Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Interior secretary’s NM monuments agenda includes meetings, hikes, and horseback rides

By Michael Coleman / Journal Washington Bureau

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is scheduled to arrive in New Mexico Thursday as part of two days of meetings and sightseeing ahead of his decision on whether to shrink the state’s two national monuments or leave them as they are. On Thursday, Zinke will tour the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument by helicopter then meet with elected officials, ranchers, academics, ​border security experts, ​and others local stakeholders “who represent all sides of the issue,” according to the Interior Department. On Friday, Zinke will hike with southern New Mexico veterans and then hold meetings​ with the Mescalero Apache​, Fort Sill Tribe, and Friends of Organ Mountains Desert Peaks . On Saturday, the Interior secretary will hike and ride horseback with Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, both of whom are opposed to shrinking either monument...more

Now you know what I've been up to...

The boy who cried wolf grew up to be an environmental alarmist

Jonathan Wood

“Is X making you sick? Find out after the break . . .” There’s a reason the news references an outrageously scary story before going to commercial break: fear grabs the attention like little else. This gives news directors an incentive to promote sensational stories over the more mundane. One consequence of this incentive is the rush to publicize spurious scientific claims, provided that their conclusions are sensationalist enough. One week, studies show that coffee causes cancer. The next week, it’s the cure. This problem is perhaps nowhere more damaging than in environmental science and policy. Sober analysis of a moderate problem that will be costly to fix doesn’t make headlines—or excite academic publishers. Predicting doom and gloom, however, is big business. The incentives reward the boy who cried wolf, rather than discrediting him. Last week, a study went viral (by scientific study standards) predicting a global extinction crisis brought on by human population growth. This sensational conclusion was widely reported with apocalyptic headlines, including India’s Statesman newspaper which highlighted the story with a “representational image” of a post-apocalyptic city. To its credit, The Atlantic questioned the study’s hyperbolic claims in its report and ran a separate article criticizing the alarmism of studies like this. In the second article, a reporter asked Doug Erwin, an expert on a global extinction event more than 200 million years ago, whether the earth faces anything like that now.
Erwin says no. He thinks it’s junk science. “Many of those making facile comparisons between the current situation and past mass extinctions don’t have a clue about the difference in the nature of the data, much less how truly awful the mass extinctions recorded in the marine fossil record actually were,” he wrote me in an email. “It is absolutely critical to recognize that I am NOT claiming that humans haven’t done great damage to marine and terrestrial [ecosystems], nor that many extinctions have not occurred and more will certainly occur in the near future. But I do think that as scientists we have a responsibility to be accurate about such comparisons.”
It should surprise no one that Paul R. Ehrlich was one of the study’s authors. Ehrlich, a Stanford biology professor became a celebrity in the environmental activist community when he published his book “The Population Boom” in 1968. It proclaimed that “[i]n the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now” because the human population would exceed the earth’s capacity to feed us. 40 years later, his doomsday prediction seems laughable. Ehrlich completely failed to account for what Julian Simon called the ultimate resource, human ingenuity. Evolutionarily, we’re problem solvers. Time and again, we’ve invented our way out of predicted doomsdays...more

Trump EPA eyes former Obama energy official to lead climate science face-off

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is considering a former official in President Barack Obama’s Energy Department to lead the agency's debate on mainstream climate science, according to a former leader of the Trump administration's EPA transition effort. Steve Koonin, a physicist and director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University, is being eyed to lead EPA's "red team, blue team" review of climate science, said Myron Ebell, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a Trump transition leader. "It makes sense because he has positioned himself as an honest broker," Ebell said. "He doesn't think that the consensus is what some of the alarmists claim it is, and there's a lot that needs to be discussed." When reached by phone, Koonin declined to comment on whether he was in talks with the administration about the climate job. But he added, "I think it would be a good idea if that kind of exercise took place."...more

Trump’s war on junk science

Angela Logomasini

According to many news outlets, President Donald Trump has “declared a war on science.” Yet judging from at least one recent decision, the opposite is true. The Trump administration is trying to prevent policies based on junk science. A key example is the Trump administration’s denial of an activist petition to ban agricultural uses of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which farmers have safely used for decades. This decision makes sense when you consider the history. Residential uses of chlorpyrifos, such as for bug spray, were phased out starting in 2000, but not because it was proven dangerous. Rather, chemical company Dow Agrosciences voluntarily phased out home uses because Environmental Protection Agency regulations proved too expensive and onerous, making the product unprofitable. In 2007, the Pesticide Action Network (PANNA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) petitioned the EPA to ban agricultural uses of this chemical. EPA began a safety review in 2009, which is required every 15 years, and indicated it would answer the petition as part of that review. But since such reviews take many years, activists sued for a quicker decision, and a court ordered EPA to make a final decision by March 2017. At first, EPA appeared to be moving toward approval. But the agency suddenly shifted course in 2016, deciding to base its risk assessment on a single study produced by Columbia University’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH). EPA’s reliance on this study proved problematic and unwarranted for multiple reasons, including an activist agenda among the researchers involved, weak findings and a seriously flawed study design...more

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Senate Democrats call for investigation of climate scientist whistleblower complaint

Eight Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee asked the Interior Department's deputy inspector general on Monday to investigate Secretary Ryan Zinke's decision to reassign roughly 50 senior career officials last month, on the grounds that it could constitute an "abuse of authority." In the letter to Interior deputy inspector general Mary Kendall, obtained by The Washington Post, and signed by all but three of the panel's Democrats, the senators note that one of the reassigned Senior Executive Service officials – Joel Clement, the department's top climate change official – has alleged he was punished for his work on the issue. Clement, who was reassigned to the department's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, which collects royalty payments from oil, gas and mining firms, wrote an op-ed last week saying, "I believe I was retaliated against for speaking out publicly about the dangers that climate change poses to Alaska Native communities." "Any suggestion that the Department is reassigning SES employees to force them to resign, silence their voices, or to punish them for the conscientious performance of their public duties is extremely troubling and calls for the closest examination," wrote the senators, led by Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee...more

La. farmer bilks USDA out of $1.6 million

MONROE, La. – Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that a federal jury found a Bastrop farmer guilty last week of creating shell farms so he could receive more than $1.6 million in subsidy payments to which he was not entitled. Brad A. McIntyre, 33, of Bastrop, La., was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, five counts of mail fraud and four counts of money laundering related to engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity. United States District Judge S. Maurice Hicks Jr. presided over the trial, which started July 10 and ended Friday, July 21. The jury returned a guilty verdict after deliberating for approximately five hours. Evidence admitted at trial revealed that McIntyre, a fourth generation farmer and the owner of Delta Agriculture and Company, sought to avoid the Farm Service Agency direct program payment limitation of $40,000 per year per farm entity member. From August 2009 until February 2013, McIntyre conspired to create fictitious farm operations. When applying for FSA’s direct program payments, McIntyre listed the names of his relatives and employees as the owners of these entities when in fact he controlled and managed all of these farming entities....more

REPORT: US Oil Production To Shatter Historic Milestone In Trump’s First Term

U.S. oil production could reach never-before-seen heights by the end of President Donald Trump’s second year in office, according to the Department of Energy’s statistical arm. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) “expects crude oil production to reach an average of 9.9 million b/d, which would surpass the previous record of 9.6 million b/d set in 1970.” Most of the increase in production would come from Texas hydraulic fracturing operations and offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, according to EIA. EIA forecasts that most of the growth in U.S. crude oil production through the end of 2018 will come from tight rock formations within the Permian region in Texas and from the Federal Gulf of Mexico. n fact, Texas’s Permian Basin alone is expected to churn out nearly one-third of U.S. oil production by 2018. Permian production is expected to increase even if oil prices remain below $50 a barrel...more

Gary Johnson for U.S. Senate in 2018?


In a recent interview for IVN, Gary Johnson consultant Ron Nielson said Johnson “would be a fantastic senator” if he chose to run in 2018 against New Mexico’s Democratic junior senator, Martin Heinrich. When pressed on whether Johnson would consider making a bid for the U.S. Senate next year, Nielson had no comment, saying: “Well you’d have to ask Gary. I have no idea. No doubt that Gary would be a fantastic senator. He would do an amazing job and be great at that task. I have no idea if that would be of interest to him.”...His high name recognition and approval rating as a popular two-term governor in New Mexico would give him a great local advantage as well. He won his last statewide race in New Mexico by 9 percentage points. Martin Heinrich won his by less than 6 points that he had to fight hard for, and with far less money than Johnson would have to spend. Republican candidates winning one special election after another in 2017 (even the Republican candidate body slamming a reporter the night before the election can’t seem to get a Democrat elected this year) might portend a tough midterm for Democrats in 2018. If Gary Johnson were to pull off a U.S. Senate win for the Libertarian Party in his home state, he would make history for third party candidacies in the United States. He would also gain access to a vast amount of earned media air time as a senator to talk about the problems in Washington that other politicians won’t talk about, and that a growing number of voters are eager to hear. In the meantime, the only thing that’s sure is that Gary Johnson will be returning to the helm of his political non-profit, Our America Initiative, to mobilize “the largest grassroots army of liberty activists in the nation.”...more


"By pursuing his own interest [every individual] frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good."
-- Adam Smith
(1723-1790) Scottish philosopher and economist

 "The state remains, as it was in the beginning,
the common enemy of all well-disposed,
industrious and decent men."
-- H. L. Mencken
(1880-1956) American Journalist, Editor, Essayist, Linguist, Lexicographer, and Critic

Monday, July 24, 2017

Senate confirms Trump's nominee for No. 2 Interior post

The Senate voted to confirm David Bernhardt to be deputy secretary of the Interior Department. The Senate voted 53-43 on Monday evening to confirm him to agency’s No. 2 post. Bernhardt — only the second Interior Department nominee confirmed by the Senate since President Trump took office — will serve under Secretary Ryan Zinke. Monday’s vote means Bernhardt will make his return to the Interior Department, an agency where he served as solicitor under President George W. Bush. He was confirmed to that position with a unanimous vote in 2006. But Bernhardt’s confirmation process this year was stickier. Democrats raised ethics concerns dating back to his tenure in the Bush administration, and drilled down into his private sector lobbying career, which they warned could undermine his impartiality at Interior. Bernhardt’s supporters, though, call him an experienced and knowledgable nominee for the position, noting his work on an array of issues within Interior’s portfolio, including energy development, conservation and tribal affairs...more

U.S. Cattle Inventory at 103 Million Head, Jumps 4% Since 2015

By Wyatt Bechtel

The total U.S. cattle herd counting all cattle was at 103 million head on July 1, 2017. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) outlines in the latest Cattle Inventory Mid-year Report that the total herd count has increased 4% since the previous summer report on July 1, 2015, when there were just 98.2 million head. The total cow herd was at 41.9 million head, up 5% from the 39.8 million head mark two summers ago. Beef cows composed 32.5 million head in the total herd and accounted for a 7% increase during the last two years. Dairy cows were up 1% from the previous report with 9.4 million milk cows. There were 16.2 million head of heifers weighing 500 lb. or more at the time of the report, a 3% increase from the 15.7 million head reported on July 1, 2015. Beef replacement heifers actually saw a drop of 2% from 2015 reports with just 4.7 million head. Dairy replacement heifers saw no change in the last two years with 4.2 million head counted. Non-replacement heifers accounted for a 9% increase in numbers with 7.3 million head reported this year. Calves under 500 lb. increased 5% from 2015. There were 28 million light weight calves reported on July 1, 2017, compared to only 26.7 million head two years ago...more

EPA chief spent almost half of spring in home state of Oklahoma

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, was in his home state of Oklahoma on at least 43 of the 92 days of March, April and May, according to copies of his travel records obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project watchdog group and reviewed by Reuters. Pruitt’s frequent visits to Oklahoma have raised concerns among critics that he is cultivating political relationships in the state at taxpayer expense, instead of focusing on his job as head of the environmental regulator. EPA officials contend that Pruitt works hard and pays for his trips home to Tulsa to see his wife and children. "Administrator Pruitt works long hours and is available around the clock," said EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman. "He is extremely focused and disciplined, which is evident by the fact that he spearheaded over two dozen significant regulatory actions since being sworn in."...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1885

Its Swingin’ Monday and we have Jody Nix with Let’s Get It Over and Done With. The tune is on his 2010 CD Twin Fiddles Turn Me On.