Saturday, April 23, 2016

7 Enviro Predictions From Earth Day 1970 That Were Just Dead Wrong

by Andrew Follett

...So this Earth Day, The Daily Caller News Foundation takes a look at predictions made by environmentalists around the original Earth Day in 1970 to see how they’ve held up.

Have any of these dire predictions come true? No, but that hasn’t stopped environmentalists from worrying.

From predicting the end of civilization to classic worries about peak oil, here are seven environmentalist predictions that were just flat out wrong.

1: “Civilization Will End Within 15 Or 30 Years”
Harvard biologist Dr. George Wald warned shortly before the first Earth Day in 1970 that civilization would soon end “unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” Three years before his projection, Wald was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine...

2: “100-200 Million People Per Year Will Be Starving To Death During The Next Ten Years”
Stanford professor Dr. Paul Ehrlich declared in April 1970 that mass starvation was imminent. His dire predictions failed to materialize as the number of people living in poverty has significantly declined and the amount of food per person has steadily increased, despite population growth. The world’s Gross Domestic Product per person has immeasurably grown despite increases in population...

3: “Population Will Inevitably And Completely Outstrip Whatever Small Increases In Food Supplies We Make”
Paul Ehrlich also made the above claim in 1970, shortly before an agricultural revolution that caused the world’s food supply to rapidly increase...

4: “Demographers Agree Almost Unanimously … Thirty Years From Now, The Entire World … Will Be In Famine”
Environmentalists in 1970 truly believed in a scientific consensus predicting global famine due to population growth in the developing world, especially in India.
“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions,” Peter Gunter, a professor at North Texas State University, said in a 1970 issue of The Living Wilderness.”By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”
India, where the famines were supposed to begin, recently became one of the world’s largest exporters of agricultural products and food supply per person in the country has drastically increased in recent years. In fact, the number of people in every country listed by Gunter has risen dramatically since 1970.

The others are concerning gas masks and pollution, child bearing to require a government permit, and the old stand by, running out of oil. An interesting read for Earth Day.

Also interesting, and one of my favorite headlines to remember on Earth Day:

Apparently her life wasn't sustainable. You can read the story here.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Enviros sue to stop solar farm because of a rat, a lizard and a fox.

A giant solar power farm on 2,000 acres of grassland in California's Central Valley will threaten the survival of three endangered species, including a fox, environmentalists claim in court. The Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club and the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers in Federal Court to try to stop a 247-megawatt solar farm planned for the Panoche Valley. The Panoche Valley, west of Interstate 5 and about 60 miles west of Fresno, "represents a lost landscape in California's busy and fragmented Central Valley and surrounding foothills," the groups say in their April 15 complaint. It's a popular area for birdwatchers because the grasslands attract a wide variety of species. "It remains, for now, a bucolic valley of open grasslands dotted with small ranches and family-owned organic farms. The Panoche Valley is one of only three core areas left in California necessary for the survival and recovery of the highly endangered San Joaquin kit fox, the endangered blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and the endangered giant kangaroo rat." The environmentalists say Fish and Wildlife's Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement, adopted by the Corps of Engineers, violate the Endangered Species Act, and the Corps of Engineers' Record of Decision and Section 404 Permit violate the Clean Water Act and EPA guidelines...more

US claims success in efforts to save endangered species

The world may be hurtling to the worst extinction crisis since the dinosaurs were wiped out, but the US is claiming success in its own efforts to prevent species following the path of titanosaurs, dodos and passenger pigeons. A total of 34 species have been removed from federal Endangered Species Act protections since 1978 due to them recovering, rather than becoming extinct. This pace has accelerated under Barack Obama’s presidency – 16 of the 34 recovered species have been delisted during the current administration. Animals as diverse as the brown pelican, gray wolf and Concho water snake have been pulled back from the brink and removed from the at-risk list. The Louisiana black bear, famous for one of its number being spared by Theodore Roosevelt on a hunting trip which prompted the name “teddy bear”, was officially deemed no longer at risk in March. In Obama’s final year in power, his administration has started to puff its chest out over apparent victories in preventing wildlife loss. “Preventing extinctions has certainly been a priority for this administration,” said Gavin Shire, a spokesman at the Fish and Wildlife Service. “It takes time to reverse invasive species or change land management regimes. We are now seeing the fruits of these efforts.” Shine said the Endangered Species Act is a “strong, flexible law” that has been wielded effectively by the federal government. Enacted in 1973, the act places restrictions on federal actions that could harm listed organisms. Currently, there are 1,430 domestic and overseas species considered threatened or endangered – including the wood bison, grizzly bear and sperm whale. A further 901 plants, spanning cacti, lilies and ferns, are also imperiled....more

Ruby-red seadragon species spotted in the wild for the first time

There are rubies in the sea. Not gemstones, but ruby-colored seadragons that have been spotted in the wild for the first time, in the waters off Western Australia. The discovery made by marine biologists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography confirms that there is a third species of seadragon, an enchanting fish that's often mistaken for a sea horse — if it can be seen at all. Scientists had long believed that there are only two species of seadragons — leafy and weedy. Both have such great camouflage that they often seem to be invisible. Scripps biologist Greg Rouse and his colleagues were studying seadragon tissue samples provided by the Western Australian Museum when they began to suspect they had a third species on their hands. Advances in imaging and DNA technology allowed them to prove that their hunch was correct. Early last year, Rouse and his team named the species ruby, due to its vibrant red color. And they set a goal: find it in the wild...more

Officials send BLM letter over oil and gas regs

A group including elected officials, school district superintendents, economic development officials and organization leaders gathered at San Juan College on Thursday to express their concerns over pending federal oil and gas rules they said would lead to damaging economic impacts to San Juan County. The group, which included all four of the county's mayors, held a press conference at the college's Quality Center for Business to draw attention to a letter making the case that the implementation of proposed regulations for oil and gas production on federal land in their current form — the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's "Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation" rules  — would cause more job losses and permanently close natural gas wells in the San Juan Basin. Members of the group said the proposed rules would worsen a prolonged local economic decline brought on by the low commodity market prices of oil and gas. That price plunge has resulted in the loss of more than 1,000 local jobs in the last year and reduced the collection of taxes, royalties and fees from oil and gas production that fund services at the city and county levels, contributing to the city earning the inglorious distinction of recently being ranked first in the U.S. in the rate of unemployment growth...more

US demotes judge who ruled for key rancher against Feds

The U.S. government has downgraded a judge who had ruled in favor of a Nevada rancher and against the Feds. Reno judge Robert Clive Jones, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003, has repeatedly clashed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals not only on the rancher case but on the gay marriage issue. Jones is being relegated to what is called “senior status,” making him a part-time judge. In a decades-long dispute between the government and the E. Wayne Hage family’s Pine Creek Ranch near Tonopah, Jones had ruled in favor of the rancher. The case is well known in the West among property rights advocates who charge the government “exercises a heavy hand” in relations with those who make their livelihood off the land, a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal said. At issue was whether Hage, who is now deceased, and his son, Wayne Hage, who is currently defending the case, had grazed cattle on federal land without authorization. Jones ruled in favor of the Hages and the appeals court overturned the decision, citing Jones’s bias. In a separate opinion that is not published, the appeals court reversed contempt citations Jones made against the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service employees, the Review-Journal reported. On April 19, Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro in Nevada assigned the Hage case to herself...more

Interior Secretary Jewell defends, promotes America’s public lands, and threatens lawmakers


Interior Secretary Sally Jewell laid out the case in a speech Tuesday for the U.S. to make a course correction in conservation that confronts climate change, invests more in our natural and recreation infrastructure, and helps build a new generation of nature lovers.

And Jewell’s path will run through Idaho, where she said she’ll come to listen and promote the ambitious landscape conservation plan for the 173 million acres of sagebrush steppe. “I plan to visit Idaho to discuss building resilient sagebrush landscapes in the face of wildfires,” Jewell said.

She talked about how she came to Idaho and the West and listened to governors, ranchers, county commissioners and others as her land and wildlife agencies developed plans to protect sage grouse across 11 states. These plans incorporated science and the needs of the people who use and make their living across the huge ecosystem that is a defining symbol of the wide open spaces of the American West.

Best of all, the plans were robust enough to let the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determine that listing the sage grouse under the federal Endangered Species Act was unnecessary.

“That’s the model for the future of conservation,” Jewell said in a speech this week at the National Geographic Society. “That big-picture, roll-up-your-sleeves, get-input-from-all-stakeholders kind of planning is how land management agencies should orient themselves in the 21st century.”

Actually, in her support and shrewd stewarding of the sage grouse effort, Jewell wasn’t really changing the course of conservation but building on collaborative and cooperative conservation that reaches back to the 1990s, said Lyn Scarlett, the managing director of public policy for the Nature Conservancy and deputy Interior secretary under President George W. Bush .

I covered Scarlett’s own success in turning the Bush Administration from a policy of encouraging widespread sage grouse habitat destruction under Interior Secretary Gale Norton to the beginnings of landscape conservation under Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. She’s worked closely with Jewell in her new job and watched as the former CEO of REI has used her business leadership skills to turn thought into action.

When Jewell first took the job, many insiders on all sides of the resource world told me she was tentative and naive about how you get things done in Washington, D.C. Unlike former Interior secretaries Cecil Andrus and Bruce Babbitt, she appeared interested in recommending President Barack Obama proclaim national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 2006 only when the proposals had widespread local support and Congress couldn’t deliver.

“If Congress doesn’t step up to act to protect some of these important places that have been identified by communities and people throughout the country, then the president will take action,” Jewell said in October 2013.

But this week she made it clear that consensus isn’t necessary for the proposals she intends to make before Obama leaves office. And she signaled to House Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, that she might propose monument proposals for places targeted in wilderness bills he introduced, knowing his proposals included poison-pill language preservationists cannot support. She included Utah in her conservation road show to look at areas “where there are a range of conservation proposals — legislative and otherwise — to further protect public lands.”

Right here in Dona Ana County it was made quite clear that consensus wasn't necessary.

Judge approves $380 million change to landmark 2010 Native American farm suit

Local Judge approves $380 million change to landmark 2010 Native American farm suit A rancher drives across his land in Boulder, Mont. The ruling in the Keepseagle case allows the formation of a trust that will help promote Native American farmers and ranchers in agriculture. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP) By Spencer S. Hsu April 20 at 8:00 PM A federal judge on Wednesday approved the creation of what is expected to become the largest U.S. philanthropy serving Native American farmers and ranchers, redistributing $380 million left unclaimed in a landmark 2010 civil rights settlement in which the U.S. government agreed to pay for years of official discrimination. Most of the $680 million in the 2010 settlement went unspent after far fewer people than expected brought successful claims. Instead of the 10,000 anticipated, only about 3,600 applicants were paid. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the District approved an agreement reached in December over how to handle the remaining funds. Under the new deal, those Native American farmers and ranchers will receive $21,275 in cash and tax payments on their behalf — about $77 million in all — atop the $50,000 apiece most received initially. An additional $38 million will go to nonprofit groups chosen by lawyers who represented those in the class action, and the remaining $265 million will endow a Native American-led trust that will distribute money at its discretion to nonprofit groups over 20 years...more

Cattle in Grizzly Country

In the aspens of Alberta’s foothills, Charlie Russell carefully positions a dead cow among some boulders. Along a low ridge near the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Karl Rappold and his wife ride horses, whistling and pushing cows and calves to higher pastures. North of Yellowstone Park, Dre Ramirez stretches polywire fencing as Ancient White Park cattle graze nearby. What do these people have in common? They are all trying to make peace between grizzly bears and cows in the Northern Rocky Mountains at a time when conflicts have been mounting. Unfortunately, these practitioners of coexistence and compassion are the exceptions, not the norm. If federal protections for grizzly bears are removed, the states (especially Wyoming) will manage conflicts by tending to kill the involved bear and by sport hunting. The practice of coexistence may continue among dedicated ranchers like these, but overall the landscape for grizzly bears will be deadlier. How can we prevent this from happening and build instead on recent successes?...more

New Mexico water official orders investigation

New Mexico’s top water official has ordered his staff to investigate complaints from ranchers about the fencing of watering holes on some national forest lands. State Engineer Tom Blaine made the announcement Thursday after receiving a letter from dozens of state lawmakers who are concerned about the U.S. Forest Service’s efforts to protect the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse. The lawmakers have asked Blaine to use his authority to stop the federal agency. Blaine says New Mexico continues to be concerned with federal mismanagement of public lands and effects on farmers, ranchers and their livelihoods. He says he’s committed to working with lawmakers and local communities to ensure access to needed water.  AP

New Mexico lawmakers challenge feds over rare mouse

Nearly half of New Mexico's Legislature is stepping into the fray between ranchers and the federal government over the fencing of watering holes on national forest land to protect an endangered mouse found in three western states. The 50 lawmakers say the government has overstepped its authority and is trampling private property and water rights. They've sent a letter to State Engineer Tom Blaine, asking that he use his authority as New Mexico's top water official to stop the U.S. Forest Service from limiting access to springs, streams and other riparian areas. The Forest Service first began ordering closures and installing fences in 2014 on the Santa Fe and Lincoln forests. The mouse also is found in Arizona and Colorado, and federal wildlife officials recently set aside nearly 22 square miles in the three states as critical habitat.  AP

Paris climate agreement on track for early start

As many as 170 countries are expected to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change Friday in a symbolic triumph for a landmark deal that once seemed unlikely but now appears on track to enter into force years ahead of schedule. U.N. officials say the signing ceremony Friday will set a record for international diplomacy: Never before have so many countries inked an agreement on the first day of the signing period. That could help pave the way for the pact to become effective long before the original 2020 deadline — possibly this year— though countries must first formally approve it through their domestic procedures. "We are within striking distance of having the agreement start years earlier than anyone anticipated," Brian Deese, an adviser to President Barack Obama, said in a speech last week at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. The U.S. and China, which together account for nearly 40 percent of global emissions, have said they intend to formally join the agreement this year. It will enter into force once 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions have done so...more

Dahl sheep in NM: Gentle, wild, hardy, and beautiful

ALBUQUERQUE - As Donald Chavez approached the pole-fence corral, the four white sheep — a ram, two ewes and a lamb — moved off toward the center of the enclosure. Chavez grinned. “You get just close enough to talk to them, and they walk off,” he said. From a distance, the sheep watched their visitors as intently as the visitors looked at them, the Albuquerque Journal reported. They are beautiful animals. The ram sports majestic, curved horns. The ewes have horns, too, but short ones. And the lamb, like most lambs, is super cute. These are New Mexico Dahl Sheep, sheep Chavez believes are descended from the animals Francisco Vásquez de Coronado brought into New Mexico in 1540 during his futile search for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. If they are aware of their lineage, they don’t flaunt it. Nothing pompous about them. They are shy, gentle animals. “They make great beginner projects for 4H and FFA because they are very easy to keep and care for,” Chavez said. The corral is on the grounds of the Gutierrez-Hubbell House History and Cultural Center in the South Valley community of Pajarito. The sheep are the center’s newest, permanent exhibit. It opened officially during a ceremony in early April...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1606

Here's another recent release I like:  Elana James - High Upon The Mountain.  Especially enjoy her fiddle work on this tune, which is on her 2015 CD Black Beauty.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tempers flare amid national-monument speculation in Utah

Angry protesters packed a hearing and Utah lawmakers exchanged testy barbs over control of public lands on Wednesday amid renewed speculation that the federal government could create a new national monument in the state. Republican lawmakers are fiercely opposed to the idea of President Barack Obama setting aside 1.9 million acres to create a new national monument around the Bears Ears formation, and the long-rumored concept gained new urgency Tuesday when Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said she plans to visit Utah. Protesters who want the land protected packed a public lands committee hearing at the Utah Capitol building. American Indian tribes and conservation groups say the land is under constant threat from off-road vehicles and looting. But others say that setting aside the land in southeastern Utah will hurt the local economy and keep American Indian elders from going there for cultural reasons. "I'm here to tell you that a national monument will be devastating for my grassroots Navajo people," said Rebecca Benally, a county commissioner in southern Utah...more

The article also covered recent controversies on the land transfer issue: 

Utah lawmakers are exploring the possibility of suing the federal government and commissioned a report on the idea. The law firm they hired recommended that the state take on the case, even though the lawyers said winning wasn't a sure thing. Democratic and environmental groups are critical of the potential lawsuit, and two lawmakers are pushing for more information. They say they've only seen the parts of the report that are in favor of a lawsuit, and they want more information about possible downsides. "It's the public's money and we have a right to know all the information," said an impassioned Democratic Sen. Jim Dabakis of Salt Lake City. But Republican lawmakers said the report has only been seen by the two chairmen of the state's public lands committee. They said releasing the information to more people could tank the case before it begins by breaking the bonds of attorney-client privilege and revealing their legal strategy. The committee defeated a proposal to share the full report with Dabakis and Democratic Rep. Joel Briscoe, also from Salt Lake City.
"To just hand them our playbook before the game even starts is ridiculous," said Republican Rep. Mike Noel of Kanab.

Herbert calls for special session to pass anti-monument resolution, fund education

Gov. Gary Herbert is calling on for a special legislative session to address two separate issues for Utah. Herbert is concerned the President Obama may declare a national monument in Utah. He also wants to restore funds from a senate bill that didn't cross his desk intact with $4.8 million marked for education initiatives. "It is absolutely irresponsible for the Obama Administration to consider a new national monument that is over two and a half times the size of Rhode Island without input from Utahns from across the state who will be significantly impacted by this decision," Gov. Herbert said. "As governor of the State of Utah, I have stated repeatedly that I oppose such a declaration. Today, I am asking every member of the Utah State Legislature to go on record and join me in expressing our opposition to another unilateral national monument within the state." Interior Secretary Sally Jewell plans to visit to Utah over summer to hear about proposals for conserving public lands. The Obama administration has told Herbert no national monument will be designated in Utah without an open, public process occurring first...more

Leaked BLM sage grouse draft memos spark fears

Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

In early March at a hotel in downtown Denver, delegates for Western governors were handed paper copies of a Bureau of Land Management draft instruction memo on how to ensure cattle grazing does not harm habitat for the greater sage grouse.

The draft document caused a stir for some members of the state-federal Sage-Grouse Task Force, who are working closely with the Obama administration to ensure that the bird, which narrowly avoided an Endangered Species Act listing, can thrive alongside public lands users, including thousands of ranchers.

The memo and an attachment described how BLM might respond if domestic cattle were found to gobble up too much of the grass that grouse need to hide their nests from predators. BLM might consider delaying or shortening grazing seasons or allowing fewer cows to roam the range, it said.
"We have concerns over how they are written and what they could mean for ranchers in Idaho," said Dustin Miller, a top natural resources aide to Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (R), whose administration is challenging BLM's sage grouse plans in a federal district court in Washington, D.C.

The memo, which Greenwire obtained from a separate source, is one of several guidance documents BLM is developing that will clarify how it implements new sage grouse land-use plans governing grazing, oil and gas drilling, mining, renewable energy and other activities across roughly 50 million acres in 10 states.

As reaction to the draft grazing memo suggests, there will be some discord along the way. BLM is hosting several internal and external meetings this month and gathering feedback from task force members to try to smooth out concerns.

Interior Secretary touts BWCAW as “special place”

The political tea leaves are looking increasingly ominous for the future of the Twin Metals copper-nickel project, near Ely. In a major speech before the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C., on Tuesday, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell identified the 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as one of three “special places” where the Obama administration is reexamining decisions by previous administrations to see whether they “properly considered where it makes sense to develop and where it doesn’t.” Secretary Jewell’s comments reflect her department’s current re-examination of two longstanding federal mineral leases near the Boundary Waters. For Twin Metals, which currently holds the expired leases, renewal is critical to the company’s plans to develop a copper-nickel mine several miles southeast of Ely. While the Secretary never mentioned the leases directly during her speech, Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan said there was no doubt about the meaning of her reference and he said it suggests the Obama administration may be leaning towards a presidential declaration to permanently protect the Rainy River watershed from mining. “I got physically sick I was so disturbed by it,” said Nolan, who added that he sees a well-orchestrated campaign behind the recent push for non-renewal of the mineral leases. “First you had the governor’s decision, then the BLM [Bureau of Land Management] decision, then Walter Mondale’s letter,” he said...more

Species Wars: Return of the Wolf

So the USFWS was tasked with magically bringing back the Mexican wolves from the brink of extinction with only seven left. As it turns out, it ain’t magic—it’s science! And the science says that the wolves in the wild need the DNA of the captive wolves or else the whole project will crumble due to serious inbreeding, which creates weak animals that die easily. “Well hold on just a cotton-pickin’ minute,” you say. “Why can’t we just be the top predators? I mean, that’s basically the point of the N.M. Game and Fish Department (NMGF), right? To give hunters permits to hunt those deer and elk so there aren’t too many? Plus I’m sure the NMGF commissioners have the best interests of wildlife in mind, right?” Eh, not really. Their slogan is “Conserving New Mexico’s Wildlife for Future Generations,” but the phrase “to Kill” should be tacked on the end. Of the seven commissioners who in fact hire their own director and “set the department’s overall direction,” six proudly fall in the hunter/rancher category. Only one is primarily in the conservation camp. And this bizarrely pro-hunter commission and its interests in the ranching business seem to be the major obstacle to Mexican wolf reintroduction in New Mexico...more

Filmmaker to screen documentary 'Stories of Wolves' on Sunday

Filmmaker Elke Duerr will screen her feature-length documentary, “Stories of Wolves: The Lobo Returns” at 6 p.m. Sunday in the Light Hall Theater on the WNMU campus. A question-and-answer session with Duerr will follow the screening and she will tell stories from her field work with the wolves. Suggested donation at the door is $10. The event is open to the public. Duerr visited Aldo Leopold Charter School Wednesday morning and screened a shorter version of the film for students. “The 12-minute version is more conducive for the school setting,” Duerr said. “The students were very interested in the story of the wolves and their struggles.” Duerr said her film is a balanced presentation of the struggle of the wolf, and covers the perspectives of both the rancher and the conservationist. Duerr, who resides in Whitefish, Montana, is also a writer and photographer, and used to be a speech language pathologist in Albuquerque. “For thousands of years we have heard how bad wolves are,” Duerr said. “I am telling the story of co-existence, the story of how people have learned to survive with wolves. I believe the eco-system works when it is complete, with wolves and cattle, ranchers and conservationists.” She calls this holistic approach to ecology “the web of life.” Duerr says her interest in wolves began when she was a child in Germany. “I grew up on organic farm, and my grandfather once showed me piece of land he called ‘the wolf trap,’ and he said that was where the farmers had killed last of the wolves. He said it like he was proud of it, but I wasn’t,” Duerr said...more

145 House Members Demand Answers from EPA on Anti-Farmer Campaign

Yesterday, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX), and Rep. Brad Ashford (D-NE) were joined by 142 Members on a bipartisan letter to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy. The Members request answers on EPA Region 10’s funding of website and advocacy campaign in Washington State that attempts to influence legislators for greater regulation of farmers and ranchers. Rep. Newhouse: “Federal law is clear, and the EPA knows better than to be engaged in the misuse of taxpayer dollars for anti-farmer publicity campaigns that lobby for more regulations. Despite previous EPA violations of federal laws pertaining to funding propaganda, advocacy, and lobbying efforts, it is troubling that the EPA has allowed taxpayer funds to be used to attack farmers. The EPA must be held accountable to cooperate fully with oversight investigations and to end the pattern of taxpayer-funded lobbying efforts.” release

El Nino blasts Southwest, West with big storms

As temperatures warm and planting wraps up across the West and Southwest, young crops are either emerging or reaching various stages of early growth just as an El Nino driven winter storm clashed with an exceptionally powerful moist Gulf of Mexico inflow that brought record snows to Colorado and heavy rains and sporadic tornadoes across Texas and Oklahoma Sunday and into early Monday bringing death and damage across a wide area. In Southeastern parts of Texas and along the Texas coast, the heaviest rains—more than 17 inches—have fallen in Harris County where farms and ranch homes were filled with water, and recently planted cash crops were damaged or destroyed Monday. National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters called one-day rain totals historic. Meanwhile, a significant winter storm assaulted the mountainous West over the weekend and dumped exceptionally heavy snow on the Rockies across Colorado. Denver received nearly 52 inches of fresh snow just west of Pineclife with an incredible 49 inches of fresh snow near Golden by Sunday. More than 33 inches of a fresh snow fell over parts of Wyoming with the Northern New Mexico mountains receiving nearly a foot of snow by Sunday afternoon...more

U.S.-Mexico drug tunnel spanned 800 yards, held 2 tons of cocaine

A drug-trafficking tunnel nearly half a mile long underneath the California-Mexico border was discovered by federal agents, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Wednesday. Two tons of cocaine and seven tons of marijuana, worth nearly $22 million, were seized by federal agents who believe this to be the "longest cross-border tunnel ever discovered." The 800-yard tunnel route begins at a house in Tijuana, Mexico, and ends in the Otay Mesa neighborhood of San Diego. Agents were hot on the tail of the alleged drug traffickers after they noticed a commercial truck deliver an industrial dumpster filled with wood scraps to an outdoor industrial lot; days later, agents discovered this to be an entryway into the tunnel. The tunnel was furnished with ventilation systems, lights and even a large elevator that led into a closet inside the Tijuana residence, officials said."This case is a strong reminder of the vulnerabilities that exist along the Southwest border," said Hunter Davis, director of air operations for Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations...more

Sheriff: Without Secure Border Every County Will Be ‘A Border County’

In testimony before Congress Tuesday, a Maryland sheriff said amnesty for minors has led to increased gang crime and warned that without a secure border every county will be a “border county.” “Open borders, reckless sanctuary policies, and failure to enforce our immigration laws have greatly impacted public safety and national security throughout every jurisdiction of this country. Every single day, more Americans are becoming victims of senseless crimes, being injured and killed by criminal aliens, many are transnational gang members,” said Sheriff Charles Jenkins of Frederick County, Md. 287(g) is a program that allows local police organizations to enforce federal immigration laws, though Jenkins claims that the Obama administration has gutted this program. The sheriff said, “Since 2008, this Administration has weakened immigration enforcement by dismissing deportation cases, rescinding 287g agreements, encouraging sanctuary policies, and watering down detainer policies.” “The criminal alien gang numbers are growing, and the serious crimes being committed are increasing,” he testified. “There is also a nexus between the deferred action on unaccompanied minors and the increases we are seeing in gang crimes.” Both MS-13 and 18th Street are recruiting in schools in his county and at one high school the two alien gangs break out into fights frequently. In 2015, 64 percent of the criminal alien gang members his sheriff’s department encountered entered the U.S as unaccompanied minors...more

Illegal Alien Convicted for Shooting Texas Cop Caught Sneaking Across Border

Border Patrol agents arrested a previously convicted illegal alien over the weekend as he tried to re-enter the country illegally. A Texas court had convicted the Mexican national who tried to kill a Brownsville Police officer in 1989. The arrest took place on Sunday when U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested the illegal alien when he was trying to enter the country near Brownsville, information provided to Breitbart Texas by the Border Patrol revealed. During questioning by officers, the man gave authorities a false name and a false date of birth. Upon further investigation, agents determined that the illegal alien from Mexico had been previously jailed for the attempted capital murder of a Brownsville Police officer in 1989. The agency did not release the man’s name. Breitbart Texas was able to identify the man through state court records as Marco Antonio Quintero. Quintero was sentenced to 65 years in prison for the crime. He was paroled after serving 25 years...more

FBI, Customs to investigate shooting on Arizona-Mexico border

An 18-year-old suspected drug smuggler wasn’t injured when a U.S. Border Patrol agent fired two shots at him during an encounter Tuesday in the southern Arizona desert. The FBI and a Customs and Border Protection internal review board are investigating the shooting that took place on Tohono O’odham Nation land about 75 miles southwest of Tucson. Tucson Sector spokesman Matthew Eisenhauer said the encounter unfolded shortly after 4 p.m., when agents who had been tracking a trio of smugglers carrying marijuana bundles attempted to make an arrest. One of the smugglers, an 18-year-old Honduran who has been previously deported, ran away and was chased by an agent. The suspect stopped, picked up rocks from the ground and threw them at the agent while making verbal threats, Eisenhauer said. The Border Patrol has not named the man or the agent. The agent is a 12-year veteran who has been placed on standard administrative leave...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1605

We'll feature some new bluegrass releases.  Here's some great advice from Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands - Let That Liar Alone.  The tune is on their 2016 CD The Hazel & Alice Sessions

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

State says it will sue U.S. Fish and Wildlife over wolf release plan

New Mexico state officials notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today they are prepared to sue to block the release of more Mexican wolves. Lawyers for the state Department of Game and Fish filed a “Notice of Intent to Sue” with the federal agency, calling its plan to release more wolves “unpermitted and illegal.” In a plan described as “aggressive” and posted Monday to its website, the Fish and Wildlife Service said it intends to release a pack of wolves in New Mexico, and could “cross-foster” into wild packs some pups born in captivity. But state officials who denied the federal government permission last year to release wolves into the wild said the planned releases would violate federal law. They say under the law, the federal agency is required to cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with the state. They said they will go to court to try to block the releases unless the Fish and Wildlife Service backs off and agrees to take part in a dispute resolution process...more

Obama admin narrows planned overhaul of petition process

The Obama administration yesterday afternoon scaled back a sweeping proposal to change the way members of the public can formally ask the Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service to review the status of animals or plants under the Endangered Species Act. When they were proposed last year, the changes -- which the services claimed would make the petition process more efficient, collaborative and transparent -- were cheered by Republicans, industry groups and states but criticized by some conservationists (Greenwire, May 19, 2015). After considering feedback from the public and stakeholder groups, however, the services have decided to make the draft rule more favorable to conservation organizations, which file the vast majority of the petitions. "These revisions reduce some of the burdens the initial proposal placed on petitioners, yet retain the proposed improvements to the quality of incoming petitions and ensure better working partnerships with states, which are critical in conserving America's imperiled species," FWS Director Dan Ashe said in a statement. Specifically, the new revisions simplify the original proposal that petitioners coordinate with states. Petitioners would now be required to send a notification letter to the state wildlife agency in each state where the species resides at least 30 days before submitting the petition to FWS or NMFS. But the services removed the initial requirement for petitioners to certify that they have provided all relevant information on a species, which many conservationists had characterized as an unreasonably high bar...more

Months before Oregon standoff, armed activists were in town

Months before their takeover of a national wildlife refuge became an international fascination, an armed group of ranchers made its presence known in the surrounding Oregon community, following around the sheriff, his deputies and their families and intimidating those who publicly disagreed with them, Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said. The federal government has charged 26 people with the 41-day-long occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge this winter in a protest over land policy. The group's leader Ammon Bundy first requested a meeting with Ward on Nov. 5, Ward told Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich during a podcast Tuesday. Bundy and fellow protester Ryan Payne were already talking about doing more than just protesting the prison sentence of the two local ranchers, Dwight L. Hammond Jr. and Steven D. Hammond, who were charged with twice setting fire to government land. Bundy and Payne wanted Ward to prevent federal officials from taking the Hammonds into custody. "It was made pretty clear to me that if I went along with their agenda, everything would be all right," Ward said. "There was a lot of ultimatums and saber rattling." On Nov. 19, Bundy was back for a second meeting, this time accompanied by 10 other men, most of them armed. There were also armed men outside the building, making the sheriff vastly outnumbered in his own office. Ward said he made it clear that his job included enforcing the orders of the court. Soon his dispatch center was flooded with so many phone calls complaining about his stance that it was essentially shut down. More strangers began arriving in town. Some followed the sheriff, his deputies and their family members, Ward said...more

Senate Passes Energy Policy Bill That Was Stalled by Flint

The Senate passed, 85-12, an energy policy modernization bill on Wednesday that was stalled for months by Democrats' efforts to use the measure as leverage for a package of federal spending to address the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich. The bill (S 2012) is the first broad energy policy bill passed by the Senate since 2007. It provides for modest policy changes that could win bipartisan support, including streamlining the permitting for liquefied natural gas exports, mandating improvements to the electric grid's reliability and security, raising energy efficiency standards for commercial and federal buildings, and permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It now faces reconciliation with a more ideological House-passed energy bill (HR 8), and a short calendar for getting it done. The White House threatened to veto the House bill over measures that it said would derail the Obama administration's agenda to reduce climate-warming carbon emissions from fossil fuels...more

And it includes two new wilderness areas in NM, compliments of Senator Heinrich.

Feds Order Wolf Trapping in New Mexico

An endangered Mexican gray wolf in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico will be removed from the wild for killing cattle, according to a newly disclosed order from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Trapping the two-year-old alpha male of the Luna pack would further reduce the struggling wolf population that declined by 12 percent in 2015. Only 97 wolves were counted in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona in January, down from 110 the previous year. Three wolves have already died this year, including two accidentally killed through government trapping. Trapping is to commence only after the targeted wolf’s mate localizes in a den to give birth, or after May 15, the last possible date for whelping, in order to avoid harming her. Yet, even with human feeding of the female, any pups will be less likely to survive once their father is removed...more

1890: Horse thieves caught by Sheriff Whitehill

March 1, 1890, Silver City Sentinel

While at Deming a week ago Sheriff Whitehill learned of a herd of 24 horses among which were three magnificent stallions, having been driven from Old Mexico through Deming by four suspicious characters. Investigating further he found a young fellow named Miller who informed him that he was acquainted with the outfit, that they were thieves and that one of them was yet in Deming visiting his wife. Miller explained that the men had stolen a band of horses from Deveere and Cooper's ranches in Dona Ana county, taken the animals to Mexico and there traded them off for the stock driven through Deming. By the assistance of Miller, Sheriff Whitehill located and shadowed the thief who had had laid over in the town to see his wife, and the pair were followed to Silver City, where the man parted with the woman and started for the Gila. Four deputies and several member of the Southwest Stock Association followed him, and were led to the retreat of his three companions at a point on the bank of the stream. The desperadoes and their plunder were quickly surrounded and the villains ordered to throw up their hands. They sulkily complied, whereupon all four were taken into custody, brought to the city and jailed. They gave their names as George West, Frank Murray, Harry Locket, and _____ Dolores, and upon searching them six-shooters and Bowie-knives were found concealed about their clothes and three of the desperadoes wore fine steel chain body armors...more

Cochise spending thousands to keep endangered wolf out of region

...The wolf, whose U.S. population is in east-central Arizona and west-central New Mexico, was given space to roam more widely under a new rule announced in January 2015 by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that expanded their territory south of Interstate 10, into southeastern Arizona. Cochise County is pushing some of the strongest efforts against this expansion of the Mexican gray wolf experimental population area, where wolves released from captivity are allowed to live. There are no wolves in Cochise County now. But that hasn’t stopped the county from spending tens of thousands of dollars on an effort to fight the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s rule. Many of the arguments come down to sharing space. Board Chairman Richard Searle believes that introducing wolves into the region will put stress on ranchers and their livestock. The wolf’s diet consists 80 percent of elk, of which there are few in Cochise County, said Sherry Barrett, the Mexican wolf recovery coordinator for U.S. Fish and Wildlife. The other 20 percent includes animals such as deer, rabbits and possibly livestock. “Without a prey base, it’s not only unfair to our residents who have domestic livestock and pets and whatnot, but it’s also unfair to the wolf,” said Searle, who’s been on the county’s Board of Supervisors for 12 years. In mid-March, the Sierra Vista Herald reported that the county allocated more than $64,000 toward natural-resource issues. One of those concerned the wolf’s expanded range. The county has paid about $36,000 toward a lawsuit filed by the coalition of Arizona and New Mexico counties against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Cochise County joined the lawsuit after the wolf’s territory was expanded, the Herald wrote. The lawsuit also includes private organizations, such as the Southern Arizona Cattlemen’s Protective Association. The litigation, which has no initial hearing date according to Barrett, argues against the experimental zone’s expansion as well as a “restrictive” rule that, among other things, requires ranchers who “take” a wolf — which includes harming, shooting or killing it — to report it within 24 hours.  More than $24,000 of the $36,000 was spent to hire a consulting firm, which produced a 189-page document that became the foundation of the county’s arguments. Cochise County Supervisor Ann English has mixed feelings about the county’s involvement in the lawsuit...more

Fish and Wildlife announces ‘aggressive’ wolf release plan in NM

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to release Mexican wolves in New Mexico this year despite state opposition. In a plan described as “aggressive” and posted Monday to its website, the service said it intends to release a pack of wolves in New Mexico and could “cross-foster” into wild packs some pups born in captivity in an effort to improve the genetic diversity of the free-ranging endangered population of Mexican wolves. “Initial releases and cross-fostering are the preferred methods available to improve the genetic diversity of the wild population,” the plan states. “The 2016 plan is aggressive by attempting as many cross-fostering efforts as logistically possible, while continuing to evaluate the efficacy of the method.” Last year saw an epic battle between the wildlife service and the New Mexico Game Commission, which after months of bureaucratic back and forth ultimately denied the federal government permission to release wolves into the wild in New Mexico. The service subsequently stated that it would use its federal authority – trumping state authority – to carry on with the program. New Mexico Game Commissioner Bob Ricklefs said the commission had no official reaction yet but added, “We knew it was coming.” Fish and Wildlife Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle said the service “values the partnership we have with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and it remains our policy to consult with the states in our joint efforts to recover species.” He added, “Recovery of the Mexican wolf remains the service’s goal. We have a statutory responsibility and the authority to recover the Mexican wolf and strive to do so in a collaborative manner with our partners.”...more

Feds Signal They’re Ready To Rumble Over Western Land


There’s a battle brewing in the West, and the feds are ready to take off the gloves.

In a speech that seemed a bit like a battle cry Tuesday, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell laid out a broad vision for conservation in the U.S., calling for renewed efforts to fund National Parks, reaching out to a more diverse group of Americans, and cultivating new generations of people who appreciate parks.

But the address also included a strong response to recent conflicts in the West. Those conflicts, including the standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge, the Bundy family’s confrontation with the feds in 2014, and several other skirmishes, were sparked by the federal government’s management of vast tracts of land in Western states.

While Jewell didn’t mention those standoffs by name, department spokesperson Jessica Kershaw in an email to BuzzFeed News cited both Oregon and Nevada as examples of what Jewell referred to as “the emergence of an extreme movement to seize public lands” and “land grabs.”

“This movement has propped up dangerous voices that reject the rule of law, put communities and hard-working public servants at risk, and fail to appreciate how deeply democratic and American our national parks and public lands are,” Jewell said Tuesday.

...The secretary also made a number of other hints that the feds are ready to take a harder line with those trying to stop conservation, including touting the benefits of the Antiquities Act — a law passed in 1906 that gives the president the power to designate national monuments with the stroke of a pen, and is among the most controversial tools used to set aside Western land.

Jewell described the Antiquities Act as “one of the most important tools a president has to improve our country,” adding that the Act ought to be used even if it is controversial.

“I do not think the Act should only be used in places where there is complete agreement, as some are suggesting,” Jewell said.

Obama’s Next National Monument Could Ignite “Fierce” Land Battle In The West

One hundred miles northwest of the Four Corners, two buttes rise out of the red dirt and scrubby brush. The buttes, named for their ursine appearance, are known as Bears Ears, but for visitors of this remote corner of Utah, the glowing sandstone and hawks gliding overhead might distract from what the area is becoming: a battleground. This sprawling 1.9 million-acre parcel of land may soon become a new national monument — a protected space similar to a national park. There are a few ways for a place to obtain that status, but in the case of Bears Ears, all eyes are currently trained on President Obama, who can declare a national monument with the wave of his pen. Battles over the federal government’s ownership of large stretches of land in the West go way back. The 1970s and 80s saw the rise of the “Sagebrush Rebellion,” and the Bundy-led standoffs in Nevada and Oregon were the latest iteration of that still-simmering conflict. Across the West people are still arguing, and occasionally fighting, over who should control the land. And there’s no place where that’s more true than Bears Ears. A coalition of Native Americans wants the large stretch of land to become a national monument — but a special kind where they share control. The push to turn Bears Ears into a national monument took off last fall. Though there had been talk of protecting the site before, a group of Native American tribes calling themselves the Bears Ears Coalition submitted a 66-page proposal for the site in October...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1604

Ranch Radio prefers the high-tone, uptown, sophisticated type of country music.  Here is a wonderful example of the exquisite sound we are famous for:  The Jacoby Brothers - Who Ye Primpin' Fer.  The tune is on the CD Collectors Choice, Vol. One, Texas Fever.

Secretary Jewell calls for "major course correction" in conservation

"We as a country need to make a major course correction in how we approach conservation to ensure a bright future for our public land and waters," Jewell said in a speech in Washington, D.C. Land grabs for development, population growth and climate change are to blame, she said. And smarter landscape-scale planning and attention to deteriorating park infrastructure are essential. The majority of people visiting national parks in Colorado and other Western states appear to be old and largely white, Jewell said. "Which means we haven't found a way to connect to the young people of today, who are more diverse, more tech-savvy and more disconnected from nature than ever before," she said. "We need to kick off the new century of American conservation by issuing a giant, open invitation to every American to visit their national parks and public lands." A new analysis by the nonprofit group Conservation Science Partners, based on satellite images and federal land data, found that natural areas are disappearing rapidly. Jewell said this group's "Disappearing West" report is alarming "because healthy, intact ecosystems are fundamental to the health of our nation." The degradation of nature and loss of natural land coincides with flare-ups in the movement to seize public lands. Jewell referred to the armed standoff in Oregon this year, a 41-day ordeal at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which exposed wide sentiments in Western states against federal control over activities on public land. Western politicians also have proposed sell-offs of public land and putting more federal land under state control. "This movement has propped up dangerous voices that reject the rule of law, put communities and hardworking public servants at risk, and fail to appreciate how deeply democratic and American our national parks and public lands are," Jewell said...more

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Judge Says Tribe Can Intervene in Casino Case

Wisconsin's Menominee Indians have standing to intervene in another tribe's dispute over a casino contract, the D.C. federal court ruled. The Potawatomi tribe sued the federal government and the U.S. Department of Interior in January 2015, challenging their rejection of an amendment to a gaming compact between the tribe and the state of Wisconsin. Other defendants included Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn. The amendment would create a 50-mile "no-competition zone" around the Potawatomi's casino in Milwaukee. It also would require the state to compensate the Potawatomi if another tribe builds a casino within that zone. The Menominee have proposed a casino of their own in Kenosha, approximately 33 miles from the Potawatomi's facility. The Potawatomi alleged that the federal government mistakenly interpreted the amendment as to require the Menominee to compensate them for lost revenue. In a 17-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the Menominee have the right to intervene in the lawsuit, despite the arguments of the Potawatomi. She noted that the Menominee have been trying to establish a casino of their own for years. "The Menominee would suffer concrete injury if the Court grants the relief that Plaintiffs seek, namely, an order setting aside the Federal Defendants' disapproval of the 2014 Compact Amendment and compelling the Federal Defendants to approve the 2014 Compact Amendment or to cause the 2014 Compact Amendment to take effect as 'deemed approved' under the IGRA," Kollar-Kotelly wrote. She stated that if the Potawatomi wins their federal lawsuit, the state would have to pay them to allow the Menominee's casino. "The requested relief, if granted, would, as a practical matter, impede the Menominee's efforts to obtain a gubernatorial concurrence and would thereby impede their efforts to develop a gaming facility in Kenosha," the judge wrote. Kollar-Kotelly placed some conditions on the Menominee's intervention. For example, the tribe must confine its arguments to "the existing claims in this action and shall not interject new claims or stray into collateral issues."...more

Its fun to watch government at work.  First, Wisconsin outlaws gambling, which then creates a market for tribal government casinos.  Then one tribe negotiates with the state a no-competition zone, which would prevent any other tribe from establishing a casino within that zone.  The aggrieved tribal government then goes to a government court for relief.  All under the watchful eye of the great white father in DC.

25,000 Endangered Species Condoms to Be Given Away for Earth Day

Earth Day may get people thinking about recycling, cutting back on driving or getting out into nature, but the Center for Biological Diversity is also asking them to think about saving the planet through safe sex. The Center is distributing 25,000 free Endangered Species Condoms nationwide for Earth Day to highlight the connection between reproductive rights and the wildlife extinction crisis. The condoms will be given away by 300 volunteers at Earth Day events, rallies, and on college campuses in 46 states.  The Center’s Endangered Species Condoms were created to raise awareness about the effect of rampant human population growth on wildlife species and are wrapped in colorful packages featuring six different endangered species and information about the impact of runaway human population growth on polar bears, monarch butterflies and other imperiled wildlife. The Center has given away 650,000 of the free condoms since 2009...more

New Obama Administration Habitat Rules Grant Limitless Discretion to Federal Agencies

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing on the Obama Administration’s expansive new definitions and revised criteria for designating critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act.
Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) argued the new rules allow the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service nearly limitless discretion in restricting private and federal land use. He pointed out the negative impact they will have on the American people.
“These rules will now make it even easier for the federal government to absorb larger and larger swaths of land and water […] from local, state governments and private citizens. […] It’s going to hurt people, and unfortunately those people who are going to be hurt have almost no recourse towards this particular situation,” Bishop said.

The rules usurp Congress’ legislative and constitutional prerogatives, and create sweeping new authorities to designate critical habitat at the agencies’ sole discretion.  

“The Services have essentially granted to themselves authority to designate any area that may, someday in the future, become suitable for a species—even in places where there is absolutely no evidence currently that the species have existed there. […] In the future, I expect the agencies to ask Appropriations for tarot cards and ouija boards so they can do the work under this expanded rule," Bishop stated.

Vice Chairman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) highlighted the expected litigious challenges that will result from the new rules and called for an updated conservation strategy.

“Court battles slow down the ability to recover species and steal money from recovery. We need a new 21st century conservation effort that is consistent with the movement that the American people have made in their understanding of sound science. […] We can and should do better for our wildlife,”  Lummis stated.  

Wyoming witness Karen Budd-Falen, Senior Partner of Budd-Falen Law Offices, LLC, grew up a fifth-generation rancher and commented on the impact the rules will have on the local agriculture community.

“While the agriculture community raised a huge alarm over the ‘waters of the U.S.,’ the Fish and Wildlife Service was quietly implementing these new rules, in a piecemeal manner, without a lot of fanfare. Honestly, I believe these new habitat rules will have as great or greater impact on the private lands and federal land permits […]. I would hope that the outcry from the agriculture community, private property advocates, and our Congressional delegations would be as great,” Budd-Falen said.

Colorado witness Robbie LeValley, County Administrator of Delta County, argued the new rules will not benefit habitat species and will have a negative economic impact on ranchers and rural communities.

“Imposing regulatory change on grazing without any scientific basis is unwarranted and makes it clear that this Administration’s intent is to manage away from productive uses, rather than actually protecting species and their habitat,” LeValley stated.

Highlighting the FWS’s inconsistent track record on ESA implementation, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) asked Dan Ashe, Director of FWS, why—despite growing numbers of wolves—the Service has not finalized its 2013 proposed wolf delisting.

“The wolf is probably one of the most frustrating issues during my tenure as Director. […] We’re kind of like that truck that’s in the mud up to the running board, so you know we can’t go forward and we can’t go backward,” Ashe responded. 

California Dumps a Trillion Gallons of Fresh Water in Ocean – Declares Water Shortage

California is dumping trillions of gallons of fresh water into the ocean, creating a man-made disaster, to protect an non-endangered bait fish. For years now, the southern 1/3 of the beautiful San Joaquin Valley’s farmland has been turned into a “man-made” dust bowl. The water is being allowed to just run off the mountains, through the river system, through the delta, and out into the ocean. The water is being reserved for the little Delta Smelt, a three inch bait fish...Now, California is in the midst of a drought. As the Governor institutes water emergency rules, they just let all that water just keep pouring into the ocean. Unbelievable! The Climate Change, Save the Whale, Hug the Tree, Save the Baitfish crowd consistently uses a false narrative to to accomplish their political agenda. Now scientists are predicting a 35 year mega-drought in the West. When does the madness stop?  Environmental and endangered species laws are being used to force a political agenda, and in the process, doing severe damage to our country. Filmmaker David Spady is working on a movie to highlight the travesty. No Water. No Farmer. No Food. reveals the extent to which both rural and urban populations rely on the nation’s agricultural industry...more

EDITORIAL: Washington overreach?

The Obama administration has made a habit of doing end-runs around the law. So it should come as no surprise that the ongoing sage grouse battle in Nevada and the West may also involve putting politics before good policy.

As The Associated Press’ Scott Sonner reported last week, rural Nevadans are suing to block the Obama administration’s greater sage grouse protection plan. They say a trail of internal government documents shows politics was the driving force behind a pre-determined policy that flies in the face of its experts’ own best science.

Mr. Sonner noted that the latest motion filed in federal court seeks to void protections that have severely restricted development of millions of acres of federal land across 10 Western states. Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and lawyers for nine Nevada counties, ranchers and miners say three top Interior Department officials who dubbed themselves the “Grouseketeers” illegally sought input from conservationists outside the planning process.

...What’s especially galling is that the sage grouse’s biggest enemy is arguably the federal government, not the prospect of mining or ranching or, dare we say it, joining the fracking boom. Land mismanagement has contributed to greater wildfire damage, the single greatest threat to sage grouse habitat. Further, there’s this Catch-22: Ravens are responsible for about half of all predator-caused losses to sage grouse, but ravens are a federally protected species. In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management can’t contain the wild horse population, which tramples the sagebrush.

Granted, it would have been far worse had Secretary Jewell enacted a sage grouse listing. But the lawsuit’s allegation of federal government overreach should hardly be a shock at this point. It’s another example among many of the federal government having too much domain over land in the West. The solution is to transfer more federal lands to state and local interests, which have far more incentive to take better care of them and to ensure their productive use.

Jewell: Oregon takeover among several threats to West

An armed takeover of an Oregon national wildlife refuge is part of a disturbing “extreme movement” to seize public lands and reject the rule of law — putting communities and public employees at risk throughout the West, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says in a speech outlining Obama administration conservation policies.The 41-day standoff this winter came at the same time as two other trends that threaten the West, Jewell said: A push by some politicians to sell off lands that belong to all Americans to the highest bidder, and the rapid disappearance of natural areas throughout the region due to climate change and increased development.Citing a new analysis by a non-profit conservation group, Jewell said natural areas in the West are disappearing at the rate of a football field every two-and-a-half minutes. The trend is especially alarming “because healthy, intact ecosystems are fundamental to the health of our nation,” she said.Jewell, who began her fourth year as Interior secretary this month, is set to deliver the speech Tuesday at the National Geographic Society in Washington. The Associated Press obtained excerpts in advance.The convergence of trends threatening the West has “propped up dangerous voices that reject the rule of law, put communities and hard-working public servants at risk, and fail to appreciate how deeply democratic and American our national parks and public lands are,” Jewell said...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1603

Our selection today is Yellow Jacket Blues by Cody Fox & His Yellow Jackets.  The tune was recorded in Chicago on Monday,  December14, 1936.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Baaaad idea: DoD spent $6 million on failed goat-mating project

Lawmakers themselves couldn't seem to believe that Friday's House Armed Services hearing on waste in Afghanistan involved discussing a herd of Italian goats. "This is the kind of stuff that belongs on 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,' not as a subject of a congressional hearing," said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, referencing a satirical news show on HBO. The Pentagon spent $6.1 million shipping Italian male goats to Afghanistan to mate with female Afghan goats to make cashmere as one of several initiatives to boost the Afghan economy after the war.  John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said the project included nine Italian goats and 10 from Tajikistan. Task Force for Business and Stability Operations personnel who worked on the project, which he deemed a "failure," had "no idea what they were doing," according to Sopko's written testimony...more

I've been around a long time and witnessed many instances of government incompetence.  But they can't get goats to mate?  Would probably fail with rabbits too.  We need to put these folks in charge of wolf recovery.

Senate Republicans pushing for more #GreenPork; The ‘establishment’ is slow to learn

By Marita Noon

In this election cycle, we hear a lot about the “establishment.” Most people are not really sure who they are, but they are sure that they do not like them. The anger toward the establishment is not party specific and has propelled two unlikely candidates: Donald Trump on the Republican side and Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democrats.

...However, one might define the “establishment,” it certainly includes long-time Washington politicians like Senators Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who have just engaged in the exact tactics that have fed the voter frustration aimed at them. Avoiding a vigorous debate, they are using a must-pass bill to sneak through millions in totally unrelated taxpayer giveaways to special interests in the renewable energy industry—and they hope voters won’t notice.

The bill is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act. On April 6, using an unrelated House bill (H.R. 636) that will serve as the legislative shell for the Senate’s FAA measure (S. 2658), the Senate began consideration to reauthorize the FAA for 18 months. It is expected that the bill will be voted on this week, followed by the House — which will take it up when it is back in session.

...While many Republicans opposed the addition of the renewable energy tax credits, provisions supporting investments in fuel cells, geothermal and biomass were included in the Senate negotiations. Addressing the Senate’s scramble to “settle on a cohesive strategy” regarding attaching the renewable energy tax breaks to the bill, Politico reports: “House Republicans have made it clear they’re not interested in renewing any of the expired tax provisions this year.” The bill’s coverage in Roter Daily states: “key Republicans have already warned fellow House members to oppose a deal on tax extenders if it comes out of the Senate, saying they have consistently failed to promote economic growth and create jobs.”

As we have seen with the recent demise of government-funded, green-energy projects, such tax credits and subsidies have repeatedly failed to deliver on their promises of long-term job creation and economic viability. It is for this reason that, on April 5, a coalition of more than 30 organizations sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee expressing our deep opposition to the proposal. The letter, of which I am a signatory, states: “Congress considered the matter of expiring tax provisions less than 4 months ago. … It should also be noted that Congress extended significantly favorable tax treatment to renewable energy in omnibus appropriation legislation that accompanied the aforementioned tax extender package.”

The EPA's Scary Race Car Ban Proposal Is Dead

The Environmental Protection Agency caused quite a stir earlier this year, when a proposed regulation appeared to prohibit the tampering of emissions controls on road cars converted for competition use. Naturally, this left a lot of people in the motorsport community over in the US rather worried, since changing things like fuel systems and exhausts is pretty damn common for DIY racings cars. However, everyone who might have fallen foul of the new law can breathe a sigh of relief.  The last time the EPA tried to clarify its stance, it merely made things worse by seeming to suggest that the tampering of emissions controls on converted racing cars had been against the rules for some time, but now the organisation has dropped the offending words entirely. In a statement to confirm its new position, the EPA said last week:
“The proposed language in the July 2015 proposal was never intended to represent any change in the law or in EPA’s policies or practices towards dedicated competition vehicles. Since our attempt to clarify led to confusion, EPA has decided to eliminate the proposed language from the final rule.”

Paris climate deal to be signed by over 130 countries at UN ceremony

A record number of more than 130 countries will sign the landmark agreement to tackle climate change at a ceremony at UN headquarters on 22 April, the United Nations said on Thursday. Secretary general Ban Ki-moon is hosting the signing ceremony on the first day that the agreement reached in Paris in December opens for signature. The UN chief, French President Francois Hollande, and environment minister Segolene Royal, who is in charge of global climate negotiations, have invited leaders from all 193 UN member states to the event. The UN said signatures from over 130 countries, including more than 60 heads of state and government, would surpass the previous record of 119 signatures on the opening day for signing an international agreement. That record is held by the opening day signing of the Law of the Sea treaty in 1994...more