Saturday, November 12, 2016

Researchers puzzle over tracks that predate dinosaurs (Gold Butte)

Roughly 290 million years before rancher Cliven Bundy brought international attention to the Gold Butte area, an early reptile the size of a baby crocodile left its own lasting impressions there. A team of researchers from UNLV recently announced the discovery of fossilized footprints 60 million years older than the earliest dinosaurs on a slab of sandstone about 115 miles northeast of Las Vegas, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The ancient footprints on public land were actually discovered about two years ago by Mesquite resident Tom Cluff, a retired U.S. Forest Service employee turned amateur paleontologist who also serves on the board of the Friends of Gold Butte, an advocacy group pushing for permanent protection of the area. Rowland and his students began studying the tracks last fall, then returned in the site in February to document it in detail. He and three students presented their findings for the first time Oct. 27 at a meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Salt Lake City. They are now at work on a full study they hope to submit for publication in a peer-reviewed journal early next year...more

They began their study last fall, returned in February for further documentation, but don't have a "full study" that has been peer reviewed. Yet they gave a presentation two weeks ago on their findings. Perhaps this explains the timing of all this:
Though Republican members of Nevada’s congressional delegation loudly opposed the idea, outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has made it his mission to persuade President Barack Obama to designate Gold Butte as a national monument before both men leave office early next year. As far as Rowland is concerned, the area deserves “some sort of special protected staus” beyond what exists there now. These ancient fossilized footprints only bolster that argument, he said.“I think this is a really good example of what some of the unknown treasures of Gold Butte are.”

Patterson stays in driver’s seat at NFSR (Guy Allen ties fastest time in NFSR history)

Rocky Patterson defined efficiency on opening night of the 2016 Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping Friday. And that consistency placed a fourth gold buckle within reach for the Pratt, Kan., cowboy. Patterson placed in all five rounds and won $22,099, the most of any contestant on Day 1 at the Kansas Star Arena. “Things went good for me and I had some good steers,” said Patterson, who won gold buckles in 2009-10 and 2012. “But, you can’t just sit back and be in the average. It has been my experience watching rodeos for over 30 years that if you want to win a gold buckle you better be in line for things in Round 10.” After the first half of this year’s NFSR concluded, Patterson was atop the WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings with $107,016. He has a $22,742 lead over his traveling partner, Chet Herren. The NFSR concludes Saturday with the final five rounds. Patterson’s top two efforts Friday were a second-place finish in Round 1 (11.0 seconds) and third in Round 5 (9.4 seconds). While Patterson showed why he’s considered one of the best steer ropers of all time, Guy “The Legend” Allen gave the fans a blast from the past. Allen is a 33-time qualifier for the NFSR, and has won 18 steer roping gold buckles, a PRCA single-event record. He last qualified for the NFSR in 2008, and now has added another line to his ultra-impressive resume. Allen won Round 5 with a blistering 8.3-second time, tying the fastest run in NFSR history with Cash Myers (2006) and Jess Tierney (2015). “That was special,” said Allen, 58. “I had a hard night, but that sure made it a lot better. The rounds are tough and the guys here are the best in the world, and you can’t hold back. I got a good one and he waited for me and it just worked.”...more

Friday, November 11, 2016

Prosecutors confirm BLM shredded documents before Bunkerville standoff

Bureau of Land Management agents shredded sensitive documents about their roundup of Bundy family cattle in the tense hours before their April 2014 standoff with armed Bundy followers, federal prosecutors have confirmed. In court papers late Wednesday, prosecutors said the hurried shredding occurred as agents at the impoundment site feared they were in imminent danger and about to be overrun by a crowd of angry Bundy supporters. The shredding began the evening of April 11, 2014, and continued until BLM agents were forced to abandon the impoundment camp the next morning, BLM Agent Kent Kleman wrote in an accompanying four-page affidavit. Among the items shredded were copies of the impoundment operations plan, maps and papers containing cellphone numbers and personal information about government employees and contractors involved in the roundup, Kleman said. The destruction of the documents was necessary to “prevent disclosure of law enforcement sensitive information to persons engaged in criminal activity,” prosecutors wrote in their court papers. Prosecutors revealed the frantic shredding effort leading up to the standoff in papers responding to a defense motion by Dan Hill, who represents one of the leaders of the alleged assault, Cliven Bundy’s son Ammon. Hill said in his motion that his defense investigator, Keith Gordon, had obtained bags of shredded evidence left behind by the BLM, and Hill sought to dismiss the charges against his client on grounds it amounted to the destruction of evidence in the criminal case. But prosecutors responded that the dismissal is unwarranted and that Hill failed to establish that he has been unable to obtain copies of the shredded documents from other sources...more

Acquittal of seven Oregon occupiers poses questions on fate of seven more

The U.S. attorney’s office in Oregon has taken a beating since a jury acquitted seven defendants of conspiracy and weapons charges in an armed takeover at a federal wildlife refuge — and government prosecutors still have a long road ahead. Seven more defendants are set for trial in February in a second high-stakes airing of the same evidence and the same witnesses. Under intense scrutiny after the acquittals, the government now must decide whether it wants to press forward with an almost identical case, make changes or give up entirely. The U.S. attorney’s office in Portland declined to comment on the acquittals and the upcoming trial. Defense attorneys, however, questioned whether government prosecutors would be wise to proceed, given that the first jury didn’t buy the government’s conspiracy case. The next round of defendants is also emboldened by the acquittals and considers another trial a forum to bring their brand of political protest to a national audience for a second time. “Watching the trial, it was clear: This is what they wanted to do and, to some extent, has the government played into their hands? Are they playing into their hands in trial No. 2?” said Andrew Kohlmetz, an attorney for Jason Patrick, who has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and weapons charges. “They’re giving them a soap box to stand on, and I think they need to make some tough policy decisions,” he said of government attorneys. Now, prosecutors face a range of unsavory options for the second trial, legal experts said. They can proceed and risk another acquittal, dismiss the case entirely, add lesser charges such as trespassing to give the next jury more options or offer plea deals to defendants. “If they came to me with jaywalking and time served, I’d tell them to go to hell. I want to fight,” said Patrick, a 52-year-old roofer who was jailed for six months before a judge released him to await trial. “If you fight the government outside of court, they will kill you. But if they invite you into court to fight — and your fight is right —then fight.” Complicating matters, the first group of defendants included brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the self-professed leaders of the standoff. The February trial includes defendants largely seen as lesser players in the occupation, but the charges are just as serious. A judge has set a Nov. 16 date for attorneys from both sides to file court papers indicating how they would like to proceed...more

Behind the tasing of Ammon Bundy's lawyer

A transcript gives a blow-by-blow account of the wild end to the Oregon refuge takeover trial when occupation leader Ammon Bundy's lawyer tried to gain his client's immediate release after a surprising acquittal for all seven defendants. Federal marshals ended up tackling attorney Marcus Mumford and stunning him with a Taser. U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown had just told defendant David Fry that she would issue an immediate order for his release and then asked if there was anything else she needed to address. That's when Mumford spoke up. Here's what happened next after the verdicts were announced late on the afternoon of Oct. 27, according to the court transcript. The account includes context added by reporter Maxine Bernstein, who witnessed the scuffle:..more

Read the more complete transcript at Oregonlive and see if you think the U.S. Marshals were justified in tackling and tasering Mumford.

Joe Patrice, who is very anti-Bundy, wrote at Above The Law

There’s nothing in this transcript to suggest that the marshals had any justification for tackling Mumford. He was being a contemptuous prick, but that’s not actually a crime, and certainly he posed no threat to the deputies. Hell, if the Bundy case means anything, it’s that you can aim assault rifles at federal law enforcement and it’s not a crime, so it’s extra hard to believe a pissant lawyer deserved to get roughed up.

And then we get to the tasing...

Was that really necessary? Was this guy really someone that six deputies couldn’t physically restrain? Come on.

Anti-monument adviser's legal strategy shot down by county attorneys

Jackson County's attorneys say a legal strategy proposed by an anti-monument consultant wouldn't succeed in court. James Carlson, a Kansas-based consultant who fights national monuments, had hoped to charge Jackson County $60,000 to try and stop a proposed expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument east of Ashland, but he went away empty-handed after a Thursday meeting with county commissioners. "I'm not here because of money. I'm here because I care about local government," Carlson told commissioners. Commissioner Doug Breidenthal said he paid about $1,500 out of his own pocket to fly in Carlson for the meeting. He said past anti-monument efforts have proven ineffective, and the county needs to try something new. "I'm tired of getting run over," Breidenthal said. But Commissioner Rick Dyer said the type of legal arguments put forth by Carlson have not succeeded in court. "It's a fight that's — in my opinion — futile," Dyer said. Commissioners left open the possibility they could work with Carlson in the future after they thoroughly review a strategy document he prepared for San Juan County commissioners in Utah. Commissioners there are fighting a proposed Bears Ears National Monument encompassing a mesa, mountains and archaeological sites. San Juan County is spending $53,000 for a report and lobbying help from Carlson and ranching rights proponent Angus McIntosh, the Salt Lake Tribune reported in late October. In the report, the consultants make the legal argument that presidents can't unilaterally create or expand national monuments with the stroke of a pen using the Antiquities Act. They say a public input process and lengthy environmental studies are first required under federal laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act and Federal Land Policy and Management Act, known as NEPA and FLPMA. Carlson said he believes his legal strategy could work because of modifications Congress made to the Antiquities Act in 2014. But according to a report this year by the Congressional Research Service, requirements for public input and environmental planning under FLPMA and NEPA don't apply to the actions of a president...more

Scientists try bacteria to halt invading cheatgrass in West

It sounds like science fiction: An unstoppable invader is taking over the West and the best hope to stop its relentless advance is a small team of anonymous scientists. But that's what is happening in southwest Idaho, where experiments are underway to determine if soil bacteria can halt the century-long assault of non-native cheatgrass, which sends out roots that cheat other plants of water in the spring. "We hope that we can identify the effectiveness of the bacteria on annual grasses and to identify non-target risk effects," said Matt Germino, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey running the experiments at three scattered sites of about an acre each. Cheatgrass dries out in the summer, transforming into extraordinarily effective tinder for wildfires. The fires then kill competing native plants and destroy habitat needed by cattle ranchers and more than 300 species of wildlife, including the imperiled sage grouse bird. The results are huge, cheatgrass-filled landscapes that serve as fuel for frequent wildfires, some reaching hundreds of square miles. Ann Kennedy, a soil microbiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Washington state, has sorted through 25,000 strains of naturally occurring soil bacteria to find a handful that can stop cheatgrass root growth. "In the spring they come up great guns, which then doesn't let that plant grow very well in the spring, or even over winter very well," she said. "You can draw down the seed bank of these annual weeds to where basically they're gone." The strategy is to use the bacteria, possibly with some combination of herbicide, to eliminate cheatgrass long enough so that native plants can get established and fend off cheatgrass themselves...more

Ret. Lt. Gen. Flynn: Terror-Linked Nations ‘Cutting Deals’ with Mexican Cartels to Enter U.S.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), tells Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM that countries that are known to support radical Islamic terrorism are “cutting deals” with Mexican cartels for access to human smuggling routes into the United States. Citing photos from the U.S. Border Patrol component of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency on Friday, Gen. Flynn also told Washington Political Editor Matthew Boyle, host of Breitbart News Daily, that there are signs in Arabic posted along human smuggling routes at the section of the border that lies in Texas providing directions for how to sneak into the United States. Moreover, the former DIA chief said that the Shiite Lebanese narco-terrorist group Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, is illegally trafficking humans, drugs, and other contraband into the United States...more

Massachusetts Voters Pass Historic Animal Protection Law

Massachusetts voters on Tuesday passed a landmark law to protect farm animals from intensive confinement. The initiative will eventually prohibit farming methods that keep animals severely constrained for virtually their entire lives, including the use of veal crates for baby calves, gestation crates for mother pigs and battery cages for egg-laying hens. Eleven states have passed bans on one or more of those practices. The Massachusetts measure will outlaw all three, and then go further. It will also bar the sale of meat and eggs produced using those methods, even from animals that were farmed outside the state...more

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Canada, Mexico ready to talk about NAFTA with U.S.

Canada and Mexico agreed Thursday to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s demand to have a fresh look at their tripartite 22-year-old free trade pact, fearing they could be shut out of the US market. But the two U.S. allies diverged on the level of changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) each was willing to accept, with Mexico taking a harder line. The 1994 trade pact became a source of friction with America’s neighbors during the campaign when Trump called NAFTA the worst trade deal the United States has ever signed...more

Feds may order first cuts in water from Colorado River; CU team issues warning to next president

A University of Colorado team led by a former Obama administration water chief has issued a water warning to the next president: the Colorado River cannot meet the current needs of 35 million westerners and cuts likely must be made. The next president could be faced with ordering a first-ever reduction in water siphoned from the river by 333,000 acre feet next August, a report by the Colorado River Future Project contends. That’s an amount equivalent to the water used in 666,0000 homes. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials on Tuesday confirmed the finding. Federal models show a 48 percent chance that, without cuts, lower basin states Arizona, California and Nevada would face shortages starting in 2018. The report concludes the next president must prioritize a Colorado River “crisis” within the first 100 days and ensure that key positions dealing with water are filled. A convergence of events related to the river includes an essential not-done deal with Mexico, which has claims on a share of river water, and unresolved claims by Navajo and other Indian tribes. An imbalance in water use along the river — cities and farmers for a decade have been taking more than the river gives — means future development in the arid West may not be possible because there’s not enough water, Castle said...more

Children forced to arm themselves with axes to fend off wolves in Russia

Children walking to school in a region of Russia have been armed with axes because of the fear of attacks by wolf packs and bears. The students have to walk through a snow-covered forest because no bus is provided to get them from their home village of Verkhny Nugush to their classes in Galiakberovo, in oil-rich Bashkortostan. But recently a wolf emerged in front of them causing the children to flee in terror back to Galiakberovo. Now they are routinely armed with axes for their dangerous walk while education chiefs ponder providing a bus or other solutions to pick them up and avoid the treacherous forest. A video shows them dicing with death on their way to school, with one of the children holding the axe to fend off wolves. One mother said: 'When our children were walking home, a wolf came out just in front of them. 'The kids were horrified and ran all the way back. Another woman and I walked to pick up the children later, with axes and torches in our hands.' Verkhny Nugush has a population of only 60 and when the village school was closed the children were forced to walk around six miles to classes in neighbouring Galiakberovo...more

21st Annual WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo returns to Amarillo

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) -This week is the WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo and it is sure to be fun for the whole family. Nov. 10 the action kicks off at the Amarillo Civic Center. You can watch real working ranch cowboys compete for the WRCA World Championship title.

On Nov. 9, the event kicked off with a celebration. But, Nov. 10-13  is when the excitement heads into the arena. This 5 day event has fun for the whole family. You can meet the contestants, there is a horse show, the Budweiser Clydesdales, and of course the World Championship Ranch Rodeo which starts at 7 p.m. each night.

During the event there will be Ranch Bronc Riding, Wild Cow Milking, Team Stray Gathering and more. Tickets range from $32 to $42.

"I was one of the guys that helped start this 21 years ago and in those years we have given over 2 million dollars to ranch kids and ranch families in times of need and for education," says WRCA Board Member Gary Morton. "But, one of our main focus' is the skills of the working ranch cowboy. Like they always say, we have a lot of cowboys but you just can't see them from the road. So, we bring them to town and we let them compete against each other."

The WRCA works hard to help those in need, whether it be because of a crisis or they don't have the money to continue their education. Events like this week's WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo help the organization raise the money needed to help cowboys and ranchers around the panhandle.

Their mission is to help ranch cowboys and their family members who want to continue their education and help families who who are suffering significant hardships and who are not otherwise able to provide for their needs.

"The reason I became part of this team is because of what we are here to do. it is truly the mission that drives us," says WRCA Member Leman Wall. "The team that got together 21 years ago came together not just to produce a ranch rodeo, that's the fun part. But, the money we raise by the support of those in the community, when you buy a ticket to these events you are actually helping to support real people."

If you would like more event information or to purchase tickets visit Working Ranch Cowboys Association.

The Early Show visits with Gary Morton, Working Ranch Cowboys Association

Speaker Ryan on Trump; Mentions ranchers being 'harassed' by Interior Dept

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday commended Donald Trump for his presidential election victory. “Let me just say, this is the most incredible political feat I have seen in my lifetime,” Ryan said, later adding: “Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard. He connected with—he connected in ways with people no one else did. He turned politics on its head.”

QUESTION: (inaudible) used the word “mandate.” If you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, how quickly? How soon? What does it look like? And what do you say to those folks that just don’t feel like he is going to be their president?

RYAN:  And so to your specific question about repealing and replacing Obamacare, this Congress, this House majority, this Senate majority has already demonstrated and proven we’re able to pass that legislation and put it on the president’s desk. The problem is President Obama vetoed it. Now, we have President Trump coming who is asking us to do this.
Look, it’s not just the health care law that we can replace, because we now have shown the willingness and the ability to do it. There are so many more things that I am excited about. Think about the laid-off coal workers now who see relief coming. Think about the farmers here in Wisconsin who are being harassed by the EPA in the waters of the USA. Think about the ranchers in the west who are getting harassed by the Interior Department or the laid-off timber workers.

There is relief coming. This is good for our country. This means that we canjj lift the oppressive weight of the regulatory state. We can restore the Constitution. Think about the conservative Constitution respecting judges that will be nominated. This is — this is very exciting.

‘Deplorables’ Rise Up to Reshape America

By Gerald F. Seib

The deplorables rose up and shook the world.

“Deplorables” was, of course, the disparaging term Hillary Clinton at one point applied to some supporters of Donald Trump. Many of his loyal followers proudly embraced the insult and used it as a motivating tool.

Wearing such establishment disdain as a badge of honor, the Trump army cut a deep swath through the American electoral system Tuesday, propelling the Republican nominee to the most stunning victory in modern American history. 
In winning, Mr. Trump didn’t merely vanquish Mrs. Clinton. He instantly remade the Republican party in his own image. He rewrote some of the GOP’s most dearly held policy and philosophical positions. He shredded the conventional wisdom in both parties, which held that there simply weren’t enough of the white, working-class voters who flocked to his side to win a national election. Whole sets of comfortable assumptions in both political parties now will be swept aside.

His victory sent shock waves through financial markets that are befuddled by the outcome and instantly gave new energy to populist and nationalist political movements across the developed world.

And he has launched the nation’s capital into a zone of uncertainty the likes of which it hasn’t experienced at least since Ronald Reagan’s conservative revolution in 1980.

Mr. Trump now will become the most unconventional president in modern American history. He is estranged from much of his own party, including the next-most-powerful elected Republican official, House Speaker Paul Ryan. He has virtually no relationship with any Democrats in Congress.

Rick Perry Being Eyed For Possible Role In Trump Administration

Texas’ longest serving governor and former state agriculture commissioner Rick Perry has announced he has been contacted by Donald Trump’s presidential transition team for a possible role in the administration. Perry on Twitter made the announcement saying that he had been contacted by the Trump transition team Wednesday morning. Perry did not reference what role he was contacted for but did say, “Just got the call from Trump team, saddle up and ride.” But Gene Hall with the Texas Farm Bureau says Perry would make a great addition as Trump agriculture secretary. According to Perry’s spokesman Stan Gerdes there is more information to come of which the former governor and two-time presidential contender plans to release on his Twitter page...more

United States farmers concerned about trade but welcome Trump presidency policies on cutting Obama regulations

United States farmers have mixed feelings about Donald Trump's win in the country's presidential elections. While some have celebrated his victory and the impact it might have on cutting "onerous" regulations, others fear his anti-trade rhetoric will harm exports.Mr Trump's ascendency to presidency will likely kill off the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)...Steve Kaye, editor of the US Cattle Buyers Weekly, said Mr Trump's anti-trade rhetoric was concerning. "We are increasing beef production by 5 per cent this year or more and a surge in exports right now to Asia and Australia is helping us," he said. "But our beef production next year could be up 4 or 5 per cent so we really need more exports and tariff barriers to tumble. "That is what passage of the TPP would do. "The industry here says it is losing US$400,000 a day without the TPP and yet Donald Trump has strongly opposed it." The US is the largest cattle producer in the world and relies heavily on export. A United States agriculture broadcaster says a Donald Trump presidency would be good for American farmers, who have struggled with "onerous" regulations under the Obama administration. Max Armstrong is an agriculture journalist in Chicago and the host of This Week in Agribusiness with 40 years' experience in the farm sector. Despite his trade concerns, Mr Armstrong said for many rural Americans, the election outcome made perfect sense. "I know how much of difference he can make to the agriculture community," he said. "The president in this White House was forcing through environmental regulation, tying the hands of our farmers and ranchers and there is no recourse." Mr Armstrong criticised the Obama administration's handling of the Waters of the United States Rule, which was seen by many US farmers as a "power grab" by Washington...more

Stunned Mexico ponders new relationship with US

Hours after the United States elected Donald Trump to be its next president, Mexico began carefully laying the groundwork for a relationship with a new leader who campaigned against its citizens and threatened to wreak havoc with its economy. President Enrique Pena Nieto sent a series of messages from his official Twitter account Wednesday morning, congratulating not Trump himself but the American electorate, and said he was ready to work with Trump to advance the countries' relationship. "Mexico and the United States are friends, partners and allies that must continue collaborating for the competitiveness and development of North America," Pena Nieto wrote. The messages came shortly after Mexico's Treasury Secretary Jose Antonio Meade tried to strike a reassuring tone in a news conference by saying that Mexico's financial position is strong in the face of a falling peso. He says no immediate actions are planned. But the threat is real. The United States is Mexico's largest trading partner and the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has said he wants to re-negotiate, is the backbone of that commerce. "The relationship of Mexico and the U.S. is uncertain," said Isidro Morales, of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. "Donald Trump is not a person of institutions. Surely it will be a unilateral policy worse than (George W.) Bush and we don't know what to expect." Mexico's currency appeared to track Trump's rising and falling fortunes throughout the campaign and it fell sharply Tuesday night. According to Banco Base, the peso dropped 9.56 percent, its biggest daily loss since 1995. In the streets, Mexicans fretted about just how many of Trump's promises to deport millions of immigrants, revamp trade relations and make Mexico pay for a border wall would come to fruition...more

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Trump victory encourages Owyhee monument opponents

Some Eastern Oregon ranchers believe Donald Trump’s victory makes it less likely that President Barack Obama will declare a national monument in Malheur County during his last months in office. Ranchers in Malheur County formed the Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition earlier this year to fight a proposed 2.5-million-acre national monument, which would represent 40 percent of the county’s land base. The Owyhee Canyonlands monument is being pushed by the Oregon Natural Desert Association, an environmental group in Bend, and Portland’s Keen Footwear...Malheur County rancher and OBSC board member Elias Eiguren said the fact that many polls were so wrong about the presidential election gives him hope that there are a lot more people out there than anyone previously realized that support stances such as the one his group has taken. “I’m honestly more encouraged,” he said about Trump’s victory. “I think ... we have a lot more support than we even know. It’s just a matter of getting the word out there about what’s happening.” He said the thought has entered his mind that a nearing Trump presidency could cause monument supporters to increase the pressure because they see their window closing. “That thought certainly crossed my mind but the manner in which the (victory) happened gives me a lot of hope,” Eiguren said. “I don’t think the president is going to see this as a good thing to do. I think it would be distasteful for him to do it because of what the voters said.”...more

I wish I could agree, but I don't.

First, I don't think Obama gives a damn about any message sent by the voters.

Second, with R's controlling the WH, the Senate and the House, we may actually get some reasonable amendments to the Antiquities Act.  If that is the case, the President may never again have the unlimited authority to designate large swaths of land that he currently enjoys. So, the enviros will push hard to get as many designated in the remaining days of the Obama administration as they can, and Obama will oblige, wanting to add to his "legacy".

I hope I'm wrong.

Trump victory reverses U.S. energy and environmental priorities; enviros despondent

Donald J. Trump comes into office with a plan to toss out most of what President Obama achieved on energy and the environment. While vowing to “cancel” the international Paris climate accord Obama championed, Trump would also rearrange domestic energy and environmental priorities. He wants to open up federal lands to oil and gas drilling and coal mining. He wants to eliminate regulations he calls needless. He would scrap proposed regulations for tighter methane controls on domestic drillers. And he wants to shrink the role of the Environmental Protection Agency to a mostly advisory one and pull back the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s proposed plan to push utilities toward lower carbon emissions. Although Trump has portrayed himself as the ultimate outsider, in putting together a transition team the New York real estate mogul has chosen veteran Washington insiders, many of them lobbyists for fossil fuel companies and skeptics about climate science...more

And from the enviros: 

“We’re feeling angry and sad and contemplative,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “Trump is now, as president-elect, soon to be the only head of state on the planet that doesn’t believe in climate change, nor thinks we should do anything about it. That should strike fear in the hearts of every parent in this country.” Asked how the environmental movement would deal with a President Trump, Bill McKibben, founder of the climate action group, said in an email “[I] don’t really know. I think it’s clear that he wants no part of environmental progress, and I imagine the damage from this election will be measured in geologic time. We will do what we can, but truthfully the path forward is not all that clear to me.” Other environmental group leaders tried to rally their supporters, vowing to use any means they could to fight the reversal what they see as the positive environmental progress of recent years. “Sixteen years ago when faced with the election of President Bush, the environmental community utilized the courts, the Senate filibuster, watch-dogged political appointees and galvanized the public to take action,” Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, said in an email early this morning. “We will have to take these same actions against a President Trump to protect the gains that the American people want for clean and clean water.  After the fights to kill the Keystone XL pipeline, the fights to ban fracking, and the successful efforts to shutdown coal plants, the environmental movement is stronger than we have ever been.” Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, acknowledged that Tuesday was “clearly a disappointing night” for environmental activists. “I’ve been doing this work for 40 years, and there are times we’re very aggressively on offense, and sometimes we need to play defense,” Karpinski said, vowing that the community would continue to organize, litigate and pressure both companies and the government. “Despite what Mr. Trump might think, the climate crisis is real and not a hoax. … We need to do what we can at all levels to double down and make progress, in this country and around the world.”

Trump can kill UN climate deal, warns EU carbon market chief

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States is a “real and imminent threat” to the fight against climate change, and “completely upends every single element” of the Paris Agreement, making it almost impossible to deliver, the MEP leading EU carbon market reform has warned. Trump, elected today (9 November), has called climate change a hoax, saying it was “fictional”, and “created by the Chinese”. The president-elect has threatened to pull the US out of the UN deal to cap global warming at no more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels with an aspirational 1.5 degree target. Today, EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete wrote to Trump, stressing the need for continued EU-US cooperation. Ian Duncan is the Conservative member of the European Parliament leading the reform of the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), the world’s largest scheme for trading emissions allowances. Reforming the ETS is a major part of the EU strategy to cut emissions in line with the bloc’s climate commitments. World governments are this week meeting in Marrakech, Morocco for the COP22 climate conference, which aims to thrash out the practical implication of the landmark pact to cap global warming. “It completely upends every single element of the Paris Accord and almost certainly makes it impossible to deliver,” Duncan said. Who will listen to US Secretary of State John Kerry in Marrakech now?, he asked. US officials in Morocco are “speaking for nobody but themselves and for an outgoing administration.”...more

Trump Victory Deals Blow to Global Fight Against Climate Change

The global fight against climate change will suffer a blow from Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, threatening the industries working to clean up pollution from fossil fuel. The next president has questioned the science of climate change, vowed to withdraw from the Paris agreement on global warming and pledging to stimulate production of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. Green campaigners and policymakers, some of whom are gathered this week in Morocco for talks on implementing the Paris deal, sounded the alarm over the upheaval they expect when Trump takes office in January. “The presidency of Donald Trump relegates the West as we knew it to the realm of the past,” Reinhard Butikofer and Monica Frassoni, co-chairs of the European Green Party, said in a statement. “If Donald Trump pursues the foreign policies that he announced during his campaign, this will severely undermine transatlantic relations, the international rule of law and world peace."...more

Sportsmen Defeat Montana Trapping Ban

Montana’s Initiative 177 was soundly rejected by voters in the Gem State on the Nov. 8 ballot. The initiative would have banned trapping on all public lands, including city and county parks, municipal golf courses and more. While the final tally is still being determined, a vast majority of precints have already reported and sportsmen are winning by a wide margin, 63 – 36...more

Green Elites Face Trump Threat

Meet Trump's Cabinet-in-waiting

President-elect Donald Trump does not have the traditional cadre of Washington insiders and donors to build out his Cabinet, but his transition team has spent the past several months quietly building a short list of industry titans and conservative activists who could comprise one of the more eclectic and controversial presidential cabinets in modern history. Trumpworld has started with a mandate to hire from the private sector whenever possible...
Interior secretary
Forrest Lucas, the 74-year-old co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil, is seen as a top contender for Interior Secretary. Trump’s presidential transition team is also eyeing venture capitalist Robert Grady, a George H. W. Bush White House official with ties to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. And Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., is said to be interested in the job. Meanwhile, a person who spoke to the Trump campaign told POLITICO that the aides have also discussed tapping Sarah Palin for Interior Secretary. Trump has said he’d like to put Palin in his Cabinet, and Palin has made no secret of her interest. Other possible candidates include: former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer; Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis; and Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm.
Agriculture secretary
There are several names being considered by Trump aides for Agriculture secretary, according to multiple sources familiar with the transition. The president elect has a deep bench to pull from with nearly 70 leaders on agricultural advisory committee. The most controversial name on the transition’s current short list is Sid Miller, the current secretary of agriculture in Texas, who caused a firestorm just days ago after his campaign’s Twitter account referred to Clinton as a ‘c---.‘ Miller said it was a staffer mistake and apologized. Other names include Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback; Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman; former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as well as Charles Herbster, Republican donor and agribusiness leader; and Mike McCloskey, a major dairy executive in Indiana, according to Arabella Advisors, a firm that advises top foundations and is closely tracking both transition efforts...
Environmental Protection Agency administrator
While Trump has called for eliminating the EPA, he has more recently modified that positions, saying in September that he’ll “refocus the EPA on its core mission of ensuring clean air, and clean, safe drinking water for all Americans.” Myron Ebell, a climate skeptic who is running the EPA working group on Trump’s transition team, is seen as a top candidate to lead the agency. Ebell, an official at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has come under fire from environmental groups for his stances on global warming. Venture capitalist Robert Grady is also a contender. Other potential candidates: Joe Aiello is the director of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Environmental Safety and Quality Assurance; Carol Comer, the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, who was appointed by Mike Pence; and Leslie Rutledge, the attorney general of Arkansas and a lead challenger of EPA regulations in the state.

'Even lame ducks have wings'

On Jan. 17, 2001, outgoing President Bill Clinton convened his last signing ceremony in the historic White House East Room. With just three days left in his term, he designated seven new national monuments, including California's Carrizo Plain, Arizona's Sonoran Desert and Montana's Pompeys Pillar, featuring the signature of Capt. William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition. It was Clinton's last ceremony in the East Room, but it wasn't his last move on monuments. Two days later, on Jan. 19, he designated two historic fortresses on New York City's Governors Island as national monuments. Hillary Clinton, then-first lady and a newly elected senator from New York, was among those pushing the president to make the designation. "Even lame ducks have wings," Clinton's Interior secretary, Bruce Babbitt, told The New York Times in 2000, after the designation of several other national monuments. Tomorrow, President Obama will start his lame-duck stint, with 72 days left before he leaves the Oval Office. Like Bill Clinton and other past presidents, he's expected to use the time — and his executive power — to cement his legacy on a host of issues, including energy and the environment. "He will do everything he can between now and then," said Don Barry, who served as the Interior Department's assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks during the Clinton administration. From monument designations to last-minute rules (often dubbed "midnight regulations"), efforts to push through nominees, and pardons and commutations, there's plenty Obama can still do. How aggressive the administration will be during its final days could depend largely on the outcome of today's election. Obama and his allies may be less likely to push through environmental regulations and take other controversial actions if Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton defeats Republican nominee Donald Trump. A Trump victory, on the other hand, could spur the administration to be more active...more

And we now know they have been spurred.

Some protesters disrespect land and landowners, farmers and ranchers say

On a clear, blue-sky day in October, seven or eight protesters showed up in the middle of Jared Ernst’s alfalfa field, unloading their horses without so much as a “by your leave.” Ernst went over to ask them what they were doing in his alfalfa field and was told they were here for the Dakota Access protest. Ernst told them that was fine, but he didn’t want them trampling his hay field. “This is treaty ground,” Ernst says the older gentleman replied, “and you don’t have a right to be here.” Two younger men ambled up, meanwhile, swinging lariats as they came. Ernst turned slightly to make sure everyone could see the revolver at his hip. At that point the older gentleman waved the two younger ones away, and the seven or eight protesters left Ernst’s field. Ernst said plates on the vehicles identified them as from a reservation in South Dakota. The encounter is just one of the many, Ernst says, which has set the farming and ranching community on edge and has some wearing protective gear and carrying weapons. Ernst was one of few farmers who would agree to talk to the media about what’s happening on the ground to farmers and ranchers. Another who had agreed to an interview subsequently withdrew, saying he received a number of threats...Morton County authorities have been keeping an informal list of incidents, saying that residents haven’t made formal complaints out of fear of retaliation. Their reports include masked men approaching people, out-of-state vehicles playing chicken with them on gravel roads, 65 mph highways being blocked by protesters who refuse to let residents through, hay bales being stolen, access to fields they are trying to harvest being blocked, increased expenses and difficulties getting hay sold or corn to elevators. Ernst’s first encounter in the alfalfa field was about the same timeframe as another incident in which fuel lines to construction equipment were cut on the ranch of Chad and Julie Ellingson, fourth-generation farmers in the area. Julie Ellingson, who is the vice president of the North Dakota Stockman’s Association, said there have been repeated acts of trespassing and vandalism in the area, as well as thefts. Fences in the way of protesters are simply cut and cast aside, allowing cattle to roam willy nilly. That not only destroys forage that was being saved for later and distresses fields that need rotating, but it distresses the cattle and can result in cows getting mixed in with bulls at times they shouldn’t breed, she said. Ellingson has not had any cattle killed, but North Dakota Stockmen’s Association says there have been seven dead bison, six dead cattle, two dead horses, two injured cows and more than 30 missing cows and calves reported to them...more

War Against WOTUS Wages On

The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which was introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers, has been one of the most hotly contested regulations introduced under the Obama Administration. Opponents argue WOTUS is an overreaching regulation that threatens landowners across the country. On November 1, 2016, several industry stakeholders, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC), filed the opening brief in the Sioux Circuit Court of Appeals, calling for the WOTUS rule to be invalidated. Scott Yager, NCBA’s environmental counsel, says the crux of the ongoing lawsuit, which was filed in July 2015, is the EPA and Army Corps failed to follow correct protocols in finalizing the rule. The opening brief now addresses the industry’s concerns about the legality of the rule. “Up to this point, the lawsuit has focused on the procedural issues,” said Yager. “The opening brief argues that the rule is illegal because the agency violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The brief also argues that the EPA violated the constitution because the rule goes beyond the boundaries of jurisdiction. The WOTUS rule stretches the boundaries of the Clean Water Act to include dry creek beds and prairie potholes, which goes beyond any historic perception of jurisdiction.” “The EPA did not follow procedure when creating this rule,” added PLC Executive Director Ethan Lane. “They withheld key documents until after the comments period was closed. They illegally lobbied for the rule, and engaged in quite a bit of illegal behavior in advancing a federal rule.” With the opening brief filed, the EPA has a chance to respond to the opening brief, and Yager explained that there will be some back and forth until March 2017. He anticipates the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to make a decision by late spring or early summer. “Depending on the results, we could see more appeals from either side going to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Yager. “The nationwide stay of the rule is still in place and was issued by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. I believe the stay will remain in place throughout the hearings.”...more

Put faith in farmers, not federal regulators

By Daren Bakst

 Washington just can’t stop meddling in agriculture. Its bureaucrats saddle farmers with crushing regulations, while Congress provides wasteful and harmful handouts. All the tampering completely disrespects farmers.

Regulations threaten farmers’ ability to engage in even the most basic agricultural practices. The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for example, have issued a water rule that seeks to regulate almost any body of water -- from man-made ditches to land depressions that may hold water a few days a year.

This rule isn’t currently being enforced because of pending litigation. But if the regulators win, farmers will have to spend a lot of time and cash to get many more permits just to work their land. Worse, the rule is so vague and subjective that many farmers will simply give up on working productive fields rather than run the risk of having the EPA lower the boom on their operations.

And then there’s the Endangered Species Act. All too often, it puts the burden of protecting species on landowners instead of spreading the costs to all taxpayers. Farmers and ranchers, who are particularly affected by this law, are often restricted in how they can use their land, yet they receive no compensation for the trampling of their property rights.

No good comes of poorly considered regulations -- especially when they make it so hard for farmers and ranchers to produce our food.

Subsidies are just the flip-side of federal meddling. Washington’s elite treat farmers as inferior to other business owners. To them, it isn’t enough to provide farmers a strong safety net to protect against major crop losses. They also feel they must insulate farmers from low market prices and make sure they get the revenues that they expect.

...Excessive handouts insulate farmers from the need to respond to market conditions. This doesn’t merely hurt consumers and taxpayers; it also hurts farmers. It makes it impossible for farmers to receive the full benefit of being better managed than their competitors.

Moreover, these massive subsidies -- and farmers’ growing dependence on them -- expose farmers to the threat of even greater meddling in their business. For example, nutrition-oriented organizations would like to manipulate subsidies to get farmers to stop planting “unhealthy” crops and plant “healthier” crops instead. Some environmental interests are seeking to further condition the receipt of subsidies on farmers’ willingness to adopt the practices that they favor.

Oklahomans vote against 'Right to Farm' state question

Oklahomans voted against State Question 777, dubbed “Right to Farm," in the general election Nov. 8. Created by the legislature, the constitutional amendment would have prevented the legislature from passing laws or regulations that would impede farmers’ ability to employ farming and ranching practices without a “compelling state interest.” The amendment cites the importance of agriculture as the “foundation and stabilizing force of Oklahoma’s economy” as its reasoning. Major proponents of the amendment included the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the Oklahoma Agricultural Cooperative Council and American Farmers and Ranchers, among others. Supporters argued the question would have allowed farmers to defend themselves against unjust laws, while opponents argued it would prevent reasonable laws from regulating farming. Several environmentalist groups are against SQ 777, including the Sierra Club Oklahoma Chapter, the Humane Society and OU student group OUr Earth...more

Country singer Trace Adkins plays the title role in this Western based on a real-life robber.

It takes a lot of chutzpah to use the word "stagecoach" in the title of a Western movie. Devotees of John Ford's enduring 1939 classic need not bother with the latest oater vehicle for Trace Adkins (Traded), although undiscriminating viewers looking for a shoot-'em-up on late-night cable could do worse than Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story, currently receiving a limited theatrical release. The country music singer turned actor plays the central role of Nathaniel Reed, based on a real-life outlaw who committed numerous stagecoach, train and bank robberies in the late 1800s. (Fun fact: He lived until 1950 and even published an autobiography in 1936.) As the film would have it, Reed — whose alias stemmed from his favorite brand of whiskey and the state in which he committed many of his crimes — tried to go straight, living quietly as a rancher and husband to his devoted wife, Laura (Michelle Harrison)...more

Route 66


Of all America’s great highways none epitomized Americana during the twentieth century more than storied Route 66. Stretching across the heart of the country from Chicago to Los Angeles, it rambled nearly 2,500 miles through Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona the Mother Road celebrates its 90th Birthday on November 11th. Route 66 has inspired writers, poets, song writers, artists and photographers. It was the twentieth century’s rendition of the Golden Road to the Promised Landthe Gila Trail, Beale Camel Road, Oregon Trail, California Trail and the Yellow Brick Road all rolled into one.

The highway was born in the 1850s as a wagon road. It was surveyed along the 35th Parallel in 1857-1858 by Lt. Ned Beale of the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers and his amazing camels. At a cost of $210,000 the Beale Camel Road was the first federally funded road in the Southwest. In 1912 it morphed into the National Old Trails Highway also known as the Ocean to Ocean Highway. It became Route 66 on November 11th, 1926, one of the original federal routes in the U.S. Highway system.

For the first time in history American families could take to the road as tourists. The wondrous wonders of the West beckoned; real Indians selling their exquisite woven blankets, fine pottery silver/turquoise jewelry; prehistoric native ruins and cliff dwellings, dating back more than a thousand years ago; zoos with rattlesnakes and mountain lions; painted deserts, petrified forests, towering snow-capped mountains, the best-preserved meteor on earth that struck the high desert 50,000 years ago; and the grandest canyon of them all.

...The death knell for Route 66 came with the passing of the Federal Highway Act of 1956. It provided for a national system of interstate and defense highways to be built over thirteen years and would change the face of America forever.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Marijuana wins big on election night

Voters in California and Massachusetts approved recreational marijuana initiatives today, and several other states passed medical marijuana provisions in what is turning out to be the biggest electoral victory for marijuana reform since 2012, when Colorado and Washington first approved recreational marijuana. Of the five recreational marijuana initiatives on the ballot today, two have passed and two more -- in Nevada and Maine -- are currently leading in preliminary vote totals. A similar measure in Arizona is currently trailing with 53 percent of votes counted so far. On the medical side, voters in Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas have approved medical marijuana initiatives. A separate measure in Montana that would loosen restrictions on an existing medical pot law is currently leading with only 9 percent of votes counted so far...more

Paul Penzone is the new Maricopa County Sheriff, defeats Joe Arpaio

Maricopa County has a new sheriff in town. Democrat Paul Penzone beat long-standing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Tuesday in a campaign that featured plenty of attacks on both sides...more

Government Workers Now Outnumber Manufacturing Workers by 9,977,000

The United States lost 9,000 manufacturing jobs in October while gaining 19,000 jobs in government, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Government employment grew from 22,216,000 in September to 22,235,000 in October, according to BLS, while manufacturing jobs dropped from 12,267,000 to 12,258,000. The 22,235,000 employed by government in the United States now outnumber the 12,258,000 employed in manufacturing by 9,977,000. Over the past year—from October 2015 to October 2016—manufacturing employment fell by 53,000, declining from 12,311,000 to 12,258,000. During the same period, government employment climbed 208,000, rising from 22,027,000 to 22,235,000. The BLS has published seasonally-adjusted month-by-month employment data for both government and manufacturing going back to January 1939. According to this data, manufacturing employees in the United States of America outnumbered government employees every month for more than half a century. Then, in August 1989, government employees slipped ahead of manufacturing employees for the first time—taking a slim lead of 17,989,000 to 17,964,000. Since then, government has pulled dramatically ahead of manufacturing as an employer in the United States. In fact, the 22,235,000 who now work for government in this country, according to the BLS, is more than ever worked in manufacturing...more

Feds Join Conference on ‘Psychosocial Resilience’ to Climate Change – Causes Depression, PTSD, Suicide, and Spiritual Problems

Several federal officials spoke on Friday at a conference in Washington, D.C., organized by The Resource Innovation Group, an Oregon-based organization that promotes the idea that climate change can cause a range of human health problems, including PTSD, depression and suicide and that human behavior should be changed to avoid these problems.’s request to cover the remarks at the conference by Jeff Stiefel, executive director for climate change and health resilience at the Homeland Security Department; Rob Tosatto, director of the HHS Medical Reserve Corps Program; and Darrin Donato, senior policy analyst and resilience policy coordinator for the Office of the Assistant HHS Secretary for Preparedness and Response, was denied, but the literature from the conference and the organization’s website provides details about the goals of the conference.
The website said attendees to the conference will learn:
  • The personal mental health, spiritual, and psychosocial impacts of climate change on youth, adolescents, adults, and why major preventative human resilience-building policies and programs are urgently needed to address the risks.
  • Methods, policies, and benefits of building personal resilience for climate change-enhanced traumas and toxic stresses.
  • Methods, policies, and benefits of building psychosocial resilience within all types of groups and organizations for climate change-enhanced traumas and toxic stresses.
  • Methods, policies, and benefits of building psychosocial resilience within communities for climate change-enhanced traumas and toxic stresses.
Want more?  Read it here.

Udall, Gregoire said to be on Clinton's short list for Interior secretary

Hillary Clinton's presidential transition team is eyeing six top candidates to lead the Interior Department if she is elected, including former Colorado Sen. Mark Udall and former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, according to a person who has spoken to the transition team. The list of leading candidates also includes Natural Resources Defense Council President Rhea Suh; Felicia Marcus, the chair of California's State Water Resources Control Board; Denise Juneau, the first American Indian woman elected to statewide office in Montana; and Katie McGinty, the former secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection, the source told POLITICO. The source cautioned the list is very much in flux. Clinton and her top campaign aides have likely not weighed in on the Interior candidates since they are focused on the election. Clinton's aides are also expected to weigh the breakdown of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, which won't be clear until after the election. But the short list offers the first real glimpse into the Clinton transition team's thinking when it comes to the Interior Department. Five of the six top contenders for the job are women, which keeps with Clinton's promise to install women in at least half of her Cabinet positions. Interior secretaries traditionally come from Western states. Choosing somebody like McGinty, who has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for EPA administrator, would break with that tradition. Gregoire, a Democrat, has long been considered an Interior candidate, including during Obama's presidency. Udall, a Democrat who is married to environmentalist Maggie Fox, lost his Senate seat to Cory Gardner in 2014...more

EPA Finalizes ‘Illegal’ Clean Power Plan Tools, Draws Ire of States, Energy Companies

The EPA is moving forward with a voluntary cap-and-trade system for Clean Power Plan compliance, despite the US Supreme Court’s stay of the carbon pollution rules. The final carbon trading model went to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review last week, The Hill reports.  In June, the EPA proposed the details of the CEIP, which rewards states for early deployment of clean energy and energy efficiency measures. The agency said the proposal was in response to requests from 14 states to provide guidance and information about the program. Dozens of other states, however, say both of these actions by the EPA are illegal. In joint comments submitted to the EPA, 26 state attorneys general, two state public utility commissions, and four state environmental quality departments, said the EPA is violating the Supreme Court order that halted implementation of the Clean Power Plan until the legal challenges have concluded. “By moving forward with this rulemaking, EPA has ignored explicit instruction from the court, throwing years of well-established case law out the window,” Montana attorney general Tim Fox said in a statement. “It’s unacceptable for the EPA to flout the rule of law and treat our nation’s highest court in this manner, and for the sake of preserving the integrity of the institution, I encourage the agency officials to rethink their actions.”...more

Where will the West’s next national monument be?

While President Barack Obama has already designated or expanded 27 national monuments in the past eight years, more than any other administration, there are still efforts in many Western states pushing for the designation. Our map below shows the most well-known efforts such as Bears Ears and Gold Butte, as well as lesser-known efforts you may not have heard about...more

Wind farms kill more bats than birds

It’s no secret that wind power has experienced a boom in recent years, as demand for renewable energy sources grows. But while the technology is adept at helping curb greenhouse-gas emissions, the thousands of new turbines popping up around the globe do have some drawbacks. Wind farms have a long-documented history of killing hundreds of thousands of birds and bats each year. As it turns out, the bat toll may be higher than previously estimated. In a study published Monday, researchers in the United Kingdom found that environmental impact assessments — the main tool used to predict the ecological effects of a new energy development - commonly failed to predict the number of bats that would have fatal collisions with wind turbines’ spinning blades. Even in the few cases where researchers said early assessments accurately predicted the danger to bats, efforts to mitigate those risks often did not succeed. “The findings highlight the difficulty of establishing with certainty the effect of major developments before they occur,” co-author Fiona Mathews said in announcing the results, which were published in the journal Cell Press. Mathews, a mammalian biologist at the University of Exeter, and several colleagues surveyed 46 wind farms across the U.K. over the course of a month to estimate bat fatalities, relying heavily on search dogs to locate fallen bats. They then compared their findings from each site to the environmental assessments they were able to access. In most cases, the pre-construction assessments had not accurately predicted the risk of bat fatalities. And even where companies had put in place mitigation measures to try to steer bats clear of the turbines, the researchers found that bats were still killed...more

U.S. cattle herd growth slows despite record corn harvest

Demand for corn to fatten up U.S. cattle is likely to climb in the short term, as ranchers send more breeding females to feedlots to reduce the number of calves coming into supply. But next year, corn consumption could decline as there will be fewer cattle as a result of the current heifer cull. Ranchers are rushing to reduce their herds as per-pound prices for cattle hover near five-year lows, pressured by plentiful supplies of pork and chicken. The number of heifers heading to commercial feeding pens rose 4 percent in the quarter ended Sept. 30 from a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More could be on their way as prices stay low and calves are weaned, analysts said. "I would anticipate that they (ranchers) are going to cut their herds again because of the financial situation," said South Dakota feedlot operator Herman Schumacher. "It's been a wreck." Cattle in feedlots are typically fattened to about 1,300 lbs from 800 lbs on arrival, munching through about 7 pounds of feed for every pound of weight gain. "Feedlots will initially use more grain because they'll have more animals as a stop-off before heading to the packing plants," said John Ginzel, analyst with Chicago-based Linn Group. This would further depress beef prices, he added. The USDA forecasts corn use for feed will hit 5.7 million bushels in the year that began Sept. 1, up from 5.2 million in the previous period. That could underpin corn prices, currently languishing near two-year lows around $3.50 per bushel for December delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade...more

Illegal immigrants surging to US-Mexico border in race against Election Day

Americans aren’t the only ones motivated by Tuesday’s election. The presidential race has immigrants from around the world racing to the U.S.-Mexican border, as the cartels exploit a powerful narrative: get into the U.S. while you still can. “Smugglers are telling them that they need to come across now while there’s a chance,” said Art Del Cueto, a Border Patrol agent in Tucson, Ariz., whose views were echoed by another agent in Texas. “People think if one candidate wins, certain things will happen, like a giant wall being built and then they can never get through,” said Chris Cabrera, an agent in the Rio Grande Valley. “Another faction believes that if the other candidate wins, they’ll get amnesty if they’re here by a certain date.” Those two competing narratives – triggered by the rhetoric of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, respectively -- are driving immigration numbers the Border Patrol hasn’t seen in years in some sectors. “We are overwhelmed,” said a veteran agent in McAllen, Texas. “We are seeing 800 to 1,000 apprehensions every night.” When you stop somebody, you ask their name and the first thing they tell you is – ‘I’m here for asylum, I can’t go home because they’ll kill me.’ … When it takes a good five or six minutes just to get their name out of them, they have a rehearsed story,” said Cabrera. “Once they get those papers saying they can pass through our checkpoint, we’ll never see them again.” Del Cueto said the agents are “not getting any backing” from D.C. and “we need to start enforcing every single immigration law we have on the books.” Del Cueto and Cabrera belong to the National Border Patrol Council, which represents the Border Patrol’s 18,000 field agents who are prohibited from talking openly to the media...more

As cartels renew battle, violence in border city of Ciudad Juarez spikes again

After a few years of relative peace, the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez could be headed for the sort of violence that earned it the title of the world’s most violent city less than a decade ago. Speaking to the Mexican newspaper El Universal, a drug cartel enforcer identified only as Jorge said that the violence actually has never disappeared from the city – the killers only hid their victims better, he said. And, he added, as divisions continue to fracture the once-omnipotent Sinaloa Cartel, the levels of violent crime will continue to rise. "It is a lie that Juárez changed," Jorge told the newspaper. "Absolutely nothing has changed, just the order was that we be more discreet, that we don't shoot at people in the street, [because of that] there's a s---load of clandestine cemeteries ... Now one can burn them, bury them or throw them in the sewers." Jorge – who claimed to head up recruiting for the Juárez Cartel’s enforcement wing, La Línea – said that the root of the conflict is about what drugs move through the border city and who is in control of the transshipments. Ciudad Juárez sits directly across the border from El Paso, Texas, and is one of the main launching points for illegal drugs entering the U.S. "The war is because [the Sinaloa Cartel] wants [to sell] the crystal, and we aren't going to leave. There are orders to do whatever in order to not permit any of that," Jorge said...more

Border Body Farm - Texas State helping ID dozens of bodies discovered in South Texas

Authorities in Brooks County discover more bodies than any other county in Texas. Since 2012, there has been an influx of illegal immigrants trying to cross into the US through Texas. Most are from Central America, where illegal immigrants from Mexico cross through Arizona. Many don't make it across. But Brooks County is not a border town. In fact, it's 70 miles away from the Texas-Mexico border.  It's home to the Falfurrias Border Patrol Station which sits in the middle of the superhighway of drug and human smuggling. "If border patrol is successful on one side, then they move to the other so it's a constant flux," said Don White. White is a volunteer deputy with the Brooks County Sheriff's Office. He's the one in charge of finding the bodies. Since 2009, Brooks County authorities have discovered the remains of 525 immigrants. White believes there are thousands more they haven't found yet. In 2012, the number of bodies discovered in Brooks County hit an all-time high: 129. So many illegals use these routes that some ranchers installed ladders because they were tired of their fences being broken or bent...more

Haitian migrants end up in Otero County prison

Fainot Pierre is a 30-year-old Haitian-American veteran of the U.S. Army and a biology student, but he says now the first thing he tells people is, “I’m an activist.” A small but impassioned group of Haitian-Americans from Albuquerque to El Paso are decrying the detention of more than 2,700 Haitians who crossed through Mexico at the California border, many of them seeking asylum. Of those, more than 130 Haitian men are in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Otero County. Citing intelligence from countries along the migration route, ICE Director Sarah Saldaña told a congressional committee in September that as many as 40,000 more Haitians could be on their way to the U.S.-Mexican border – an “emergency situation,” she said.  Among the thousands of people from Central America – and increasingly Asia and Africa – who have been arriving at the Southwestern border asking for asylum, the Haitians find themselves in an especially difficult situation. The Department of Homeland Security said in September that it would restart deportations of unauthorized Haitian immigrants, which it had stopped after a devastating earthquake struck in 2010. Days after that decision, Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, killing more than 1,000 people and plunging the country – still struggling to recover from the earthquake and reeling from political turmoil – into further chaos. DHS again suspended deportations but indicated flights would resume “as soon as possible.” Meanwhile, the Haitian government had been accepting only a limited number of its citizens, 50 per month, with frequent denials, making it impossible for the U.S. to deport them in large numbers, according to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute...more

Monday, November 07, 2016

Oregon's Owyhee Canyonlands are focus of monumental debate

Everybody with a vested interest in the Owyhee Canyonlands feels the same about the land: It's beautiful. It's spiritual. It's a special place that deserves our respect. Their disagreement stems from a philosophical divide: How should we respect this wild desert along the southeast Oregon border? Should we preserve it solely as a pristine natural wonder? Or should we utilize its natural resources to support the local community? Both sides say they're open to compromise - a process that has been hammered out on public lands for more than a century - but have instead found themselves embroiled in a bitter battle that dives headlong into land-use politics, and divides Oregonians into two stubborn camps. Behind the slogans and beyond the talking points, there are people with real fears and real frustrations. Their feelings mirror a much bigger conversation about federal land management in the 21st century - recently amplified by the occupation of the Malheur wildlife refuge - but for now they're focused on Owyhee, a vast and beautiful piece of southeast Oregon. What makes a monument? The national monument designation is designed to protect historically, culturally or environmentally important areas with some flexibility. Federal land managers typically allow existing mines, timber harvests and grazing allotments to continue on monuments, but ban any new projects from starting up. Currently, two proposals are being considered in Oregon: the proposed 2.5-million-acre Owyhee Canyonlands National Monument, and a 65,000-acre expansion of the existing Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, originally established by President Bill Clinton in 2000. Both would be big wins for conservationists, but big opposition stands in their way. Owyhee under threat There is significant mining potential in Malheur County, according to a recent report by the Oregon Department of Geological and Mineral Industries, but it's unclear whether mining within the boundaries of the monument would be economically feasible. A spokeswoman for the department said while mining might be feasible, "the economic potential remains to be studied." According to department records, there are already four active mines within the proposed monument - two for industrial minerals and two for gemstones - and four more just outside it. That's a cause for concern among environmentalists, who don't trust the industry to leave well enough alone. And while the oil and gas industry hasn't drilled a well in Malheur County since 1962, landowners around the county have signed oil and gas leases over the last few years in anticipation. No new wells have been actually approved, but it's enough to raise a big red flag for the people trying to protect the Owyhee...more

The only immanent threats mentioned in this article are mining and possibly oil & gas drilling.
Do you need a National Monument designation to protect this area from these two uses?
The answer is NO!
If the administration truly felt the resource warranted protection from these uses, they can implement an administrative withdrawal from all forms of mining and energy leasing using their authority in Section 204 [43 U.S.C. 1714] of FLPMA. This can provide protection for up to twenty years.
For permanent protection Congress can pass a legislative withdrawal from all forms of mining and energy leasing.
Under either scenario, the lands are protected, while the surface uses remain the same.

Federal land managers typically allow existing mines, timber harvests and grazing allotments to continue on monuments, but ban any new projects from starting up.
This is written as if the land managers have flexibility in making these choices.  They don't.  They must comply with the management language in the Presidential Proclamation. One person, the President, determines whether mining, timber harvests, grazing, roads, etc. will continue, and if so, under what guidelines and conditions.  

The Antiquities Act allows existing allotments to be grandfathered in, but local ranchers simply don't trust the government to honor that agreement.
That is not correct. The Antiquities Act does not even mention livestock grazing. Again, whether livestock grazing is banned, limited or continues as currently practiced is completely up to the President and whatever language he chooses to insert in the Presidential Proclamation creating the monument. The land managers then implement that language. And, the grazing language can vary widely from one proclamation to the next. Look at the different grazing languages in these two recent proclamations by President Obama, here and here.  See my comments on the differences in these grazing languages here. Also see my comments on livestock grazing language in National Monument designation here and here.

And remember, the Presidential Proclamation is not put out as a draft inviting public comment. What one person - the President - says is determined without public hearings or input and is final.