Saturday, April 16, 2016

NatGeo show features Navajo family from Farmington

A new episode of the National Geographic Channel series "The Story of God with Morgan Freeman" that airs Sunday will feature a Farmington family and familiar sites around Shiprock. The six-part series explores religions across the globe. It premiered April 3, and new episodes air each Sunday. Sunday’s episode will show viewers portions of the Kinaaldá, the womanhood ceremony for Navajo girls. Executive producer James Younger said filming took place near the Shiprock pinnacle in late November with actor Morgan Freeman, whose production company, Revelation Entertainment, produced the series with the National Geographic Channel. Freeman traveled to locations around the world to explore different cultures and religions to uncover the meaning of life, God and explain the similarities among different faiths. The series focuses on "looking at religion in a unifying way," Younger said in a telephone interview Thursday. Sunday's episode — "Who is God?" — examines the Kinaaldá and how the four-day ceremony is a form of communication and insight between the young woman and Changing Woman, one of the Navajo Holy People...more

Friday, April 15, 2016

Amid Heroin Epidemic in US, Mexican Gov’t Doesn’t Know the Extent of Opium Cultivation at Home

As cheap Mexican heroin fuels an increase in addiction in the U.S., the Mexican government does not know how much opium is cultivated within the country’s borders even as production surges, according to investigators and a U.N. official. Illicit opium production in the mountains of the state of Guerrero “tripled in the last eight years”, according to Carlos Zamudio, an investigator with the citizen’s group CUPIHD, which lobbies to reduce the risks and harm associated with drugs. Poppies, cultivated for heroin, have traditionally been grown in the states of Durango, Chihuahua and Sinaloa in northern Mexico but cultivation has expanded further south into Oaxaca, Michoacán, and Guerrero, he said...more

House Memo Claims Eric Holder ‘Intensely Followed and Managed’ Fast and Furious Obstruction

While serving as attorney general, Eric Holder was involved in managing the Justice Department’s response to Congress’ investigation of Operation Fast and Furious, according to a memo by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). The 12-page Chaffetz memo summarizes the review of a court-ordered release of some 20,500 Justice Department documents to the House committee probing the failed program that allowed about 2,000 U.S. guns to flow to Mexican drug-trafficking organizations. “More than previously understood, the documents show the lengths to which senior Department officials went to keep information from Congress,” the Chaffetz memo said. “Further, the documents reveal how senior Justice Department officials — including Attorney General Eric Holder — intensely followed and managed an effort to carefully limit and obstruct the information produced to Congress.”  The gun-walking program was halted in late 2010 after one of the Fast and Furious guns was found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The memo states that the DOJ ignored evidence of gun-walking by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; politicized “decisions about how and whether to comply with the congressional investigation”; developed “strategies to redact or otherwise withhold relevant information from Congress and the public;” isolated the fallout of the Fast and Furious scandal to the ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona, while avoiding accountability at DOJ in Washington; and created “a culture of animosity toward congressional oversight.”...more

The ghosts of New Mexico's abandoned mining towns

During the mining boom of the 19th century in New Mexico, thousands migrated to remote parts of the state, establishing towns to exploit the region's rich mineral wealth. By the late 1800s and early 1900s communities such as Kelly, Dawson, Madrid, Pinos Altos, Golden and Hanover/Fierro proliferated throughout the state, providing the silver, gold, lead, coal and zinc that helped to fuel the industrial western expansion taking place in America. These boom towns, composed of a diverse mix of foreigners, would fundamentally change the demographic character of the state, arising from the dust and often abandoned in equal haste.  In the former mining towns of Hagan, Kelly and Dawson next to nothing remains. In Kelly, a mining head frame stands surrounded by flattened earth; there are remains of the once numerous houses located at the base of the Magdalena mountain. Some former ghost towns have been repopulated. Mining villages such as Madrid and Pinos Altos have found a second life, repopulated by artists and professionals attracted to these unusual spaces...more

See more photos at the link provided.

Americans are paying less for groceries amid global glut of crops

Last year falling energy prices kept U.S. inflation in check. This year it could be the lower cost of groceries. Over the last 12 months, grocery prices have fallen 0.5% based on a component of the federal government’s consumer price index known as “food at home.” It’s only the fourth time in the past 25 years that the cost of food prepared at home has turned negative. Just a little more than a year ago, grocery prices were rising at an almost 4% annual pace. The falling cost of groceries is largely the result of a global glut among crop producers that’s driven down the price of stables such as wheat, corn and soybeans used in many consumer products. The glut has been worsened by a slower world economy. The price of flour and related goods such as bread, for example, have fallen by 4.1% in the past 12 months, according to the March CPI report released Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Cereal prices have dipped 1.2% in the same span. American farmers, who just a few years ago benefited from soaring prices, are heavily exposed to the global food glut. Prices of U.S.-grown grains used for food have fallen three straight years, exacerbated by a strong dollar that makes American crops more expensive for foreigners. At the same time, foreign companies can sell food in the U.S. more cheaply. The cost of imported food has dropped 11% in the past year, according to the import price index...more

Stricter offshore drilling rules issued, upsetting industry

The Obama administration issued new rules Thursday to make offshore oil and natural gas drilling equipment safer and to reduce risks in digging wells, but the oil industry and its supporters in Congress say they are costly and questioned their need. The rules published by the Interior Department came nearly six years after the catastrophic blowout of a BP well in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and injured many others aboard Transocean's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. The out-of-control leak dumped millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf. Meanwhile, another federal agency — the U.S. Chemical Safety Board — issued recommendations Wednesday saying even more rigorous safety standards are needed to make offshore drilling safe. That agency said offshore workers should be involved more in safety decisions and regulators given more authority to enforce rules. The Interior Department rules target blowout preventers, massive valve-like devices meant to prevent oil and gas from escaping when a driller loses control of a well. The device failed in the BP spill. Officials said the rules will improve the inspection, maintenance, and repair of blowout preventers, which are known as BOPs. For example, the devices will need to be broken down and inspected every five years. Also, companies will have to use BOPs that are better equipped to shear drill pipe in the case of an emergency. This was one of the problems in BP's disaster. In addition, drilling of highly complex wells must be monitored in real-time by experts onshore. The rules also set out standards called "safe drilling margins" for the design, casing, cementing and other work that goes into drilling a well. Environmental groups applauded the rules...more

Udall, Heinrich say Border Patrol needs more resources

Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich urged U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to promptly address border security and safety issues in the Bootheel region of Southern New Mexico. In a letter to CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, Udall and Heinrich called for the agency to provide resources and equipment to help local Border Patrol agents more effectively patrol the region's vast rugged terrain...more

From requests in their letter:

- Implement policies to encourage agent retention at the Lordsburg Border Patrol Station..
- Provide at least a dozen additional horses and related equipment to increase the reach of agents and assess the need for additional all-terrain vehicles for agents to patrol the Bootheel...
- Work with the National Guard to ensure that its counternarcotic assets and expertise are more focused on the border to act as force multipliers to help Border Patrol cover more of this rugged, rural territory.  The New Mexico National Guard has four helicopters it would like to use at the border year-round, including two with infrared cameras... 
- Ensure agents patrolling the Bootheel region are provided adequate night vision technology.  

All of those are items that were mentioned at one time or the other at the March 10th meeting and its great the Senators have communicated them to the Commissioner.

Not mentioned, however, was the Number One priority mentioned by each of the presenters:  Deploy the agents along the border, not 20-30-40 miles north of the border.  The folks' testimony made it very clear that adding more agents, ATVs, horses, night goggles, etc. won't solve their problems if they are deployed miles north of the border.  That would still leave these people in a sacrifice area, a no man's land, because BP tactics have, in effect, moved the boundary north of the border. 

You have to wonder why the deployment issue wasn't addressed in the letter.  Congressman Pearce brought it up.  Of course, he was at the meeting.  Udall and Heinrich weren't.

New Fast & Furious documents show Obama administration efforts to mislead Congress

It’s hard to believe, but five years after Fast and Furious, Congress is still in a pitched battle with the Obama administration over subpoenaed documents. What does the latest production of material under a federal judge’s order reveal? It’s information that, if revealed at the time, would have proven the falsity of many Obama administration assertions in the gunwalking case. It also would have been extremely damaging to the President’s re-election campaign. As the documents are reluctantly turned over years later, it’s clear that the goal of delaying their release until the story was long past–has been accomplished...more 

Here’s the House Oversight Committee memo outlining the latest documents and court developments, and laying out its analysis.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1601

Still thinking of Cary Culbertson and his hip surgery.  What would make things better for him?  I know.  And so does George Jones, who explains it all in Pretty Little Lady From Beaumont Texas.  The tune is on his 1989 CD One Woman Man.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

America’s Breadbasket Could ‘Eliminate’ All Economic Activity And Still Not Comply With EPA Regs

By Michael Bastasch

The man in charge of air quality for one of America’s largest agriculture-producing regions told Congress even if it eliminated all businesses, farms, cars and trucks, the San Joaquin Valley would not come close to complying with new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.

“In our region, we have imposed the toughest air regulations on all businesses and all agricultural activities, we have imposed the toughest regulations on cars, trucks, consumer products,” Seyed Sadredin, the executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, told House lawmakers in a hearing Thursday.

“We have even imposed tough regulations on what people can do inside their homes,” he said. “We have left no stone unturned in reducing emissions from all sectors of our economy and from every source of air pollution in our region. We have reduced air pollution by over 80 percent.”

House Republicans held a hearing to bring together state regulators who support a new bill to roll back EPA ozone regulations. EPA finalized more stringent ozone standards in October, which force states to do more to cut emissions from power plants, factories, vehicles and farms.

Critics have labelled the EPA ozone rule as one of the costliest regulation ever imposed on the U.S. economy, and Sadredin says San Joaquin residents will be hit especially hard by this new rule.
“Today if we eliminate all businesses in San Joaquin Valley, small and large, we will not come anywhere near meeting this standard,” he told lawmakers.

“If we eliminate all agriculture… we will not come close to meeting the standards,” he said. “If we removed all passenger vehicles… we will not meet this standard. If we removed all the trucks that travel up and down the valley, we will not come anywhere near meeting this standard.”

How to create a national park without taxpayers footing the bill

by By Terry L. Anderson and Shawn Regan

Should the federal government create a national park in the North Woods? It’s a question that divides many in Maine. Some fear the effects of more federal control in the state. Others say a new park will bring economic growth to a depressed region.

The topic was discussed at a conference last week at Colby College on “Community, Culture and Conservation.” Conference panelists debated whether the National Park Service can afford to add more red ink to the park system. The agency will celebrate its 100-year anniversary later this year with a $12 billion backlog of unfunded maintenance projects — an amount five times higher than the agency’s latest budget. With such an enormous maintenance backlog, adding another national park would stretch park resources even thinner.

Conference presenters explored several innovative alternatives to the traditional national park model. Pete Geddes of the American Prairie Reserve in Montana, for example, explained how his organization is creating the largest nature reserve in the continental United States. The reserve is funded entirely by private philanthropy and is open to the public. The group is proving a new model for conservation in which private organizations protect and manage public parks themselves — with no federal funding needed.

Or consider the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas. The preserve is jointly managed by the Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service. Just 30 acres of the preserve’s 11,000 acres are owned by the federal government. The rest is owned and co-managed by the nonprofit conservancy.
These alternatives suggest how a national park in the North Woods might gain wider support: Suppose it were operated as a national park franchise. The idea is described in a recent article by Holly Fretwell in the George Wright Society’s National Park Centennial Essay Series, a publication that explores the challenges facing national parks. Fretwell is a research fellow at PERC, a nonprofit research institute that promotes free-market solutions to environmental issues.

Under a park franchise, a private landowner would retain ownership of the land but would operate it under the national park “brand.” The Park Service would specify certain management terms and conditions and monitor the franchisee’s operation. This would be much like any other business franchise, in which a restaurant or hotel owner operates independently under a company’s brand name with strict obligations for maintaining the chain’s quality of service. The franchisee — whether a nonprofit organization, business or group of individuals — would be responsible for funding all management and maintenance of the park.

Microsoft Sues Government Over Covert Email Searches

Microsoft on Thursday sued the U.S. government for the right to tell its customers when federal authorities are looking at their emails, arguing that gag orders preventing them from doing so violate the Constitution. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Seattle, is the latest in a series of clashes over privacy rights and government transparency between the Obama administration and the tech industry following leaks to the press in 2013 about massive surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency. It notably comes on the heels of court battles between the FBI and Apple over access to iPhone data in criminal investigations. In an online post about the lawsuit, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said it was the fourth public case the company has instigated against the government related to customer privacy rights and transparency. Smith said Microsoft understands that government searches of customer data should be kept secret when disclosure would thwart an investigation, create "a real risk of harm" to someone or allow suspects the opportunity to destroy evidence. But he said it appears that it's become "too routine" for the government to be able to forbid email providers from divulging when authorities have gained access to customer emails or other online records, and that the company questions "whether these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly demand secrecy." "These lengthy and even permanent secrecy orders violate the Fourth Amendment, which gives people and businesses the right to know if the government searches or seizes their property," he said. "They also violate the First Amendment, which guarantees our right to talk to customers about how government action is affecting their data."...more

FWS flubs legal notice, leaving orchid unprotected

A rare flower that's been waiting for federal protection since 1999 will wait a little longer as the Fish and Wildlife Service failed last year to post a classified ad about adding the white fringeless orchid to the threatened species list. At issue: A provision of the Endangered Species Act -- which hasn't been updated since 1988 -- requires the service to "publish a summary of the proposed regulation in a newspaper of general circulation in each area of the United States in which the species is believed to occur." The agency failed to meet that requirement for the orchid, a spokesman confirmed. As a result, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the opening of a second 60-day comment period on the proposal to protect the flower, which is also known as the monkey-face orchid...more

Government Regulation: A Growing Threat To The Environment

by Brian Seasholes

...The Hopkins family started acquiring timberland, mostly in southeast Georgia but some in northeast Florida, over 100 years ago. The family’s outstanding stewardship has created a haven for wildlife, including deer, turkey, gopher tortoise and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Among the Hopkins’ landholdings are 3,500 acres that are part of the fabled Okefenokee Swamp, most of which is a federal wildlife refuge, seven miles of forest and swamp along the St. Marys River that creates a border between Georgia and Florida, and 500 acres occupied by the woodpeckers.

The Hopkins family leases most of its land for hunting, and, in the spirit of civic-mindedness and generosity that characterizes many landowners, allows Boy Scouts to camp and launch canoes along the St. Mary’s River, hosts educational forestry tours, and provides hunting opportunities free of charge for wounded military veterans.

As thanks for their exceptional environmental stewardship and generosity, the Hopkins family has been or may be punished by laws and regulations that have negative environmental consequences. The “big three” are all federal: the estate tax, Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act.

Most people are unaware of the estate tax’s effect on the environment, but the tax is “highly regressive in the sense that it encourages the destruction of ecologically important land in private ownership,” according to Michael Bean, senior Interior Department official. “In order to pay estate taxes, cash-poor inheritors of ranches, farms, and forests must often liquidate timber assets, subdivide the property, or otherwise destroy ecologically valuable land that had been cared for by owners who had truly loved it.” Land is generally of less environmental value if it is subdivided.

In the 1960s and 70s the Hopkins family was hit by the estate tax four times, and each time the family had to pay significant taxes on the same pieces of land — all of which led to thousands of acres of forest harvested prematurely to raise funds to pay the tax. This “destroyed our forest management plan because we had to cut stands we didn’t want to cut” according to Joe Hopkins, managing partner of the family partnership lands. The family is anticipating another massive estate tax bill when the last member of Joe’s father’s generation passes away. An agreement called a conservation easement could lower the family’s estate tax liability, but “we are not interested in easements because we’ve given enough,” states Joe, such as when his father died in 1961 while reforesting the land, and easements can complicate management.

 The Endangered Species Act is generally thought of as protecting magnificent species like the bald eagle, but the sad reality is the Act’s penalty-based approach creates strong incentives for landowners to make their property inhospitable to species. The Hopkins family receives no compensation for its 500 acres, worth more than $1,000,000, locked-up due to the Act’s protection of an endangered species — which is often regarded as a public good. The Hopkins family has little incentive to allow other trees to mature to the point where they will attract red-cockaded woodpeckers...

Defense lawyer accuses Reid of trying to ‘prejudice’ Bundy case

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada is trying to “prejudice” the criminal case against rancher Cliven Bundy stemming from the 2014 Bunkerville standoff, a defense lawyer charged Tuesday. In court papers, Joel Hansen cited Reid’s remarks on the floor of the Senate last week calling Bundy an “outrageous lawbreaker” and saying he is “where he should be — in jail.” Hansen accused the Democratic leader of wrongly branding Bundy and his family domestic terrorists. The defense lawyer pointed out that Reid was instrumental in getting U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro, who is presiding over the case, appointed to the bench. Hansen also said President Barack Obama, who appointed Navarro, once “mocked Bundy” at a White House dinner for correspondents in Washington, D.C...more

Grant County sheriff says dispatchers endangered his life withholding standoff information

Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer has opened a new front in his fight against allegations that he supported armed militants, notifying John Day city officials that he intends to sue over their complaints to the state about his conduct. Palmer, 54, said in a tort claim received by city officials last week that dispatchers put his life in danger when they withheld information from him on the day that state troopers shot and killed Robert "LaVoy" Finicum. Palmer asked for information about the confrontation as he left a John Day meeting 90 minutes after the shooting, but dispatchers limited what they told him for worry he had a refuge occupier with him. Palmer has retained Hostetter Law Group of Enterprise to represent him in the criminal investigation. The firm filed the tort claim, a legally required notice to alert the city of a potential lawsuit. Palmer's three-page claim doesn't specify what money he might seek in such a suit. He names the city manager, the police chief, the dispatcher manager, five dispatchers...more

Federal judge backs off from total gag order on refuge occupier Shawna Cox

In the face of an expected appeal, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones Wednesday modified his gag order against Oregon standoff defendant Shawna Cox, limiting the restrictions on her public speech.
In his new order, Jones wrote that Cox should refrain from any conduct or speech that would incite others to trespass on or destroy federal government property, or incite unlawful violence. It marks a step back from his earlier March 29 much broader restriction that she not make "any public comment' about her case, co-defendants "or any future protest movements.'' That day, the judge told Cox, who listened to the hearing on speaker phone, that she must refrain from making any comments by phone or social media about her case "or any future protest movements.'' Cox's lawyer objected to the scope of the order, and filed a notice to appeal. Cox's defense lawyer Tiffany Harris said Wednesday that she was pleased with the change...more

Wildfires, once confined to a season, burn earlier and longer - in part due to policy choices

The first Alaska wildfire of 2016 broke out in late February, followed by a second just eight days later. New Mexico has had 140 fires this year, double the number in the same period last year, fueled by one of the warmest, driest winters on record. And on the border of Arizona and California this month, helicopters dumped water on flames so intense that they jumped the Colorado River, forcing the evacuation of two RV parks. Fires, once largely confined to a single season, have become a constant threat in some places, burning earlier and later in the year, in the United States and abroad. They have ignited in the West during the winter and well into the fall, have arrived earlier than ever in Canada and have burned without interruption in Australia for almost 12 months. A leading culprit is climate change. Drier winters mean less moisture on the land, and warmer springs are pulling the moisture into the air more quickly, turning shrub, brush and grass into kindling. Decades of aggressive policies that called for fires to be put out as quickly as they started have also aggravated the problem. Today’s forests are not just parched; they are overgrown. In some areas, “we now have year-round fire seasons, and you can say it couldn’t get worse than that,” Matt Jolly, a research ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service, said. “We expect from the changes that it can get worse.” The 10.1 million acres that burned in the United States last year were the most on record and the top five years for acres burned were in the past decade. The federal costs of fighting fires rose to $2 billion last year, up from $240 million in 1985...more

Klamath joining suit over timber funds

A coalition of Western Oregon counties, including Klamath, has declared their intent to sue the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for allegedly violating timber regulations. In a news release Tuesday from the Association of O&C Counties (AOCC), the coalition said they will challenge BLM in federal court over violations of the O&C Lands Act. Passed by Congress in 1937, the act set standards for the sustainable management of 2.5 million acres of forestland throughout 17 Oregon counties. Specifically, the act said no less than 500 million board feet of timber will be harvested annually and timber proceeds will be split evenly between counties and the federal government. BLM’s current proposed management plan would reduce both timber harvests and county revenue, which AOCC said are violations of the act. “We have no choice but to litigate, and we are on firm legal ground in doing so,” said OACC President Tony Hyde, who is also a Columbia County commissioner. Hyde said BLM had the option to balance jobs and county revenue with environmental priorities, but “refused” to consider such factors in their plan...more

Ammon Bundy's Right-Wing Crusaders Will Liberate the West or Die Trying

For those interested, this long article from the April issue of VICE magazine can be viewed here.

The O'Tooles -- polar opposites of the Bundys

SAVERY, Wyo. -- Pat O'Toole trudged through ankle-deep snow to the confluence of Battle Creek and the Little Snake River, a place where beaver trappers fought the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho in 1841. Despite the creek's name, O'Toole considers it a place of refuge, where birds sing from cottonwood limbs and trout jump from the water. "This is my park," he said. "It's a little Zen deal." O'Toole, 67, who wore a black jacket, a ball cap and a red kerchief around his neck on a workday last month, strives to ensure the native wildlife on his 12,000-acre ranch can coexist with the cattle and sheep that provide his livelihood. He and his wife, Sharon, own and manage the Ladder Ranch along with two of their adult children, Meghan O'Toole Lally and Eamon O'Toole. It straddles the Wyoming-Colorado border in the scenic Little Snake valley. O'Toole has big plans for the watershed. He wants to restore cottonwoods and willows to help stabilize the stream banks and keep water cool for the fish. This summer, he plans to convert a hay field from using flood irrigation to using a pivot sprinkler so he can leave more water in the creek. Like many ranchers in the West, the O'Tooles are trying to marry food production with conservation. It's no easy task with roughly 800 cows and 7,000 sheep to feed...more

Band of 2,450 sheep graze their way through Boise foothills

BOISE — A curious group of onlookers watched as 2,450 domestic sheep were unloaded from trucks into the rolling Boise foothills April 12. Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission officials alerted Boise residents about the arrival of the sheep, which will graze in the area for about 10 days as they make their way north. IRRC Executive Director Gretchen Hyde said the sheep’s owner and the rangeland commission want to ensure people who encounter the band of ewes and lambs don’t have their outdoor experience ruined. Using posted signs and local media, the IRCC offers tips for recreationists, including keeping their dogs on a leash to prevent a clash with sheep dogs. “The sheep do intersect with quite a few of the recreational trails so we want to make sure that people are aware of that and have a positive experience with them,” Hyde said. Wilder, Idaho, rancher Frank Shirts, who owns the sheep band, has grazing permits on federal and state land in the area. Several private landowners in the foothills also pay him to have his sheep graze their land. Shirts said most people are happy to see the sheep and a lot of people in the homes that line the foothills ask him to bring his sheep close to their property to control weeds and reduce the fire danger. “Ninety-five percent of people love to see these sheep but there are always that one or two that don’t want ’em out here because they don’t want (anything) on the land,” he said. He said that the media attention, onlookers and the welcome from most homeowners in the area is satisfying...more

Some interesting history on NM highways

by Sherry Robinson

“If any town in the United States needs roads worse than us, it has my pity,” a citizen told his county commissioners. “Farmers,” said the local paper, “have been wedged between two sand hills long enough.”

These were the first rumblings of the Good Roads movement in New Mexico. In 1915, farmers on the East Side threatened to take their produce to markets in Texas, where roads were better, if the Roosevelt County Commission didn’t do something.

The next time you get in your car, remind yourself that a century ago the nation’s roads were little more than dirt tracks and trails with no signs or bridges. In New Mexico, land owners fenced across roads, and drifting sand was a bigger hindrance than fences.

New Mexico joined the national Good Roads movement, which produced a network of  highways, such as they were. We know Route 66 best, but a few years earlier and farther south was the Bankhead Highway, one of the first transcontinental highways.

It began in 1916 with the Bankhead Highway Association, whose namesake, U. S. Sen. John H. Bankhead, of Alabama, was a leader of the Good Roads movement. That year, Congress passed the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916 over the objections of citizens like Henry Ford, who didn’t think roads were a good use of taxpayer money.

...New Mexico’s major proponents included S. M. Johnson, a Presbyterian minister and rancher in Ruidoso; businessman Francis G. Tracy, of Carlsbad, and New Mexico Highway Commissioner Charles Springer, of Raton. It was Johnson who got a Roswell-to-El Paso segment into highway plans. Springer is generally considered the father of New Mexico’s highway system.

...The Broadway of America wasn’t a single route. In New Mexico, the main road entered the state at Las Cruces from El Paso and continued west through Deming and Lordsburg. A branch entered New Mexico at Tatum and passed through Roswell. A northern branch linked Clovis with Roswell by way of Elida, joined the other branch at Roswell and went on through Tinnie, Hondo, Ruidoso and Alamogordo, where it turned south and linked up with the main route.

Roswell, in the 1920s, had a Bankhead Hotel, once described by author John Sinclair as “the stockman’s favorite.”

The main route, from Las Cruces to Lordsburg, passed over what had been New Mexico Route 4, designated in 1909. It would become U. S. 80 in 1926 and, in 1965, I-10. The Bankhead Highway’s legacy is that it not only delivered the convenience and commerce promised but its successor roads are still delivering.

The future of a famous southern Alberta ranch owned by eccentric multi-millionaire brothers is finally secure

An historic southern Alberta ranch once owned by eccentric multi-millionaire brothers will now be protected from future development. The King Ranch, located along Highway 22 (the Cowboy Trail), has been added to the Waldron Conservation Project, the largest conservation easement in Canadian history. The lands now protected extend to 16,562 hectares of ecologically important grasslands, and is linked to other protected lands in the area, such as the 28,000-hectare Bob Creek Wildland Park (commonly known as the Whaleback) and the 39,000-hectare Porcupine Hills Forest Reserve. Both the provincial ($1.8 million) and federal governments contributed funding to the conservation project, along with private donors and the Waldron co-op, a group of local ranchers who share the land to graze their cattle. “The purpose of the gazing co-op at its inception in 1962 was to provide more grass to benefit shareholders’ existing ranches. Our founders would be proud of the way Waldron is protecting the watershed and utilizing better grazing practices,” said Gerald Vandervalk, chair of the co-op board. The Waldron co-op bought the King Ranch in 2014 for $11.25 million with funds received from a conservation easement the Nature Conservancy purchased on the Waldron Ranch the year prior. The ranch had last been owned by Bill and Cody Bateman of Cochrane but is renowned for its original owners, Harrold and Maurice King, who died in the 1990s. The bachelor brothers lived together for 60 years in a log cabin on the property. They lived in self-imposed isolation without electricity or indoor plumbing, and were often seen wearing old pants held up by twine suspenders. But despite their frugality they were well-read and shrewd businessmen who poured all their money back into the ranch...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1600

Our 1600th song goes out to Cary Culbertson who's recovering from hip surgery and he would if he could. So here is Zeke Willians & His Rambling Cowboys with I Would If I Could.  The tune was recorded in Dallas on Tuesday, June 22, 1937 and is available on the Cattle CD The Golden Age of Country Music:  Zeke Williams, Cody Fox & Lou Millet.

Report on Ranch Radio

On the occasion of our 1600th song I thought I would bring you up to date on Ranch Radio.  Many will recall it used to be a song on a music player, but different people would have trouble playing the songs on their computer.  I would change players and then another set of people couldn't use it.  When this finally affected my Mother's computer, I needed to find a fix and be quick about it.

That's when I discovered the world of music on YouTube and everybody could play their videos.  That was just over two years ago, when I established the Ranch Radio channel on YouTube, and just over 500 videos later things have really taken off, with over half a million plays and over 700 subscribers.  There are more folks out there who enjoy this old time than I would have thought.

Here's the latest from YouTube analytics:

And the number one song based on number of plays?

I'll Fly Away by Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch, closely followed at #2:  Cowboy In A Continental Suit by Marty Robbins, #3 I Don't Hurt Anymore by Hank Snow and #4 Are You Missing Me by Jim & Jesse McReynolds.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

USFWS - Use drones to deliver medicine for prairie dogs

Drones might soon be dropping peanut butter-flavored treats laced with vaccine across some Montana prairie dog colonies under a plan to inoculate the rodents against the plague. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday it wants to protect prairie dogs from the disease because they're the primary food source for highly endangered black-footed ferrets. Plague can nearly wipe out prairie dog colonies, putting the ferrets at risk. The agency wants to scatter vaccine-laden bait on colonies at the Charles M. Russell and UL Bend national wildlife refuges in northeastern Montana. The plan has already been through safety and research phases...more

Wyo. wolf numbers up 25%

Wyoming wolves are expanding into new territory, and state population levels are now higher than at any time since the large carnivore was reintroduced to the ecosystem in the mid-1990s. Annual monitoring reports released this month show that a minimum of 382 lobos inhabited the Equality State at the end of 2015, a 25 percent increase since the last full year Wyoming managed and hunted the species. The majority of the new wolves are establishing on the fringes of their range in the state’s western mountains, Wyoming Game and Fish Department carnivore biologist Ken Mills said...more

Peabody, largest US coal miner, seeks bankruptcy protection

Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal miner, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday as a crosscurrent of environmental, technological and economic changes wreak havoc across the industry. Mines and offices at Peabody, a company founded in 1833 by 24-year-old Francis S. Peabody, will continue to operate as it moves through the bankruptcy process. However, Peabody’s planned sale of its New Mexico and Colorado assets were terminated after the buyer was unable to complete the deal. The bankruptcy filing comes less than three months after another from Arch Coal, the country’s second-largest miner, which followed bankruptcy filings from Alpha Natural Resources, Patriot Coal and Walter Energy. New energy technology and tightening environmental regulations have throttled the industry and led to a wave of mine closures and job cuts. Peabody makes most of its money by selling its coal to major utilities that power the nation’s electric grid. New drilling techniques have allowed U.S. energy companies to free enormous amounts of natural gas, driving prices lower. The result of those plunging prices and changing environmental regulations has pushed major utilities to choose natural gas over coal to power electric grids. There are growing concerns about the ability of financially-troubled coal companies can cover the cost of pushing dirt back in mines that might close. Peabody has more than $1 billion in self-bonding obligations in five top coal-mining states: Wyoming, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado and New Mexico. Self-bonding allows coal companies to avoid paying reclamation costs up front through conventional bond. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is among those who have expressed worry that self-bonding could leave taxpayers on the hook for billions in coal mine cleanup costs...more

"Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away"

is now

"Obama has hauled Peabody's coal train away"

House spending bill boosts fossil fuel research

House Republicans are targeting a key part of President Obama’s environmental agenda with a bill to give more money to federal fossil fuel research and less to renewables. The shift in priorities is part of a $37.4 billion appropriations bill proposed Tuesday by the House GOP to fund programs in the Department of Energy and water infrastructure needs in the Army Corps of Engineers. Research and development related to coal, natural gas, oil and other fossil fuels would get $645 million in fiscal 2017 under the bill, a $13 million increase from the 2016 level. Programs for renewable energy research and development, which the committee said “have already received significant investments in recent years,” would be slashed by $248 million under the 2016 level and $1.07 billion more than what Obama requested. The legislation puts significant new funding toward nuclear security as well, with a $327 million boost from last year for the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons programs. The bill overall is $259 million higher than 2016’s funding and $168 million more than Obama’s request...more

 "$259 million higher than 2016’s funding and $168 million more than Obama’s request"

I'm so old I can remember when a Republican budget was always lower.  Here you have a very liberal, big spending Democrat as President, and the Republicans propose to outspend him.  With the current makeup and leadership in the party, they are simply incapable of controlling spending.

The committee says the bill contains provisions to help a droughty California and the following riders:
  • The bill prohibits any changes to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.
  • The bill prohibits any changes to the definition of “fill material” and “discharge of fill material” for the purposes of the Clean Water Act.
  • The bill restricts the application of the Clean Water Act in certain agricultural areas, including farm ponds and irrigation ditches.
  • The bill includes language allowing the possession of firearms on Corps of Engineers lands.
  • The bill prohibits new nuclear nonproliferation projects in Russia.

National Park Service chief expands horny harassers probe

After falling under scrutiny about the way it has handled long-term sexual harassment at the Grand Canyon, the National Park Service is expanding its probe to see if the case represents a broader cultural crisis within the park system. “I hope that what occurred at the Grand Canyon is an anomaly, but I don’t know that,” Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service told High Country News in an interview at his office in Washington, D.C. “We have to find out if there are similar situations in other parts of the park system.” At the urging of members of Congress, Jarvis plans to conduct a survey of the entire agency, though no details about the survey have been provided. Jarvis also sent a memo to his staff of more than 20,000 on March 15, requesting that employees with sexual harassment complaints reach out to supervisors. If they fail to get adequate responses, he urges them to appeal to other supervisors or their local equal opportunity contacts.  In January, the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General released a report about sexual harassment by boatmen at the Grand Canyon’s river district for almost two decades. In February, the Park Service released a written statement that it had “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment. Since then, Grand Canyon superintendent Dave Uberuaga abolished the Grand Canyon River District, and intermountain regional director Sue Masica has been working on a larger plan to address sexual harassment through training and more active responses to complaints in the future. The shocking investigation found women were repeatedly propositioned for sex, harassed by male boatmen and supervisors and retaliated against after reporting incidents to management...more

If this were a private sector firm, would they be allowed to just undertake an internal survey?  Not hardly.

Green energy tax extenders die on the vine

Senate Republicans have refused to allow tax breaks for green energy companies as part of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization package, bringing an end to an intraparty debate that unfolded in private over the last several days. "We've made a decision to skinny down the tax part" of the FAA reauthorization measure, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday. That's a victory for Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who led the effort to exclude the green energy tax extenders. Democrats are steamed, accusing McConnell of breaking an agreement made during the omnibus debate in November. But their leaders plan to vote for the broader FAA package anyway. Flake has been arguing behind the scenes for McConnell to block the tax extenders since last week and took the pressure public on Monday. "We urge you to resist the temptation to clutter this important legislation with tax extensions aimed at placating a few special interests," he wrote in a letter signed by three other Senate Republicans. "In December, a deliberate decision was made to omit certain credits like those for fuel cells, small wind turbines, and combined heat and power. This latest effort to hastily extend market-distorting tax policies is imprudent." Democrats cite the December decision as the justification for adding the tax credits now. "During the omnibus negotiations McConnell agreed to include the clean energy provisions on a fast-moving finance vehicle, i.e. the FAA bill," according to a Senate Democratic aide. "Republican resistance led him to include a tax benefit for beer distributors to try and shore up Republican support. We continue to try and find a way to help him navigate the issues within his conference, and we are trying very hard to be flexible and productive, but at the end of the day this is a commitment Senator McConnell made and it's up to him to keep his word."...more

Senate GOP to subpoena EPA chief in Colorado mine

Senate Republicans vowed Tuesday to issue a subpoena to force the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to appear at a field hearing in Phoenix next week on a toxic mine spill that fouled rivers in three Western states and on lands belonging to two Native American tribes. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso said the Senate Indian Affairs Committee will vote Wednesday on a plan to subpoena EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Barrasso chairs the Indian Affairs panel, which is conducting an April 22 hearing on the 3-million gallon spill at Colorado's abandoned Gold King Mine. The Aug. 5 spill contaminated rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, as well as in the Navajo Nation and Southern Ute Reservation. If approved, the subpoena would be the first issued by the Indian Affairs panel since 2004, during the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Abramoff was a prominent Republican lobbyist who pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion in the purchase of gambling cruise boats. He spent 3 and 1/2 years in prison. A federal investigation blamed the EPA for the Colorado spill, saying an agency cleanup crew rushed its work, failed to consider the complex engineering involved and ended up triggering the very blowout it hoped to avoid. Barrasso said the EPA has been "reckless," first in causing the spill and then in failing to address it. "They took their eye off the ball," Barrasso said of the EPA. "They caused this toxic spill and now they are still not focused on cleaning up the mess they caused."...more

As Baja resumes bullfighting, Mexicans debate: Is it an art form or a cruel, outdated ritual?

Just before 4 p.m. Sunday, with sunshine filling the stadium and a gentle breeze wafting off the Pacific Ocean just a few hundred yards away, the chant begins. “To-ro! To-ro! To-ro!” They are calling for the bull. It has been months since the last bullfight, which many believe should have been the last bullfight ever. Just three days before, Baja California's congress — its state legislature — postponed a vote that would have banned bullfighting in the Mexican state and forced the cancellation of this spectacle. The crowd is restless. Ever greater numbers of Mexicans see this as a cruel and outdated ritual. Polls show that roughly 80% of Baja Californians oppose it. But as the bullfighting season opened on schedule Sunday, the dwindling ranks of traditionalists could savor at least a temporary victory and another day of what, they insist, is an art form. Trumpets sound from a band on the third level of the stadium. The crowd erupts. From a tunnel walk four young men in glittering, neon-colored skintight outfits. The crowd continues to cheer warily — the talent of these younger men can vary, though they are soon successfully goading a young bull named Galan into chasing them. Part rodeo, part derby and part tailgate, the Tijuana bullfights are an amalgam of Mexican society in the borderlands. Ranchers in wide-brimmed hats coax their wives in jean jackets through the busy gates outside the stadium, divided between Sombra (shade) and Sol (seats in the sun). Inside, young men in flannel shirts cluster next to society women in gowns and extravagant hats or with flowers in their hair. There are very few children, despite free admission to those younger than 12. A sign in front of the stadium reads “Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza” in giant red-and-white letters. Pictured is a man on horseback, with a navy coat and silver trim. He is astride a horse and he is considered the best in the world at what he does — namely, killing bulls while astride a horse, forcing him to control his horse and the bull at the same time...more

Protecting data protects food supply

Missouri’s Sunshine Law requires public records of government entities to be released to the public. If terrorists have this information at their fingertips, harming our way of life is that much easier. If they were to introduce a disease into livestock or crops, that segment of the industry could be completely destroyed. It would also incite fear of food safety and fester more distrust in the government. To protect farmers and ranchers so they can continue to produce food without the threat of an attack, the Missouri General Assembly is considering a measure that would safeguard certain private information. House Bill 1414 will exempt voluntary participation in government programs as well as individuals required to participate in the federal Animal Disease Traceability Program from being classified as public records under Missouri’s Sunshine Law. However, if the information is part of research, the results can be collectively released. The measure also addresses any concerns of a potential health problem or disease by allowing for public notification...more

NM - State of Waste

Driving the roads through oil and gas country at night, two kinds of illumination stand out on the desert horizon: the towers of halogen lights that shine on drill rigs while they run 24 hours a day, and the several-foot-tall flames of methane being burned off rather than captured. In the name of millions in lost royalties and reduced environmental impacts, the federal government has taken several stabs at recouping this wasted natural gas—lost through industry practices called flaring and venting, as well as through leaks. An analysis of the methane emissions in New Mexico indicates the state missed out on $50 million in royalties since 2010, according to a report released in March by the Western Values Project, which campaigns for balancing energy development and conservation. Of about $330 million in natural gas lost through flaring and leaks in the entire US in 2013, roughly $100 million of it came from New Mexico, according to an analysis that ICF International conducted for the Environmental Defense Fund. “The state is in a problematic budget environment right now,” Goldstein says. “The state Legislature is looking at cuts to schools and services and things like that, and capturing more methane would mean more revenue back to the state.” New federal rules will take a crack at reducing emissions, which have contributed to a methane cloud the size of Delaware over northwestern New Mexico. The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Land Management have each drafted a plan for reducing those emissions, the first coming at it from the perspective of air pollution, given methane’s role as a potent greenhouse gas, and the second from the lost royalties angle, with the BLM estimating that nationwide, states, tribes and federal taxpayers lose as much as $23 million annually in royalty revenue through flaring and leaks...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1599

Hawkshaw Hawkins recorded this song twice, in 1947 and 1956.  Both are good, but I prefer his 1947 recording of Sunny Side Of The Mountain.  The tune is on his Cattle CD Unadulturated Early Singles

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Utah Republican gubernatorial candidates spar over public lands lawsuit

Gov. Gary Herbert said Monday it would be reckless to file a longshot lawsuit now to try and force the federal government to give up control of more than 30 million acres of public land — defending his actions against criticism from GOP challenger Jonathan Johnson. The two Republicans sparred over how best to combat what they both deem overreaching federal oversight on lands that account for two-thirds of Utah during a key debate that was staged less than two weeks before party delegates will choose the Republican candidate at the state convention. Johnson, chairman of the board at, criticized Herbert for not pulling the trigger on a lawsuit and vowed to bring the legal challenge quickly if he becomes governor. He said increasingly restrictive federal management of the lands cripples rural Utah economies. Herbert signed a law in 2012 demanding the federal government hand over the lands to Utah by the end of 2014. When that deadline passed with no action, as expected, Utah legislators began weighing a possible lawsuit. Lawmakers set aside $4.5 million this year for the suit after a team of constitutional lawyers recommended the state take on the lawsuit, even while warning it could cost up to $14 million and that it would be far from a sure victory. “While we have brought some action to try and get control of the land, it hasn’t been enough,” Johnson said. Herbert countered he has been advised by counsel not to sue until a Republican is president. He said he also is tracking a legislative proposal unveiled this year by two members of Utah’s congressional delegation that calls for protecting 4 million acres of public land in Utah in exchange for freeing up more than 1 million acres for recreation and oil and gas development. “It would be counterproductive and probably reckless if we filed a lawsuit to try and take these lands over now,” said Herbert, governor since 2009. “We will have a national monument by next Friday if we filed that litigation today.”...more

I wrote about the Montana Republican candidates Sunday.

 Now we have a sitting Republican Governor running for reelection in Utah going mealy mouthed on us.

Hebert cites two reasons for his reluctance to file suit:  The Bishop legislation and the designation of a national monument by Obama in retaliation for a suit.

There is really no conflict with the Bishop bill.  Herbert should simply announce his first preference is to see these lands transferred to the state.  In the interim, however, he supports the management policies as laid out in the Bishop bill.   Nothing counterproductive or reckless about it.

I'm not sure I buy the monument threat thing.  So far his monument designations have not been retaliatory in nature. They have been used as leverage to affect pending legislation, but mostly they've been a payback to the environmental lobby.  But let's say I did buy it.  In that case Herbert should announce Utah will not be filing any suits until the day after Obama leaves office, but that if the facts remain as they are today, that suit will be filed.

Two simple statements from the Governor would suffice.  However, this is all predicated on the belief Herbert really does support the transfer.  I am beginning to wonder if that is the case.

In the meantime is sure getting my business.

How fracking reduces greenhouse gases

The Department of Energy published data last week with some amazing revelations — so amazing that most Americans will find them hard to believe. As a nation, the United States reduced its carbon emissions by 2 percent from last year. Over the past 14 years our carbon emissions are down more than 10 percent. On a per unit of GDP basis, U.S. carbon emissions are down by closer to 20 percent.

Even more stunning: we've reduced our carbon emissions more than virtually any other nation in the world, including most of Europe (see chart).

How can this be? We never ratified the Kyoto Treaty. We never adopted a cap and trade system, or a carbon tax as so many of the sanctimonious Europeans have done.

The answer isn't that the EPA has regulated CO2 out of the economy. The EPA surely has started to strangle our domestic industries like coal and our electric utilities with strict emission standards. But that's not the big story here.

The primary reason carbon emissions are falling is because of hydraulic fracturing — or fracking. Now readers are probably thinking I've been drinking or have lost my mind. Fracking technology for shale oil and gas drilling is supposed to be evil. Some states have outlawed it. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have come out against it in recent weeks. School children have been bombarded with green propaganda about all the catastrophic consequences of fracking.

They are mostly lies. Fracking is simply a new way to get at America's vast storehouse of tens of trillions of dollars worth of shale oil and gas that lies beneath us from coast to coast — California to upstate New York. Fracking produces massive amounts of natural gas, and as a consequence, natural gas prices have fallen in the last decade from above $8 per million BTUs to closer to $2 this year — a 75 percent reduction — due to the spike in domestic supplies.

This free fall in prices means that America is using far more natural gas for heating and electricity and much less coal. Here is how the IEA puts it: "In the United States, (carbon) emissions declined by 2 percent, as a large switch from coal to natural gas use in electricity generation took place." It also observes that the decline "was offset by increasing emissions in most other Asian developing economies and the Middle East, and also a moderate increase in Europe." We are growing faster than they are and reducing emissions more than they are, yet these are the nations that lecture us on polluting. Go figure.

Here at home, this market-driven transition has caused a pro-natural gas celebration by the green groups, right?

Hardly. Groups like the Sierra Club and their billionaire disciples have bet the farm on wind and solar power. They've launched anti-fracking campaigns and "beyond natural gas" advertising campaigns. But wind and solar are hopelessly uncompetitive when natural gas is so plentiful and so cheap. So are electric cars.

4 Of The Most Endangered Rivers In The U.S. Are Being Threatened By Pollution And Mining

Coal mining. Bad management. Runoff from cities and farms. These are all things that are creating major problems for America’s rivers, according to a new report. The report, released Tuesday by American Rivers, lists ten of the most threatened rivers in the country. These rivers all have two things in common: they’re threatened by mismanagement or various sources of pollution, and they’re all facing major policy decisions in the coming year that could either exacerbate those threats or rein them in. Millions of people depend on these rivers for drinking water, and the waterways are crucial habitats for a wide array of aquatic life. Here are four of the most threatened rivers highlighted by the report...more

Green Subsidies Bill Perfectly Illustrates Washington’s Spending Addiction

by Nicolas Loris 

Christmas came early last year for green companies looking for Washington handouts after Congress passed legislation extending massive subsides for wind, solar, and other renewable energy companies. Now the Senate is attempting to ensure that Christmas comes again for these same companies by expanding the qualifying sources for green goodies.

Some senators are under the impression that energy subsides help spur “innovation.” They want to therefore attach targeted tax breaks for renewable energy sources as part of legislation to reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. The tax credits benefit companies producing energy from fuel cells, geothermal, biomass, combined heat and power systems, and small wind power.

The problem with this is that free enterprise, not the federal government, drives energy innovation.
Proponents of the subsidies are arguing that they were mistakenly left out of the massive omnibus spending bill that included five-year extensions for the wind production tax credit and solar investment tax credit, as well as $1.00-per-gallon tax credits for biodiesel.

Intentional or not, leaving them out of the bill was a small piece of good news for the taxpayer. Importantly, if the government does not provide preferential treatment to these technologies, the market will force companies to rely on the competitiveness of their product rather than on handouts from the taxpayer. Over the long run, companies will be better off if they can stand on their own two feet.

Americans are continuously told that the costs of renewables are coming down and projected to come down further. If that’s the case and any renewable energy technology is cost-competitive with coal, oil, natural gas, or nuclear, it shouldn’t need special treatment from Washington.

The latest battle over the renewable energy tax credit expansion in the Federal Aviation Administration bill exemplifies one of the other problems with the federal government picking winners and losers.

The argument from companies and lobbyists is, they got a subsidy, so what about me? If biofuels receive a subsidy for developing an alternative to the combustion engine as we know it, electric vehicle, natural gas vehicle, propane vehicle companies are all lining up boasting that they’ve got the latest and best technology. And to make life even sweeter for the politician, the company promises to build the plant in his district.

US oil, gas leasing continues fall, unused leases hit high

The number of oil and natural gas leases on US and tribal lands continued to fall in fiscal 2015, while the number of approved yet unused drilling permits reaching a record high, Bureau of Land Management data showed Monday. The data, updated to include statistics through fiscal 2015, seems to back up frequent arguments from US producers that the Obama administration is doing little to promote drilling on federal lands amid the ongoing shale renaissance. But it also bolsters claims often made by administration that these same producers are often letting leases on federal lands remain idle or simply not interested in drilling on lands the government has opened for oil and gas development. Production from federal and tribal onshore leases accounted for 7% of total US oil production and 11% of total US natural gas production in fiscal 2015, BLM said. In fiscal 2015 industry bid on just 15% of the over 4 million acres of federal land BLM offered for lease and continued to produce on only 40% of the federal acres currently under lease, the agency said in a statement. More precisely, the total number of producing leases on federal lands has fallen from 14.54 million in fiscal 2008 to 12.76 million in fiscal 2015 while the total number of wells spud each year on federal lands has fallen from 5,044 in fiscal 2008 to 1,621 in fiscal 2015. And, since fiscal 2008, the total number of leases in effect has fallen steadily each year, down nearly 20% from 54,359 leases to 44,213 leases in fiscal 2015, the BLM data shows. Over that eight-year period, the total number of federal and tribal acres leased has also fallen by nearly 32%, from 47.24 million acres in fiscal 2008 to 32.19 million acres in fiscal 2015...more

Obama to Declare New National Monument in Honor of Women: ‘The Timing Could Not Be More Symbolic’

In a celebration of Equal Pay Day, President Barack Obama will officially designate a new national monument to pay homage to women. Obama will declare on Tuesday the Sewall-Belmont House, the headquarters of the National Woman’s Party, the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, according to a White House press release. “Tomorrow’s designation will permanently protect one of the oldest standing houses near the U.S. Capitol and help preserve an extensive archival collection that documents the history, strategies, tactics and accomplishments of the movement to secure women’s suffrage and equal rights in the United States and across the globe,” the statement read. The monument’s name honors both Alva Belmont, a suffragist and benefactor to the National Woman’s Party, and Alice Paul, the founder of the Party and leader in advocating for women’s economic, political and social equality. Paul was also a strategist for the campaign for the 19th Amendment. “The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument will honor and forever remind us of the risk, the work and the dedication of those who gathered in this house to fight for women’s equality,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in a statement to the Washington Post. “We must never forget their hard-fought struggle for the right to vote and equal rights for women under the law.” She added, “The timing could not be more symbolic as we mark National Equal Pay Day, an important reminder that women are still fighting for equality today.”...more

Navajo artists express experience with Gold Mine spill

Navajo artist Venaya Yazzie wrote the Diné expression – Tó éí ííná – beside a photograph of a friend sullenly looking out on the tainted San Juan River in the days after the Gold King Mine spill. It means “Water is Life,” and for the indigenous tribes affected by the mine blowout in August, the words sum up months of confusion, fear and sadness surrounding the health of critical southwest waterways. On Aug. 5, the Environmental Protection Agency breached the portal of the mine north of Silverton, sending an estimated three million gallons of orange mine wastewater down the Animas and San Juan rivers, and through 215 miles of the Navajo Nation. “The river, for desert people, is everything – it’s gold,” Yazzie said. “Mentally. Spiritually. Physically. It covers the whole human spirit of life.” The incident elicited strong feelings from those living on tribal land, from farmers who depend on its waters for crops to residents with a spiritual attachment to the river. In March, Navajo President Russell Begaye claimed Navajo suicides spiked just three weeks after the spill, alleging 15 Navajos had taken their own lives in the eight-month time span. Yazzie said the suffering has yet to subside and likely won’t anytime soon. “It plays into a legacy of trauma for the Navajo people,” Yazzie said. Fearing her fellow tribal members are spiritually broken, Yazzie called on artists throughout the Navajo Nation to take their experience with the Gold King spill and put it on canvas. On Sunday, backdropped by a surging, discolored Animas River, Navajo artists gathered under the pavilion at Rotary Park in Durango to showcase eight works as part of the exhibition, “On Behalf of Water.”...more

New NMSU rodeo coach preps team for regional finals

Logan Corbett readily admits he’s got "huge boots to fill." Corbett took over as New Mexico State University’s rodeo coach this semester — midway through the rodeo season. For the past 14 years, the team was coached by Jim Dewey Brown, who Corbett calls “one of the best coaches in the nation.” Brown started working at NMSU as the rodeo coach in August 2002 — the first coach the rodeo team ever had since it was formed in 1942 — and molded the program into one of the country's best. In 2007, Brown was named Coach of the Year by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. He coached the women's team to nine Grand Canyon Regional Championships; the men's team has won eight championships under Brown. Since 2005, six members of the rodeo team have won national championships. Corbett, 27, graduated from Murray State University in Kentucky in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. He competed on the collegiate rodeo team at MSU for four years in bareback riding, as well as some bull riding and team roping. Corbett competed at the College National Finals Rodeo in bareback riding in 2012 and 2013. “I started my master’s there in Agricultural Events Production — putting on rodeos, bull-riding events, horse shows, that sort of thing,” Corbett said. While working on his master’s degree, he got a graduate assistantship to be an assistant coach of the rodeo team, learning under Van Hooser, his old coach. “He did a lot for me,” Corbett recalls. “I didn’t know much when I started college, and he took me in and changed my life. After I got to know him, and after all he did for me, I decided that this is what I want to give my life to — investing in young men and women. I love rodeo, and I love helping kids, so what better way to do both?”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1598

Dusting off an old 78 for you today:  Bar-X Cowboys - Lies.  The tune was recorded in Dallas on Tuesday, December 14, 1937 and released as Decca 5482.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Commission sets aside money for wild horses lawsuit

The Iron County Commission voted to allocate $1,000 to the Western Range Conservation Association for a lawsuit seeking to give the state of Utah authority to handle the wild horse problem instead of the Bureau of Land Management in a meeting Monday. Mike Edwards, chief deputy Iron County Attorney, said he would like to be sure that WRCA was a non-profit organization and the money would be being used “in the best interests of the public.” “It could open up the gates for any of a number of organizations to request money,” he said. The commission made the amendment, and voted for the proposition, pending verification that WRCA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. “I feel this has a big impact on Iron County because our livestock permittees are being impacted by this,” commissioner Alma Adams said. “In some cases I have talked to ranchers who have taken their cattle to their allotment and there is nothing left to graze because the horses have either trampled or eaten all the vegetation.” Adams said Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, has already drafted a bill that would transfer care of wild horses over to state management; he is just waiting for the upcoming elections to be over...more

EU subsidises the CHINESE steel which is decimating British industry

BRITISH taxpayers have been forced to subsidise the very Chinese steel companies that are threatening 40,000 UK jobs, critics say. It comes after revelations that the European Investment Bank has given so-called “soft loans” to China of £80million as part of a climate policy intended to lower emissions. The astonishing figures include a loan of £40million to one of the world’s worst “steel dumping” culprits, the Wuhan Iron & Steel Corporation. To add insult to injury Wuhun, the world’s eighth largest steel producer, boasts the Chinese state as its main shareholder. Wuhun is such a prolific steel dumper that it has now been especially targeted by the European Commission, which wants to slap it with 36.6 per cent tariffs. Just five years ago, however, EU bankers decided to lend it €50million (£40million) to put towards a €207million (£167million) Euro Combined Cycle Plant. Another Chinese beneficiary of British tax pounds was the Shaogang Songshan plant in Guangdong which, in 2008, received €35million (£30million) in EIB funding in the interests of “improving energy efficiency”. Furious critics last night pointed out the irony that the loan was concerned with reducing the cost of power generation while one of the complaints of Tata Group is the high cost of energy associated with its steel production operation in South Wales. Others asked whether Wuhan would have been in a position to dump steel so aggressively if their energy costs had been higher...more

Harry Reid trades insults with Cliven Bundy's wife in battle over standoff site

Nevada senator Harry Reid and the wife of jailed rancher Cliven Bundy traded insults this week as the Democratic politician announced he would be pushing to protect the land near the family’s property now that Bundy and his sons are behind bars. “I’ve tried to protect Gold Butte for a long time,” Reid said on Thursday, referring to the region north-east of Las Vegas where Bundy led an infamous standoff with the government in 2014 after years of refusing to pay federal cattle grazing fees. “And the reason we haven’t been able to do anything to this point is … the Bundy boys and his pals,” Reid continued. “Because of the fact that the Bundys are in jail, I’m going to reach out to the White House … We’ll see if President Obama will protect this area. He has the authority, as any president does, to stop this sort of destruction and stop it now.”  On Friday, Carol Bundy, Cliven’s wife, fired back in a Facebook video while critics of Reid alleged that he was plotting a “federal land grab” by the Bundy ranch. Reid’s previous legislative efforts to create a 350,000-acre national conservation area at Gold Butte have failed, and conservative critics throughout the west have accused him of attempting to steal land from families who have long ranched in the area. Carol responded to Reid in her video, saying: “What you’re doing to my family and to the state of Nevada is absolutely horrible, and I for one am very angry today.” She continued: “I am angry at Harry Reid for thinking that because my men are in jail, it’s OK to come now and take … the land that my family has farmed and ranched on for generations.” The Bundy matriarch further challenged the senator to visit the family: “I would like to invite you to come to our ranch. I would like you to come look me square in the eye and tell me that my family and I are domestic terrorists. I would love you to come to my ranch and show me where my family has done any abuse of any kind to this land that we love.” Reid, the Democratic Senate leader, has previously called Bundy supporters “domestic terrorists”...more