Friday, June 17, 2016

Evidence in Oregon standoff case immense, including 6,000 hours of video

As U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown pushes ahead to begin selecting a jury in September for the federal conspiracy trial in the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, defense lawyers have raised concerns about the volume of evidence they need to decipher and their need to know more. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight said he anticipated it will take the government three to four weeks to present its case. Jury summonses have gone out and several hundred people have responded that they'd be available for a Sept. 7 trial, the judge said. Brown is convening a work group to figure out how to lay out a courtroom to allow so many defendants to be tried at once and save some room in the gallery for spectators. "I'm pushing us all hard because I respect the right asserted by the parties to a speedy trial and a fair trial," Brown said during a monthly status hearing Wednesday. "Just because the record includes a lot of information, doesn't mean it can't be done." Defense lawyers have said the evidence received so far is staggering: 6,000 hours of video, more than 13,000 photographs, up to 250,000 pages of Facebook account information and more than 40,000 pages of FBI reports. They're also pushing the federal government to release additional information: the investigative reports regarding the FBI Hostage Rescue Team's apparent shooting at Robert "LaVoy" Finicum and the alleged tampering of evidence; the FBI's use of vast databases to obtain information on the defendants and any evidence that suggests the FBI and government officials sought "to grab and own social media" to manipulate information about the refuge occupation...more

Congressional Democrats Meet To Discuss ‘Right-Wing Domestic Terrorism’

House Democrats held a meeting Wednesday to discuss the threat of “violent extremism on America’s public lands,” just a few days after a Muslim man shot up a gay nightclub in the name of the Islamic State. Democrats alleged the GOP is not doing enough to prevent “violent extremism on America’s public lands,” The Washington Post first reported. They convened the meeting to discuss Republicans’ decision to opt out of holding a hearing on armed militia who occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for roughly 40 days starting in January. The minority party slammed Republicans, saying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation was the latest of “violent threats” to government land in a letter written to House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop in April...more

Arizona Rep. Grijalva targets extremism on public lands

“There is a war simmering in this country, centered in the West,” said Richard Cohen, head of the liberal advocacy group Southern Poverty Law Center, in a House Democratic forum hosted by members of the House Natural Resources and Homeland Security Committees this week. Cohen was referring to the increase in incidents of violence and intimidation targeting federal land agencies. The 41-day armed occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the Cliven Bundy standoff in Nevada in 2014 are just two of the most visible battles in this “war” that High Country News has chronicled in-depth. The forum took place on June 15 and was put on by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, and Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi. To support the congressmen’s efforts to address extremism, 32 former federal employees — including former heads of the U.S. Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management, among others — also recently signed a letter urging Congress to act, marking what may be the first time so many high-profile former federal employees have spoken in concert against the threat to public lands and federal land employees, posed by the self-described Patriot movement...more

North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty In Oregon Refuge Case

A man who traveled across the country to participate in the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge. Jason Blomgren of Murphy, North Carolina, is the fourth person to plead guilty in the takeover that began Jan. 2 and lasted 41 days. The protesters led by Ammon Bundy wanted the federal government to relinquish control of Western lands. Appearing Thursday at U.S. District Court in Portland, the 42-year-old Blomgren admitted that he performed guard duty at the refuge and prevented federal employees from doing their jobs. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped a weapons charge. Sentencing has been scheduled for Oct. 14. Prosecutors recommend six months of home detention. Twenty-two other defendants continue to prepare for trial.  AP

Massachusetts AG Demands Docs From More Conservative Skeptic Groups

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is now the latest state prosecutor to start investigating conservative groups with supposed ties to ExxonMobil, after she issued a subpoena for 40 years of internal company documents and communications with a handful of think tanks. Healey’s office subpoenaed Exxon as part of a multi-state effort among liberal attorneys general to investigate Exxon for allegedly trying to cover up global warming science. Healey charges that the oil giant lied to shareholders and consumers about the risks of global warming in its communications and shareholder filings, according to a copy of the subpoena obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. Healey demands decades worth or records from prominent conservative think tanks, including the Heritage Foundation and activist group Americans for Prosperity, and also from smaller, lesser known state-based right-leaning groups, such as Boston’s Beacon Hill Institute and the Acton Institute...more

Cleaning Up Environmental Regulation

by Diane Katz 

Environmental regulations constitute a hefty portion of America’s regulatory burden, in large part because “reform” is an alien concept within the Environmental Protection Agency. But the House GOP on Tuesday unveiled a new policy agenda that, with any luck (and political fortitude), will reverse decades of regulatory excess and abuse.

In many respects, the need for reform of regulation has never been greater. In the past seven years, the Obama administration has increased annual regulatory costs by $108 billion annually. Decades of command and control regimes have produced massive, ineffective, and unaccountable bureaucracies. And the nation’s primary environmental statutes are woefully outdated.

Now comes “A Better Way,” a series of reform proposals from a task force of House Republicans that incorporates many of the regulatory lessons of the past four decades.

As noted in the chapter on regulatory reform, “What federal agencies need more than anything else is some humility. At the very least, new and existing federal regulations can be modernized to inflict far less economic pain.”

Regulatory costs are a problem, to be sure. But the regulatory onslaught of recent years has also exacted an incalculable toll on individual liberty. So pervasive has regulation become that the fundamental character of the nation now resembles servitude to a vast administrative state.

Obama heads to national parks with climate message in mind

U.S. President Barack Obama is taking his family to two national parks this weekend on a working vacation where he will spend some time with his teenaged daughters while making the case for more spending on conservation and curbing climate change. The Obamas will venture into the ancient labyrinth of caverns beneath the desert at Carlsbad, New Mexico, on Friday before flying west to the Sierra Nevada mountains and Yosemite, the country's oldest national park and one of its most popular landmarks. The president will help celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service, and he is also expected to talk about his plan to reduce climate-changing carbon emissions. He sees this as part of the legacy of his time in office...more

Hurting for Cash, U.S. National Park Service Turns to Companies

The elevators that will carry President Barack Obama 750 feet down into the caves of Carlsbad Caverns are working again, just in time for the first family’s visit this week to the national park. Out of service all year until last month, the elevators were part of the National Park Service’s growing backlog of overdue maintenance projects. As Obama travels to New Mexico and California to mark the 100th anniversary of the park service, he’ll find that one of the government’s most popular programs, with a record 307 million visitors last year, is showing its age: a record $12 billion in deferred maintenance. That backlog has grown during Obama’s presidency as Congress has refused to increase funding for the nation’s parks. The park service increasingly looks to corporate sponsorships and licensing deals with companies like Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, American Express Co. and Subaru of America Inc. to help defray its costs. “It’s old and cantankerous,’’ park service spokesman Jeffrey Olson said of the elevator system at Carlsbad Caverns. “And there are things like that all over the park service.’’...more

Forest Service Sued for Not Protecting Gray Wolves and Other Threatened Species

Gray wolves and other threatened species are not getting enough protection in a Minnesota national forest, Greens claim in a federal lawsuit. The lawsuit filed in D.C. Federal Court by Earthworks and the Center for Biological Diversity seeks declaratory and injunctive relief. The defendants are the U.S. Forest Service and its chief, Thomas Tidwell; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. In their June 6 complaint, the environmental groups say they are concerned about the fates of the gray wolf, northern long-eared bat and Canada lynx in the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota. The non-profits claim the government has not ensured that its revised Land and Resource Management Plan for the forest will not destroy the threatened species' habitat. They are asking a federal judge to find the defendants have violated the Endangered Species Act, and to compel them to initiate a new ESA consultation and biological opinion for the forest plan. The environmentalists also want the court to halt any projects that would affect the animals until these actions take place...more

Philadelphia is 1st major American city with soda tax

Philadelphia became the first major American city with a soda tax on Thursday despite a multimillion-dollar campaign by the beverage industry to block it. The City Council gave final approval to a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary and diet beverages. The tax is set to take effect Jan. 1. Only Berkeley, California, has a similar law. Soda tax proposals have failed in more than 30 cities and states in recent years, including twice in Philadelphia. Such plans are typically criticized as disproportionately affecting the poor, who are more likely to consume sugary drinks. The tax, which passed 13-4, was a hard-fought win for the city. The soda industry spent millions of dollars in advertising against it, arguing it will be costly to consumers. The plan also attracted national attention and dollars, with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Texas billionaires John and Laura Arnold, advocates for less consumption of sugary drinks, funding ads in support. The American Beverage Association called the soda tax "discriminatory and highly unpopular." "The tax passed today is a regressive tax that unfairly singles out beverages, including low- and no-calorie choices," it said a statement...more

Think of the precedent this sets.  The Deep Thinkers pick a product they don't like, tax it, then spend the revenue on pet projects.  Can you think of a product these types believe is both bad for the environment and bad for your health?

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1637

Today Ranch Radio brings you Eddy Arnold's 1948 recording of A Heart Full Of Love

Thursday, June 16, 2016

State Rep. Jim Townsend on Governor Martinez's visit to Sacramento Mountains

 Rep. Townsend posted this on Facebook today:

Good Morning. Yesterday Governor Martinez and three of her Cabinet members, State Engineer Tom Blaine, Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte and Director of Game and Fish Alexandra Sandoval spent the whole day in the Sacramento Mountains. The purpose was to investigate and address the issues caused particularly by the United States Forest Service. I am hopeful and supportive of the Governors comments supporting the ranchers and the agriculture industry yesterday. I can't remember a time that I've known of the Governor and three of her cabinet members to spend the entire day investigating and openly talking to constituents in such a manner. I am very appreciative to her and staff, as well the 50 Legislators, from both parties from all over the State, that signed the letter of support to these ranchers. This isn't a Republican or Democrat issue, it's a New Mexican issue potentially affecting every water user in the State of New Mexico. It was refreshing to see such genuine interest by Leadership in the issues confronting an industry in distress. One other thing that I thought remarkable and absolutely refreshing, at the end of the meeting, that at points might be described as pointed and emotional, State Engineer asked that we pray and thank God for strength and wisdom as we address the issue. So on the side of a dirt road in the Sacramento Mountains we prayed, and to that I say. AMEN.

Chipotle made a dramatic change to its steak — and some customers absolutely hate it

Chipotle changed its steak to make the chain safer - but, some customers are saying it changed their burritos for the worse. Following the E. coli crisis, Chipotle made some serious changes to its steak preparation, in an attempt to avoid another food poisoning outbreak in the future. Now, steaks are pre-cooked at a low temperature in an off-site central kitchen, then shipped to restaurants to be marinated and seared on grills. "If there is any difference, it's that the steak may be more tender than it was before," Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold told Business Insider. "The response has been great. Customers really seem to like it." Some customers, however, disagree. "Ever since the e. coli scare that Chipotle went through months ago, the taste of their food was rather... bland," a Reddit post titled 'What happened to the taste?' recently stated. "Once I realized this... I stopped going to Chipotle and looked for other venues of fast food."  Redditors replied to agree, many focusing on issues with the steak. "The new steak sucks, plain and simple," said one. "It's dry, overcooked, and therefore chewy. I actually just had 'fresh' steak last night (they had just pulled it off the grill and sliced it) and it was still dry and overcooked." "Used to be a three time a week regular, same with a bunch of friends," said another. "Anyone who was a steak lover including my girlfriend has stopped going really."...more

Governor Martinez visits the Goss Ranch

The Goss Family posted this on Facebook Wednesday evening:

We were honored to meet and spend the day with Governor Susana Martinez. She was genuinely concerned about the water and jumping mouse issues. The governor, State Water Engineer Tom Blaine, Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte, and Director of Game and Fish Alexa Sandoval understood the issues and were sympathetic to the impact the electric fences are having on our cattle operation. They truly appear to want to help find a way to alleviate the problem. We look forward to the governor taking the appropriate action.

I've been critical of Governor Martinez's lack of engagement on federal land and water issues, so this is heartening to see.  Let's hope this effort wasn't to just "calm the waters" and the Governor and her staff will seek an equitable solution to this troublesome issue.  I hope she follows through and that similar problems faced by rural New Mexicans will be addressed in the future.

Tiny waterfront lot sparks Supreme Court showdown

...At the heart of Murr v. Wisconsin, the controversy is the 1-acre lot next to the cabin. It's vacant, except for a volleyball net. There's a tree-filled bluff on the side opposite the river. Murr's sister, Peggy Heaver, calls it the "problem" lot. The siblings want to sell that prime piece of riverfront property to help pay for work on their cottage. It's pricey to keep it up and pay the taxes, and they want to raise the building to protect it against periodic flooding when the river rises. Past floods have caused extensive damage, and Murr points to the high-water mark on a pillar in the front of the cabin. In 2004, the family decided to sell that vacant property. They were told they couldn't. The Murrs' parents bought the adjacent 1.25-acre parcel in 1963 -- three years after buying the plot with the cabin -- as an investment. But environmental regulations that took effect in 1975 required a total area of at least an acre to develop, and a county ordinance that requires subtracting wetlands and floodplains from the total land area meant the Murrs' vacant lot was too small to develop. The ordinance has a grandfather clause allowing single-family residences to be built on lots created prior to 1976, but only if the property isn't under the same ownership as an adjacent lot. Because the Murr family owns both parcels, that clause doesn't apply. The ordinance also prevents the Murrs from selling the vacant lot unless they combine it with the lot under their cabin, which they don't want to do. So the Murrs found out they couldn't sell their "problem" lot, and they couldn't build on it. If anyone else had owned the vacant lot, however, they would have been able to build...more

Spending bill blocking EPA regulations heads to the House floor

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday advanced a $32.1 billion spending bill for the Interior Department and environment programs, sending a bill laden with policy riders to the House floor. The bill cuts $64 million from current spending levels and would block a handful of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules. It would cut the EPA’s budget by $164 million, which is a smaller cut than Republicans have pursued in the past. But the spending bill blocks a handful of regulations — Democrats counted 33 policy riders on the bill — that Democrats say will hurt environmental programming. “The number and outrageous nature of the riders in this bill pander to special interests at the expense of the public good,” Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) said at the Appropriations Committee’s mark-up on Wednesday. The bill blocks a host of rules, including those setting carbon limits on power plants, protecting streams from coal mining waste, regulating methane emissions and defining bodies of water under the EPA’s purview. The full bill is $1 billion less than what President Obama requested in his budget. It bumps funding for clean water and drinking water state grant programs, directs the U.S. Forest Service to spend up to half its funding on wildfire prevention and suppression and cuts funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service...more

Dem Congressmen: First Amendment Doesn’t Protect Global Warming Skeptics

by Michael Bastasch

California congressmen wrote a letter to state attorney general Kamala Harris claiming the freedom of speech “is not designed to protect fraud and deceit” of the likes being spread by oil company ExxonMobil about global warming.

Nineteen Democratic lawmakers told Harris her “investigation as to whether ExxonMobil lied about the truth of climate change and misled investors does not constitute an effort to silence speech or scientific research.

 “The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but it does not protect companies from defrauding the American people or improperly disclosing information to their shareholders,” lawmakers, including California Reps. Maxine Waters and Ted Lieu, wrote to Harris.

 Harris joined attorneys general from New York, Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands in investigating Exxon’s global warming stance based on reporting by liberal journalists.

...Republicans, however, have come out against the Exxon probe, arguing it’s being pushed behind the scenes by activists with an ax to grind. AG investigations into Exxon has also sparked free speech concerns since it has ensnared dozens of conservative think tanks, policy experts and scientists.

Virgin Islands AG Claude Walker joined Harris and others in targeting Exxon. Walker has already subpoenaed a libertarian think and a D.C.-based public relations firm.

Walker’s subpoena targets prominent conservative and libertarian think tanks, including the Heritage Foundation, the Heartland Institute, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Energy Research.

Arctic drilling debate flares up again

The future of oil and gas drilling in the U.S. Arctic faces a critical test as the White House considers whether to continue leasing undersea fields off Alaska's remote northern coastline. For decades, oil workers have drilled into the frozen tundra of northern Alaska, tapping a reserve that once accounted for close to a quarter of the nation's oil production. But as the flow of oil from those fields has declined, companies like ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell looked out to the iceberg-packed waters of the Arctic Ocean. Now, the Obama administration will decide whether the potential benefit to U.S. energy security outweighs both its commitment to reduce the country's carbon emissions and the potential risk of an oil spill in what are perhaps the country's harshest and most remote waters. Since Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced in March that lease sales along the Atlantic coastline were off the table, attention has shifted to the Arctic as energy industry trade groups and environmentalists try to sway the White House. That has sparked concern among oil companies operating in Alaska that their opportunity to drill off northern Alaska could be finished. Kara Moriarty, president of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, which represents companies such as Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil, said she thought canceling the lease sales "would be incredibly shortsighted. The environmentalists should go look at what the forecasts show about where their energy is going to come from." A coalition of environmental groups that includes the Sierra Club and the Alaska Wilderness League was preparing this week to deliver a petition with 1 million signatures opposing lease sales in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees offshore drilling, Greenpeace senior researcher Tim Donaghy said. Their demands follow a meeting of world leaders in Paris in December at which close to 200 countries agreed to put carbon emission controls in place to keep the planet from warming no more than 2 degrees Celsius. "We've discovered more than enough oil to put us over that limit," Donaghy said. "Looking for more oil at this point is counterproductive."..more

WSJ Ads Call Out WSJ’s Climate Denial

The Wall Street Journal’s opinion page is perhaps the most influential outlet for climate denial and rarely gives its readers accurate information about how fossil fuels cause global warming.
A new ad campaign from The Partnership for Responsible Growth seeks to fix that, giving readers real facts on climate change and driving them to to learn about solutions. Yesterday, they kicked off the campaign with a quarter-page ad in the Journal’s opinion section featuring the headline: “Exxon’s CEO says fossil fuels are raising temperatures and sea levels. Why won’t the Wall Street Journal?” (Good question!)  The Washington Post has the ad for you to see, as well as the inside scoop, revealing tidbits such as how the paper charged nearly $10,000 more for the first ad that calls out the WSJ than it did for the next dozen that don’t explicitly reference the paper. (The WSJ disputes that claim, responding that the first ad is simply full price while the rest are discounted…)...more

Judge: No release for Ryan Bundy

A federal judge Wednesday rejected Ryan Bundy’s demand to be released from custody so he can appear before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has been serving as his own lawyer since his January arrest during the armed occupation of an Oregon bird sanctuary. He’s also facing federal charges in Nevada for his role in an armed standoff with federal agents at this father’s ranch. Bundy and lawyers for other defendants charged in both cases have said it’s improper to make them defend two cases at once in different states. The appeals court plans to hear oral arguments Thursday in San Francisco, and Bundy wants to be there. But U.S. District Court Judge Anna J. Brown denied his request for transfer or release, saying it’s not her call and it should have been brought up sooner. “I’m not a magician,” she said. Bundy was attempting to have a different federal judge, Robert Jones, hear the matter Wednesday afternoon, but nothing was on the docket as the courthouse neared closing time. Jones, to ease the load on Brown, has been hearing requests for pretrial release from the more than 20 defendants charged in connection with the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge...more

Oregon standoff defendant Darryl Thorn backs away from plea deal

Oregon standoff defendant Darryl W. Thorn, who was scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday afternoon to a federal conspiracy charge stemming from the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, abruptly announced in court Wednesday morning that he had changed his mind. "I'd like to withdraw my plea today," Thorn said, standing to announce his decision during the monthly status hearing in the refuge takeover case. Thorn's court-appointed lawyer, Laurie Shertz, also asked the court to withdraw as Thorn's lawyer. It was the second time since her appointment that Shertz asked to step aside. The two met privately before U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown on Wednesday afternoon, before Brown accepted Shertz's removal from the case. The judge said she was convinced there was an "irreparable breakdown'' in the attorney-client relationship between Thorn and Shertz. About a month ago, Shertz had been ordered to remain as Thorn's lawyer despite her earlier attempt to withdraw. Thorn, of Marysville, Washington, is out of custody on pretrial release living and working in the Spokane area. He will be assigned a new court-appointed attorney, Brown said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel said the government would hold open its plea offer to Thorn "for a reasonable period of time," as he obtains a new lawyer. The details of that offer were not made public Wednesday...more

New player joins New Mexico political scene

There’s a new player on New Mexico’s political scene: an organization started by a ranch-owning oil-and-gas lawyer that gave nearly $50,000 last month to various Republican state political committees. The New Mexico Habitat Conservation Initiative was formed recently by Dan C. Perry, a lawyer who relocated from Texas to Santa Fe and owns Trout Stalker Ranch, a fly-fishing and hunting operation just south of Chama along the Rio Chama and Rio Chamita. He was active in the successful effort by ranchers and others during the 2015 legislative session to get a bill passed, and signed by Gov. Susana Martinez, that bars the public from walking or wading in streams that run through private property without written permission. It was narrowly approved – passing the House by just a single vote – and Perry wants to make sure it doesn’t get undone in the Legislature. “We want to maintain that law. That’s one reason we set up the initiative,” he told the Journal on Wednesday. Protecting private property rights and promoting conservation stewardship will be major focuses of the Habitat Conservation Initiative, he said. There is no other specific legislation on the horizon that the group is interested in, “but we’re prepared to address issues if they come up,” said lawyer Marco Gonzales, the lobbyist for Trout Stalker Ranch. Habitat Conservation Initiative made its first political contributions in May, giving $10,800 to each of four Republican-affiliated political action committees and $5,000 to the campaign of House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, who is spearheading the effort to get Republicans elected in November and keep the GOP’s hold on the House...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1636

Streamlined Cannonball is a tune written by Roy Acuff, and here it is beautifully performed by Tennessee Ernie Ford & The Dinning Sisters.  The tune is on Ford's CD Rock City Boogie

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

New York City moves forward with plan for deer vasectomies

New York City is moving forward with efforts to control the overpopulation of deer on Staten Island with vasectomies. The Staten Island Advance reports Comptroller Scott Stringer is allowing the city to fast-track the contracting process on a $2 million study. The state Department of Environmental Conservation must also approve the plan. The department has said deer fertility control programs have "limited effectiveness." It only permits such programs if they're part of a scientific study. Deer can harm property, spread tick-borne illness and cause traffic accidents. A 2014 aerial survey found 763 deer in Staten Island's green spaces. Some ecologists believe there might now be more than 1,000. The study would start in September. Hundreds of bucks would be tranquilized, given vasectomies and released onto parkland over three years.  AP

What do you call a castrated deer?  A balless buck?  A deer steer?   A nutless, rutless cervidae?  Dancer or Prancer?

Actually, they are going to give them a vasectomy.  I guess castration is just too cruel.  So what do you call a city that will spend $2 million to have a bunch of vasectomized venison running around?

Change of plea hearing set for refuge occupier

A change of plea hearing has been scheduled for a man arrested following the Ammon Bundy-led occupation of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon. Jason Blomgren, 42, of Murphy, N.C., is set to appear in a federal courtroom in Portland on Thursday. He earlier pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States and possession of a firearm in a federal facility. Blomgren was granted pre-trial release in March after his attorney argued that he needed to go back to North Carolina to help care for a son who has autism. Blomgren joined the occupation about a week in after reading about it online. Court records show a federal judge approved spending for Blomgren’s transportation from North Carolina ahead of Thursday’s hearing. More than two dozen occupiers were arrested after the 41-day standoff that ended Feb. 11. Two of them — Corey Lequieu and Eric Lee Flores — have already accepted deals in which they pleaded guilty to conspiracy in exchange for the dismissal of the firearm charge. Prosecutors have recommended a 2 ½-year prison sentence for Lequieu, who has a prior felony, and six months of home detention for Flores, a first-time offender. Bundy and his remaining co-defendants are scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for a status hearing in their case...more

Mexican wolf management to appease livestock producers may run out the clock on recovery

...The wolf being hunted is M1396, named “Guardian” in an annual contest run by Lobos of the Southwest for Albuquerque schoolchildren to name 17 wolf pups born in 2014. “Guardian” was suggested by a sixth grader who wrote that he chose it “because wolves need a guardian to keep them safe and to help their population rise.” He hoped a wolf named Guardian would be “a good luck charm to all the other wolves out in the wild trying to survive” and a guardian of the species so it never goes extinct. He follows his brother, m1384, who the same contest had named “Century.” The pair of sixth graders who suggested the name wrote, “About 100 years ago there was a big abundance of Mexican gray wolves, and now they’re being reintroduced. This wolf species almost went extinct because of settlers that moved into their territory. … When the wolves had less territory to hunt, they would find it easy to hunt the settler’s cattle.” Those same settlers, the students’ essay continues, then felt afraid for themselves and their livestock, and so began killing the wolves, while no one thought about protecting the species. Guardian and Century were both born to the Fox Mountain Pack, one of 19 packs roaming southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. Earlier this year, Guardian was spotted with the Luna Pack female and was soon considered her mate and the new alpha male of that pack. The Fox Mountain Pack has a history of livestock depredations, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the species’ recovery. The agency’s field reports from this spring suggest that behavior moved to the Luna Pack with Guardian, fueling the agency’s decision to trap him to prevent him from teaching those habits to the Luna Pack female. His removal left the female and her unknown number of pups without a partner in raising them; they depend on food the Fish and Wildlife Service now supplies her. Their hope is that she’ll re-match with her former mate, a male still roaming near her den. But it’s a gamble...more

The above is from a four thousand word article by Elizabeth Miller in the Santa Fe Reporter.  The article primarily addresses wolf/livestock conflicts, but doesn't quote one single rancher.  CBD is there, USFWS is there, Ted Turner's guy is there, but no ranchers.

Moniz: Nobody predicted gas supplanting coal so quickly

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz told western governors in Jackson on Monday that nobody predicted how quickly low natural gas prices would upend the coal industry. Speaking at the Western Governors’ Association annual meeting, Moniz said the looming question for experts had been whether low gas prices would affect renewable energy industry — not coal. Proliferation of hydraulic fracturing has uncorked a surfeit of natural gas upsetting the traditional energy market’s fuel mix. “Are low natural gas prices going to drive out renewables?” Moniz said of the conventional thinking. “The facts are, [the energy industry sectors] low natural gas prices have actually hit hard are coal and nuclear.” Moreover, change came quickly. “No one predicted the speed we have seen,” he said. The tide won’t reverse, Moniz warned. “There is essentially an inevitability in this direction,” he said of the move toward cleaner and low-carbon fuels. Gov. Matt Mead asked whether the Department of Energy’s loans and grants were going toward renewables or fossil fuels. The remaining $40 billion authorized in the Loan Programs Office for the next five years is earmarked largely by legislation, Moniz said. About $8.5 billion is dedicated for fossil fuel research and only $4.5 billion — the smallest amount — for renewables and efficiency. Sixteen billion dollars are proposed for advanced technology vehicles manufacturing and $12 billion for nuclear research...more

Interior Secretary Sees More Collaboration From States, Locals; Governors Want ESA Reform

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the ongoing Bureau of Land Management Planning 2.0 process will “make more space, not less” for collaboration between the federal agency and state and local governments, especially with respect to land-use planning such as that involved in the decision last fall not to list the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species List. But one Western governor challenged Jewell June 13 as to whether state leaders will have input early in the process of land use planning. “With respect to the governors' consistency reviews, it doesn't look that way right now,” Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) said. “In fact, it feels like its getting narrower versus broader. The way the process worked this last time with respect to the sage grouse, it felt perfunctory. I want it to feel like we've been listened to. We do want to be heard early in the process versus the end.” The exchange between Jewell and Sandoval occurred during a session of the annual meeting of the Western Governors Association in Jackson, Wyo., in which Jewell addressed issues of federal and state cooperation on natural resource management and public lands, including climate research, wildfire, energy, and species conservation. At its annual meeting, the WGA announced a policy resolution calling on Congress to amend and reauthorize the Endangered Species Act of 1973 based upon seven broad goals, including “maintaining the Act’s integrity and original intent to protect and recover listed species to a point where the protections of the Act are no longer necessary.” “If you care, as western governors do, about species and conservation, you also have to care about making the ESA operate at the most effective level possible,” said Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R), WGA chair, who made species conservation and improvement of the Endangered Species Act the focus of his chairmanship over the past year. Among the seven goals stated in the resolution is the requirement to “clear recovery goals for listed species, and actively pursue delisting of recovered species.” But Dan Ashe, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, told Bloomberg BNA the “political environment” in Washington, D.C., means it is unlikely Congress will take up the recommendations referenced in the governors' resolution. “And as a practical matter, there isn't enough time” for Congress to do so under the current administration, he said...more

Anyone who has read the proposed revisions to the planning regs can only conclude they want less input and involvement from state and local government. 

Cash-strapped Park Service mulls corporate sponsorships

Francis, a 41-year veteran of NPS, blamed insufficient funding from Congress. Tight budgets had already forced him to cut staff and visitor services, Francis said. In his eight years as superintendent, the number of permanent maintenance staff tasked with mowing the parkway's roadside grass, maintaining its highway shoulders and cleaning its bathrooms was cut by half, from roughly 80 to 40, he said. "We'll never have enough money to keep the roads in excellent shape like we were accustomed to," Francis said. "I would imagine all of the parks are feeling the pain." Francis is right, according to national park advocates, current and former NPS officials, and government watchdogs. As the Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary, scarce funding threatens its ability to fulfil its basic mandate of preserving America's iconic scenic, historic and recreational sites for the public's enjoyment. Consider this fact: In 2010, the Park Service had the equivalent of 22,211 full-time employees managing 394 units, including national parks, preserves, recreation areas, historic sites, battlefields and parkways. By last year, that workforce number had been trimmed to 19,539 -- yet the number of park units had risen to 409. Most reductions came from the Park Service's operations account, it said...more

Ranchers Frustrated By Water Spills from Oil Fields

Ranchers in drought-prone South Texas usually celebrate every drop of water that falls their way, but when an oil field services company pumped the contents of a frac pond onto his property April 30, Tommy Shockome called the sheriff's department. Shockome and neighbor Gilbert Torres watched the water pour from the lined pond on another ranch onto their properties southwest of Kenedy, one of the busiest areas of the Eagle Ford Shale, a 400-mile oil field that arcs across South Texas. The water was brown and rust-colored and foamy. And it was everywhere - flooding Torres' terraced land before running across Shockome's property and into his pond. Some of the waste eventually disappeared down the county road. The call to the sheriff was an attempt to make sure someone else saw what happened, but it was the start of what would come to be a weekslong circle of state, federal and corporate bureaucracy for the neighbors to navigate...more

Wyoming Whiskey, started by ranchers, partners up for US expansion

Wyoming Whiskey has teamed up with consultancy firm Proprietors LLC as it plans a US-wide brand expansion. The Wyoming Whiskey distillery is located in Kirby, near central Wyoming and was founded by fourth generation cattle ranchers who use hand-selected and locally grown corn, wheat and barley for the brand. “Wyoming Whiskey has all the tenets we look for in a great Bourbon – slightly higher in proof at 44% alcohol by volume,” said Alex Day, Proprietors LLC Partner. “The liquid itself has subtle floral aromas that are backed by touches of brown baking spices in taste, a smooth mouth feel and a ncie finish. “It’s a whiskey that is great for sipping on its own while it also plays phenomenally in cocktails.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1635

Today we have a true love song of the West.  In 1954 Johnny Ragsdale crooned this poetic piece titled Ten Thousand Cows, which is available on the Cactus CD Columbia Hillbilly Vol. 2.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Senate spending bill trims EPA spending, blocks regs - Udall opposes

A Senate panel on Tuesday approved a GOP-backed spending bill that blocks regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Senate’s 2017 Interior and environment spending bill provides $32 billion to the EPA and Interior Department programs — about $1 billion less than President Obama requested in his budget and slightly less than what House Republicans are aiming for. The bill includes a handful of policy riders designed to block environmental regulations, and it cuts funding for enforcing those rules currently on hold in the courts system, the “areas where the EPA has clearly overstepped its bounds,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said during a subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. The bill blocks the EPA’s Clean Water Rule — also known as the “Waters of the United States" rule — as well as some mining regulations. It trims the EPA’s $8.1 billion budget by $31.2 million, but Republicans noted it maintains or increases spending for agency clean drinking water programs.  Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) previewed Democrats’ opposition to the bill in the full Appropriations Committee later this week and, eventually, when it hits the floor. “In many ways I feel like it’s deja vu all over again and it’s very frustrating,” he said, noting past GOP efforts to block EPA rulemaking in spending bills. “Democrats have been clear — the White House has been clear — we are not prepared to gut environmental laws to get spending bills passed.” Among other things, the Senate’s bill increases spending for new parks and maintenance across the National Park Service to mark the agency’s 100th anniversary. It also increases funding for Forest Service firefighting efforts. The Appropriations Committee will consider the bill Thursday...more

About today's THE WESTERNER

I screwed up Sunday morning.  In my haste I posted the previous week's Julie Carter column, rather than the new one.  And, I forgot to post my column.  They both appear today.

I screwed up Monday morning.  Regular readers will have noticed I've learned to embed documents on this website, witness Friday's edition where I posted the Game & Fish court documents.  My intent was to publish the two national articles about me, but somewhere between Friday and Monday morning I unlearned how to embed a document.  After two hours of trying I graciously and calmly gave up.  After a few hours sleep, and actually going back and reading the tutorials, they both appear today.  I've had quite a few questions, comments and requests for the articles, which are not available on the internet.  Hope this satisfies those requesters, along with my vanity.

The Real...Actual...Up-To-Date Julie Carter Column

Buyer beware

by Julie Carter

Horse trading is a refined art that is often compared in-kind with used-car sales and brings with it the same use of cuss words and disdain. Along those lines but with a honed attempt at curbing my language skills, I will share a few confessions about a few horses I shouldn’t have bought.

I, meaning me personally or any one of several people I know that should all know better, have been dinged by the horse trader on more than one occasion. I will share their stories as well.

One cowboy wrote, “Last year I bought a horse at the Spring Horse Sale for $900 and sold it at the December sale for $500 and never looked back. I finally got a set of shoes on him before the sale. It took two of us and a lot of drugs. We even gave the horse some. He never learned to neck rein but I did get the buck out of him long enough to sell him. Talk about an outlaw. He sure was perty though!”

I personally bought one of those really “perty” ones that was represented as a “little cinchy once in a while.” It wasn’t long before I realized I owned a horse that needed a shot of drugs before you could saddle him. He only flipped upside down when you pulled the cinch too tight or too fast and that only happened once in awhile. Sometimes he waited until you were sitting the saddle.

Then there was the big very pretty palomino that was the answer to a dream. It had rained a foot in the Panhandle, something that rarely happens. So when the cowgirl went to look at the horse, he was standing knee deep in mud.  She fell in love with him at first sight, wrote the check and trudged him through the mud to the trailer to take him home. On dry ground she could see he was about as pigeon-toed as he could be and still walk. Since it didn’t rain again for a long time, it took her awhile to find him a new home.

The other pigeon-toed horse story is much the same except this big gentle giant was standing in knee deep grass in south central Texas. He came with high recommendation for his gentle ways and since his job was to raise four ranch children, he made the trip back to New Mexico. The worst part for momma was trying to explain to her husband why she paid perfectly good money for a horse with front feet that were looking at each other.

Then there was the near sighted barrel racing horse. He could and would turn like a rat in a barrel but the problem was he would do it about ten feet in front of the barrel. Hard to win a barrel race that way.

And the mare that was bought at the race track with a head exactly like a mule. When the wife took her husband to see the horse, she had the owner back the mare out of the stall. The mare looked like a million bucks –all the way up to and until the very long ears.

The sale ring horse that would kick your head off your shoulders if you surprised him went back to the sale ring.  Another friend said they have two horses they bought from a trader that will take a trader to get rid of them.

It seems to be human nature to fall for “perty” and ignore every warning signal that sets off alarms in us, telling us to move on, don’t buy this one. I think humans have a tendency to pick their life mates the same way.

Someone said to me recently that it is easier to abandon a man than it is a horse. You don’t have to worry about who is going to feed him.

And the most honest reply I got when asking about the horse they shouldn’t have bought was, “Really, almost every horse I ever bought I shouldn’t have.”

Julie can be reached for comment at

DuBois column

The enclave clause, the disappearing west and some good news

Contra Bundy

Quotes from members of the Bundy family and their supporters indicate they believe Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution, the Enclave Cause, prevents the federal government from owning property within a state except for particular purposes, and then only if the feds have obtained approval of the state legislature.

That Clause grants Congress the power:

“To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings…”
Unfortunately, the purpose of that clause is to authorize and set out a procedure whereby the feds could establish “exclusive Legislation”, or jurisdiction, over certain properties, not to place limits on federal ownership.  Federal exclusive jurisdiction means, basically, that state laws do not apply.

Why did our Founding Fathers include this exclusive jurisdiction language?  History gives us the answer.

In June of 1783 Congress was meeting in Philadelphia when their meeting house was surrounded by disgruntled soldiers who had not been paid.  There was even reports of them pointing their guns at the windows of the meeting house.  Congress requested the Pennsylvania Executive Council call up the state militia.  However, the council refused to do so and Congress was forced to move their proceedings to Princeton, New Jersey for several weeks.

In response to all this, a Congressional committee was formed to “consider and define the jurisdiction proper to be established by Congress” for their “permanent residence.”  The committee issued their report.  This led to several versions being considered by the Constitutional Convention, which was amended several times.  The last amendment accepted, done at the behest of the antifederalists, was to include the requirement the purchase be approved by the state legislature.

During the debate on ratification of the Constitution, James Madison wrote about the Enclave Cause in Federalist 43:

The indispensable necessity of complete authority at the seat of government, carries its own evidence with it. It is a power exercised by every legislature of the Union, I might say of the world, by virtue of its general supremacy. Without it, not only the public authority might be insulted and its proceedings interrupted with impunity…The necessity of a like authority over forts, magazines, etc., established by the general government, is not less evident. The public money expended on such places, and the public property deposited in them, requires that they should be exempt from the authority of the particular State. Nor would it be proper for the places on which the security of the entire Union may depend, to be in any degree dependent on a particular member of it.

It seems abundantly clear that Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution, the Enclave Clause, is about jurisdiction, not limitations on ownership of all types of land. 

However, I’m no attorney.  Just a layman who is plowing through these historical documents and would welcome any comments, corrections or suggestions.

Are we disappearing?

The Conservation Science Partners, in cahoots with the enviro group Center for American Progress, has released a report titled The Disappearing West claiming 4,321 square miles have been developed in the 11 western states since 2001.  The report further states that urban sprawl, commerce and drilling claim the equivalent of one football field every 2 ½ minutes.

So, we have another "crisis" and Congress must act.  An often-used tactic to stir public opinion and help the enviro lobbyists.  And this all happens while the Park Service is pushing their 100th anniversary and the Land & Water Conservation Fund is up for reauthorization.  Just a coincidence, I'm sure.

According to the NRCS, the U.S. contains 1.4 billion acres, 94 % of which is not developed.  That's a helluva lot of football fields.  Do the math and you'll see this is hardly a crisis.

Good News Items

A Wyoming welder, Andy Johnson, built a pond in 2012 for his small herd of livestock.  Then our friends at the EPA informed Johnson he didn’t have the appropriate Clean Water Act permits and ordered him to restore the wetlands or face potential fines of up to $37,500 per day.  So what did Johnson do?  He sued the EPA with the help of the Pacific Legal Foundation and just this month they announced a settlement which allows Johnson to keep the pond in place, with no fines.  “This is a huge victory for us as well as private property owners across the country,” Johnson said.

The Obama administration has dropped its effort to list the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species, handing a victory to oil companies, farmers and landowners in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to not appeal the decision of a federal judge in Texas, who overturned the administration's 2014 listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species.

In Colorado, both the House and Senate unanimously passed The Colorado Water Rights Protection Act, a bill that thwarts federal efforts to control or own water that begins on or passes through federal land, and to do so without paying for it.  Reportedly, the bill does three things: 1. Forces the feds to buy water rights, instead of taking them by manipulating policy. 2. Forces the feds to go through state water court, in compliance with federal law.  3. Orders Colorado’s state engineer not to enforce any water rights restriction by the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, and provides tools for water right holders to fight these agencies in court if necessary. 

And in New Mexico, the State Game Commission continues to stand it’s ground in opposition to the fed’s proposed expansion of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program.  Here’s a great big THANK YOU to Commissioners Kienzle, Montoya, Espinoza, Ramos, Ricklefs, Ryan, and Salopek. 

Till, next time, be a nuisance to the devil and don’t forget to check that cinch.

Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003, is the author of a blog: The Westerner ( and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship and The DuBois Western Heritage Foundation.

This column originally appeared in the June editions of the New Mexico Stockman and the Livestock Market Digest.

American Cowboy article about DuBois

From the December/January 2016 edition of American Cowboy, embedded below or the link is here.

Range Magazine article about DuBois

From the Winter 2015/2016 edition of Range Magazine which is embedded below or the link is here.

Deal: $46M for Interior to buy state land in Grand Teton

Gov. Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a deal Monday under which the Interior Department would buy a square mile of state land inside Grand Teton National Park for $46 million, a big step toward ensuring the pristine property remains in public hands. Under the deal, Congress would appropriate $23 million toward the purchase price. The Grand Teton National Park Foundation and National Park Foundation would provide the rest and have raised $5 million toward that goal, according to Interior. The sagebrush-covered property in Jackson Hole, owned by Wyoming since statehood, offers a wide view of the iconic Teton Range. The land never became part of the busy park in western Wyoming despite being surrounded by park land on all sides. The sale, along with the potential sale of one other square-mile piece of state land in the park, would need to be completed by the end of this year. Otherwise the state could put the land up for sale at a public auction. A growing movement in Western states including Wyoming seeks to wrest control of federal lands from the federal government, not the other way around. But Wyoming for years has wanted the Interior Department to buy or trade for its land in Grand Teton. The problem: While Wyoming could, and did, lease the land for cattle grazing, the revenue was a pittance compared to the land's value. Revenue from the land and other school-trust parcels in Wyoming go to public education...more

Cattle drive - From lowland pastures to mountain meadows

Dick Gaiser, 68, and his brother, Bill Gaiser, 70, are part of a family business involved in ranching in Tuolumne County since 1918. The “GH” brand on their cattle was first registered that same year. “The older families, the Englers, the Rosascos, we all help each other,” Gaiser said Friday near his allotment. Jerry Rundle, Terri Arington and Nathan Rosasco were among the people who showed up Friday afternoon near Gaiser’s grazing allotment, south of Sourgrass Bridge on the North Fork Stanislaus River. Rundle worked on foot, while Arington, Rosasco and others worked on horseback with Engler and the Gaisers. “When we were kids, we used to start down around Don Pedro and drive cows all the way to Twain Harte,” Gaiser said. “We were doing that in the early ’60s. We’ve relied on trucks and trailers since then.” Challenges local ranchers face each year include striving to break even, Gaiser said. “In the cattle business, you expect price fluctuations,” Gaiser said. “Feed, hay, supplements, and that’s reflected here, too.” Some environmental groups, including the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center in Twain Harte, are critical of grazing in the Stanislaus National Forest and other parts of the Sierra Nevada. The group used to advocate from “improved grazing practices” but has shifted to opposing all livestock grazing above 7,000 feet elevation. CSERC staff say meadows found at higher elevations provide habitat for the federally listed Yosemite toad and Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog. Lokey said he’s fed up with environmental groups and their attention to grazing. “The biggest thing these ranchers are battling up here in the mountains is mismanagement of the forest right now,” Lokey said. “Some of the activists have agendas. They want the cows out.” Gaiser said he’s seen changes in approach from the Forest Service and grazing management over the years. “They say the pendulum swings,” Gaiser said. “Things have gone toward the environmental way for a bit. Now it’s more back to center. The rules we have to live by are probably stronger than they’ve ever been. Sometimes it seems there’s a lack of common sense.”...more

 “They say the pendulum swings.”  And so it does.  To the environmental left, and the back towards the center, but never quite to it.  Thus a ratcheting affect moving federal policy to the left since the late 1960's.  The pendulum swings, but so do ranching families, many of whom are no longer there.  That is one of the reasons I support the transfer of these lands back to the states.  Otherwise, we'll see another fifty years of pendulum swings, and there will be nothing but hobby ranchers remaining, or just as likely, no cattle at all on the federal range.  For those who say a new administration will fix things, that we just need to tweak the reg's or policy, that we must engage in more collaboration and embrace the "all hands, all lands" concept, I say you are fooling yourself.  In reality, you are condemning us to more years of pendulum swings, and to the eventual demise of our ranching heritage. 

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1634

Tag Williams - By And By is our selection today.  See if you think the song is as pretty as I do.  It was recorded in Memphis in October of 1952 at the Memphis Recording Service studio (later to become the SUN studio) and released in 1953 by the Trumpet label.  The tune is available on the Cactus label CD Trumpet Hillbilly.

Monday, June 13, 2016

A radical and growing organization of ‘constitutional sheriffs’ is promoting defiance of federal laws it doesn’t like

...Sheriff Palmer, who is running for his fifth four-year term this November, is a dramatic example of a new kind of radical that is springing up around the country — the so-called “constitutional sheriff.” In fact, in 2012 Palmer became the very first to be named “Sheriff of the Year” by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), a far-right group that calls itself “the last line of defense standing between the overreaching government and your Constitutionally guaranteed rights.” The CSPOA has long claimed the support of more than 400 sheriffs. The group says it is part of “a growing movement of public officials who are drawing a line in the sand” by “interposing themselves between the sometimes overreaching Federal Government and your constitutionally guaranteed rights.” It claims that local county sheriffs can stop outside law enforcement officials from enforcing laws they deem unconstitutional. “The sheriff,’ it says, “is the highest elected official in the county and has the authority to stop this insanity.” At a time when anger at the federal government over issues like land use and environmental regulation in the rural West is running higher than it has in years, the CSPOA and a closely related group, the Oath Keepers, are working tirelessly to make inroads into the ranks of American law enforcement. Sheriffs around the country report that they regularly hear from the groups, by phone, fax and other means, as they attempt to enlarge support for their positions. The country has rarely, if ever, seen such a concerted and long-term effort to bring sheriffs and other law enforcement officials to an ideology that proposes to openly defy federal law...more

Keep in mind the source if you read this "report".

Oregon Occupiers Cleared of Most Serious Charge

Ammon Bundy and fellow militants will not face a charge that could have carried a life sentence, after a judge found their armed occupation of a wildlife refuge wasn't a crime of violence. U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown on Friday dismissed the most serious charge — using a gun to commit a crime of violence — against Bundy, his brother Ryan, Jon Ritzheimer, Ryan Payne, Brian Cavalier, Jason Patrick and Sean Anderson, related to their occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year. The charge exposed the seven men to the possibility of life in prison. It also carried a minimum sentence of five years and a mandate to serve the sentence consecutively to any sentence imposed for the other two counts — conspiracy to keep federal workers from doing their jobs by using force, intimidation or threats, and possession of firearms in a federal facility. Those two charges are considerably less serious. Neither imposes a minimum sentence. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum of six years in prison, while the possession charge has a maximum of five years.  In her June 10 ruling, Brown found that the conspiracy charge is not a crime of violence because threats and intimidation can apply to nonviolent acts like damage to property, rather than physical violence against a person.  Similarly, a threat to blackmail a federal officer "is a kind of threat that does not necessarily require as an element the 'threatened use of physical force,'" Brown wrote. The ruling sets the roadmap for the trial against the 26 defendants, which is set to begin in September and anticipated to drag into 2017...more

Thought this article provided more info than previous post on this topic.

Harney County recall election another test of Ammon Bundy's impact

He's been 300 miles away in jail for months but occupation leader Ammon Bundy is still roiling the politics of Harney County. County Judge Steve Grasty's decision to bar Bundy from using a county fairgrounds building in January has made him the target of a recall election. The petition accuses him of suppressing people's right to assemble and their freedom of speech. County officials last week mailed ballots to 4,421 registered voters. They face a single topic: the recall. Votes to be tallied June 28 will settle whether Grasty finishes the six months left in his term before retiring or he packs up now. The recall is another jab at the political bruises that divided the county during the 41-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that began Jan. 2. Bundy's seizure triggered heated local debate about the role of the federal government and how much county officials such as Grasty were in league with federal bureaucrats...more

Feds: Evidence of firearms training during refuge standoff

FBI agents found evidence at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that occupiers used a boat launch area for firearms training, discovering about 1,685 spent shell casings there, according to a new federal complaint. The government is seeking the civil forfeiture of 50 guns and huge caches of ammunition that federal agents either seized from the refuge after the 41-day occupation or from defendants' cars and homes, the complaint says. Authorities earlier seized 14 other guns in or near the refuge in January. The government must file for forfeiture of evidence within 120 days of its seizure. Notices will go out to owners of the weapons, who have the right to challenge the forfeitures.  FBI agents searched the refuge grounds and buildings after the last four people surrendered, from Feb. 12 through Feb. 23, the complaint says. They found most of the guns at the outside encampment on the refuge's west side where the holdouts of the occupation camped during the final two weeks, according to the complaint: at least six rifles, two handguns and boxes of shotgun shells and assorted ammunition there. They also found shotgun shells in one of three trenches that occupiers dug at the site, FBI special agent Katherine Armstrong wrote in the complaint...more

Prosecutors want all Bundy defendants tried together in Bunkerville standoff case

Federal prosecutors oppose separate trials for Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, his four sons and 10 other defendants charged in the 2014 armed Bunkerville standoff. In court papers filed late Friday, prosecutors said none of the 15 defendants made a legitimate showing that their defenses will be compromised if they are tried together in the alleged conspiracy to assault federal law enforcement officers a few miles from the Bundy ranch. A total of 19 defendants are to stand trial Feb. 6 on an array of felonies, including conspiracy, extortion, obstruction of justice and assault. Most of the defendants, including the Bundy patriarch, have filed court papers seeking separate trials, arguing a large group trial would violate their constitutional rights and deny them a fair shake before a jury. Three of the Bundy brothers — Ammon, Ryan and Mel — want to be tried with their other brother Dave. Several of the defendants argued that the government wants everyone tried together so it can convict them all by “guilt by association.” But prosecutors countered that the sweeping conspiracy charge makes this is a “classic case” for trying the 19 defendants together. “Specifically, joint trials provide the jury an ability to see into the entire picture of an alleged crime and enable jury members to reach a more reliable conclusion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendants involved, and thus more fairly assign corresponding responsibilities of each defendant,” prosecutors wrote...more

Prosecutors Say Seized Guns Were For Intimidating and Threatening Federal Officers

"It is my belief that all of the firearms described in this declaration had been brought to or near MNWR (Malheur National Wildlife Refuge) grounds by the indicted and unindicted occupiers prior to seizure for the purpose of impeding, intimidating, and threatening federal officers from discharging their duties." That's FBI agent Katherine Armstrong in an affidavit filed Friday spelling out why she believes the 50 guns seized by the federal government after the 41-day armed occupation of the refuge are subject to forfeiture. Civil forfeiture laws give the government 120 days after the seizure to file paperwork to take possession. "It is evident from the statements and actions of the armed occupiers that the open carry, display, and talk of weapons and need to use force if confronted by federal agents, was done for the purpose of threatening and intimidating federal officials from discharging their duties," Armstrong writes. In court papers, Armstrong quotes several of the occupiers discussing the possible use of force...more

Farm bureau leader calls out feds on burn policy

OKANOGAN, Wash. — It’s “outrageous and hypocritical” that the federal government imprisoned two Oregon ranchers for a backburn that got away from them and burned a little over 100 acres of public land while federal and state agencies backburned thousands of acres of private land in Okanogan County last summer and were not held accountable, the president of the Okanogan County Farm Bureau says. Incidents like ranchers and militia occupying the seasonally closed Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns happen when people feel so “abused” by government that “they feel they have no other choice,” Kuchenbuch said. “I don’t agree with having a standoff, but they captured the attention of the United States,” she said. The resentencing of Harney County ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond to five years in prison is just one of many examples throughout ranching areas of the West in the last several decades of the heavy handedness of federal agencies in acquiring more land and squeezing out ranches to satisfy environmentalists who want a national park from the Yukon to Yellowstone, Kuchenbuch said...more

Ag testifies against Owyee monument

One thing all parties could agree on at a May 23 hearing about the Owyhee Canyonlands is that it is spectacularly beautiful. But who’s to thank for that? “Today we’ve heard the words ‘iconic’ and ‘awesome’ to describe the Owyhee Canyonlands,” said Oregon Farm Bureau President Barry Bushue before the House Rural Communities Committee at the state capitol. “I say to you that this is exactly because of the people I’m here representing today, the ranchers, the farmers, the local communities, and the businesses that have worked 150 years to make this land what it is.” Bushue testified against a potential designation by President Obama to make the Owyhee Canyonlands a national monument. This designation would affect a 2.5 million-acre area in the Owyhee Canyonlands along the Oregon-Idaho-Nevada border, an area larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. It would cover about 40% of Malheur County’s total land base. Bushue beseeched the lawmakers to listen to the people who actually live and work near the canyonlands, the families whose lives would be directly impacted by a monument designation. At a ballot in March, an incredible 90% of voters in Malheur County opposed a national monument. A designation by the president without a vote by Congress would completely disregard these rural voices...more

Threats of violence, fake land grabs proliferate in Utah

One flier advertises an open hunting season on southeast Utah backpackers, with no harvest limits and all weapons permitted. Another carries a fake news release from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell: The federal government plans to seize more than 4 million acres of the Navajo Nation's land. A third flier advertises a July 17 party in Blanding, Utah, to celebrate President Obama's designation of a Bears Ears National Monument that would supposedly happen that day. But Utah Navajos aren't invited, the flier states. They can kiss access to their sacred lands goodbye. "Utah Navajos, stay away from our party," it reads. "Everyone else come and celebrate with us." The postings discovered in the past month at trailheads, campgrounds, a post office and gas stations in San Juan County show that the debate surrounding the proposed 1.9-million-acre national monument is getting nasty. It's not clear who posted them and whether they come from the same person or different authors...more`

Conservationists intercede in Nevada race which now goes through a new National Monument

Conservationists are asking the White House Council on Environmental Quality to put the brakes on plans to allow a popular off-road, desert race from near Las Vegas to Reno to run through a newly established national monument in southern Nevada. The critics say the U.S. Bureau of Land Management went too far by at least tacitly approving a "massive off-road race course running directly through" the Basin and Range National Monument about 150 miles north of Las Vegas. "BLM is playing fast and loose with its legal obligations in order to let hundreds of vehicles roar through the fragile desert before the monument's protections can be solidified," said Jeff Ruch, executive director of the Washington-based Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The move violates the National Environmental Policy Act and threatens to circumvent President Barack Obama's designation of the 1,100-square-mile monument last June, Rush said in a letter Friday to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who oversees BLM, and Christy Goldfuss, managing director of the White House CEQ. The race sponsor, the Best in the Desert Racing Association based in Boulder City, bills the event as the longest off-highway vehicle race in the United States. About 300 motorcycles, trucks, dune buggies and other all-terrain vehicles are expected to compete this year. The route stretches 640 miles, starting in Alamo about 100 miles north of Las Vegas, with an overnight stop in Tonopah before finishing near Dayton, about 40 miles south of Reno...more

Coal production plunges

U.S. coal production is at its lowest level in more than 30 decades. That was the word from the U.S. Energy Information Administration last week. First quarter production was 173 million tons. America's coal miners haven't recorded a quarterly production total that low since 1981. And the 17 percent decline in production between the first quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2015 represents the largest quarter-over-quarter decline since 1984. The Powder River Basin, as the country's most productive region, absorbed most of the hit...more

Natural gas prices are on the rise. But can they stay that way?

The mercury is rising, and so are natural gas prices. Buoyed by warm weather and increasing power demand in much of the country, natural gas prices staged a modest rally last week. Prices at two Wyoming trading hubs crested above $2 per million British Thermal Units for the first time since at least February. That marks a welcome sight for the state’s beleaguered gas drillers, who have struggled with a grossly oversupplied market throughout the year. There have been other positive signs. Storage injections for the week of June 3 were below their yearly averages as utilities consumed more gas in response to rising temperatures. That has slowed the buildup in inventories, which are now near historic levels. “The rebound in prices is favorable, but there are headwinds that remain in place,” said Richard Hastings, an analyst at Seaport Global Securities. Indeed, natural gas producers find themselves in an odd predicament. An exceedingly hot summer could push natural gas prices higher still. But that would come as little help, as utilities would begin to turn on now shuttered coal units, reducing gas demand...more

Ranch Diaries: Traditional agriculture meets progressive ideals

by Laura Jean Schneider

...I’ve since relaxed my polarized view, and I think both conventional, commercial ag and small-scale niche market farms and ranches do share common values: quality food production, a superior product, and the desire to serve happy consumers.

I, and many other producers, have found that niche markets are worth pursuing, for reasons other than health or land benefits. Any producer, traditional or nonconventional, is interested in making a premium return on their livestock. Selling grassfed beef, like I’m doing with Big Circle Beef, is just one way to do that. At AgriFuture, I heard about several other interesting ways to make it in the industry. One young producer shared how he maximizes the land base available to him by breeding and raising a modest herd of show cattle, and selling weaned calves for such a high premium that he can support the higher costs associated with operating without economies of scale. Another enterprising young man started his own jerky business, turning cuts of meat that are naturally more sinewy into a high-dollar item. Sam and I did a brief presentation about our path to Triangle P Cattle Company. The room was full of young faces and spirits were high.

I felt that again sitting in the meeting room with my new Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance partners. How to get some diversity into grassfed advocacy, someone asked. How can we take advantage of programs tailored to conventional ranchers and farmers, someone else added. There were adjectives tossed around to describe what about grassfed tastes good to a public with shifting needs. There was a unanimous agreement that the alliance needs to be part of bridging the imagined gap between producers, partnering with folks who don’t see eye-to-eye on everything but share the same core values.

Judge dismisses one of the gun charges against Ammon Bundy, 7 co-defendants

A federal judge has dismissed the charge of using and carrying firearms in the course of a crime of violence against Ammon Bundy and seven co-defendants, finding the underlying conspiracy charge doesn't meet the legal definition of a "crime of violence.'' The ruling dismissing Count 3 in the federal indictment is the first major win for the defense in the pending case stemming from the 41-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown issued a 16-page written ruling Friday afternoon, finding that the umbrella charge of conspiring to impede federal officers from doing their work at the refuge through "intimidation, threats or force'' doesn't necessarily mean that the conspiracy must involve the "threatened use of physical force'' against a person or property. She noted that the word "intimidation,'' for example, could apply to threats of nonviolent harm to property. Further, a "threat'' under the conspiracy allegation could involve the blackmailing of a federal officer to prevent the federal officer from doing his or her federal duties -- a threat that doesn't necessarily require "threatened use of physical force,'' the judge wrote. So, if the underlying conspiracy charge isn't restricted to a "crime of violence'' but encompasses a "broader swath'' of conduct, then the count that charged eight refuge occupiers with using or carrying firearms in the course of "a crime of violence" should be thrown out, the judge ruled...more