Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cowgirl Sass and Savvy

The first summer job

Julie Carter

Gainful employment for ranch kids is not usually much of an option since ranch dads have had them working since they could.

Getting a paycheck wasn't part of the plan. It's always been the original "will work for food" plan.

Every now and then, a kid can find someone needing a strong back and weak mind and a 15-year-old boy fits the bill on both counts.

Clearing the details of filling out a resume and a job application, the boy picked up his report card on Friday and started his summer job at a neighboring ranch on Monday.

The resume said "I don't know anything but I'm willing to listen and learn." The job application said, "Will work for lunch and a little money."

Off he went with the patrón to make the rounds and learn the routine.

The world is round and life is a circle - if you hang with it long enough to make the curve.

He drove off from the home ranch in my old red pickup, 21 years old and still running. It was like sitting him on that solid old saddle horse when he was 2. Somehow passing on this vehicle is as comforting.

The ranch he went to work on was one he's known since birth. His grandfather ran it for 25 years until he passed away, so it, too, was another bend in life's circle.

The enthusiasm in his voice was fun to hear. I tried to remember what it felt like to be headed out to that first paycheck job.

Surely, I was older and more mature. Well maybe not, for like him, I was also just 15.

My first paying job was at the ranch that I called home. Dad was the boss and my sidekicks were my younger brother and an Australian shepherd we called Sally.

Dad found himself shorthanded that summer and needed help with the 4,000 yearlings fresh off the cattle trucks to settle in summer pastures.

I was hired on at $5.50 a day and my brother made $5. Age had a 50-cent privilege. It was a veritable fortune for us.

This same brother, just days ago, was spouting some marvelous (he thought) sage wisdom and babble as I sat across the dinner table from him, just looking and listening.

He stopped what he was saying and laughed.

"That look," he said pointing to my face. "That look is the same look you used to give me when we were riding pastures looking for sick yearlings," he said.

I laughed and said, "Then you'll know what the next question is. How many?"

He got the same sheepish look on his face that he did all those years ago. You see, he always forgot to count.

It was our job to give Dad daily headcounts in each pasture while we looked for any cattle that might be sick or getting sick.

He was always busy playing with his rope. Roping sagebrush, fence posts, jackrabbits or anything he could throw a loop at. Catching wasn't the point.

Then finally somewhere in the moment, and knowing he might need to answer Dad if asked, he'd say. "How many?"

When I quit telling him, it got ugly. I was the meanest, worst, sorriest sister in the world and if he could catch me he'd ... fortunately he never did catch me, at least not while he was red hot with anger. Not for lack of trying, mind you.

He'd go back to roping and I'd go back to counting. Our days and the summer faded away in that manner.

The next generation boy that left at daylight in the red truck? I wonder if he'll remember to check the oil in Ol' Red, close the gates and, of course, count the cattle when he should.

Julie can be reached for comment at her NOT first job at

It’s The Pitts

My Tail Of Whoa

Lee Pitts

I can’t help but think that part of the reason for our current economic troubles are all the drastic changes brought about by the new economy, which is based on the personal computer and the Internet. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing but industries and businesses have been turned upside down by all the new technology.

The Dotcom Generation now gets their news via the Internet, the morning newspaper is disappearing right along with breakfast, and the computer has made writers out of people who can’t spell and don’t have much to say. Amazon is selling books that can be downloaded on to a little plastic screen and soon there will be no need for bookshelves or books. How very sad.

Lonely people now try to find their dates on the Internet instead of the local bar and retailers by the big box full are going bankrupt because consumers are shopping online instead of in person. Banks need fewer tellers as a result of ATM’s and draftsmen have been replaced by computer programs. Many workers have been laid off or unemployed because they were replaced by a keyboardist at a computer. And many times that key puncher isn’t even in this country!

You can’t convince me that at least some of the shenanigans on Wall Street weren’t made possible by sophisticated computer programs that allowed crooks to cook up Ponzi schemes and sucker strategies and then hide their crimes.

Some of us have have not responded well to the revolution in productivity that was ushered in by Pac Man. Although I write on an Apple Macintosh computer, and have since 1984, in many other ways I am stuck in the dark ages of the 1970’s. I sill take pictures with film, my address book is handwritten and the only Blackberry in my house is in the refrigerator. I navigate the information superhighway well but when I get spammed, illegally downloaded, put on hold by tech support or someone uses my computer to spy on me, there is no one in cyberspace to hear my screams.

It’s not the first time, nor it will it be the last, when game-changing technology transformed our economy and who we are as people. Surely lives were changed just as dramatically by electricity, the industrial revolution and indoor plumbing. Even bigger than those changes brought about by the computer, I think the end of the horse age and the dawning of the automobile era must have been even more unsettling. There were people back then who, like me, did not make the change very well either.

There was a time in this country when the words “horse” and “power” were synonymous and our plows, guns, taxis and freight wagons were pulled by horses. Then as now, the horses took a lot of the work out of our work. Can you imagine the jobs that were completely erased when a single tractor replaced a team of as many as 32 horses that pulled one grain harvester? The lives of horseshoers, bridle makers and feed and grain merchants were turned topsy turvy, just like now. Eventually those jobs were replaced by careers for mechanics, tire manufacturers and loan sharks. But it took time. And it will this time too, no doubt.

One of those people who, like me, did not make the transition well was Doctor W.T. Lucas. Although you could count on W.T. to make house calls in all kinds of weather when he rode his horse, it was a different matter entirely when he came by car. The good Doctor drove an auto until he was 90, not well mind you, but he did drive. To give you an idea of his prowess behind the wheel, W.T.’s garage was open on both ends just in case the good Doctor got it in the wrong gear. And when he’d arrive to make a house call, instead of applying his foot to the brake pedal, he would pull back on the steering wheel and yell at the top of his lungs, “Whoa.”

My sentiments exactly.

Cartoon: The Cavemen Ponder...

Cartoon: School Lunch

Friday, May 29, 2009

Shortened Version

Today's my birthday so I'm taking it easy. Will be back Saturday night.

How Green is Sonia Sotomayor? A Closer Look at the Supreme Court Justice Nominee

As soon as Obama announced his nominee for Supreme Court Justice, we did a preliminary look at how green she seemed to be. Now that some of the dust has settled after the initial news frenzy, we've gotten a bit of a better idea how Sonia Sotomayer stands on green issues. This is important stuff--since an appointment to the Supreme Court is lifelong, she's got to be green for life. From her stance on greenhouse gas regulations to her understanding of the EPA, here's what you need to know about the green leanings of the judge who's shaping up to be the newest Supreme Court Justice. As Green Wire points out, environmentalists like what they see in Sotomayer. There are a number of reasons for this, even though she doesn't have an extensive record on environmental policy issues. This is what we do know...treehugger

Obama gives Vilsack reins over forest road development

The Obama administration on Thursday took its first substantive step into the fray of public lands logging, giving the head of the Agriculture Department sole say over road building and timber sales in millions of acres of federal forests. The directive gives Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack authority on development in roadless areas for one year. "This interim directive will provide consistency and clarity that will help protect our national forests until a long-term roadless policy reflecting President Obama's commitment is developed," said Vilsack, whose department oversees the U.S. Forest Service. Meanwhile, conservationists and logging interests won conflicting court rulings, and sign-waving protesters took to the woods to try to block timber sales. Although welcome news among opponents of logging or mining in the nation's remaining undeveloped areas, the decision was not unexpected. Most expect the Obama administration to use the time the directive buys to establish a national policy on roadless areas -- whether that means reinstating the Clinton rule or developing a new strategy...Oregonian

Secretary Salazar Announces Designation of 22 New National Recreation Trails in 13 States

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently designated 22 trails in 13 states as newly recognized National Recreation Trails, adding more than 525 miles of trails to the National Trails System. "From coast to coast, the National Trails System helps connect American families with the wonders of the outdoors," said Salazar. "These new National Recreation Trails, built through partnerships with local communities and stakeholders, will create new opportunities for fitness and stewardship, while creating a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren." This announcement is timed to coincide with the 17th annual celebration of National Trails Day on Saturday, June 6, 2009. The theme for this year, “Take In the Outdoors,” encourages people of all ages to get outside and use trails for exercise and exploration. Thousands of trail enthusiasts will participate in hikes, educational programs, bike rides, volunteer repair projects, festivals, paddle trips, and trail dedications across the country. A complete schedule of activities is available at Each of the new trails will receive a certificate of designation, a letter of congratulations from Secretary Salazar, and NRT trail markers. These trails join a network of more than 1,050 previously designated trails that total more than 12,500 miles...Press Release

Song Of The Day #049

As little country humor this morning. Here's Archie Campbell and his recording of The Cockfight.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Draft Resources bill overhauls Interior's leasing, royalties, ethics rules

Interior would see a major restructuring of its energy agencies under the draft Natural Resources Committee staff bill. All federal energy and mineral leasing programs would be consolidated within one bureau in Interior that would handle lease sales, inspection, enforcement and revenue collection. Specifically, the energy portions of the Minerals Management Service and the Bureau of Land Management -- including oil and gas, wind, wave and solar programs -- would be combined into one new agency called the "Office of Federal Energy and Minerals Leasing." That agency would be responsible for all aspects of leasing both onshore and offshore, including siting, development, regulation and collection of royalties. The director of the office would require Senate confirmation, unlike the head of MMS, which currently is the only major bureau within Interior whose top official does not require confirmation. Other royalty-related changes include elimination of the royalty-in-kind program, which allows industry to provide petroleum directly to Interior in lieu of royalty payments. An Interior inspector general report last year found that 19 employees, nearly one-third of the entire staff of the royalty-in-kind program, socialized with and received a wide array of gifts and gratuities from oil and gas companies with which the agency was conducting official business. The bill also contains numerous ethics reforms aimed at correcting a host of problems at Interior, including the MMS scandal and numerous deficiencies outlined in a series of scathing reports by government watchdog agencies on how royalties are collected...NYTimes

In the House, a nine-way tie for climate swing vote

Imagine the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives standing in a single line, from the most likely to support climate change legislation to the least likely. At the far “green” end, i.e. most inclined to vote for greenhouse gas restrictions, you’d find Seattle Democrat Jim McDermott. At the far “brown” end, Texas Republican/libertarian Ron Paul. Predictably, most Republicans would stand nearer to Paul’s end. Most Democrats would stand closer to McDermott. In the exact center, according to recent work by two economists, are nine lawmakers. And if the Waxman-Markey climate bill receives a full House vote, any one of them could provide the 218th “yes”—the decisive vote that passes the bill. Let’s call them the Carbon Nine: Jason Altmire (Pennsylvania), Rick Boucher (Virginia), Artur Davis (Alabama), Baron Hill (Indiana), Charlie Melancon (Louisiana), Earl Pomeroy (North Dakota), Mike Ross (Arkansas), John Tanner (Tennessee), and Gene Taylor (Mississippi). They’re all Democrats and all men. The nine mostly rural districts they represent are among the country’s most economically reliant on fossil fuels; their districts’ per-capita carbon emissions are, on average, more than three times higher than the national median. (This doesn’t mean people in those districts use more power than average folk, only that the industries located in those districts are carbon-intensive.) In the 2008 presidential election, voters in each of these districts but Davis’ went for Republican John McCain...Huffington Post

Natural Gas Politics

Four years after Vice President Dick Cheney spearheaded a massive energy bill that exempted natural gas drilling from federal clean water laws, Congress is having second thoughts about the environmental dangers posed by the burgeoning industry. With growing evidence that the drilling can damage water supplies, Democratic leaders in Congress are circulating legislation that would repeal the extraordinary exemption and for the first time require companies to disclose all chemicals used in the key drilling process, called hydraulic fracturing. The proposed legislation has already stirred sharp debate. The energy industry has launched a broad effort in Washington to fend off this proposed tightening of federal oversight, lobbying members of Congress and publishing studies that highlight what it says are the dangers of regulation. In mid-May, the industry released a detailed report asserting that the changes in current law would cost jobs and slash tax revenues. A key advocate of past efforts to regulate gas drilling, Rep. John Salazar (D-CO), has declined to support the legislation, expressing concern about how it would affect the energy companies. However, with a strengthened Democratic majority in Congress and the party's capture of the White House in last year's election, the fracturing legislation is viewed as having its best chance at passage in years. Its House sponsor, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) [3], aims to attach a bill to a larger piece of legislation with broad support -- possibly a bill on climate change or a new energy policy measure – where it would be shielded from industry resistance...ProPublica

Groups challenge lynx habitat decision

A twentyfold federal increase in land designated as critical habitat for the Canada lynx falls short partly by leaving the cat, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act, at too much risk from climate change, four environmental groups contend in a lawsuit. In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated critical habitat across some 39,000 square miles in six states, up from 1,841 square miles in three. The suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Missoula says that more habitat should have been designated in western Montana and eastern Idaho, and that the Fish and Wildlife Service erred in leaving Colorado's Rocky Mountains out of the designation entirely. The suit by the Sierra Club, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, the Native Ecosystems Council and the Center for Native Ecosystems seeks court-ordered reconsideration of the Fish and Wildlife decision, but does not specify how much additional land the groups want designated...AP

Forest Service cancels Grand Canyon logging

The U.S. Forest Service has canceled plans to allow logging on parts of 26,000 acres of the Kaibab National Forest on the Grand Canyon's North Rim. The logging plan was opposed by environmental groups. They argued that it allowed older, large trees to be cut, damaging habitat needed by the endangered northern goshawk and removing too much of the forest canopy. The Forest Service says in a letter to the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity that its approved plan didn't comply with its own forest management plan and required goshawk protections. It will now make changes and present the plan again. The logging was approved in February in an area between the North Rim and Jacob Lake. The site is next to 58,000 acres that burned in 2006. AP

Let's Keep Wilderness Wild

Both as a senator and as a candidate for the White House, President Obama was forthright in his support for the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protects nearly 60 million acres of pristine national forest lands. The rule was established by President Bill Clinton in 2001, but severely undercut by the Bush administration -- freezing its implementation, not defending it against industry court challenges, finally effectively repealing it by making it a state-by-state option that left roadless areas vulnerable to local political pressure. Earthjustice represented a wide swath of the environmental community in fighting off nine separate legal attacks on the rule filed by timber companies and a few states. The effort was remarkably successful, keeping the loggers and roadbuilders at bay and overturning Bush's local option rule. Several cases are still pending on the rule, or on site-specific projects such as proposed mines and timber sales in roadless areas. If these cases have to go through the entire process of decisions, appeals, and remands, years will go by without a resolution -- or full protection of roadless areas. In addition, later this year the Forest Service plans to offer several timber sales in roadless areas of Alaska's magnificent Tongass National Forest. That's why Earthjustice and our allies are calling on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who oversees the Forest Service, to order an immediate time out on any projects in roadless areas pending the return of protection to all 60 million acres...Huffington Post

Giant Blob Found Deep Beneath Nevada

Hidden beneath the U.S. West's Great Basin, scientists have spied a giant blob of rocky material dripping like honey. The Great Basin consists of small mountain ranges separated by valleys and includes most of Nevada, the western half of Utah and portions of other nearby states. While studying the area, John West of Arizona State University (ASU) and his colleagues found evidence of a large cylindrical blob of cold material far below the surface of central Nevada. Comparison of the results with CAT scans of the inside of Earth taken by ASU's Jeff Roth suggested they had found a so-called lithospheric drip. (Earth's lithosphere comprises the crust or outer layer of Earth and the uppermost mantle.) Here's how it works: "The Earth's mantle, which lies below the thin outer crust we live on, consists of rock which deforms plastically on very long time scales due to the heat and pressure at depth," West said. "In any material which can flow (including the mantle), a heavy object will tend to sink through lighter material." And this is what the scientists think is happening with the lithospheric drip...FoxNews

New Mexico Had 2nd Highest Per Capita Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1960-2005

A new report released by Greenpeace today shows that New Mexico emitted more global warming pollution from fossil fuel consumption between 1960-2005 than the individual national emissions from 137 of the 184 countries with comprehensive data available. For example, New Mexico’s emissions were greater than those of Switzerland and Israel, and the far more populous nations of Colombia and the Philippines. New Mexico’s cumulative emissions were larger than that of the 67 least polluting countries added up. Focusing on per capita historical emissions, the results of the study are even more striking. New Mexico’s cumulative per capita carbon dioxide emissions from 1960-2005 were the second highest in the world, after only Luxembourg, according to Greenpeace...Democracy For New Mexico

The Right to Ride

The plan was hatched at Roland Cheek’s hunting camp along Wall Creek in the middle of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. It was 1972, and Cheek, Ken Ausk and Denny Swift were discussing draft regulations by the U.S. Forest Service that would have required anyone wishing to take a horse into the Bob to apply for, and receive, a permit. These new proposed regulations were, the men believed, a sign of things to come – a push within the Forest Service and some conservation groups to limit the public land horse packers could access. “We felt we had problems with the continuing use of horses up in the Bob Marshall,” Cheek said in a recent interview. “We were talking about it up in the hunting camp and the three of us felt like we had to try to combat that kind of mentality in the Forest Service – so we decided that we would try to form a group.” But while stories like these can be common to organizations trying to preserve one use or another on public land, the men who formed the Backcountry Horsemen of the Flathead took a different approach. They would not spend their time criticizing Forest Service officials at public meetings – although they surely have made their voices heard on policy questions over the last 37 years. Today, the Backcountry Horsemen has spread from Montana into a national organization boasting 16,000 members, with chapters in 25 states, from Alabama to Alaska...Flathead Beacon

Stockyard For Sale After 92 Years

A 92 year tradition is coming to an end at the Sioux Falls Stockyard. June 30th will be the last day of cattle auctions at the stockyard and the company that owns it is putting the stockyard up for sale. To give you an idea of how long the Sioux Falls Stockyard has been around, John Morrell has been a staple in the city since 1909 and the stockyards came just 3 years later. The population here in Sioux Falls at the time, just 14,000 and in that time this place has meant a lot to a lot of people. Today the Sioux Falls Stockyards announced the stockyards are for sale after being in Sioux Falls for 92 years. Walt Bones of Bones Elevator and Feed Yard have probably been doing business there for over 75 years. "There's just some folks there who worked their life to market livestock for farmers and ranchers... We've had livestock here since my grandfather brought livestock here in 1920. How long we've been bringing livestock to Sioux Falls Stockyards I guess I don't know but as long as I can remember." The current manager Paul Scott has been here for 33 years...KSFY-TV

Animal rights group takes credit for Reno fire

Animal rights activists have claimed responsibility for a fire that gutted the Reno business office of a company that ships monkeys from China for scientific research in the United States and elsewhere. Reno police and fire officials began investigating the arson claim by the Animal Liberation Front after The Associated Press sought comment about an e-mail the group circulated to media outlets and posted on a Web site. "At this point, we are looking at it as a lead," Reno police spokesman Steve Frady said Wednesday. "There is evidence of arson. "At this point, there is no physical evidence to link this with the group claiming responsibility." No one was injured in the fire about 4 a.m. May 18 that caused an estimated $300,000 in damage to offices of Scientific Resources International Inc. southwest of downtown Reno, Frady said. He said 33 firefighters were sent to the blaze...AP

APHIS Adds More Public Meeting Dates to Discuss NAIS

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has added six dates to their public meeting schedule to discuss stakeholder concerns related to the implementation of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The meetings will be held in Jefferson City, Mo. (June 9), Rapid City, S.D. (June 11), Albuquerque, N.M. (June 16), Riverside, Calif. (June 18), Raleigh, N.C. (June 25), and Jasper, Fla. (June 27) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. For more information contact Dr. Adam Grow, director, Surveillance and Identification Programs, National Center for Animal Health Programs, at 301/734-3752, or visit NAIS. TheHorse

Song Of The Day #048

Louis Marshall "Grandpa" Jones (1913-1998) was born in Henderson County, Kentucky, but spent his teenage years in Akron, Ohio. His father was a fiddle player, his mother a singer, and he was on the radio at age 18 performing as The Young Singer Of Old Songs. Bradley Kincaid later gave him the nickname Grandpa because he was so grouchy during early morning radio programs. Jones liked it and started dressing the part. During his career he recorded for King, RCA, Decca and Monument. He wrote one of his hits, "Eight More Miles To Louisville", joined The Grand Ol' Opry in 1946 and in 1969 became a regular on the TV show Hee Haw. In 1984 he published his autobiography Everybody's Grandpa: Fifty Years Behind the Mike. He performed up until a few days before his death at age 84.

If you like his early King sides try Grandpa Jones - 28 Greatest Hits. There is also his Country Music Hall of Fame CD and the 5CD collection Everybody's Grandpa.

Today's selection is Five String Banjo Boogie.

A cow's life goes aTwitter: North Dakota rancher uses social networking site

Dogs bark. Cats meow. Cows moo. But cattle tweet, too, at least when Val Wagner is involved. Wagner, who operates a cattle ranch with her husband, Mark, at Monango, N.D., about 50 miles south of Jamestown, N.D., recently began tweeting on Twitter from the perspective of a heifer on her family’s ranch. A heifer is a young, female cow that hasn’t had her first calf yet. So far, the tweets reflect the collective experience of the 27 heifers among the 167 cows on the Wagners’ ranch. But soon the tweets will focus on a single, still-to-be-chosen heifer. Wagner will pick a heifer after testing reveals which of the 27 are pregnant. The tweets will follow the selected heifer through her pregnancy this summer, fall and winter until she gives birth early next spring. After that, the tweets may switch to the perspective of the new calf, Val Wagner said...The Forum

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Free Carbon Offsets

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This is from their Q&A:

Q: What exactly will you do for my carbon offsets?
A: There are several steps we will take to do our part to help the environment, based on your level of participation:

* 1-100 offsets: We will try our hardest to turn off the water for an extra ten seconds while we brush our teeth.
* 101-1000 offsets: We will think about possibly using one less square of toilet paper every time we use the rest room. So you don't have to!
* 1001-10000 offsets: At this level, we will think about not going out to lunch for one day. Gas savings, plus savings on one less burger made that day!
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Get your free carbon offset certificate at

Hat Tip: The Green Topaz

Waxman-Markey Climate Bill's Emissions "Cap" May Let U.S. Emissions Continue to Rise Through 2030

If fully utilized, the emissions "offset" provisions in the American Clean Energy and Security Act would allow continued business as usual growth in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions until 2030, leading one to wonder: where's the cap in the "cap" and trade? At the heart of the nearly thousand page long climate change and clean energy bill being debated in the U.S. House of Representatives this week is a "cap and trade" mechanism aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. However, a provision in the bill, known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454 or "ACES"), allows polluting firms in the U.S. to finance emissions reductions overseas in lieu of reducing their own global warming pollution and may allow American emissions to continue to rise for up to twenty years, according to new analysis from the Breakthrough Institute. The provision allows power plants, oil refiners, and other polluters regulated under the bill's cap and trade program to use up to one billion tons of international emissions reductions, or "offsets," to be used instead of reducing their own emissions each year. The bill also allows up to one billion tons of additional offsets each year, sourced from sectors of the U.S. economy that do not fall under the pollution cap, such as forestry and agriculture. If a suitable supply of domestic emissions offsets are unavailable, the limit on the use of international offsets may be raised to 1.5 billion tons annually at the discretion of the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The extensive use of these international and domestic offsets would effectively allow U.S. firms in capped sectors to continue emitting global warming pollution at levels well above the reductions supposedly driven by the emissions cap. New analysis from the Breakthrough Institute reveals that if fully utilized, the offset provisions in the ACES bill would allow continued business as usual growth in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions until 2030...Breakthrough Institute

The Goode Family Premiere On ABC Tonight

Making a Mockery of Being Green Director Mike Judge’s new animated television series “The Goode Family” is a send-up of a clan of environmentalists who live by the words “What would Al Gore do?” Gerald and Helen Goode want nothing more than to minimize their carbon footprint. They feed their dog, Che, only veggies (much to the pet’s dismay) and Mr. Goode dutifully separates sheets of toilet paper when his wife accidentally buys two-ply. And, of course, the family drives a hybrid. On Wednesday at 9 p.m., “The Goode Family” will have its premiere on ABC...

Here are two preview clips:

Hippies, Hollywood and the Flush Factor

Cameron Diaz, an actress who is also known for her eco-friendly lifestyle, had bloggers buzzing after an appearance earlier this week on the “Tonight Show”, where she described her water-conscious toilet-flushing mantra to host Jay Leno. “If it’s yellow leave it mellow; if it’s brown flush it down,” Ms. Diaz said. “I believe in that 100 percent.” The “yellow mellow” adage is hardly new , and was purportedly coined by hippies in the early days of the environmental movement. The phrase entered the mainstream in the 1980s when former New York Mayor Ed Koch reportedly urged New Yorkers to take up the practice during a water shortage. According to Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the no-flush approach is worthy of serious consideration today, as water levels of major rivers and lakes that supply drinking water to population centers are plummeting...NYTimes

Antigua's 'Mount Obama' to Be National Park

Antigua plans to do more than just rename its highest peak to honor President Barack Obama. Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer says his government wants to create Mount Obama Monument and National Park with a new network of hiking trails. He also plans a museum with entertainment and educational facilities. Spencer says Mount Obama will be a "beacon of hope for all people." He outlined his plan to reporters Monday. He did not say how much it would cost or how the government of the dual-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda would pay for it. The 1,319-foot (402-meter) mountain is currently known as Boggy Peak. It will be renamed on Aug. 4 - Obama's birthday. Spencer says the U.S. president will be invited to the ceremony. AP

EPA: Cap-and-Trade Bill Could Hurt U.S. Manufacturing, Send Factory Jobs Overseas

According to an analysis of climate legislation performed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the cap-and-trade system favored by President Barack Obama and many congressional Democrats could potentially damage the U.S. manufacturing sector and force jobs to move overseas. The policy, under certain scenarios, for example, “can cause domestic production … to shift abroad,” reads the EPA analysis, and result in greater greenhouse gas emissions in countries that do not have similar cap-and-trade rules. Further, the EPA’s Apr. 20 preliminary analysis of the bill, sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), shows that the plan would reduce U.S. manufacturing capacity 0.3 percent by 2020 and by nearly 1.5 percent by 2050...CNSNews

Global CEOs Back Greenhouse Gas Cuts, Carbon Caps

Global business leaders added momentum to prospects for a new U.N. climate treaty by agreeing Tuesday that the world must cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by mid-century by setting specific limits on carbon. Government officials reported little progress in setting such limits, however, showing how distant a new treaty remains. Some 500 CEOs and other top business experts said at the conclusion of the three-day World Business Summit on Climate Change in Denmark that "immediate and substantial" emissions cuts were needed by 2020, followed by cuts of at least 50 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. They said governments should use the marketplace to set a global price on carbon instead of taxing it, according to a statement from conference organizers. The business leaders said governments' overriding aim at a December U.N. meeting in Copenhagen on replacing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol should be limiting the global average rise in temperature to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius...CNSNews

Where's The Crisis?

The Waxman-Markey climate change bill that would establish a regime to limit carbon dioxide emissions through a cap-and-trade system was passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week. It was approved 33-25 after a speed reader ripped through its 946 pages, babbling aloud before the vote at the insistence of the opposition. Only one Republican — Rep. Mary Bono Mack of California — voted for it while four Democrats voted against it. The legislation might not get such a cushy ride on the House floor. Rep. Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, is threatening to derail it and says he has the support of 40 to 50 other Democrats. Peterson is not opposing Waxman-Markey because he's a skeptic of global warming. Nothing so noble as that. His opposition is purely political. He wants parliamentary power over the bill. Should he fail to get it, he's willing to sink the legislation. Which brings up the question: If global warming were a grave threat, wouldn't getting a CO2 emissions restriction law passed and signed take precedence over lawmakers' objections on behalf of their constituents? The fact that Peterson and so many Democrats would rather have no bill than to let it become law without input from the Agriculture Committee exposes the global warming scare: It's not about the environment — it's about power and politics...IBD

With Billions at Stake, Trying to Expand the Meaning of ‘Renewable Energy’

The definition of renewable energy seems clear cut: The sun continues to shine, so solar energy is renewable. The wind continues to blow, so wind turbines churn out renewable power. But industries are now pushing to have a growing number of other technologies categorized as renewable — or at least as environmentally advantageous. They include nuclear power plants and the burning of garbage and even the waste from coal mines. The lure of the renewable label is understandable. Federal tax breaks for renewable energy have been reauthorized, and quotas for renewable energy production have been set in 28 states, accompanied by extensive new grants, loans and other economic advantages. And legislation is moving through both houses of Congress to establish national quotas for renewable energy sources, including the climate bill passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday. With billions of dollars at stake, legislators have been besieged by lobbyists eager to share in the wealth...NYTimes

Watch the hogs rush to the trough.

Big Oil Warms to Ethanol

For decades, the big oil companies and the farm lobby have been fighting about ethanol, with the farmers pushing to produce more of it and the refiners arguing it was a boondoggle that would do little to solve the country’s energy problems. So why are technicians for BP, the giant oil company, now working at an experimental ethanol plant in this old Louisiana oil town, helping to make it more efficient? The erstwhile enemies, it turns out, are gradually learning to get along, as refiners increasingly see a need to get involved in ethanol production. Ethanol, made chiefly from corn, now represents about 9 percent of the country’s market for liquid fuels. And the percentage is growing year after year because of federal mandates. With the nation’s thirst for gasoline, and the ethanol that is blended into it, expected to revive when the economy does, the oil companies want to be in a position to take full advantage...NYTimes

What else is in Waxman-Markey?

We are all familiar with the Cap and Trade provisions in the bill, but what is in the rest of the proposal? Marlo Lewis at Open Market gives us this list of mandates and "incentives" in the other sections of the bill:

* Requires utilities to meet a certain percentage of their load with electricity generated from renewable sources, like wind, biomass, solar, and geothermal.
* Promotes small-scale “distributed generation” of renewable electricity by offering three renewable electricity credits (instead of one credit) for each MWh produced.
* Authorizes electric power generators to create a Carbon Storage Research Consortium with the power to assess “fees” (aka taxes) totalling approximately $1 billion annually to fund carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration plants.
* Directs the EPA Administrator to hand out free rationing coupons to subsidize CCS.
* Establishes a CCS mandate requiring new coal-fired power plants to emit 65% less carbon dioxide if permitted after 2020, and emit 50% less if permitted between 2009 and 2020; also requires EPA to review these standards not later than 2025 and every five years thereafter.
* Requires utilities to ”consider” developing plans to support electric vehicle infrastructure, and provides assistance (including free emission allowances) to subsidize electric vehicles and infrastructure.
* Mandates stricter building codes achieving 30% higher energy efficiency in 2010 and 50% higher in 2016 for new buildings, and establishes a “building retrofit program” for existing residential and nonresidential buildings.
* Mandates tougher energy efficiency standards for indoor and outdoor lighting, hot food holding cabinets, bottle-type drinking water dispensers, hot tubs, commercial-grade natural gas furnaces, televisions, and other appliances.
* Requires the President, EPA, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and California to establish greenhouse gas (GHG)/fuel economy standards for new passenger cars and light trucks.
* Requires and sets deadlines for EPA to establish GHG emission standards for heavy-duty engines and vehicles and non-road vehicles including marine vessels, locomotives, and aircraft.
* Requires States to establish goals and submit transportation plans to reduce transport sector GHG emissions, and imposes sanctions on States that fail to comply.
* Requires the Deparment of Energy (DOE) to establish industrial energy-efficiency standards.

Video: Morticians Association of America Endorses President Obama's Tough Fuel Efficiency Standards

Obama’s Transportation Secretary Says He Wants to ‘Coerce People Out of Their Cars’

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a group of reporters at the National Press Club on Thursday that he wants to “coerce people out of their cars.” In Newsweek magazine last week, nationally syndicated columnist George Will published a piece critical of Lahood, entitled, “Ray LaHood, Transformed--Secretary of Behavior Modification.” “He says he has joined a ‘transformational’ administration: ‘I think we can change people's behavior,’” Will reports that LaHood said over lunch. LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Peoria, Ill., has become a champion of using the Department of Transportation and federal transportation spending to get people to take trains, busses, and ride bikes instead of driving cars...CNSNews

Democrats in power hand victories to NRA

President Obama and his allies in Congress have given the gun lobby a string of victories - from forgoing new gun laws to easing restrictions already on the books - since Mr. Obama took office and Democrats assumed complete command of political power in Washington. Democratic leaders in Congress tend to support more restrictive gun laws but have yielded on the issue since a majority of their rank-and-file members increasingly side with the National Rifle Association (NRA) when votes involve the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Gun-control groups blame the Obama White House for the setbacks, saying the administration kept mum on firearms issues even when shooting incidents killed six at a North Carolina nursing home in March and left 13 dead at an upstate New York immigration center in April. The NRA gained a major victory when Mr. Obama backed off from a push to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, even as top Democrats and administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, endorsed the ban. On Friday, Mr. Obama signed a bill with a provision lifting the prohibition on bringing loaded firearms into national parks and wildlife refuges. Mr. Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress were forced to accept the gun amendment, which was sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, to a bill that added protections to consumers in credit card contracts. The ease with which the bill sailed through the Democrat-led Congress to the ready pen of Mr. Obama gave a rude awakening to gun-control activists as the gun lobby secured a win that eluded it when Republicans ruled Washington...WTimes

Ethanol proposal may derail climate bill

Rural Democrats are threatening to vote against climate change legislation unless the Environmental Protection Agency halts new proposals that could hamper the development of corn ethanol. Ethanol has long been an energy third rail in Congress, with lawmakers — particularly those from the Midwest and other states with large agricultural industries — clamoring to support the biofuel both to transition away from foreign energy and to support rural economies. But in recent years, environmentalists, livestock producers and grocery manufacturers have raised concerns about the fuel, claiming that it threatens to exacerbate global warming and that it raises food prices. The debate intensified recently when EPA released a draft decision ruling that “indirect land use” issues must be considered when calculating the carbon footprint of corn-based ethanol. That decision raises the overall emissions of corn ethanol by including sometimes tenuously linked activities — critics say totally unrelated activities — in its carbon count. And in fact, the EPA finding showed that while biofuels from plants and other next-generation renewables reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the fuel might not be as environmentally friendly as the law requires...Politico

Burping of the lambs blows roast off menu

GIVE up lamb roasts and save the planet. Government advisers are developing menus to combat climate change by cutting out “high carbon” food such as meat from sheep, whose burping poses a serious threat to the environment. Out will go kebabs, greenhouse tomatoes and alcohol. Instead, diners will be encouraged to consume more potatoes and seasonal vegetables, as well as pork and chicken, which generate fewer carbon emissions. “Changing our lifestyles, including our diets, is going to be one of the crucial elements in cutting carbon emissions,” said David Kennedy, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change. Kennedy has stopped eating his favourite doner kebabs because they contain lamb...London Times

Song Of The Day #047

How about a little Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan this morning. Here they are doing "Heart To Heart Talk" from their 3 CD collection Encore.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Global milk glut squeezes dairy farmers, consumers

A collapse in milk prices has wiped away the profits of dairy farmers, driving many out of business while forcing others to slaughter their herds or dump milk on the ground in protest. But nine months after prices began tumbling on the farm, consumers aren't seeing the full benefits of the crash at the checkout counter. The average price for a gallon of milk at grocery stores last month is down just 19 percent from its peak of $3.83 in July. Farmers, on the other hand, got $1.04 a gallon in April — 35 percent less than they were paid last fall. This winter, wholesale prices were down as much as 45 percent. Price disparities are a fact of life both for farmers and anyone who shops at a supermarket, but the nature of milk — how it's stored, priced and sold around the world — makes the gap all the more dramatic. In fact, the price that farmers get has been wildly volatile for years, creating a succession of booms and busts felt from pastures to the grocery store...AP

Questions about Kagan

U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan is reported to be on the short list to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court. If she were a Republican on the short list for a court opening, Senate Democrats would move heaven and Earth to turn a 1996 contretemps into a major scandal. On the evidence so far, such a political hit job would not be fair. What is fair, though, is to insist that not all the evidence is in, and to demand more answers. As the Wall Street Journal's "Political Diary" reported May 21, Ms. Kagan was in the middle of Clinton White House deliberations that put a kibosh on legal action against a group of eco-terrorists in Oregon who were blocking some legal logging operations. To quote from a House task force investigation in 1999, "these 'environmentalist' protesters erected barricades and other structures (out of timber) in the roadways and in the forest; they dug trenches and deliberately washed out the roadways in several areas, polluting the waterways downstream with runoff; they polluted the area with human waste; they built 'booby-traps' of trenches and sharpened metal spikes designed to maim intruders or damage vehicles; they chained and locked themselves to buried cement structures; and at least one protester was heavily armed." The Forest Service and local law enforcement, with approval from the FBI, the local U.S. Attorney and federal marshals, were ready to move in against the demonstrators. Then, on June 12, 1996, a high-level group of White House officials, including Ms. Kagan, met and ordered that the arrest plans be aborted...WTimes

GOP lawmaker raises stakes in Piñon battle

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman says that legislation being prepared by Colorado Democrats to permanently prohibit the expansion of the Army's Piñon Canyon training area would severely undermine the future of Fort Carson, setting off a devastating economic ripple effect in the southern part of the state. Combined with recent actions by the state legislature and a lawsuit by nearby landowners, just the suggestion of a permanent congressional prohibition such as the one suggested by Reps. John Salazar and Betsy Markey could have a powerful psychological effect, Coffman said, giving Colorado an anti-Army reputation and encouraging other states to pony up incentives and lure the Army away. "If Congressman Salazar is successful, then it's a deal-killer. Then the Army does have to move," Coffman, R-Colo., said of legislation that Markey and Salazar say they'll soon introduce to finally put an end to the controversy over the training area's expansion. Piñon Canyon has been a flashpoint for controversy since the Army announced plans to expand the sprawling maneuver area — the second- largest in the country — by more than 400,000 acres. The proposed expansion later was scaled back to 100,000 acres, with the Army promising to acquire the land only from a willing seller or through a long-term lease...Denver Post

Biologists study turbines' effect on grouse

In the high-stakes game of preserving sage grouse, biologists say they're still figuring out how the birds will react to the influx of wind turbines rising up from the wide-open sagebrush plains where the birds evolved. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 15 months ago commenced a review of whether sage grouse should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. In Wyoming, home to more than half the bird's population, Gov. Dave Freudenthal's administration has worked to try to ensure protection of sage grouse habitat. His goal is to avert federal listing, which could have a stultifying affect on the state's lucrative oil-and-gas industry and other economic development. Growing interest in Wyoming wind development has raised a new set of questions about protecting the ground-dwelling, chicken-like birds. "Most of our traditional industries have been willing to forego new activities in (prime sage grouse habitat) until either populations are re-established elsewhere or technology advances to the point that industrial development and sage grouse are seen as wholly compatible," Freudenthal said last week. "I cannot speak with the same certainty with regard to wind development." Biologists say very little research has been done on how wind turbines affect sage grouse. But they say the birds are likely affected by turbines' height, movement and noise, as well as by habitat disruption associated with building a wind farm...Casper Star-Tribune

Permit for jaguar's capture questioned

Arizona's Game and Fish Department may have lacked the proper permit to capture a jaguar when Macho B stepped into a snare trap in Southern Arizona's oak woodlands last February. The big cat was euthanized 12 days later after veterinarians determined he had irreversible kidney failure. Since the capture, federal and state officials have said unequivocally that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had granted the state a permit to capture a jaguar, one of the rarest animals living in this country. But a review of state and federal documents and e-mails about the permit issue raises questions as to whether the state actually had that permission. The records show that there was uncertainty about that question among biologists for the two agencies. Two days after Macho B's capture on Feb. 18, a service biologist wrote that the permit question was "a big oops," in an e-mail obtained by the Star under the federal Freedom of Information Act...Arizona Star

Group: BLM still under-inspects wells

The Bush-era push for energy development in the Rockies forced federal land managers to shift resources to permitting while monitoring and enforcement of the industry fell by the wayside, according to a new report by the Western Organization of Resource Councils. The analysis focuses on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's environmental inspection and enforcement program in six field offices across the West, including Buffalo and Pinedale and in four other states. The Western Organization of Resource Councils issued its initial report in 2004, highlighting a low number of field inspections and enforcement actions. This update concludes that while the BLM has increased its inspection and enforcement efforts, the agency still has a long way to go in order to properly manage the volume of energy development that's now under permit. "Inspection and enforcement is the single most critical activity to ensure protection of ecosystems, yet the BLM lacks resources," North Dakota rancher Donald Nelson said during a teleconference Thursday. Despite BLM's recent gains in inspection and enforcement, "They haven't even begun to close the gap," Nelson added...Casper Star-Tribune

The report covers field offices in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming and is available here.

Light Cars Are Dangerous Cars

If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Such is the case with President Barack Obama's proposed national fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks and a new tailpipe standard for C02 emissions. The national press has uncritically reported that the new standards will make cars "cleaner." In fact, the rules could impose substantial costs in terms of urban air pollution and human life. The great irony of Mr. Obama's fuel efficiency proposals is that they may worsen emissions of these harmful gases. By the White House's own calculation (which many observers believe to be quite conservative), the new rules, when combined with earlier proposed increases in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, will increase the average price of a new car by $1,300. Herein lies the problem. In today's automobile fleet, the majority of the pollution comes from the oldest, dirtiest cars. In fact, the dirtiest 10% of the cars account for more than 50% of smog and carbon monoxide. The dirtiest one-third of the fleet accounts for more than 80% of the pollution. That is because the U.S. government has, for 39 years now under successive versions of the Clean Air Act, required automakers to meet ever-tightening standards for tailpipe emissions from new cars. When it comes to smog, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates that new SUV is a lot cleaner than an old, poorly-tuned compact. The Clean Air Act's requirements have sent emissions in the right direction. According to the EPA, since 1980 annual emissions of carbon monoxide are down 52%, emissions of ozone are down 41%, and emissions of nitrogen dioxide are down 37%. (Emissions of lead are down 97% thanks to taking the lead out of gasoline in the early 1980s). The Obama plan could slow this progress. An economic phenomenon called "price elasticity of demand" is well established when it comes to automobile purchases. In other words, if you raise the price of new cars, people will buy fewer of them or, at a minimum, put off the purchase for a year or so while they drive the old clunker for a few thousand more miles. And fewer new cars means more pollution, which can cause significant health problems. Yet environmentalists and the press have ignored this issue, so as not to inject a note of complexity or doubt into the chorus of glee that greeted the president's attack on greenhouse-gas emissions...WSJ

Enviro group wants county out of land use association

Environmentalists are turning up the pressure on Lane County to pull its longtime membership in the Association of O&C Counties, calling the group a radical, pro-timber lobby that uses taxpayer dollars to promote clear-cutting of forests. The association said it has soundly represented county interests on federal timberland in Western Oregon for 80 years. But the county Board of Commissioners chairman is highly critical and said the county’s fiscal challenges have put membership back at the forefront of debate. The association, named for the Oregon and California Railroad that once owned the 5 million acres of timberland, represents counties with a stake in the management of the lands, which are now controlled by the federal Bureau of Land Management. Oregon Wild, a Portland-based environmental group, said the association has long used dues paid by Lane and other counties to take “extreme” positions, such as clear-cutting near streams and supporting sweeping sales of public land for timber harvest...Register-Guard

Another Way Lead Kills Condors

Bruce Robertson, a private detective, had little to go on. Two gunshot victims, one soon to be dead, both found in the Big Sur wilderness. The victims had brown eyes, ruddy faces and nine-foot wingspans. Ordinarily Mr. Robertson, of Los Angeles, hunts down philandering husbands and ferrets out insurance violators. But his skills are being tested in this latest mystery: the shootings of two endangered California condors. “It was really distressing to me,” said Peter Galvin, a founder of the Center for Biological Diversity, based in Tucson. “As soon as I heard, I knew we needed to get a dragnet and resources out there to capture this shooter.” Within 48 hours, Mr. Robertson was on the case — at the invitation of the center — and environmental groups, foundations and the state government had raised $40,500 in reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunman or gunmen. Violation of the federal Endangered Species Act can result in a year in jail and a $100,000 fine. Mr. Robertson logged over 1,000 miles on his car. He stopped at diners, gas stations and bars from the craggy Big Sur coast eastward to the Pinnacles National Monument. He questioned men in tiny communities with names like Bitterwater. Occasionally, Mr. Robertson pulled over to talk condors and guns with ranch hands...NYTimes

This land is whose land? Rock Canyon disputed

The red cliffs looming above Provo are impossible to miss. Climbers know Rock Canyon for its craggy trails and climbing routes. Neighbors know it for its serenity and quiet, looming power. Landowners know it for its financial benefits. The mountain seems to offer something for everyone. But that could change. If property owner Richard Davis gets a conditional-use mining permit, there go the winding trails and climbing walls. Provo officials wince at the thought, but staffers have to process Davis' pending mining request just like any other conditional-use permit. If Davis agrees to a land swap instead, agencies such as the Forest Service are eager to adopt the land but have struggled to determine a fair market value for such a trade. Watching all of this unfold are hundreds of concerned hikers, neighbors and nature lovers who continue to fight for the canyon, clinging to the hope that their beloved landmark will stay as it is...Deseret News

Feds reviewing BLM evidence from ATV protest ride

Photographs, recordings and other documentation of a weekend protest ride up southern Utah's off-limits Paria River have been referred to the U.S. attorney's office. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management coordinated with the attorney's office before the much-publicized protest, BLM spokeswoman Lola Bird said Monday. BLM agents jotted down license numbers, photographed riders and recorded potential violations from the ride, which drew about 500 to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Kane County. That evidence now has been "formally" handed over to U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman. His spokeswoman, Melodie Rydalch, declined to comment Monday. Kanab resident and protest organizer Shawna Cox said agents took pictures of the licence plates on the 300 or so all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles on the riverbed as well as the plates on vehicles parked near the old Paria town site...Salt Lake Tribune

Pacific Legal Foundation Launches New Attack on Delta Smelt

The Pacific Legal Foundation, an organization that represents the wise use movement and property rights activists, has launched a new lawsuit against the Delta smelt, calling the federal government's protection of the imperiled fish "unconstitutional" and "immoral." "The Delta smelt exists in only one state, so feds lack authority to regulate," according to the attorneys filing the lawsuit on behalf of growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The PLF said the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause limits federal domestic regulatory power to persons, things, or activities involved in, or affecting, interstate commerce (Article I, Section 8) - and claims that their lawsuit points out that the delta smelt does not fall into any of those categories. “There’s nothing ‘interstate’ about the delta smelt,” said PLF attorney Brandon Middleton. “The Fish and Wildlife Service admits that this fish is found only in California. The Service also admits that it has no commercial value – nobody buys or sells this fish. The courts need to tell the Service it has no business imposing any regulations whatsoever related to the delta smelt – let alone extreme water cutoffs that are creating a crisis in California and could threaten the nation’s food supply.” “The same is true of the delta smelt as U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, while on a lower court, wrote about the arroyo toad: it is ‘not a channel of commerce nor is it in one. It is not an instrumentality of commerce, nor is it a person or thing in interstate commerce,’” said PLF attorney Damien Schiff...Indy Bay

Ranchers worry Utah will give in on water issue

A David and Goliath battle in Utah's west desert is warming up again. Ranchers standing up to the so-called "Las Vegas water grab" are raising fears Utah will give in too easily, possibly to avoid retaliation by a powerful Nevada senator. It's pretty clear Utah officials want a friendly deal with Nevada and not a water war. The question is, how much water can Las Vegas pump along the border before it starts to hurt Utah? This week, the federal government launches the latest round of scientific studies. Pumping groundwater is what made the west desert bloom for generations of farmers and ranchers. They've lined up mostly against plans by Las Vegas to drill wells near the border. The big city wants to pump an aquifer that's mostly under rural Utah. Rancher Dean Baker said, "If they take all the water they say is available, there won't be a live plant left that puts its roots in the water." But Utah officials have been negotiating an agreement with Nevada. They say it will protect Utah's interests...KSL-TV

Dam releases to aid rare fish in Colorado River

Six reservoirs along the upper Colorado River are releasing water through the Memorial Day weekend to help improve mating habitat for endangered fish. The releases from Granby, Ruedi, Windy Gap, Williams Wolford Mountain, Dillon and Green Mountain reservoirs are designed to replicate spring peak flows on the Colorado before the dams were built. "This is a valuable step in in helping to restore these endangered species," said Angela Kantula, assistant director of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. The extra water will flush sediment and build sandbars to improve the mating habitat for four endangered fish species — the Colorado pikeminnow, the bonytail, razorback sucker and the humpback chub — along a 15-mile stretch of the river near Grand Junction. The releases raised the flow of the river about 15 percent, to a peak of 20,000 cubic feet per second, according to the recovery program...Denver Post

Even if I was endangered, the government better stay out of my mating habitat.

House ag chairman standing against climate bill

As another congressional committee considered a climate change bill with major implications for agriculture, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he would not consider supporting the bill unless Congress passes a “renewable fuel standard improvement act” he and House Agriculture Committee ranking member Frank Lucas, D-Okla., have introduced. The Peterson-Lucas bill would repeal a provision in the 2007 energy bill that requires EPA to consider how biofuel production affects land use in the United States and internationally when calculating the greenhouse gas emissions associated with advanced biofuels. The calculation would determine whether ethanol and other biofuels meet a standard to be considered low carbon emitters. At a House Agriculture Committee hearing on May 21, renewable fuels industry officials said that the analytical models being used by the California Air Resources Board and EPA to analyze whether corn-based ethanol and other biofuels meet a low carbon fuels standard are unscientific. Industry officials said models to determine whether U.S. corn ethanol production leads to changes in land use in other countries are particularly faulty, but they also said the agencies are not applying the same standards to other transportation fuels...Ag Week

Facing prison, activist speaks out

In sandals and an untucked shirt, milling about Town Park, Tim DeChristopher looks pretty relaxed for a guy who’s facing 10 years in prison. He’s here for Mountainfilm, a nice respite before his trial, scheduled for July 6, in which the government charges that he deliberately disrupted an oil and gas lease sale in Salt Lake City on Dec. 19. He pled not guilty last month. Yes, the University of Utah economics student clearly mucked up the auction by winning $1.7 million worth of leases, some of which were near national parks, which he had no intention of drilling on or paying for. But if he and his lawyers — including the former head of the Bureau of Land Management — have their way, DeChristopher’s trial could turn out to be one of the more interesting in the history of the environmental movement. They told the government that they plan to use a “necessity” defense, also called “Choice of Evils,” in which a person chooses one evil in order to prevent another, greater evil. His choice, then, was between causing bureaucratic headaches and living in a world so disrupted that it would become nearly unlivable. The lawyer for the government doesn’t want the trial to take that turn. It wants to limit the argument to what took place between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Dec. 19. U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman recently petitioned the judge to prohibit DeChristopher from making the choice of evils defense. They cite similar cases in which the choice of evils defense was not allowed: when protesters entered a defense plant to protest nuclear missiles; or when a woman climbed the fence of an abortion clinic to try and block a woman from entering. If the judge rules for DeChristopher, the trial could bring up just that burning question: Is climate change a harm that may or may not occur? Or is it like a fire ripping trough a building? Is it like a violent storm?...Telluride Daily Planet

Study shows NAIS will cost more than $175 million annually

The cost of implementing a National Animal Identification System (NAIS) in the cattle sector is $175.9 million annually, which represents 91.5 percent of the total cost of the program, according to a study released by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). But that is less than one-half of a percent of the retail value of U.S. beef products. The study shows federal and state governments' savings on animal-disease control and eradication will be significant and will allow the nation to keep exporting products when more countries require animal traceability. Estimated tag and tagging costs vary among cattle producers with 50 head from $3.30 to $5.22 per cow. The swine and poultry industries each have a lower cost because tracing requirements for them involve less infrastructure and often no individual devices. The average cost per animal marketed is: $5.97 for cattle, $0.059 for swine and $1.39 for sheep. For poultry, the average cost per animal is $0.0195 for layers, $0.0007 for broilers and $0.0020 for turkeys. The study finds that the effect of not implementing some aspects of NAIS may result in losses of as much as $13.2 billion annually due to reduced export market access...dvm360

Trail Dust: Brothers in business

Some years ago, a friend of mine found a half dozen cartes de visites on sale in a thrift store at Los Lunas. She bought them for $15 and passed them on to me for my historical photographs collection. Cartes de visites were photos mounted on small cards that could be mass produced. They became popular during the Civil War in the 1860s when Union and Confederate soldiers had their pictures taken in uniform. The six that surfaced in Los Lunas included portraits of Nestor Armijo, his wife, Josefa, and his younger brother Nicolás, plus three views of a mercantile store in Chihuahua City operated by Nicolás from 1868 to 1872. The two brothers, as I was already aware, were long prominent in the overland freighting trade from Missouri to New Mexico, then on to Chihuahua and Durango. But what really caught my eye were the pictures of the Chihuahua store, the first I'd ever seen of a number once run by New Mexican and American merchants in that north Mexican city. Josiah Gregg, chief chronicler of the Santa Fe Trail, explains that when U.S. traders first arrived in New Mexico's capital, they started the practice of renting store space on or near the Plaza and selling their freighted goods at retail. Later, when the competition became keen and the market glutted, some of the incoming merchants carried their wares on south to Albuquerque, El Paso and Chihuahua City. By the late 1830s, members of New Mexico's leading families had joined in this profitable commerce...SFe New Mexican

Song Of The Day #046

Sidney Louie Gunter Jr., known as Hardrock Gunter was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1925. He was a singer, songwriter and guitarist. He recorded for Decca in the 50's, retired from the music business in the 60's, and in 1995 moved to Rio Rancho, NM according to Wikipedia. Today's song comes from his CD I'll Give 'Em Rhythm . His official website is here.

It's the first workday of the week, so time to put on your britches and get to work. Speaking of britches, here is Gunter's I Put My Britches on Just Like Everybody Else .

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cowgirl Sass and Savvy

A generation of smart cowgirls

Julie Carter

Noticing things and thinking about them are sure signs of trouble for me. But, here I was, thinking again.

Four of my good cowgirl friends and I can tally up seven daughters between us. They are all beautiful, grown up, educated and living lives of their own. All but one of them are married and have families.

And ya know, not a darn one of them is married to a cowboy. Is it me, or does that make a very loud statement?

Could it be that when they were small children, we drug them across most of the Wes-tern states every summer, all summer, to hot, dirty rodeos? We hid them from the elements under playpens turned upside down on a blanket next to the rodeo rig.

If they had a summer birthday, it was always marked by a melting birthday cake at a rodeo somewhere. My eldest thought Buena Vista, Colo., celebrated her birthday with her annually.

She sometimes laments that when her friends were old enough to cruise Main, she was still cruising I-25 in the rodeo rig with her sister, the blue heeler dog, a cooler of cold Cokes, lemon pepper chicken and potato salad tucked in the camper.
"Mom, could I sit this one out?" she'd ask. "Like, could the neighbors watch me this weekend?"
Perhaps the warning was in watching their mother pack 80-pound chilled-down baby calves up and down the stairs to the basement where the "infirmary for frozen calves" was set up next to the heat that looked not so fun or rewarding.

On the other hand, maybe it was the gentle way (sarcasm here) their father spoke to their mother when they were cutting cattle in the alley.

Expletives deleted, the gist of the conversation would infer that if there was a blind man around, he'd do a better job of running the cutting gate.

Explaining to him that yelling at her didn't make her a better hand never seemed to stop the flow of useful suggestions offered in the heat of a runaway herd situation.
The delightful irony was when, in his anger, he sent her back to the house but forgot they only had one pickup on that side of the pasture. He had an 8-mile walk home. I'm sure it gave him time to reflect on the error of his ways.

Perhaps the daughters heeded the warning when observing the long hours of on-demand assistance that began benignly in courtship.

It was then he explained that the ring on her hand bought him a gate opener for life. He just made sure she was out opening the gate when he discussed that part of the contract.

These bright girls watched their mothers haul water, chop ice, change tires and feed cowboy crews after, before, and during the cattle work. They followed in her tracks on long days of gathering cattle in the brush during a drizzling rain that fell from the sky and off the trees, too.

They helped nurse wire cuts on horses, feed dogie calves, clean stalls and an assortment of other places that required hauling manure.

They learned to ride and could punch cows with the best of them. They knew when to get out of the way and how to recognize a wreck in the making, usually involving their dad.

They learned a work ethic that no school could teach and daily saw the best and the worst of life, death and hardship.

Smart girls who didn't marry cowboys. Now what was the question?

Julie can be reached for comment at

Rex Barron Cartoon

Rex's website is here.

Colorado Calf Born With Two Spines, Seven Legs

It's an unlucky No. 7 for a calf born with a few extra legs in Colorado. The Steamboat Pilot & Today of Steamboat Springs reports that a veterinary hospital helped deliver a seven-legged calf Thursday. The staff at the Steamboat Veterinary Hospital said the Black Angus calf, which was delivered by cesarean section, had two spines but one head. One leg also had two hooves. The calf lived for only about 10 minutes. Veterinarian Lee Meyring says the birth was an incomplete splitting of the embryo into twins. He says he had previously seen a calf with a fifth leg, but the seven-legged calf was the most bizarre he has seen. The hospital says the calf's owners do not want to be identified. AP

PETA re-erects inflammatory child abuse poster

An animal rights group has re-erected a controversial billboard proclaiming that “feeding kids meat is child abuse.” PETA says meat is to blame for the sudden rise in child obesity and claims that vegetarian children are more healthy. Poorva Joshipura, director of Peta, said: “The damage caused by meat-based diet is like a ticking time-bomb in kids. Vegetarian kids are slimmer, have more energy, get better grades and are all-round better off than their meat-eating peers.”...meatinfo

Song Of The Day #045

Today's song features the Louvin Brothers, whom I've previously written about on Song Of The Day #031. Since this is Memorial Day weekend, they will be performing "Weapon Of Prayer", recorded in 1951.