Saturday, January 02, 2016

The wild, wild West lives on in Utah bison herd

A four-footed remnant of the wild, wild West lives on in a remote mountain range in southern Utah. New genetic tests confirm what has long been suspected: a herd of bison in the Henry Mountains is one of the few surviving populations of pure American plains bison, a species that once dominated the Great Plains and the western United States by the millions. "When I say 'pure' I mean bison that have not been contaminated with cattle genes," said professor Johan du Toit of Utah State University's Department of Wildland Resources. "Most of the bison that are around today, particularly those on private land, are hybrids." The absence of cattle genes is not due to a lack of cross-breeding opportunities. The Henry Mountains bison roam freely in an area south of Hanksville where domestic ranch cattle also graze under permits from the Bureau of Land Management. In spite of that close proximity, it appears there has been no inter-breeding in the seven decades the bison have been there. Perhaps just as important: The Henry Mountains bison herd shows no signs of brucellosis. That disease has sparked decades of conflict with ranchers near Yellowstone National Park as purebred bison there have wandered out of the park in wintertime. Now that the Utah herd is shown to be not only purebred but disease-free, the herd could play a primary role in bringing back a magnificent species that was nearly wiped out in the 1800s...more

Here Is Your New Muslim Postage Stamp, America

It’s a brand new year, America, and the U.S. Postal Service has just introduced its annual batch of 2016 stamps. Among the stamps is a purple-and-gold stamp celebrating the two most significant festivals in Islam: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. The stamp’s gold calligraphy (by Mohamed Zakaria of Arlington, Va.) reads Eidukum mumbarak, which translates as: “May your Eid be bountiful (or blessed).” The stamp features no actual imagery other than the calligraphy and a few words in English...more

 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Oregon ranchers' fight with feds sparks militias' interest


By Les Zaitz

Rancher Dwight Hammond Jr. paused while loading cattle one recent day to listen to the fund-raising pitch.

Another rancher was  selling raffle tickets, raising money for local scholarships while working cattle southeast of town.

Hammond drew out his wallet and pulled out the only currency he had – a $100 bill. He bought five tickets, never asking for change.

Hammond has reached for his wallet a lot in this country. He and his ranch family have supported virtually every charitable activity there is around Harney County. They buy youngsters' animals at 4H sales. They host barbecues. They support the local senior center.

But now Hammond, 73, won't be a fixture in the community much longer. He's headed back to federal prison to serve nearly five years for arson. He will be joined by one of his sons, Steve, 46, who faces up to four years.

Their arrival in prison, scheduled for Monday, won't quiet the controversy that has swirled around their case for years.

The men were convicted of arson, but under a provision of an expansive federal law punishing terrorism. They each served prison terms that the sentencing judge thought just, only to be told by appellate judges they had to go back to serve longer.

Their case heightened debate about how the federal government runs its lands. The United States of America holds deed to three-fourths of Harney County. Ranching done for a century and more is under pressure from environmentalists, recreationalists, and hunters.

Across the country, there is deepened concern about how authorities apply justice. And the issue of how to use federal land affects anyone who has been to a national forest or a federal wildlife refuge.
The plight of the Hammonds has become a rallying call for one militia and patriot group after another. Men who see tyranny in federal acts are standing for the two men, though the Hammonds have said through their lawyers they want no part of the militancy.

The Hammonds, who built a solid reputation and a prosperous ranching outfit in Oregon's most remote corner over the past 50 years, are keeping quiet. They declined an interview request and didn't answer written questions about their ranching, their crimes, and their new protectors.
Instead, just before Christmas, they issued a family statement:

"Our family appreciates the support of our local community. We have lived here, raised our families here, invested our time here, and grown our ranching business here because of the shared values of community, land stewardship, and family. We hope to see those values continue for many generations to come."

The Grouse That Roared: Will Voluntary Conservation Efforts Work in the Intermountain West?




By Kendra Pierre-Louis

...Over a lunch of brisket, courtesy of local grass-fed cows, each rancher’s story unfurls in much the same way: with total acreage usually in the thousands, and then, when prodded, a breakdown based on leased Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land versus their privately owned acreages. It becomes subtly evident that they view the BLM land as their own although legally it’s public land leased for the public welfare. The checkerboard pattern which intercuts private land with public land, however, makes that distinction fuzzy, except in one critical way. Here in the arid intermountain west the private land has most of the water, as much as 70 percent by some estimates.

The ranchers subjecting themselves to this odd interrogation are members of Stewardship Alliance of Northeastern Elko (SANE) which member Robin Boies says, “Uses conflict management, a facilitated collaborative process, and sustainable agriculture techniques to improve habitat health while creating a new mythology for the west based on civil dialogue and long term solutions.” It’s a refreshing perspective coming just six hours north of Cliven Bundy country. SANE isn’t here to talk land, however, they’re here to talk sage grouse. But you can’t extirpate the sage grouse from the land and expect either to do well.

...In a 2011 settlement with environmental groups, the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) agreed to determine within four years whether the sage grouse warrants listing under the Endangered Species Act. If the sage grouse did not get listed, some feared the bird would go extinct. Yet listing itself offers no panacea: The northern spotted owl has been on the list since 1990 and its population continues to decline. The decision impacts at least 165 million acres across 11 states—California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming—that make up the sage grouse’s domestic range. As a result, the bird’s fate became a political football, with legislators as well as the agriculture and oil-and-gas industries, attempting to block the bird’s listing. In December 2014, Congress voted to withhold funding to implement any listing, which Western lawmakers say could limit the region’s avenues for economic development.

At the same time, states have poured millions of dollars into habitat protection, ranchers have altered ranching practices, fracking sites refrain from drilling near breeding grounds and wind sites have been redesigned—all to avoid impacting the sage grouse and avoid the need for listing.

These efforts have seemingly worked. On September 22, the FWS announced that it had determined the sage grouse did not require greater protection as a threatened or endangered species.

... It’s just after sunrise one Sunday morning in April, the air still has the bite of an early morning chill and a rancher drives me past wire fence lines marked every three to four feet with 4-inch pieces of white plastic. Sage grouse frequently fly to their death by colliding with the barbed wire fences that corral livestock. These markers make the fences visible to the sage grouse and a 2010 study funded by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game found that they reduce sage grouse mortality by 83 percent.


Robin and Steve Boies work hard to ensure their ranching practices are within the ecological limits of their land. They keep the size of their herds at a level that the land can support, grazing half the ranch at a time and resting the other half. They even employ cowboys to ensure the cattle stay where they’re supposed to, with the added benefit of keeping predators like coyotes away. The goal is to keep ranching while also protecting the land.

“In the 1980’s when we started this,” says Robin Boies, “we were in an absolute war with the BLM over grazing. But it doesn’t do my soul to be in conflict.”

Despite the opposition to cattle ranching by some environmental organizations, like the Western Watersheds Project, many ecologists no longer have a problem with ranching when properly practiced. Herbivores have always existed on grasslands, and a growing body of data has shown that appropriate grazing can improve wildlife habitat and plant species diversity. On the ridgeline, dots reveal themselves to be a herd of pronghorn, the fastest land animal in North America and the second fastest animal in the world. They’re the sole surviving descendants of an ancient family dating back 20 million years. Much of their range overlaps with that of the sage grouse, and like the sage grouse its numbers too have dwindled. Two subspecies, the peninsular pronghorn which resides in Baja California, and the Sonoran pronghorn which sticks to the Arizona’s Sonoran desert, are on the endangered species list. But here, cheatgrass seems far away and the sprawl of craggy hills is stippled with sagebrush.



‘Four Times Greater Than Solyndra': DOE Drops 1,200 Pages Of Heavily Redacted Docs On Green Energy Loans

The Department of Energy recently turned over more than 1,200 pages of heavily redacted documents in response to a records request about a subsidized biofuels company from The Daily Caller News Foundation. In October, TheDCNF filed a FOIA request with the Energy Department, asking for email records from government officials regarding federal loan guarantees given to Abengoa, a Spanish-based green energy company. The request came on the heels of reports Abengoa was running into big financial problems, despite being given generous taxpayer-backed loans. The DOE gave TheDCNF the records it requested Dec. 18, and after spending time reviewing the documents, it’s apparent there’s a lot of information the department did not want the public to see. The DOE redacted virtually all information specific to Abengoa — in many cases whole pages were blacked out. Reporters were mostly interested in Abengoa’s $400 million biofuels plant near Hugoton, Kansas. The company got a $132 million federal loan and a $97 million grant to build the plant, but after a year of operation the plant seemed to be having problems of its own. Despite the hype surrounding the plant, Abengoa has filed for bankruptcy and halted operations in Hugoton...more

Ranchers Turn to Facebook, Twitter to Find Cattle Stranded By Blizzard


Producers from New Mexico to Texas and Oklahoma have suffered losses of livestock due to the extreme weather. Snow has piled up in the region, leaving some cattle stranded and others wandering free. New Mexico dairy farmer Andle van der Ploeg says the drifts were so high at his dairy that the heifers just walked out of their pens. He's not the only one dealing with such issues. According to posts by ranchers and farmers on social media, there are cattle everywhere. While total livestock losses in the area have not been reported, officials are estimating that thousands of animals have died due to the snowstorm.  LINK

video - New Mexico ranchers take stock after record snow

Ranchers and dairy farmers in eastern New Mexico are taking stock of their animals in the wake of a record-setting storm that brought snow, icy and wind to much of the state in recent days. The head of the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association, Caren Cowan, says there's no way to tell how many cattle might be stranded. Cowan says the priority in the agriculture community has been getting roads in eastern New Mexico back open so people can get to their livestock. While 10-foot snow drifts have been reported in spots from Clovis south to Carlsbad, Cowan says strong winds have helped to clear some pastures. A report from an online agricultural news website says it's possible that tens of thousands of livestock will not survive the blizzard that ravaged southeast New Mexico over the weekend...more

Here's the KOB report:

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Militiamen, ranchers in showdown for soul of Burns

The strangers carrying the whisper of danger arrived in the vast territory of the Harney Basin just before the holidays. Ammon Bundy once helped his father repulse the government in an armed showdown on a Nevada desert. He was Tasered for his effort. Ryan Payne, an electrician from Montana, joined that same standoff and boasted of organizing civilians into sniper squads that drew a bead on federal agents. And not long ago, Jon Ritzheimer worried the FBI with his threatening rants against Muslims in Arizona and elsewhere. Now, the men say, they are in Burns to help Dwight and Steven Hammond. The Hammonds are father and son ranchers, due to report to federal prison on Monday. They were convicted in 2012 of arson for lighting public land on fire adjacent to their ranch land south of Burns. They have been imprisoned once and must return for an additional term after federal appellate judges said they had been illegally sentenced the first time...The Hammonds don't want to be part of the outsiders' cause, and neither do many in Harney County. But that hasn't stopped the strangers from summoning help from militia groups across the country. They are vague about their intention and their plans, unsettling the community and putting law enforcement on edge. The militia plan a rally and a parade on Saturday, circling the county courthouse that houses the sheriff's office...The Hammonds initially accepted the militia's offer of help to avoid 
prison, Bundy said. But the Hammonds changed their minds after being warned by federal prosecutors to stop communicating with the militia, Bundy wrote in a blog post. The Hammonds declined interview requests and didn't respond to written questions about their dealings with the militiamen. A Boise lawyer representing the Hammonds said in a letter to the sheriff that Bundy didn't speak for the ranchers and that they intended to surrender as required. Bundy and Payne and their associates are persisting, though. They explain in deliberate, calm tones their reasoning. The federal government claims title to most of the land in Harney County, the ninth largest county in the United States. Bundy and Payne maintain that Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution limits what the federal government can own, and that the government's claim to much of Harney County violates that limit. The federal government consequently has no authority to prosecute the Hammonds. Bundy and Payne, who said he has moved to Harney County, have pressed the matter on several fronts. They have insisted that Ward, the sheriff, protect the Hammonds. They have written other elected officials in the county and in Oregon asserting the same demand. Some residents have shown interest in the group's cause. Locals voted seven of their own onto a new Harney County Committee of Safety, including ranchers, a retired fire chief, and a tax preparer...more

A lengthy article, and as I post this there are over 3000 comments at the site linked to above.

King turns from hustling cotton to trailing longhorns

by Murphy Givens

After the end of the Civil War, Richard King and Mifflin Kenedy took action to reorganize their steamboat operations on the Rio Grande and their ranching enterprise on the Santa Gertrudis.

On the Rio Grande, they ordered four new steamboats. The third partner, Charles Stillman, withdrew and moved to New York, where he would became one of the world's richest men. King showed less interest in the steamboat business and more interest in converting grass into meat. "His heart was in ranching," Tom Lea wrote, "not in steamboating."

Two years after the war, King and Kenedy agreed to divide their ranch holdings, taking share and share alike, and part ways in the cattle business. An inventory was made and agreement signed on May 31, 1868, on the division. Kenedy purchased the Laureles tract from Charles Stillman's brother, Cornelius, while King became the sole proprietor of the Santa Gertrudis. But the two men remained close friends and allies.

Troubled times followed the war. Rustlers, hide thieves, and bandits worked the ranges, traveled the roads, and terrorized remote ranch houses. It was a lawless time. King Ranch kept lookouts atop a 75-foot watchtower on alert day and night. But away from the ranch house, on the vast ranch, there was no protection. Between 1866 and 1869, King reported the loss of 34,000 head of cattle.

South Texas ranchers, in the troubled times, appealed to Washington for protection. What they got in response was a congressional commission, the Robb Commission, to investigate and report on conditions on the border.

Richard King appeared before the commission, meeting in Brownsville, on Aug. 26, 1872. He testified about an incident three weeks before when he was leaving his ranch in a coach to appear before the commission. His coach was ambushed at San Fernando Creek, some 25 to 30 shots were fired, and a traveling companion, Franz Specht, was killed. King told the commissioners he believed the dozen or so attackers were bandits from Mexico.

The Robb Commission issued a long report about the violent conditions, but Washington did nothing else to solve the problem. Not until Texas turned loose Leander McNelly and his company of Texas Rangers to clean up the border country were peace and order restored.

While cattlemen were trying to cope with bandit alarms, they were sending huge herds of cattle up the trail to Kansas and from there by railroad to the beef markets of St. Louis and Chicago. A clipping from a Corpus Christi paper reported that, "James Bryden starts off with the first drove of cattle for the Kansas market, his herd consisting of 4,120 head from Nueces County." Bryden was a trail boss for King Ranch.

Tom Lea in "The King Ranch" described one trail drive in 1875. John Fitch, a ranch foreman, was in overall charge. In February and early March, the hands gathered 4,737 head, which were divided into four herds and road-branded for the trail. In July, the cattle were sold at Denison, thereby avoiding the necessity of trailing them another 400 miles to Abilene, Kansas. King's proceeds from this one sale, Lea wrote, amounted to $61,886. And this was only one of many such drives.

Clovis couple stranded under 12 feet of snow: ‘Don’t give up on us’

A New Mexico couple, trapped in their car for nearly 20 hours and buried under 12 feet of snow hoped the people on the outside wouldn’t give up. Betty and Jimmy Anderson said it was a close call. “We were battling a lot of tough odds,” Jimmy said. The couple left their Clovis home Saturday morning to make newspaper deliveries, but what they didn’t know is they wouldn’t make it back…at least that day. “We chose to do our county run and I got maybe five papers out before I decided we were going to turn around and go home,” Jimmy said. The couple was right in the middle of the storm that slammed most of the counties in eastern New Mexico. “I got about two-tenths of a mile and we just wound up in a ditch because I couldn’t see nothing,” he said. The two dialed 911 and were connected with city worker, Bill Kshir, who would stay in contact with them for nearly next 20 hours. Kshir let the couple know a crew was on the way, but crews across the county were having trouble making it down county roads. While Kshir was on the phone with the crew out searching for the couple, he also had Jimmy on another line trying to coordinate where to send searchers. At one point, the bulldozer ends up on top of the Anderson’s car. “All of a sudden we heard the rumbling of the bulldozer and I’m pretty sure it was the blade that hit the back windshield, Jimmy said. “It seemed as if he was running over us and we looked at each other and said, ‘The snow isn’t going to kill us, this bulldozer is.”...more

video - Roswell rancher talks about the impact left by severe weather

ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – There are a lot of ranch and farm families still snowed in near eastern New Mexico. One is the family of State Representative Candy Spence Ezzell west of Roswell. At their ranch, Spence Ezzell and her family are only about five miles west of the Roswell airport but they cannot get out and no one else can get in. Deep drifts have clogged the roads for miles. Their gas line went out, so now it’s firewood for heat. They can move around their main compound now, but the 170 head of cattle in a pasture to the west are on their own. The family cannot get feed to them nor do the daily winter chore of opening the water trough. The family did take the precaution of putting some hay out in the pasture before the storm hit, but they worry about the days ahead...more

Here is the KRQE video report:

Texas Targets EPA Smog Rule In Latest Suit

In another lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Texas is taking aim at tightened standards on ground-level ozone — President Obama’s effort to cut down on smog that chokes the nation’s skies.  An ozone standard finalized in October shrank the previous 75 parts per billion limits on ozone to 70 parts per billion, putting pressure on some regions in Texas that struggled to meet the previous standards. The rules aim to crack down on pollution coming from factories, power plants and vehicle tailpipes. Now, the state has launched a legal attack— its 23rd lawsuit against the EPA since Obama took office in 2009. Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the latest challenge, which he announced Monday, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week. “The EPA’s new ozone rule is not supported by scientific data,” Paxton, a Republican, said Monday in a statement. “Areas of the country that fail to comply with these impossible standards will be subject to costly new regulations that will harm our economy and kill jobs.”  A host of other states have filed separate challenges to the ozone rule. Among the states are Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin...more

Three Global Warming Stories The Media Don't Want You To See

...Let's start with a new paper from NASA — a distinctly American organization — that was covered by the British Express.

The newspaper tells us that our space program has "found the Earth has cooled in areas of heavy industrialization where more trees have been lost and more fossil fuel burning takes place."
This is, of course, the opposite of what we've been told for decades.

The Express reports that the findings confirm that the aerosols from fossil-fuel combustion "actually cool the local environment, at least temporarily," as they reflect "solar radiation away from the planet."

The same can be said about a study conducted by the Norwegian Polar Institute, which found "that there are probably more polar bears than the last time the bears were counted in this area in 2004, in spite of the fact that there have been many years with poor ice cover during this period." The American press doesn't want the public to know this because it throws into doubt the story it's been feeding us since the 1980s.

Remember, we have been told over and again that man-made global warming was a grave threat to polar bears, which are an endangered species.

Yet here's this study telling us that "scientists now estimate that there are around 975 polar bears in the Norwegian region, whereas they estimated a number of 685 in 2004," while another has found them to be in "excellent" condition, with some being "as fat as pigs."

...Finally, in an effort to deliver a public service that the mainstream media refuse to provide, we point out that the temperature data that supposedly show warming have been corrupted by poor positioning.

"The majority of weather stations used by (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to detect climate change temperature signal have been compromised by encroachment of artificial surfaces like concrete, asphalt and heat sources like air conditioner exhausts," says Anthony Watts, a former meteorologist who is the lead author of a study of temperature station locations.

Watts believes his work "demonstrates conclusively that this issue affects temperature trends and that NOAA's methods are not correcting for this problem, resulting in an inflated temperature trend."
As a result of this systematic error, Watt believes the U.S. temperature record needs to be revised.

Wolves and US military veterans help heal each others' post-traumatic stress

They've run in packs and suffered scarring life experiences, but a unique new programme matching military veterans with wolves is helping both man and animal to rebuild their lives. "Both misunderstood and disenfranchised" they find solace in each other, according to the Warriors and Wolves programme. Around 40 wolves and wolf-dogs live at the Lockwood Animal Rescue Centre, a sprawling 20-acre estate around 70 miles north of Los Angeles, California. At least 29 of the animals were rescued from Alaska where they were held in horrific conditions, chained to fences, only able to move a few yards at a time, unable to touch one another except when breeding, according to the Alaska Dispatch News. Others were bought as pets. After they began pairing the creatures with military veterans in 2009 US Navy veteran Mathew Simmons and clinical psychologist noticed the unique relationship was beneficial to both man and beast. "We started to see these miracles happening that we weren't seeing in a traditional clinical setting," Dr Linder said in a recent interview with NBC Los Angeles...more

Bloomberg Business: Executive Gun Control Coming ‘Soon After New Year’s Day’

On December 28 Bloomberg Business explained what form Obama’s executive action on gun control will take and predicted it will come “soon after New Year’s Day.”  Breitbart News previously reported that the executive gun control was expected to be an expansion of background checks to cover gun shows or to cover more private sales by changing the legal language relating to private gun owners who sell firearms from their “personal collection,” the way Americans have been doing since 1791. Bloomberg Business believes Obama has settled on going around Congress to expand background checks by changing the way current law covers private gun owners who sell guns. This approach allows Obama to kill two birds with one stone by expanding background checks to cover more private sales in a way that will also expand checks to private sellers at gun shows.  Breitbart News previously reported that the executive gun control was expected to be an expansion of background checks to cover gun shows or to cover more private sales by changing the legal language relating to private gun owners who sell firearms from their “personal collection,” the way Americans have been doing since 1791. Bloomberg Business believes Obama has settled on going around Congress to expand background checks by changing the way current law covers private gun owners who sell guns. This approach allows Obama to kill two birds with one stone by expanding background checks to cover more private sales in a way that will also expand checks to private sellers at gun shows...more

New Mexico dairies hit hard by Goliath

The big storm which rolled through the middle of the country on Monday did a lot of damage to the dairy industry in New Mexico last weekend. Dr. Robert Hagevoort with New Mexico State University Extension says they got one-to-two feet of fine, dusty snow driven by 40-to-50 mile per hour north winds with gusts over 65 mph. That created drifts up to 14 feet tall, burying calf hutches and cow shelters. The drifts were packed so tightly, cows could walk on top of them right over fences. The storm lasted 48 hours. They are now scrambling to dig out, uncovering hutches, opening feeding lanes and other buildings. Death loss estimates have been as high as 20,000 animals but those are just estimates. They are finding that many of the calves in the buried hutches survived. Hagevoort says there were a lot of cows that didn’t get milked for a couple of days because they couldn’t get to the parlor or they had wandered-off. Adding to the problem, a number of dairy farms had to dump milk for a couple of days because the milk trucks couldn’t get through...more

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

EPA Gets Americans 129 Years Of Jail Time As Agency Workers Go Unpunished After Spilling Toxic Mine Waste

by Michael Bastasch

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcers helped convict 185 Americans of environmental crimes this year, with each of these eco-convicts getting sentenced to eight months in prison on average for crimes ranging from biofuel fraud to illegally removing asbestos.

EPA enforcement data for 2015 shows the agency opened 213 environmental cases which resulted in 185 people convicted and sentenced to 129 years in prison. EPA has been opening fewer cases in recent years to focus more on “high impact” cases.

Every year, EPA agents help put dozens of Americans in prison for breaking U.S. environmental laws. Environmental crimes range from spilling coal ash into public waterways, to pretending to produce biofuels, to illegally cleaning up asbestos in buildings. 

EPA’s criminal enforcements also raked in “individual and corporate fines over $88.0 million, with an additional $4 billion in court ordered environmental projects and $112 million in restitution.”

Interestingly enough, EPA has not fined or jailed anyone for the spilling of three million gallons of mine wastewater in August. That month, EPA workers opened up the Gold King Mine and sent a toxic plume of mine waste though rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Toxic mine waste even went through Navajo Nation territory and resulted in farms having their water supplies shut off.

Republican lawmakers were quick to criticize EPA for not taking any disciplinary action against contractors or employees involved in the Colorado mine spill. Lawmakers noted that while EPA drags its feet, a private company, like Duke, would have been fined quickly if it had spilled mine waste.

The Department of the Interior’s outside review of the spill incident found EPA could have avoided a blowout if it had taken precautions agency workers had used while opening other sealed Colorado mines.

Interior found that had the agency used “a drill rig to bore into the mine from above” to open Gold King “the mine would have been revised, and the blowout would not have occurred.”

The EPA has taken responsibility for the spill, but still hasn’t taken actions against agency workers who opened up the mine mouth. In fact, lawmakers are worried the agency is trying to taint a federal investigation into the spill.

Counties cry foul over Sandoval-Jewell grouse deal

It sounded like one of those win-win situations that are so hard to find when divvying up public lands in the West. A rural Nevada town near the Utah line would get to build their new water storage tank, and federal land managers would make sure it was done in a way that didn’t harm sage grouse in the high desert nearby. But now county officials are crying foul. They say they were snookered by a deal — privately brokered by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell — that is impossible to carry out given a tiny four-month window for construction otherwise prohibited during breeding and nesting seasons. Lawyers for White Pine, Elko, Eureka and six other Nevada counties say it proves that the Bureau of Land Management planning amendments the Obama administration insists are necessary to continue to keep the bird off the list of endangered species are both illegal and impractical. “The one size-fits-all seasonal constraints ... mean that in situations like this where BLM must balance sage-grouse protection with public health and safety, the agency’s hands are tied,” they said in federal court filings in Reno this week. Sandoval has urged a more cooperative approach in trying to work with the administration since Jewell announced in September she was denying the greater sage grouse protection under the Endangered Species Act. He criticized his own attorney general, Republican Adam Laxalt, for backing the counties’ lawsuit. Sandoval met privately with Jewell for more than an hour at the Western Governors’ Association annual meeting in Las Vegas on Dec. 4, then told reporters during a hastily called news conference that night they had reached agreement on a number of fronts, including the water tank in Baker. Laura Granier, lead attorney for the counties, said Baker and White Pine County officials were kept in the dark until the two politicians announced to the media they had “negotiated a resolution.” “Secretary Jewell and Governor Sandoval have orchestrated what at first appeared to be the ... happy ending to a vexing situation for BLM,” she wrote in a brief filed Wednesday. “However, upon closer examination, BLM’s fast-tracked ... amendment contains rigid and unworkable seasonal constraints that impose several months of delay and only give Baker four months to complete a 12-month project.” Officials in neighboring Eureka County say the side deal on the water tank does nothing to address concerns about the impact of grouse protections on their own water development plans. They urged Sandoval join the lawsuit intended to force the government to develop a protection scheme based on plans developed...more

Feds, states, scientists push for new Mexican wolf recovery plan

Officials from the Four Corners states and Mexico, along with independent scientists, gathered in Arizona this month for a closed-door meeting with the U.S. government that could set the tone for the Mexican wolf recovery effort going forward. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, tasked with reintroducing the Mexican wolf in New Mexico and Arizona, is embarking again on an effort to write a recovery plan that will serve as a road map to eventually removing the lobo from the endangered species list. The four-day meeting on a ranch outside Tucson, confirmed to the Journal by Fish and Wildlife, capped a tense year between the service and New Mexico after the state Game Commission tried to block wolf releases and the service responded by saying it would use its federal authority to go forward with the recovery program anyway. “The purpose of the workshop was to identify a way forward in our developing of a revised Mexican wolf recovery plan,” said Fish and Wildlife spokesman Jeff Humphrey in an emailed response to questions. “We didn’t focus on developing consensus; just gathering of scientific information and identifying where there is consensus and divergence among participants.” Fish and Wildlife has convened recovery planning teams on three occasions since the original – now badly outdated – recovery plan was released in 1982, but all three efforts fell apart for one reason or another. The December workshop brought together representatives from state game agencies, field biologists and representatives of Mexican federal natural resources agencies, Humphrey said. The governors of the Four Corners states – New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah – sent an eight-page letter in November, obtained by the Journal, to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Fish and Wildlife Director Daniel Ashe expressing “serious concerns” about how the service intends to develop a recovery plan for the Mexican wolf. Chief among them are the extent of the range where wolves may roam and the number of wild wolves required before the species may be removed from the endangered list. “The service does not have any predetermined outcomes for the revised recovery plan, and we are looking forward to working with participants in a collaborative fashion,” Humphrey said. “The issues raised in the governors’ letter will continue to be considered as we move forward with the revision of the Mexican wolf recovery plan.” The governors also underscored their position that the majority of the recovery effort should occur in Mexico, not the southwestern U.S...more

The guv and Interior Secretary meet secretly on the sage grouse, fed and state officials meet secretly on the mexican wolf.  When it comes to endangered species, why all the secrecy?

Congress should secretly convene and do away with the ESA.

The Yellowstone of the Future



...The federal government’s creation and protection of vast, iconic places largely came to a halt in the mid-1950s. But there is a new model for conserving large, ecologically valuable landscapes and the wildlife that depends on them — one that does not rely on lobbying for government action and funding. It is a hybrid, combining existing public lands with private resources and a businesslike approach to securing land, restoring wildlife and benefiting people.

It is being applied in places like Mozambique, for example, where the philanthropist Greg Carr is working to rebuild Gorongosa National Park and the communities that surround it through a public-private partnership between the Mozambique government and the Gorongosa Restoration Project; and in South America at Conservacion Patagonica, founded by the conservationists Kris and the late Doug Tompkins, which is purchasing land to create new national parks for the people of Argentina and Chile.

Here in the United States, on Montana’s northern Great Plains, American Prairie Reserve is using this model to build our nation’s first large-scale 21st-century park. Rather than seeking government financing, we are raising private funds to purchase approximately 500,000 acres in order to link them with the area’s existing three million acres of public lands. When complete, this landscape will be roughly the size of Connecticut, privately funded, endowed and managed for the benefit of wildlife and people.

Those who use this model will identify ecosystems in need of conservation and engage private individuals or organizations that leverage public resources to carve out protected areas. The grasslands of northeast Montana are a priority for conservation because of their extraordinary biodiversity and large percentage (almost 90 percent) of intact native prairie. It is one of the few landscapes left that bears some semblance to what Lewis and Clark witnessed about 200 years ago when they passed through.

 The success of private-public conservation projects depends on incorporating private lands. These lands, especially in the American West, are critical because they are at low elevations and surround rivers and streams — key travel corridors for wildlife. Many of the West’s existing protected areas were chosen for their geologic and scenic values, rather than their ability to support wildlife.

...Increasing wildlife populations is a sociological problem. Ranchers are asked to bear some of the costs without seeing benefits and hence view wildlife as a threat to their economic security. To change this dynamic, we’ve started a for-profit beef company selling a brand called Wild Sky, a business that fits well with the state’s ranching culture — and culture is an important variable often overlooked by conservationists.




Here’s how it works. Wild Sky ranchers agree to modify their operations in accordance with our conservation goals by, for example, not tilling native prairie or killing prairie dogs. In return Wild Sky pays them a premium when they sell their cattle. Much like a frequent-flier program, ranchers choosing to do more receive higher payments. For example, we install camera traps on ranchers’ land and offer payment for photos of species we wish to restore, like mountain lions and bears.

This business is only a year old and yet has been profitable since August, selling about 50,000 pounds of beef per month across the country. And Wild Sky is not our only for-profit venture. For several years the High West Distillery, headquartered in Park City, Utah, has produced American Prairie Bourbon, giving 10 percent of the profits on this label to our nonprofit. The hybrid conservation model allows this sort of experimentation to augment traditional fund-raising.

This is done to create a critical habitat for a variety of species, including our nation’s most iconic animal, the American bison. With a decade of bison management under our belt, most of our neighbors consider our herd of more than 600 an excellent example of how bison can be managed naturally on a large landscape with little to no negative effect on nearby livestock operations.

Pete Geddes is a managing director of the American Prairie Reserve.


Monday, December 28, 2015

UN Chief Praises America’s Greatest Environmentalist: George W. Bush

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised former Republican President George W. Bush for kickstarting efforts to put together a global agreement to fight global warming. “That was the beginning of our success,” Ban told The Associated Press Saturday, referring to Bush’s attendance of U.N. global warming talks in 2007. After refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the U.S. changed its policy in 2007 and began seriously talking about entering into a global climate treaty, according to Ban. The U.N. chief said he was “very much grateful” to Bush for being open to a treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions. “Suddenly, you came to my mind. Then I told the delegation head, ‘Do what the secretary-general of the U.N. wants to do,’” Bush allegedly told Ban in 2007.  United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised former Republican President George W. Bush for kickstarting efforts to put together a global agreement to fight global warming. “That was the beginning of our success,” Ban told The Associated Press Saturday, referring to Bush’s attendance of U.N. global warming talks in 2007. After refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the U.S. changed its policy in 2007 and began seriously talking about entering into a global climate treaty, according to Ban. The U.N. chief said he was “very much grateful” to Bush for being open to a treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions. “Suddenly, you came to my mind. Then I told the delegation head, ‘Do what the secretary-general of the U.N. wants to do,’” Bush allegedly told Ban in 2007. Ban’s comments are probably surprising because they rub against the stereotype of Republicans being opposed to international global warming regulations. Ban’s account also contradicts statements made by Bush’s top U.N. negotiator Paula Dobriansky in 2007, who said “she [Dobriansky] changed her mind because of pleas from smaller countries and not instructions from Washington,” according to The Hill...more

Republicans split on attacking climate science

The Republican Party is divided over whether to attack the science of climate change when opposing liberal policies. Many of the most vocal Republicans say they have significant problems with the scientific consensus that the Earth is warming and that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity is the main cause. The skeptics include presidential hopefuls Ben Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.) and Rep. Lamar Smith (Texas), both chairmen of committees overseeing environmental issues. But others in the GOP aren’t interested in litigating the science. They say it’s more important — and far easier — to show that Democratic climate proposals would be disastrous to the economy and kill jobs. The split comes as more and more voters, particularly young people and minorities, say in opinion polls that they believe climate change is real and want action to fight it. Democrats have lined up firmly behind that view, with President Obama set to implement carbon dioxide limits for power plants that amount to the most significant action yet by the federal government to fight climate change. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said that since science underpins climate change policies, it’s important to examine it in detail. “We know that there’s an ideological obsession to advance on this global warming agenda,” said Sessions. “Good policy should reflect the best science that we have. But a lot of the predictions that were confidently made have not occurred,” he said, pointing to predictions of temperature increases and storm activity that he said did not pan out. Freshman Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who leads a loose coalition of 11 House Republicans who say they believe that human activity is changing the climate, went even further. He said efforts such as Cruz’s climate denial hearing and Smith’s investigation into climate research at a federal agency are a waste of time. “I think it’s likely a poor investment,” he said. “We should instead invest resources and time into coming up with conservative, market-driven solutions for the challenges posed by climate change.”...more

Top 11 Problems Plaguing Solar And Wind Power

by Andrew Follett

 Despite President Barack Obama’s pocket veto Saturday of attempts to repeal the Clean Power Plan and recent increases in taxpayer support, solar and wind energy are in a tough spot, requiring an estimated $90 trillion of investment to meet carbon dioxide reduction goals.
The fundamental issues of solar and wind power are numerous, so let’s review the top 11.

1: Power Storage Is Incredibly Expensive On A Large Scale 
It is currently impossible to economically store power for times when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Purchasing enough batteries to provide just three days of storage for an average American household costs about $15,000, and those batteries only last for about five years and are very difficult to recycle.


This is true for home power storage as well, even with the latest batteries. A Tesla power-wall capable of powering a home costs $7,340 to buy. A conservative analysis estimates that a power-wall can save its owner a maximum of $1.06 a day. Such a system would take approximately 25 years to pay for itself, according to the same analysis.

One of the world’s largest and most powerful batteries, located in Fairbanks, Ala., weighs 1,300-metric tons and is larger than a football field. It can only provide enough electricity for about 12,000 residents, or 38 percent of Fairbanks’ population, for seven minutes. That’s useful for short outages, which happen a lot in Alaska, but isn’t effective enough to act as a reserve for solar and wind.
The best way we have of “storing” power is pumping water up a hill, which actually accounts for 99 percent of all global energy storage.

2: The U.S. Power Grid Is Older, And Has Trouble Handling Solar And Wind

“Our power grid works well today. Some complain, but blackouts are rare and large-scale blackout are really rare. The power grid was set up for the [electrical] generation we have. Building a lot of new wind and solar requires much greater expenditure on the grid,” Vice President for Policy of the Institute for Energy Research Daniel Simmons told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
According to the Department of Energy, 70 percent of the transmission lines and power transformers in the country are at least 25 years old.


Damage from Sinking Land Costing California Billions

A canal that delivers vital water supplies from Northern California to Southern California is sinking in places. So are stretches of a riverbed undergoing historic restoration. On farms, well casings pop up like mushrooms as the ground around them drops. Four years of drought and heavy reliance on pumping of groundwater have made the land sink faster than ever up and down the Central Valley, requiring repairs to infrastructure that experts say are costing billions of dollars. This slow-motion land subsidence — more than one foot a year in some places — is not expected to stop anytime soon, experts say, nor will the expensive repairs. "It's shocking how a huge area is affected, but how little you can tell with your eye," said James Borchers, a hydro-geologist, who studies subsidence and says careful monitoring is necessary to detect and address sinking before it can do major damage to costly infrastructure such as bridges and pipelines. Land subsidence is largely the result of pumping water from the ground. As aquifers are depleted, the ground sags. The most severe examples today are in San Joaquin Valley, where the U.S. Geological Survey in 1975 said half of the land is prone to sinking. USGS researchers later called it one of the "single largest alterations of the land surface attributed to humankind."...more

Rangeland faces challenges with climate change

Fighting the effects of climate change in Great Basin rangeland is drawing together federal, state and private interests to deal with what scientists say is greater weather variability causing big swings in forage available for cattle and wildlife. Biomass can triple some years or see declines just as great, experts say, and native vegetation in the region that has survived climate variations for tens of thousands of years now faces challenges from invasive species and wildfires. In the politically red state of Idaho, though, arguments over global warming are generally avoided. “Forget that, we need to mitigate and act,” said John Freemuth, a Boise State University professor and public lands expert. Of the many efforts underway, he’s leading one with a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to bring together federal, state and tribal entities to find ways to reduce the severity of rangeland wildfires. The most significant change follows an order by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in January elevating the importance of rangeland wildfires when it comes to assigning resources. Ranchers have signed up to fight rangeland fires, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is experimenting with targeted grazing to reduce fuel and create firebreaks in some areas. But some ranchers have had to pull cattle off grazing allotments when food ran out early due to lack of moisture. In Southwest Idaho and Southeast Oregon, a giant rangeland fire last summer will keep ranchers off grazing allotments for years. “As we think about climate change, I think we do need to consider what does this mean for our ranching community and how are we going to adapt going forward,” said Janice Schneider, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management. “A healthy economy and healthy ecosystem are inextricably linked.”...more

New Year's Eve BBQ Dinner & Dance


On the air: Low-power radio stations give New Mexico communities a voice

Video, DVDs, the Internet, even the iPhone haven’t killed it. Radio is alive and well and thriving in a new form in New Mexico’s rural hinterlands and its biggest urban center. Low-power FM radio is giving communities like Placitas and Madrid a chance to showcase the talents of local musicians, artists and writers and play an eclectic mix of tunes that seldom hit the airwaves on mainstream stations. Radio stations broadcasting at a power of 100 watts or less whose signal can reach only a few miles have been around legally or illegally since the late 1940s. The latest wave of stations to open stems from the 2011 Local Community Radio Act that resulted in the Federal Communications Commission giving nonprofits a chance to apply for licenses during a one-month period in the fall of 2013. Folks in Central New Mexico who had been waiting for the opportunity to get a license pounced. Powdrell’s station 99.9 KMGG went live in mid-2014 as The Beat. The Placitas station KUPR 99.9 first broadcast in May this year and Madrid’s 96.9 KMRD followed in mid-June. “It’s something that people around here have been wanting for a long time,” said Stella Linder Byrne, Madrid’s station manager...more

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Follow the North star

by Julie Carter

For centuries and long before time was recorded, our ancestors used the stars for their navigation around the globe.

Fixing the location of the North Star in the night sky, they would head out in that direction in the morning, slay a mastodon or two and return by evening. The Vikings, and later Columbus, after Isabella sold her jewelry for him to get to America, navigated by sextants and the constellations to maintain a course on uncharted waters.

It could be speculated that the Indians that greeted the New World travelers on the eastern shores of America, had ancestors that got there by crossing the Alaskan land bridge following the migration of reindeer, using the North Star for a point of reference.

The new Americans followed the stars across the country from Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and even some from Yankee territory, to the open ranges of Texas and the gold fields of California and the Rocky Mountains. They came with dreams of riches and a new life on the frontier.

The estimated 13 million cattle driven from South Texas to Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas and Montana were guided by a cowboss' fixation on the North Star at night to give direction in the daylight. Later cattle drives could simply follow the trail left by the earlier herds, but they were still capable of star navigation when the need arose.

Since the time of man, it has been known that in the winter, the run rises in the southeast and sets in the southwest.  In the summer, it rises in the northeast and goes down in the northwest, making the transition at the equinox. The stars shift slightly with the changing of the seasons.

Since then, we have this wondrous invention for our most popular mode of transportation - the automobile. OnStar is the push-a-button technology that puts you in touch with a voice to tell you where you are, where you need to go, call for emergency help and a plethora of other options. This is secondary only to the directions given by Siri or other wizards in your cell phone. This issue there is, you need cell service for them to work.

Recently, a member of the cowboy set partnered with the bank to own a new pickup truck that came fully loaded with gadgets, digital bells and whistles and, yes, even OnStar.  Manfully, he mastered the owner's manual and learned how to operate this wondrous vocal guide, determined to become a member of the modern generation.

One of the first opportunities to use it came when he ventured across the cattle guard and even a few county and state lines, to compete at the U.S. Team Roping Championships in Oklahoma City. He purposed to use for the first time his new navigational system.

His wife, not so sure about the technology, brought her along her worn, but trusted Rand McNally. The new Onstar was activated at departure time, and gave vocal directions at every highway change, telling the cowboy which direction and highway number to take.

He later reported that the helpful instruction by the insistent voice was wrong at each and every turn. "It was like having my mother-in-law in the back seat," he said.

When he turned into the parking lot of the arena in OKC, the Onstar voice told him, "go 12.2 miles east and you will be there."
The cowboy didn't bother to turn on the OnStar guide for his trip home. He decided the stars and Rand McNally would get him there just fine.

Wise cowboys in all seasons are known to be guided by the stars. In this season, we are a reminded of the navigational star that led some other wise men, mounted on camels, along with a few sheepherders, to Bethlehem.

The Star of Bethlehem was the miraculous sign that told the world of the birth of the Christ and led the magi to the stable where they presented Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

It was not the only navigational tool in the history of the world, but surely the most important one. May you all have a blessed Christmas season and keep your eyes on the heavens.

Julie, who is frequently lost in thought and beyond the help of OnStar and can’t afford Siri, can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com.

The Gift that will keep (taking)!

Momentous conundrums
The Gift that will keep (taking)!
Open Rebellion
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Tyson sang it with the “Dutchman and the hoots and (the) assorted galoots” congregated at the UFA. We must assume the weather was typical springtime Alberta with ice and snow warnings converging from yesterday’s clear skies on HWY 2. The subject of the ditty was what every cowman that ever lived … lived by.
         
          It’s moisture
          Moisture, eh?
          Throughout the land you hear the old refrain
          It’s moisture … By god we’ll take it.
          We may never have this much of it again!
           
Dateline Washington
            The boys and girls that ostensibly represent you and me made quick work of the omnibus spending package last week. They ran it all down to the last day before they voted for their campaign war chests and we bought their airline tickets home for the holidays. Well, most went home for the holidays. Others headed for state junkets to various and exotic locales in order to become acquainted with the local flora and fauna for the purposes of crafting future theoretical legislative packages that will add to their legacy. One thing is certain, though. Our dimes will become increasingly less dear.
            $1.15 Trillion is their number.
            The real legacy of the snotty nosed crew that voted for the behemoth is that their names shall be indelibly inscribed on the $20 trillion national debt monument they’ve guaranteed. No longer will they be able to bubble words out just condemning your president. They are willing sponsors and direct contributors to this accelerating national disaster.
            Bipartisan spending package was the headline from the local liberal rag. When the progressive partisans applaud so called bipartisan voters, an automatic shock of horrors always emerges, and it did. Many of us immediately started searching the vote tally. We found that 150 House Republicans voted for it. We found 18 Democrats voted against it along with 95 Republicans.
This president got everything he wanted.
On second thought, maybe that is an unfair statement because he didn’t get the official total annihilation of the Republican Party nor did he get the revocation of the Second Amendment outright, but he got enough to climb aboard Air Force I with a big smile on his face singing meh-leh kah-lee-kee-mah-kah on his air voyage home to the Islands.
Think about the relief he must feel. His agenda is fully sanctioned by congressional vote. Every agency under his command was given a vote of confidence and their budgets were funded. More insidious, no policy riders are now attached to his administrative agenda that could hamstring any action he now plans for public lands, energy, and wildlife programs.
His legacy is firmly reaffirmed by the vote. He not only can play golf and drink beer with holiday acclamation he can now contemplate how he will dismember the recreant and milquetoast Republicans, and … hasten their political extinction.
Agreement with Sessions
We, the legal American citizenry, are looking for leadership that protects us. The action of this congress doesn’t even come close to the expectation implicit in the vote of 2014 when republicans surged to majorities in both chambers.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) suggests it is a total disenfranchisement of the American tax payers and he is correct. He reminds us all it will not only give this president full authority to bring in 170,000 foreign born refugees from Muslim countries in the next 12 months it gives him unlimited authority to act beyond that number.
It will also affect the current allowance of seasonal green card holders that are so important in the vital harvest of a great deal of our vegetable and fruit supplies. Those agricultural based labor allocations will be displaced by refugees whose net contribution will be direct reliance on our welfare programs.
This is a debacle.
Nearly 85% of Americans are demanding our borders be controlled to curtail the flood of undocumented illegals. Their demands were ignored. The tax credits approved in the tax extender portion of the action will allow new entrants to file tax returns and receive a refund without paying a dime in taxes. They will be able to take deductions for children not even residing in our country. The lines will now get longer!
Essentially every program that suppresses freedoms in the West except the export of oil was supported.
The funding for sanctuary cities, resettlement of refugees, funding the Endangered Species Act and Planned Parenthood, acceptance of the WOTUS rule, sanctioning the Red River land grab, purchasing more private property in the West, expanding most agency budgets, and extending the tax credits for terminally deficient green energy dreams were all supported.
Sessions closed by suggesting it is little wonder that American taxpayers are reaching the critical mass of open rebellion. This congress chose to double down on the things that are destroying our system.
Is incredulity the correct word or … is it simply disgust?
Heavy Reading
My King James Version of the Bible has 1528 pages.
In my heart of hearts, I am convinced its translation in 1611 was prepared with profound reverence for the Word of my Savior and with deep appreciation of the wise traditions established by those devoted folks who undertook the task. The night after the vote I vowed again to commence a full reading of it. I will follow the recommended plan. It will take a full year of concentration and study.
The congressional representative who took the vow to support the Constitution in his or her actions had three days to read the Omnibus package before they voted on its content. It was something like 2009 pages with another 233 pages of a tax extender bill.
The only folks who really know what is in this miscarriage of courage are the policy wonks and special interest emissaries who crafted the components, and they don’t know what is included aside from their targeted agendas. There was no profound reverence for the Law of our Land, the Constitution. The traditions that were adhered to were the special interest demands that accompany the campaign contributions to the elected leadership.
The only special interest that wasn’t represented was the American people.
Ted Cruz acknowledged such in his prepared statement following the vote. “… we witnessed the Washington Cartel in action yet again … working for big businesses and lobbyists, rather that the American people … this time in the form of a $1.1 Trillion, 2000 plus page spending bill. This big-government bill demonstrates that we have a government of the lobbyist, by the lobbyists, and for the lobbyist.
Donald Trump jumped on the bandwagon with his own statement. “If anyone needed more evidence of why the American people are suffering at the hands of their own government, look no further than the budget deal by Speaker Ryan. In order to avoid a government shutdown, a cowardly threat from an incompetent President (and one of every three Americans who now depend directly on government for subsistence), the elected Republicans in Congress threw in the towel and showed absolutely no budget discipline.
We, the American people, will continue to be the cabinet that is robbed to pay the special interest piper. Especially in the West where the wolf is already at our doorsteps, we will endure higher deficits, greater debt, less and less economic liberty, and the rampage of accelerating special interest payoffs. Our children will leave our communities because they can’t find jobs, there will be a growing polarity of old and young in those communities, and we will lose ground on every matter of equal footing between regional and national political and constitutional haves and have-nots.
Epilogue
 It’s supposed to snow this week end. If we could get Tyson to join us down here in a cow town saloon in one of the few remaining bastions of our diminishing West, we’d sing his songs. In fact, we’d even drink to our existence by graciously accepting the moisture.
We’d also join in singing three part harmony with his coyote ditties. We’d end with the plight we find ourselves:

Well the cowboy is a conundrum
A contradiction in this age
Well he says he’s doing fine
On the poverty line
With a working cowboy’s wage
The whiskey bottle costs 13 bucks
The big prairies moon is free
So who is the dumber son of a bitch
The little coyote or (us … the American citizenry)?

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “We are confounded by Congress. The debt was a matter of major campaign discussion. The border and amnesty were similar points of contention. They will surface again as reelection nears. We will no doubt hear the promises all over again, but those who voted for this bill have breached a trust that will be hard if not impossible to recapture. Is there little wonder candidates outside of politics are receiving favor?”

I had high hopes for the Ryan Speakership, only to have them dashed by this "deal".

The real conundrum is why anyone would vote for this, especially a so-called conservative in the Republican leadership.  As Rush Limbaugh recently said, despite Republicans controlling “the largest number of seats in the House they’ve had in Congress since the Civil War,” on this bill they’ve sold the country “down the river.”

Environmentalists Horde Cash Like Scrooge Over Christmas


By Andrew Follett

The Sierra Club released a “holiday” poem Tuesday attacking political opposition for being well funded, but during Christmas environmental groups historically act like Ebenezer Scrooge and rake in billions.

In 2012, The Sierra Club took in $97.8 million with its Foundation getting another $47.2 million. For example, despite Greenpeace celebrating “the holidays” by running a gift shop with environmentally-themed holiday cards, the organization uses the season to solicit donations of up to $200,000. These money-making methods allowed Greenpeace to spend $260 million dollars in 2011.

The same year, the Environmental Defense Fund listed $111.9 million in earnings, the Natural Resources Defense Council took in $98,7 million, the National Audubon Society took in $96.2 million, and the National Wildlife Federation got $84.7 million.

At least $23 million of this tidal wave of green cash came from organizations tied to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which has a vested interest in preventing America from accessing its oil and natural gas.

The more than 26,500 American environmental groups collected more than $10.5 billion in 2014 alone, according to Giving USA Institute. The Institute also notes the amount of money donated to environmental groups is growing faster than for any other “charity.”

Meanwhile, opposition to global warming activism is the Tiny Tim to alarmist Scrooges. The 91 conservative think tanks only raised $46 million for global warming or environmental related projects according to analysis by Forbes. That’s almost six times less than Greenpeace alone and that money isn’t diluted by addressing other issues like economic policy or health care policy.

Greenpeace has heavily criticized Koch Industries for allegedly sending a mere $79 million to anti-alarmist groups since 1997. Greenpeace took in three times that amount in a single year.

Revealed: How environmentalists were allowed to draft Obama's White House energy policy

By David Martosko

President Barack Obama’s aggressive and controversial Climate Action Plan grew out of a draft proposal from one of America's richest environmental activist groups, it emerged Monday.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which spent $41 million of its $210 million nest egg last year pushing for changes in energy policy, circulated a 110-page document in 2012 that outlined what would become the president's latest salvo in the global-warming wars.

Now that the Obama administration has adopted the green-group's plan, the NRDC's insider status is widely seen as an in-your-face response to oil, gas and coal companies that had a seat at the table 13 years ago when then-Vice President Dick Cheney convened meetings in secret to chart future energy policy.

While the Bush administration focused on extracting as much energy out of the ground as legally possible, the current White House's policy is to erect roadblocks in the path of 'big coal' while rewarding alternative energy speculators with loan guarantees and other sources of public funds.

The NRDC's proposal departed from the green movement's previous one-size-fits-all approaches, allowing states to determine how to meet stringent carbon-emission targets while drawing them all toward the central goal of squeezing coal-generated electricity to the margins of the U.S. national power picture.

As with the Obamacare law, however, state-based solutions could result in a patchwork quilt of crisscrossing rules that aggravate tensions between businesses and the White House, while opening up the floodgates for a wealth of legal avenues by lawsuit-waving opponents.

Environmental Protection Agency regulators were among a narrow group of stakeholders who got private briefings on the proposal beginning in 2012, and based their eventual written rules on what they heard.

'Once enacted,' The New York Times reported on Monday, the new EPA regime 'could do far more than just shut down coal plants; it could spur a transformation of the nation’s electricity sector.'

Such a wholesale shift is high on the list of NRDC's priorities, and its three activists who wrote the proposal – and frequently advocate for green policies with government agencies – had all the resources they wanted to pull it off, according to an NRDC insider.