the western U.S.  The small percentage, the group said, means the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) protection plan would let the grouse and the fossil fuel industry coexist there. The BLM proposed a plan in May that would protect 11 million acres of “sagebrush focal areas” across the western U.S., as well as another swath of “second-tier” sage grouse habitat there.  The Western Values Project cross-referenced those proposed protection areas with current and projected oil and gas development land tracked by the federal government. The group found that the focal areas would only overlap with 1.34 percent of the energy plays, and the second-tier protection area would overlap with 11.6 percent...more

Feds reach $940 million tribal settlement

The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of the Interior announced Thursday that a $940 million proposed settlement has been reached with Native American tribes and tribal entities that would resolve a 25-year-old legal dispute related to contract support costs for tribal agencies.
It now must be approved by the federal court system. The proposed settlement would address claims that the U.S. government contracted with tribes to run programs but did not pay the full amounts required by law. It claims that the government contracted with tribes and tribal agencies to run Bureau of Indian Affairs programs such as law enforcement, forest management, fire suppression, road maintenance, housing, federal education and other support programs but failed to appropriate sufficient funds to pay the costs under the agreements. Each class member that is eligible for a share of the settlement must file a claim form, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Class counsel will retain a settlement administrator that will mail the claim forms to each class member...more

John Dunn: From outlaw to the king of Taos

When it comes to Taos legends, they don’t get much bigger than the story of Long John Dunn. Perhaps because his actual life was so incredible or because his biography was written shortly after Dunn’s death by a good friend, the tale doesn’t seem to need much embellishment. As his friend and biographer Max Evans says, “He lived, in his 90 or more years, one of the most incredible lives of any of the old-time westerners…John was one of the best gunfighters, gamblers, bronc riders, ropers, stagecoach drivers, trail-herd drivers, saloonkeepers, outlaws, and ironically, hardheaded businessman.” Before coming to Taos, Dunn by his own admission had killed several men and was a horse thief, smuggler and gambler. But although his life was a rough one, there was always a thread of nobility in his actions. He first killed a man when involved in a fist fight with his brother-in-law who had been abusing Dunn’s sister. One of his main purposes in making money by whatever means possible was to send it back home to his mother to support the family. Dunn’s father was a Civil War veteran and died shortly after the war due to his injuries, leaving the family constantly poor. Dunn was born in 1857 in Victoria, Texas, to a family of farmers. "In Long John Dunn of Taos: from Texas Outlaw to New Mexico Hero", by Max Evans, Dunn is quoted as saying “We were trying to make a living on a little rolling dry-land, slow-starvation farm.” Dunn was hired out to work on farms for others. As an inexperienced teenager, he was often low in the farm pecking order – doing the hardest work, receiving the lowest pay and sleeping in the barn. After one of his early employers kept him working day and night, and then underpaid him, Dunn stole the man’s stallion and headed west...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1492

Recorded in Nashville on July 15, 1960, here is Skeets McDonald performing This Old Heart.  Can you remember when they used to record tunes this good?  And look who was in the studio that day with him:  Tommy Jackson-fiddle, Grady Martin-guitar, Jimmy Day-steel and Floyd Cramer on piano.  Can you guess who is harmonizing with him on vocals?  None other than Johnny Paycheck.  The Westerner

Thursday, September 17, 2015

'Creation Care' May Make Environmentalists Out of the GOP

By Colleen Curry

When US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced Friday the successful conservation of a threatened species — the little-known, unglamorous New England cottontail — it was the culmination of a bipartisan effort on the environment.

The plight of the rabbit was typical of threatened species in the United States: Deforestation and development led to the loss of about 80 percent of its natural habitat over the last 50 years. Maine put the cottontail under state protections, and the federal government decided in 2008 to officially consider listing it under the US Endangered Species Act. In the years since, government officials have worked with private land owners around New England to restore habitats and reintroduce the rabbits, according to the Press Herald of Portland, Maine.

The story of the rabbit's conservation is, according to those on the religious right and the liberal left, representative of common ground the political parties have found on environmental issues, which could lead to greater cooperation in the future, even on seemingly intractable battles such as climate change.

Following the announcement that the rabbit species' numbers had rebounded significantly in the past decade, a coalition of environmental religious groups including evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants, and Jews boasted of their support of conservation efforts and work in "protecting God's creation" — or, in the vernacular of the faith-based environmental movement, creation care.

Cassandra Carmichael, executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, said that although the religious right in this country is often portrayed as anti-environment, they represent the best chance of convincing Republican leaders to embrace environmental protections.

 "I think in general the religious community cares very much. They might not refer to it as the environment, that's a word that has political meaning for some people, but when we talk about caring for creation I haven't come across a person of faith who said they didn't think we should care for God's creation," she said. "We look at species protection and conservation from the Noah's Ark story in the Bible. That's where we take our cues."

 Rob Sisson, the director of ConservAmerica, a conservative environmental group urging the GOP to reclaim its historical roots as conservationists, agreed with Carmichael, noting that the religious base of the party, along with hunters, fishers, and residents of Western states where debates over public land management resonate strongly, may very well be the best hope for achieving environmental protections.

Sisson's prediction may already be coming true. On Tuesday, 10 House Republicans announced they would sign a resolution acknowledging that human activity contributes to climate change. Congressman Chris Gib­son of New York, who led the formation of the group, told the National Journal the resolution was a "call for action to study how humans are impacting our environment and to look for consensus on areas where we can take action to mitigate the risks and balance our impacts."

The group consisted mainly of Republicans up for reelection in swing states, according to the Journal.

White House, logging groups make dueling pitches over budget fix

The Obama administration and the timber industry yesterday made dueling pitches to Congress on how to fix the nation's wildfire and forest health challenges, hoping to sway an influential group of senators who have pledged to tackle the problems head on this fall. Top officials from the White House and Interior and Agriculture departments sent a letter to members urging Congress to adopt the "Wildfire Disaster Funding Act," a bipartisan bill that would prevent those agencies from having to pilfer money from their non-fire programs to fight increasingly costly wildland blazes, a disruptive process known as fire "borrowing." On the other side, a coalition of timber industry groups led by the Federal Forest Resource Coalition sent a letter to Capitol Hill urging senators to pass H.R. 2647, a House-passed bill backed mostly by Republicans that would also prevent borrowing while giving the U.S. Forest Service streamlined authority to log more trees and make forests less susceptible to future wildfires.Both visions will get plenty of attention as Western senators try to hammer out a funding and management fix in time for the next wildfire season...more

Poaching 'considered' as factor Wallowa County wolves' 'unnatural' deaths

Oregon State Police are investigating to find out who killed two wolves in Wallowa County last month. The agency on Wednesday announced two adult wolves, one of them wearing a state tracking collar, were found dead on August 24. Wolves are an endangered species in Oregon, and killing them is illegal except under special circumstances outlined in the Oregon Wolf Plan. The state police announcement listed the cause of death as unknown, but state police spokesman Bill Fugate told The Oregonian/Oregonlive the wolves' manner of death "does not appear to be natural." Asked whether the wolves were poached, Fugate said, "It's definitely being considered." In Wallowa County, where wolves are protected under the state endangered species act but not the federal act, poaching a wolf can bring a year in jail and a fine of up to $6,250...more

Sheriffs, ranchers tour U.S/Mexico border

Sheriffs and command staff from nearly 100 sheriff's departments across the western United States are in southern Arizona to discuss border-related issues. It's all part of the Southwestern Border Sheriffs' Coalition Annual Meeting, hosted for the first time this year by Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels. And what better place to discuss illegal immigration than ground zero of this international debate: the U.S./Mexico. That's where a procession of several SUVs and two tour buses filled with law enforcement personnel, ranchers and their significant others headed on Wednesday afternoon, focusing on a 10-mile stretch of the border just west of Naco. "The border is not secure," said Ed Ashurst, a Douglas-area rancher whose family first settled near the border in the 1870s. "We have lots of infrastructure, lots of federal money, taxpayer money and nothing is happening," Ashurst said, citing dozens of times his ranch has been broken into by illegal immigrants, as well as the murder of close friend and fellow rancher Robert Krentz by border bandits back in 2010. "The possibility of that happening again is very very real," Ashurst said. This is precisely why these sheriffs are touring the border - to see these problems firsthand and begin to understand just how complex illegal immigration really is...more

Ranchers say Border Patrol not protecting them

The U.S. Border Patrol does not go far enough to protect Southwestern ranchers from smugglers and others who cross the Mexican border illegally, the business owners said Wednesday during a conference of border sheriffs in Arizona. Several of the ranchers said they don’t bother calling agents anymore when they encounter illegal activity on their property. But the federal government said it has taken steps to boost safety. Peggy Davis and her family own a cattle ranch 25 miles north of the border. Their home has been burglarized repeatedly, and the family has received personal threats, she said. “We have a lot invested here. Emotion, money, time, heritage,” Davis said. “It’s our livelihood, it’s our ranch, it’s our heritage.” Jim Chilton, whose ranch is less than 6 miles from the border, said the agency’s strategy is not working. He said it takes too long for agents to respond to calls from ranchers and that the Border Patrol should focus its efforts on stopping migrants and smugglers at the border. Chilton said he installed three motion cameras that have caught 350 people walking through his ranch in the last two years...more

U.S. Says Mexican Drug Lord El Chapo Guzmán's Prison Escape Could Trigger More Border Violence

Testifying before Congress last week, Robert Harris, the man in charge of border security at the Department of Homeland Security, warned that the recent escape of Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, “could potentially instigate further border violence similar to incidents following his first prison escape in 2001.” Guzmán’s current whereabouts are unknown, despite a massive international manhunt to recapture him and a $5 million reward offered by the Obama Administration. More than half a dozen criminal indictments are pending against him in several U.S. states.  Harris’s warnings are not unwarranted. Guzmán’s 2001 break out unleashed a bloody drug cartel turf war, with Guzmán attempting to take over lucrative border crossing points controlled by rival cartels. During the following years, cartel leaders were executed in daylight and violence, particularly in the border region, reached new levels.  “The reach and influence of the Mexican cartels… stretches across and beyond the Southwest border, operating through loose business ties with smaller organizations in cities across the U.S.,” Harris said, adding that the threat of the Mexican cartels, “is dynamic; rival organizations are constantly vying for control, and as U.S. and Mexican anti-drug efforts diminish criminal networks, new groups arise and form new alliances.” It took the Mexican authorities 13 years to recapture El Chapo in 2014, only to see him flee again 17 months later. Although the U.S. government claims to be confident the drug lord will be hunted down with U.S. assistance, Guzmán has a proven reputation of outsmarting his hunters...more

Editorial - Gang Threat Increasing Thanks To Lax Obama Border Policy

Donald Trump got a standing ovation from some 20,000 supporters Monday after vowing to kick illegal alien gangsters out of the country. An alarming new Texas study on the MS-13 threat shows why.

Conducted by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the study reveals that the nation's most violent street gang — MS-13 — has been energized by the flood of illegal immigrant minors entering the U.S. through Mexico, after President Obama rolled out the welcome mat for them.

El Salvador-based MS-13 has now emerged as a "top-tier" threat in Texas, responsible for a rash of gruesome machete murders in Houston and other Texas cities.

"In 2014, Texas experienced a dramatic spike in illegal aliens crossing into the United States from Mexico and Central America," the study warned.

"Among those who illegally cross the Texas-Mexico border are gang members and associates, including those associated with large transnational gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).

"The influx of illegal alien gang members crossing the border into Texas, along with reports of extremely violent murders committed by its members in the Houston area, positions the gang as one of the most significant gang threats in the state for this upcoming year. MS-13 gang members are known for highly violent crimes, including brutal murders and dismemberments."

The 57-page report says that some of the illegal immigrant murderers are teens as young as 14. Many of these juveniles, who have killed U.S. citizens, illegally crossed into the U.S. last year when Obama loosened border restrictions.

Law and Border

by John Stossel

How many wars can we fight?

Our presidential candidates demand "stronger action" against both illegal immigration and illegal drugs. But those goals conflict. The War on Drugs makes border enforcement much harder!

America's 44-year-long Drug War hasn't made a dent in American drug use or the supply of illegal drugs. If it had some positive effect, prices of drugs would have increased, but they haven't. American authorities say drugs are more available than ever.

Drug prohibition, like alcohol prohibition, creates fat profits that invite law-breaking.

Cato's Ted Galen Carpenter says, "Economists estimate that about 90 percent of the retail price of illicit drugs is due to this black market premium." Ninety-percent profits inspire lots of criminal risk-taking.

"Washington's policy empowers the most ruthless traffickers -- those willing to use violence, intimidation and exploitation of the vulnerable to gain market share." Continues Carpenter: "When drugs are outlawed, only outlaws will sell drugs."

Since the drug gangs can't settle disputes in court, they settle them with guns. In Latin America, they've killed thousands of people...

Mexico's former president, Vicente Fox, now supports legalization. Leaders of Guatemala, Colombia, Costa Rica and Bolivia have begun to object to the militaristic anti-drug tactics pushed by the United States...

Drug profits give smugglers the money to do what poverty-stricken immigrants can't: dig long, high-tech tunnels with lighting and ventilation systems. A border fence doesn't secure the border when immigrants -- and criminals -- can tunnel underneath it.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy recently bragged to reporters about "the fifth super-tunnel we've intercepted."

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent Derek Benner claimed that the interception dealt "a stunning blow to the Mexican cartel who built it."

But that's absurd. Benner admitted they'd done the same thing two years before "in virtually the same scenario." They found five of how many? Hundreds? With a border almost 2,000 miles long, they're unlikely to find them all...

The Center for Investigative Reporting says 90 percent of the drugs seized on the U.S.-Mexico border are some form of marijuana, meaning almost every time the Border Patrol makes a drug bust, it confiscates a drug that's legal in Colorado.

This is crazy.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on Fox News  

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1491

Cliff Carlisle - Rocky Road is our selection today.  The tune was recorded in Charlotte on Feb. 19, 1937.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lawmakers Slam EPA Chief For Not Firing Anyone After Spilling Toxic Waste

Republican lawmakers grilled EPA Chief Administrator Gina McCarthy for not firing any agency employees or contractors after workers accidentally unleashed millions of gallons of toxic wastewater in a Colorado river last month. When pressed by Republican senators during a Wednesday hearing about which individuals were responsible for the spill, McCarthy said the agency as a whole was responsible. McCarthy said she was waiting for the Department of the Interior to release its external review of the Gold King Mine blowout before she held individuals accountable.  McCarthy said she would not “make a judgement based solely on our internal review.” She added “the agency itself has been held accountable and we’re responding robustly.” Her answer, however, didn’t sit well with Republicans, especially Arizona Sen. John McCain. The former presidential candidate slammed the agency for its slow response to the spill and how long it took for them to get in touch with Navajo Nation.  “Has anyone been fired for almost taking two days to notify the Navajo about the disaster?” McCain asked McCarthy. “Has anyone been fired for the Navajo’s complaint that the emergency response was inadequate?” “In other words, you’ve done nothing,” McCain said to McCarthy when she said no one had been fired for its handling of the spill. She reiterated the EPA itself was being held accountable...more

Navajos slam Obama for inaction

The president of the Navajo Nation slammed President Obama and Democrats for deserting the tribe's 300,000 people after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accidentally polluted a river the tribe depends on, leaving one-third of the reserve's drinking water unsafe. In an exclusive interview with The Hill, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye again called on Obama and administration officials to declare the San Juan River a disaster zone. EPA officials have insisted the toxins have been diluted. But Begaye said he “doesn't buy it.” He argues toxins are seeping into ranchers' soil and threatening livestock and crops. “There's no way we can guarantee that the drinking water is safe,” he said. “We are asking the Democratic Party to have President Obama declare the river a disaster area — and we haven't gotten anything. Nothing,” he said. “The Democrats? I don't know what happened. We basically are Democrats. We always vote Democrat. But it seems like they've just walked away. And we're not hearing anything that's of value to us from the Democrats.” Begaye's interview comes as a series of hearings are set to begin on Capitol Hill examining the EPA’s response to the accident. “With Obama, we've been asking for him to at least give us a call and tell us you are there to help us and walk with us. But we have heard not a word. It seems like they've just closed the doors and walked away,” Begaye said. “We were the swing vote for them for years and they haven't done a thing.”...more

UN and Oxfam caught bribing media to write crusading climate stories

News journalists are being bribed by the United Nations and the Oxfam charity to write scare stories about climate change ahead of the global climate treaty negotiations in Paris later this year. Details of the bribes – which take the form of ego-boosting “awards”, global travel in CO2 generating airliners and financial payments – are contained in a news release just published by the UNDP today, an organisation headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark. Journalists’ codes of ethics prohibit being induced to give favourable coverage, but those rules have increasingly been ignored in recent years by the use of backdoor mechanisms like funding journalism “awards” as a means of generating content and rewarding propaganda-writers...more

The Forest Service just had to divert another $250 million to fight wildfires

Top administration officials wrote Congress on Tuesday to urge it–once again–to change the way it budgets for firefighting in light of the disastrous wildfire season in the western United States. The Agriculture Department just informed lawmakers this week that it will have to transfer $250 million to fighting the forest fires now raging, which brings this fiscal year’s emergency spending total to $700 million...more

Unlike other disaster spending, caused by tornadoes and hurricanes, the federal government must stay within existing budget constraints and divert money from other programs to pay for firefighting.

For one thing, federal agencies don't cause tornadoes or hurricanes.  " seasons have grown longer, and the frequency, size and severity of wildland fires has increased" and for the most part are the result of years of mismanagement.  This should be rewarded?

“With the dramatic growth in wildland fire over the last three decades and an expected doubling again by mid-century, it only makes sense that Congress begin treating catastrophic wildfire as the natural disaster that it is,” the three wrote.

It's going to double again?  Even the Obama officials are predicting worse results under current management.  Are you listening Congress?  Just fiddling with the funding mechanism isn't a fix.  That would show you are more interested in protecting the bureaucrats than the people and resources of the West.  Even if they wanted to, the federal agencies can't manage their way out of this with laws like ESA & NEPA on the books.  Only Congress can fix this. 

Not as much fun as posturing on Planned Parenthood or pontificating on the Iran Nuclear Deal, but you need to get off your duffs and either amend these laws or transfer these lands to the states where we can take care of the problem more efficiently and effectively.

Jewell: No Plan B if ‘grand bargain’ lands legislation fails

The head of the U.S. Interior Department says there is no Plan B in place if Utah officials, environmentalists and Congress aren't able to strike a deal to protect land in the eastern and southern part of the state ­—­ but adds that she would like to see a plan in writing soon. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday that all eyes are on the effort to craft the Public Lands Initiative by Utah Republican Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz and more details need to be forthcoming. "There is certainly an effort on their part to push that through, and that's what we're working with them on at this point in time," Jewell said at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor. "I'm not going to suggest that there is any kind of firm plan if their plan doesn't work. We need to see a plan." Asked if President Barack Obama would name a new national monument in Utah if the Bishop and Chaffetz effort fails, Jewell didn't answer directly. Instead, she said she looks forward to seeing the details of the plan. Jewell added that there are some "amazing cultural or natural resources that right now have little or no protection."...more

No Plan B? Ha! The specter of a huge National Monument is hanging over everyone's head and a draft Proclamation is most likely already sitting in the White House.  Now just think of the leverage that gives the enviros in their negotiations with the other interests.  That leverage will result in more Wilderness and other protective designations in the legislation than would otherwise be the case.  Give us what we want now in this proposal or face a huge monument designation sometime in the next 17 months.  Who needs a Plan B when you have the Antiquities Act and Obama in the White House.

Jewell says ‘Keep It in the Ground’ movement simplistic, country too reliant on fossil fuels

Hundreds of environmental groups are uniting under a new banner to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. It’s called: “Keep It in the Ground.” They’re asking President Obama to stop new petroleum leases on public lands. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected the idea in a meeting with reporters today. For decades, Alaska’s congressional delegation has been clamoring for more oil and gas leases on federal land. Now, in a letter to Obama, more than 400 green groups are saying exactly the opposite, that the president should just stop fossil fuel leases. Secretary Jewell, whose first career was as a petroleum engineer, told reporters the administration is dedicated to a lower carbon future by reducing energy use and fostering alternatives. But, she says, the nation is still dependent on oil, gas and coal. “There are millions of jobs around the country that are dependent on these industries and you can’t just cut it off overnight,” she said. She says her job, as head of the department that controls one-fifth of the U.S. landmass, and more than half of Alaska, is to ensure thoughtful regulation and development that is safe and responsible. “I think it over-simplifies a very complex situation to suggest that one could simply cut off leasing or drilling on public lands and solve the issues of climate change,” Jewell said, speaking at a breakfast meeting organized by the Christian Science Monitor...more

EPA's Clean Power Plan will hurt poor Blacks, Hispanics and whites the most

When Obama was speaking to environmentalist supporters in 2008 regarding his plans to address “climate change,” he candidly revealed, “Under my plan, electricity costs will necessarily skyrocket.”

Obama’s White House Science Advisor John Holdren later elaborated, “We need to de-develop the United States to bring our economic system into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation.”

The so-called Clean Power Plan proposed by Obama’s EPA is well-designed to do precisely that -- de-develop the United States.

A new study from the National Black Chamber of Commerce estimates the regulation will cause job losses reaching 7 million for blacks and 12 million for Hispanics, with the poverty rate increasing by more than 23 percent for blacks and 26 percent for Hispanics.

That is because the plan will ultimately more than double the cost of natural gas and electricity, adding over $1 trillion to family and business energy bills, just as Obama promised. That will drain funds that could be used for new jobs and pay increases, and end up destroying millions of jobs in companies and businesses that can no longer compete under the higher costs. The rules and their costs will reduce U.S. economic growth every year, causing $2.3 trillion in losses over the next two decades alone.

The skyrocketing costs for energy and electricity will have a “disparate impact” on the poor and low income Blacks and Hispanics, as those increased costs will constitute a higher percentage of their lower incomes. Which means that it will hurt most those who can least afford it. Blacks and Hispanics would consequently be threatened with a new energy poverty. Under the civil rights theories of Obama’s own Justice Department, this means his EPA Clean Power Plan constitutes illegal discrimination.

African-American author and Fox News analyst Deneen Borelli comments that the EPA’s new overregulation is “the green movement’s new Jim Crow.”  National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford calls the EPA’s regulatory overkill “a slap in the face to poor and minority families...

Interior secretary says companies should stop venting natural gas

A top Obama administration official on Tuesday criticized energy companies for burning and venting natural gas at oil wells, as the government readies rules to clamp down on the practice. "It's crazy to vent natural gas into the atmosphere when natural gas is a fuel that can produce electricity at a much lower carbon footprint than other sources like coal," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told reporters. "It is economical in some cases for companies to flare or vent natural gas ... because their target is oil." But, she added: "That is not OK." Jewell's comments come as the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management is drafting a plan to limit venting and flaring of natural gas on public lands managed by the agency. The bureau is expected to soon send the measure to the Office of Management and Budget for a required review, likely readying it for a formal proposal before international climate negotiations in Paris this December. "There is no reason we shouldn't be looking at capturing that valuable public resource, getting a royalty on that resource and using it in a more constructive way than just blowing it up into the atmosphere or burning it," Jewell told reporters at a roundtable organized by The Christian Science Monitor...more

White House opposes GOP bill to lift oil export ban

The White House criticized Republicans’ efforts to lift the ban on oil exports Tuesday and said the Obama administration will not support them. Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the fact Republicans are focusing on oil exports shows that they are beholden to oil and natural gas interests. Earnest’s comments came the same day House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is expected to announce that the House will vote this month to end the 40-year-old ban on exporting crude oil...more

Beef’s Meaty Profits Slow Effort to Boost Antibiotic-Free Production

Oregon cattleman Gary Bailey says business at his ranch has thrived in recent years thanks to growing consumer hunger for meat produced without antibiotics. But the 36-year-old has struggled in another role: recruiting fellow ranchers to leave the conventional beef market and join his rancher cooperative, Country Natural Beef, a supplier to Whole Foods Market Inc. Many of those conventional ranchers are already earning some of their biggest-ever profits. “With a real strong market like that, there’s just no advantage to going to a natural program,” says Tim Knuths, 56, a Madras, Ore., rancher who has rebuffed Mr. Bailey’s entreaties. The reluctance illustrates how sky-high cattle and beef prices are hampering efforts to get the beef industry to follow the sharp curbs by major chicken processors on the use of antibiotics on farms. Health and consumer groups as well as U.S. government agencies say widespread use of antibiotics in both human and animal medicine has hastened the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, posing risks to human health. With more consumers heeding those warnings, companies are increasingly eager to supply antibiotic-free meat. Tyson Foods Inc. and Perdue Farms Inc. are producing more antibiotic-free chicken, and McDonald’s Corp. announced in March plans to broadly curtail antibiotic use in its U.S. poultry. But changing antibiotics protocols is tougher in the beef business, livestock specialists say. Beef cattle typically live one to two years before slaughter, providing more time for disease exposure than for chickens, which often live only six weeks. Beef processors also generally have less control over how animals are raised. They typically buy cattle from a wide range of producers and middlemen, while major chicken processors sign growers to contracts to supply them alone. And financial incentives for cattle ranchers to switch to natural production haven’t been strong because prices for conventional cattle and beef have surged in recent years, driven by prolonged drought in the Southern Plains that shrank the nation’s herd in 2014 to its smallest in six decades. Natural, organic or grass-fed beef varieties—all of which are antibiotic-free—fetch more money, retailing for 30% to 80% more per pound than conventional meat. But ranchers also typically face greater costs and paperwork, and must undergo audits to demonstrate they adhere to animal-welfare, sustainability and other standards required by beef buyers or federal labeling rules...more (Subscription)

Animal group ad targets NM institute during CNN debate

An animal-rights group plans to air a television advertisement during tonight’s CNN Republican presidential primary debate alleging that animal escapes from Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute make the Albuquerque research facility a “dangerous neighbor.” The 30-second spot alleges that dangerous pathogens “may threaten you and your family” as a result of animal escapes from LRRI, located on Kirtland Air Force Base. Stop Animal Exploitation Now, or SAEN, began airing the spot locally Sept. 7 on cable news networks CNN, FoxNews and MSNBC, said SAEN spokesman Michael Budkie. Federal inspection reports found that monkeys used in research projects at LRRI escaped from the cages at least six times over the past year, the Journal reported last month. The monkeys, nearly all rhesus macaques, were all recaptured without injury to the animals or staff, often by using food to lure them into enclosures, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said in inspection reports. The reports do not indicate that any of the monkeys were able to get outdoors or escape into public areas. Biosafety level 3 research at LRRI investigates potentially dangerous illnesses and toxins transmitted by inhalation, such as avian flu virus, anthrax and ricin...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1490

Johnnie Lee Wills, the younger brother of Bob Wills, performs a tune about New Mexico:  A-L-B-U-Q-U-E-R-Q-U-E

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Police say burglar logged into Facebook during theft, forgot to log out

A Lexington man was accused of breaking into a Lexington gym Monday. Managers said one of the ways they identified him was through Facebook. According to his arrest citation, Russell Sipe, 30, walked into the Workout 24/7 gymnasium off Mapleleaf Drive back in March. Gym management said they caught Sipe on surveillance cameras checking doorknobs throughout the facility. While inside, officers said he made several calls on the phone and used the computers. "What he did do, which is wonderful, is set up on Facebook and leave his Facebook page open and tell his buddies on instant message that he's breaking into workout anytime trying to steal whatever he could find," Cowden said. Before leaving, police said Sipe took a credit card, a small amount of cash, and a set of keys, according to police. The owner told officers Sipe's Facebook account was still up when he arrived the next morning...more

Poll: For First Time, Most Americans Don’t Believe Guns ‘Too Easy’ to Get

For the first time since its inception, a CNN/ORC poll finds that most Americans do not believe current gun laws make it “too easy” for Americans to buy guns. When asked, “In your view, do existing laws make it too easy for people to buy guns, too difficult, or are they about right?”, 49 percent of respondents said “about right.” Forty-one percent of respondents said current law made it “too easy” for people to buy guns and 10 percent said they made it “too difficult.” Only 1 percent of respondents had no opinion. The poll has asked the question periodically since 1989. This is the first time that less than 56 percent of respondents have said guns are “too easy” to buy. In August 1993, 70 percent of respondents had answered guns were “too easy” to buy, the poll’s all-time high...more

Cargill putting Texas beef plant on the market

Cargill has placed its idled Plainview, Texas, plant property up for sale and the Dallas office of Commercial real estate broker CBRE has been retained by Cargill to market the site and evaluate potential offers. The plant was idled on Feb. 1, 2013, as the result of beef processing overcapacity in the region brought about by the area’s drought-diminished cattle herd, the impact of federally mandated Country of Origin Labeling on cattle supplies and the effects of the prior year uproar over finely textured beef (“pink slime”). Beef processing overcapacity persists today and plant closures continue even as conditions have improved in some regions and rebuilding of the nation’s herd by cattle ranchers has started. A few years ago, the nation’s beef cattle herd dropped to the lowest number since 1951. Rebuilding the nation’s herd is a slow process, with each heifer/cow producing a single calf yearly. “For the past two-and-a-half-years we’ve closely monitored the cattle supply in the U.S., hoping for a faster recovery from the drought,” said John Keating, president of Cargill’s Wichita, Kansas-based beef business. “We don’t see conditions in the Texas panhandle improving to the point where it would make sense to reopen our Plainview beef plant, especially with excess processing capacity remaining in the region.”  Press Release

Arrests At Burning Man 2015 Up 600% From Previous Year

The numbers from this year’s Burning Man are in, and they’re not pretty. Arrests at this year’s event are estimated to be at least 600% greater than the previous year, and nearly more than the previous five years combined. Compared to 2014’s 7 arrests, 41 people were arrested this year, the majority for “trafficking of a controlled substance.” Such a charge is rarely a surprise to outsiders or those at the Burn, but rarely are so many people arrested for it – compare it to last year’s numbers when only 4 people were arrested on drug-related charges. At an where drug use is very common year to year, law enforcement’s duty and focus should be on those disturbing the peace, rather than those looking to expand their minds. The second highest charge this year was for “possession of a controlled substance for sales” and then a litany of other less grievous charges, all between 1-3 arrests each. One arrest was even for kidnapping. One significant figure pointed out is the absence of any sexual assault charges this year, “a huge improvement on 2013, when there were 12 people taken to jail for that crime.”

From the New York Times:
Scores of law enforcement officers meted out more than 600 citations and arrested dozens of people — nearly all of them for possession of controlled substances, like the hallucinogenic drugs that can make frolicking in scanty costumes in the desert seem like a kaleidoscopic adventure.  In other words, the party may have ended, but for the local courts, lawyers and busted participants, the headache begins…More than 40 of the revelers, known as Burners, were arrested, according to the sheriff’s office of Pershing County, the rural pocket of northwest Nevada where the festival takes place. The citation fines range from $100 to $500, said Rudy Evenson, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency that shares policing responsibilities for the event with the sheriff’s office. Misdeeds ranged from environmental ones, like improper dumping, to drug use and possession.

That's what happens when you turn down a request for a million dollar facility by BLM law enforcement, including trailers, flush toilets, washers and dryers and vanity mirrors. Also included was a 24-hour, full-service kitchen with a menu of "10-ounce steaks, 18-ounce pork ribs, poultry, ham, fish, vegetables, potatoes, bread, salad bar with five toppings and three dressings and desserts." And those desserts?  Specifically they had to include "assorted ice cream flavors, Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches, as well as cakes, cookies, pies, cobblers, puddings and pastries." See here and here

The rule here seems pretty simple:  If they don't get their pork ribs, potatoes and popsicles, you don't get your pot.  No cobblers, no cannabis. No steaks, no stash.  Six hundred tickets prove the rule.

As wildfires rage in West, ranchers lose cattle, rangeland

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — For weeks, rancher Darrel Holliday has rounded up frightened cows and calves off the smoldering hills of the Strawberry Mountain Range, a wilderness area in eastern Oregon of old-growth forest and grass where wildlife and cattle roamed. Holliday’s entire federal forest grazing allotment of about 32,000 acres — 50 square miles — burned last month as a wildfire ravaged the area. The land is now a smoke-filled expanse of blackened tree sticks and ash a foot-and-a-half deep. “We’re picking up cows that should have calves with no calves. We assume they might have died out there,” said Holliday, who is still missing 22 of his 180 cow-calf pairs. He’s among dozens of ranchers similarly wrestling with the loss of animals and grazing land in a region where cattle production is one of the leading agricultural industries. The vast majority of the 1.6 million acres — nearly 2,600 square miles — that burned in Oregon, Idaho and Washington this year are federally owned, data show, with large swaths of that public land used as rangeland for livestock grazing. Many of Holliday’s recovered animals have burnt hooves or are lame from walking on hot coals, he said. Miles of fences have burned. And the land, for which Holliday pays a fee, will likely be closed to grazing for at least two years while it recovers...more

Calif. drought leads to lowest snowpack in 500 years

California’s years-old drought has led to the lowest overall snowpack in the state since at least the 1500s, according to a new study released on Monday.  The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, concluded that the snowpack in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains was only 5 percent of its historic average this past spring. The researchers used monitoring stations and combed tree ring records to get a handle on historic winter snowfall totals and determined that “the 2015 low is unprecedented in the context of the past 500 years.” Because melting snow is responsible for 30 percent of California's overall annual water supply, the snowpack level is especially important for alleviating drought conditions in the state. Researchers said the levels “present an ominous sign of the severity of this drought.”...more

Can the Endangered Species Act save the stonefly?

Even with immediate and massive cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, most of the glaciers in the northern Rockies are likely to vanish in the next few decades. That means there won’t be any habitat left for the western glacier stonefly, which depends on cold glacial meltwater for habitat.  Even though their demise is all but certain, environmental activists say the insect needs protection under the Endangered Species Act, and last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to make that decision within the next year.Conservation groups had previously petitioned the agency to list the stonefly as endangered, and in 2011, the USFWS said that the rare bug may qualify for listing. “The western glacier stonefly is rapidly losing its habitat to global warming and deserves protection as an endangered species,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This stonefly is a canary in the coalmine for global warming. Without efforts to curb our emissions, all the glaciers in Glacier National Park will disappear within as little as 15 years.”...more

Another federal judge steps away from ATV protest case

Yet another federal judge is passing off the case of a county commissioner convicted of leading an ATV protest ride through a closed canyon. U.S. District Court Judge David Sam said in a motion filed Monday that he needed to step aside but didn't explain why. Judge David Nuffer now becomes the fourth judge to handle the case. The 2014 ride was designed to protest what organizers called federal overreach in closing a southeastern Utah canyon to motorized vehicles. San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman and blogger Monte Wells were found guilty of misdemeanor charges. They are awaiting sentencing. Judges Jill Parrish and Robert Shelby previously recused themselves to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Parrish said she represented the Bureau of Land Management during her eight-year stint as a federal prosecutor.  AP

EPA chief to face grilling over toxic spill

Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy will find herself in the hot seat this week, as she testifies before both House and Senate committees on a toxic mine spill the agency caused last month in Colorado. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds its first oversight hearing Wednesday on the Aug. 5 wastewater spill at the Gold King Mine in Colorado. The House will follow up with a rare joint committee hearing where McCarthy and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell are both slated to testify. Republican environment committee Chairman Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said he wants "to ensure the EPA is held accountable to this grave incident and that those impacted are provided the necessary support to move forward." That includes the three states, local communities and American Indian tribes. The Navajo Nation in New Mexico is threatening to sue the EPA over the spill, fearing that the clean up costs will incur a significant burden on its communities for years to come...more

Starving, dehydrated Nevada mustangs find refuge in Utah

Two hundred starving and dehydrated wild horses from the Cold Creek herd in Nevada have found respite in the temperate farmland of central Utah, where they are being nursed back to health before possible adoption. "They were in pretty rough shape," said Gus Warr, director of the Utah Wild Horse and Burro program for the Bureau of Land Management. "They came from 110-degree weather and having no food to this. They think they're in heaven." "This" is an off-range holding facility south of Gunnison operated by Kerry Despain and his wife, Nannette. The Despains used to run certified Angus beef cattle and now run mustangs as private contractors for the federal agency. They have 650 head of wild horses from Wyoming, Utah and now Nevada, with a capacity for 1,000. They also house several hundred wild burros in a separate facility to the north. Thirty horses, including some nursing mares, were in such bad shape they had to euthanized. Four orphan foals are being fostered in Nevada. The survivors were trucked to Utah...more

Animal rights groups sinking their teeth into law enforcement

By Hannah Thompson

At the Alliance, we spend quite a bit of time monitoring the tactics of animal rights organizations, from local community outreach to national campaigns. Over the past several months, one emerging trend is crystal clear, and should have all of us in animal agriculture and meat production raising our eyebrows: relationship-building with law enforcement.

Animal rights organizations clearly see law enforcement as a critical ally in their mission to eliminate animal agriculture, although the law enforcement community likely doesn’t realize that is the end goal. In 2014, HSUS partnered with the National Sheriffs’ Association to create a mobile application for reporting suspected animal abuse. Locally, HSUS, PETA and other groups have also been sponsoring awards and offering free training and certification sessions on investigating animal cruelty. HSUS’ law enforcement workshops cover “knowing, interpreting and applying animal cruelty and fighting laws in your state.”

That’s right — groups who do not support the use or consumption of animals by humans want to train law enforcement officers on what animal cruelty looks like. The same groups who invest considerable resources into convincing consumers that well-researched, veterinarian-approved industry practices are cruel. Does that raise a red flag with you?

If it does, I encourage you to reach out and get to know the law enforcement officers in your area — before you need them...

Animal Ag Alliance gets sneak peek at activists’ agenda

The Animal Rights National Conference boasted 1,650 attendees at this year’s conference, which was July 30 through Aug. 2 in Washington, D.C. Two of those attendees were interns with the Animal Agriculture Alliance, an industry coalition working to educate the public and food industry stakeholders about modern animal agriculture. The tone and the ultimate agenda targeting animal agriculture has remained the same over the years, but the tactics used to convince people to stop eating meat, milk and cheese have changed, she said. There’s more focus on using technology and social platforms and manipulating the media to get the message across and convince people that animals are equal to humans. Therefore, they argue that humans don’t have the right to raise animals for food or in any way to enhance quality of life, she said. There is also a lot of focus on legislation, with the mindset that if society won’t change to a vegan lifestyle, activists will work to enact laws to force that change, she said. Speakers at this year’s conference also stressed the importance of focusing on incremental changes toward veganism by pressuring food companies and convincing consumers to gradually make the switch, she said. he concern for animal agriculture is not so much that people will stop eating those products but that activists are using sophisticated, high-pressure campaigns on food companies to force them to make policy changes that affect their suppliers — farmers and ranchers, she said. Their agenda is to increase costs for livestock and poultry producers so they’ll either go out of business or to increase the cost of animal products beyond what consumers can afford, she said...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1489

Here's some old time fiddlin' that goes out to Bobby Jones.  He should be healing up fine, as long as Pat isn't beating on him too much.

In 1883 Theron Hale was born in Pikeville, Tenn. and originally gained recognition as a banjo player.  He later took up the fiddle and formed a group with his daughters (Elizabeth on the piano and Mamie Ruth on second fiddle or mandolin).  They first appeared on the Grand Old Opry in 1926 and were regulars through the early thirties.  On Oct. 3, 1928 they recorded several tunes including today's selections, Hale's Rag + Jolly Blacksmith. Both numbers are on the Document Records CD Nashville, 1928

Monday, September 14, 2015

Greens ask Obama to cut federal fossil fuel production

Hundreds of environmental organizations are asking President Obama to immediately stop selling new leases for extracting oil, natural gas and coal on federal land and water. The green groups and individuals argue that an immediate halt to lease sales would avoid as much as 450 billion tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere just as world leaders head to Paris in December to write a climate change pact.  “The longstanding U.S. policy of leasing federal public lands and oceans to corporations for coal, oil and gas extraction must end,” the groups wrote in their Monday letter.  “As the world focuses on climate change in advance of negotiations in Paris this winter, we urge you to demonstrate strong climate leadership by stopping new leasing of our publicly owned fossil fuels.”  The request also puts a great deal of blame for climate change solidly on Obama’s shoulders, arguing publicly owned fossil fuel resources are his responsibility. “With the stroke of a pen, you could take the bold action needed to stop new federal leasing of fossil fuels, and to keep those remaining fossil fuels — our publicly owned fossil fuels — safely in the ground,” they said...more

Over 2 decades, BLM’s stance evolves on 2 proposed NM wilderness areas

By J.R. Logan

TAOS — In 2013, Jamie Connell, acting deputy director for the federal Bureau of Land Management, testified before a House committee on a bill to establish the Rio San Antonio and Cerro del Yuta wilderness areas in Northern New Mexico. Connell described the dramatic landscapes and “outstanding opportunities for solitude” in the two areas, which lie within a freshly designated national monument. “The department supports the designation of these two new wilderness areas,” Connell told the committee. But that’s not what the agency was saying two decades years earlier. In 1991, during the first Bush administration, the BLM seemed underwhelmed by San Antonio, and it concluded that some of the area’s wilderness characteristics were “less than outstanding.” It questioned whether the area merited inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. In other words: San Antonio was a little ho-hum. But today, that little piece of high desert is getting another look. Rio San Antonio is half of the Cerros del Norte Conservation Act — a bill sponsored by New Mexico’s senators, Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall. The legislation would create the 8,000-acre Rio San Antonio Wilderness and the 13,420-acre Cerro del Yuta (Ute Mountain) Wilderness at the far northern ends of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The bill made it out of committee and goes before the full Senate. While the BLM’s about-face on whether the Rio San Antonio is worthy of protection may seem like a contradiction, the explanation is a little more complex. While the stark landscape at San Antonio hasn’t changed much in thousands of years, the political landscape that could grant it wilderness status is constantly shifting. And so is the interpretation of what “wilderness” is and why it’s important. “Everything about wilderness designation is politics, and frankly, it always has been,” said Craig Allin, a professor of political science at Cornell College in Iowa and author of The Politics of Wilderness Preservation...more

Let's see, in 1991 a New Mexican, Manuel Lujan, was the Secretary of Interior (1989-1993). But what would the 20-year Congressman (1969-1989) know about NM lands?  Apparently not as much as the great gringos Udall & Heinrich. 

The $5.6 Billion Bird: How Will The Sage Grouse Fight End?

Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must decide by Sept. 30 whether to add the bird to its endangered species list, and it is a decision with billion-dollar consequences. Declaring the bird endangered would virtually shut down huge swaths of land to other uses in the 11 states the bird currently inhabits. That possibility has sparked a backlash from some Republicans and other pro-business proponents — who cite a well-regarded study that claims declaring the sage grouse as endangered would cost the U.S. more than $5.6 billion in annual economic output. Energy development, mining, oil and gas drilling and some forms of ranching all pose threats to the land inhabited by the sage grouse. Coal, natural gas, crude oil, and beef industries, to name a few, all stand to take a huge hit if the land is deemed off-limits to them. "When they listed the spotted owl in the Northwest, it literally devastated the counties and communities" that relied on the timber industry to fuel their economy, Joel Bousman, a Wyoming rancher and a Sublette County commissioner, told NPR earlier this summer. "Our fear here is it would have a similar impact on gas, grazing." "Everybody would have some level of impact," said Ed Arnett, a senior scientist with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a group dedicated to guaranteeing quality places to hunt and fish in the U.S. The Bureau of Land Management is one of many agencies, both federal and state, that has worked tirelessly for the past several years to rehabilitate the landscape and preserve habitat to prevent an endangered listing. Through the Sage Grouse Initiative, which partners with ranchers and businesses, the agencies have imposed land restrictions that are less harsh than the ones that would be in place if the endangered designation is approved, but still protect sagebrush. The colossal effort, said Ed Arnett of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a group dedicated to guaranteeing quality places to hunt and fish in the U.S., "is just unprecedented." "We've never seen anything quite like this," he said. "People are realizing that we can work together, collaborate, and come up with management practices to avoid the listing."...more

Here's a prediction:  Interior will not list the sage grouse and everyone will shout hosannas about a) how the Endangered Species Act really does work and doesn't need amending, and b) how wonderful everything would be if we'd all just "collaborate" with the enviros.

Feds: Sage Grouse face decline if wildfires can’t be stopped

If increasingly destructive wildfires in the Great Basin can’t be stopped, the sage grouse population will be cut in half over the next three decades, scientists say. A report released Thursday by the U.S. Geological Survey comes just ahead of a court-ordered Sept. 30 deadline faced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to decide whether sage grouse need protection under the Endangered Species Act. Experts say such a listing could damage Western states’ economies. “The sagebrush steppe and sagebrush ecosystem are in trouble,” said Matt Brooks, a fire ecologist with the USGS and one of the report’s authors. The study also identified potential ways to avert sage grouse declines by classifying areas for their resilience to disturbance and resistance to invasive species such as cheatgrass, and then applying suitable strategies. Public land managers have already been doing that, but the USGS report could fine tune those efforts. The report is also in line with an order by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in January calling for a new wildfire-fighting strategy using a “science-based” approach to protect wide swaths of the intermountain West sagebrush country that supports cattle ranching and struggling sage grouse. The study that examined 30 years of data up to 2013 found that burned areas near sage grouse breeding grounds nullified population growth that would normally occur after years with high precipitation. The study also looked ahead 30 years at projected wildfires and recovery rates of burned areas and predicted long-term population declines in the study area that included Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and California...more

The Big Sunshiny Lie


The important thing to know about solar and wind power, and other so-called “renewable” sources of energy, is that they aren’t necessary. Au the contraire, their dominance of the energy mix would be a disaster for the republic. Solar and wind create trifling amounts of power at a multiple of the cost of power made available by fossil fuels.

Increased reliance on pricy power from wind and solar would drive up the overall cost of energy, which in turn would drive up the cost of everything. EVERYTHING! Not just individual power bills, which would be bad enough. It takes energy to produce, transport, and market all the goods Americans take for granted. Even our service economy is a heavy user of energy.
Wind and solar power are also unreliable. The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. This isn’t going to change.

In a dystopian wind and solar economy, say goodbye to the supermarket, to pain-free dentistry, to air-conditioning, to the modern hospital, to night baseball. While you’re up, take the hood off your car and make it into a planter because you’ll no longer afford to drive it. A fossil-fuel-free America would become, in short order, a third-world country. Life would once again become nasty, brutish, and short. Or at least a damn sight more straitened than the prosperity contemporary Americans are used to and take as a given.

There is enough oil and gas underground in America to supply energy needs for centuries, if the Sierra Club and other Lexus Luddites would allow us to use it...

Most leftist politicians are another matter, less ignorant, more cynical and conniving. They cater to enviros and whoop us such frauds as global warming in order to increase their political power. The solution to global warming, and other environmental “problems,” is to tax and regulate, i.e. turn more political power over to government. Turn the decisions individuals and businesses have been making for centuries in the land of the free over to politicians and bureaucrats. Just what the Left has always wanted. Obama and his EPA are pushing this agenda at every level now, with very little resistance from Republicans, who, as usual, find themselves confused and cowed. In this instance by junk science that has proved popular with voters.

Right now, against all the available evidence and the urgings of good sense, the lefty alarmists hold the upper hand. A frightening number of Americans have been convinced that fossil fuels — the single thing most responsible for their long, healthy, prosperous, and easeful lives — are dirty, downright evil, and a danger to their very existence.