Friday, October 30, 2015

70 million-year-old Dino fossils helicoptered out of Bisti Wilderness

It was a major, but unique, mission Thursday morning as two dinosaurs were pulled out of New Mexico’s northwestern badlands with the help of helicopters. “We do find dinosaurs here, this is really a world-famous spot for finding dinosaurs,” Phil Gensler, regional paleontologist for The Bureau of Land Management, said. The mission was the culmination of four years of work to excavate two ancient creatures known as Pentaceratops. The skeletal fossils, of a baby and an adult, were tucked away in the Bisti Wilderness. They were found by staff with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science during a land survey years ago. The baby fossil is nearly complete, but the adult Pentaceratops fossil is only the skull. This baby Pentaceratops is the only one found in the world, so scientists hope it opens the doors to learning more about these creatures. “There’s been a lot of planning, there’s been a lot of logistical arrangement,” Spencer Lucas, chief curator at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, said about the recovery. The Bisti is federally protected land, meaning no vehicles are allowed in order to keep it natural and beautiful. “All the excavation we had to do by hand,” Lucas said. “We had to haul the plaster, the water, the tools, in by hand.” But on Thursday morning, a small exception was made to airlift out the dinos, encased in plaster, so they could begin their journey to the museum in Albuquerque. The massive effort was a collaboration between museum staff, the BLM and the NM National Guard with the use of their Blackhawk helicopters. The Blackhawks picked up the plaster-encased bones, which weighed thousands of pounds, and dropped them at a nearby site accessible by car. Then they were loaded onto a flatbed truck and transported to the museum in Albuquerque...more

Several years ago I was giving a presentation on Wilderness to a group when a member of the audience stood up and said he was employed by the local BLM and asked to speak.  Turns out he was the chief over the firefighters.  He told us of an incident where a firefighter had broken a leg.  They asked for a chopper to extract the injured.  Since the injury was not "life threatening" their request was denied and they had to carry him out by hand.

I guess dinosaur bones are more important...

Editorial - BLM poser should be fired for online comments

The Bureau of Land Management has identified an employee who used a government computer to impersonate a former coworker and post comments on an article on about the arson convictions of two Oregon ranchers.

It’s not saying who did it, or what disciplinary action is being taken. While that’s understandable as a personnel issue, what isn’t understandable is the BLM’s seeming lack of regret and indignation.

Greg Allum, an Eastern Oregon resident once employed by BLM, recently informed Capital Press that his name was used to post comments on an article about Dwight and Steven Hammond, a father and son who were recently sentenced to five years in prison for setting fires on BLM property near Diamond, Ore.

The comments referred to the Hammonds as “clowns” and defended the actions of BLM in pursuing criminal charges against them.

...Michael Campbell, a public information officer for BLM, said the employee’s actions violated the BLM’s “robust social media policy,” under which only authorized officials can represent the agency on social media sites.

Not quite. The employee didn’t represent himself (or herself) as the BLM on our site. The employee instead assumed Allum’s identity and surreptitiously vented against the Hammonds and readers who made comments supporting them. All on government time, using government equipment.

It would seem the purpose of the posts was as much to embarrass Allum as vilify supporters.
Whether BLM appreciates it or not, the employee diminished the agency in the eyes local farmers and ranchers and bolstered a popular perception that government workers have too much time on their hands.

Allum deserves an apology, and the responsible employee needs to be shown the door.

As big wildfires become routine, communities face cascading consequences

The stories were different in Southwest Idaho’s Owyhee County, where the Soda Fire incinerated cattle and rangeland. Fires in Idaho and Clearwater counties left Riggins and other tourism areas covered in smoke, closed public lands and destroyed homes and state and private timber. These are only the immediate effects on the people, the economy and the institutions of Idaho. More effects will be felt in the months and years ahead. Already Idaho County estimates it has lost more than $6 million in assessed value on its tax rolls because of the more than 50 homes that burned, said Commissioner Skip Brandt. Many of the people who lost homes, rangeland or crucial weeks of tourism-related business will suffer such deep financial costs they may be forced to leave. Ranchers in Owyhee County will wait two years or more — depending on how the land recovers — before they can put their cattle back on the public rangeland. Ranchers whose range burned in the Pony Fire south of Boise in 2013 won’t get cows back out there until 2016. This winter or spring, denuded slopes will erode away, and the resulting slides and floods will wreck roads and add more costs to counties, the state and federal governments. “We call these the cascading consequences of fire,” said Crystal Kolden, a University of Idaho geography professor and fire ecologist...more

Laxalt takes correct action on sage grouse lawsuit

by Bob Fallon

Attorney General Adam Laxalt has taken exactly the right action in joining, and now leading, the lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of the Interior and other DOI agencies. The details of the lawsuit document the irreparable harm that will come to many Nevada counties and the State of Nevada. 

This is the federal government choosing to implement its agenda through executive action, a consistent policy of the Obama administration. 

Gov. Brian Sandoval recently alleged Laxalt does not represent the State of Nevada, the governor or any state agencies. In reality, the majority of counties (Elko, Eureka, Lander, White Pine, Lincoln, Humboldt, Washoe, Churchill and Pershing) are directly parties to the lawsuit, the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) has worked hard to organize the lawsuit, and Sen. Dean Heller, Congressman Mark Amodei, Congressman Joe Heck, state Sen. James Settelmeyer, state Sen. Pete Goicoechea, Assemblyman Ira Hansen, NACO, the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation and numerous other assemblymen, county commissioners and private groups have issued statements in support of Laxalt’s decision to join the lawsuit. The bottom line on the comments of the family ranchers and miners is that without intervention their family ranches and mining claims are out of business. 

Beyond that, numerous mines and ranching operations were give explicit go-aheads from Federal Agencies for their plans, made big investments, and now unexpectedly face financial Armageddon. Commitments from local DOI agencies can no longer be trusted because they are subject to being unexpectedly overridden from Washington. 

The direction is clearly to use greater sage grouse actions to shut down as much of land in the western states as possible, legal and ethical, or not. We have heard from local BLM personnel who vociferously say it is not them — the orders are from Washington, and they fully expect these actions to lead to litigation. Unless an injunction can be won, the impact will hit Nevada long before a resolution in the courts. 

As an indicator of the ethics and approach being taken by the BLM and other DOE agencies, BLM has denied every single public comment, including many from government agencies like Churchill County, in the sage grouse decision and in several local Resource Management Plans. How can anyone, in good conscience, say that not a single comment of those from more than 600 separate citizens is valid? The message is clear to me — even if in violation of Federal Law the Federal Government is going to ignore all of our input and do exactly as it pleases, and they have as much of our money as they need to defend any lawsuits. 

Nevada’s own sage-grouse conservation plans spearheaded by Sandoval were completely ignored in the recently issued 3,500-page Sage-Grouse LUPA/FEIS, this to the frustration of Sandoval who sent a 12-page response letter. Perhaps it is time for Sandoval to realize that in spite of his best, proactive efforts, the direction from the White House is now to ignore all of those efforts, ignore the requirements of federal laws including the requirement for federal agencies to coordinate their proposals with local plans and policies, and ignore all cooperative efforts by state and local governments. 

Oregon wildlife agency recommends delisting endangered wolves

Oregon’s wolf population has recovered to the point where it no longer needs protection under the state endangered species act, according to Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. In a staff report released Thursday, the organization recommends the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission remove gray wolves from the state endangered species list Nov. 9 when the commission meets in Salem. Eastern Oregon ranchers have anticipated delisting wolves for months, though environmental advocates say the agency’s recommendation isn’t supported by science, law or public opinion. ODFW’s own staff scientists say the wolf population should continue to grow steadily, and there is less than a 1 percent chance the species would go extinct over the next 50 years. There are at least 81 wolves and 16 groups or packs located throughout the state. However, environmental groups argue the findings are based on flawed modeling and have not been reviewed by an outside independent scientific panel as required by law...more

Lawsuit Claims Wyoming’s Data Trespass Law Protects Violators of Environmental Laws

The state of Wyoming is being sued over its new Data Trespass Law, with the plaintiffs claiming it violates the First and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution. The law, passed earlier this year, prohibits gathering of data—including photographs—on “open land” without statutory authorization or explicit permission that is submitted or intended to be submitted to a government agency. The “open land” provision includes anything that’s not in a city, town or subdivision. Thus, it makes it technically illegal to take a photo for submission to a state-owned magazine. The law’s authors aren’t worried about that, of course. They wrote it to prevent environmental groups from taking soil and water samples that might prove that ranchers are allowing their cattle to pollute streams. “These Wyoming laws are designed to stop whistleblowers from being able to enforce the environmental laws in Wyoming,” Leslie Brueckner, a senior attorney at Public Justice, a public interest law firm that has challenged ag-gag laws in other states, told ThinkProgress. “Like the classic ag-gag statutes that we’re challenging in Idaho, this law directly infringes on the ability of whistleblowers and other advocates to speak freely under the First Amendment and also to expose wrongdoing in the agriculture industry.” The claims for violation of the Fourteenth Amendment come in because it singles out a particular group—environmentalists trying to protect Wyoming’s lands. The suit is being brought by the National Press Photographers Association; Western Watersheds Project, which has been criticized for its controversial water-sampling efforts aimed at showing cattle contaminate streams with E. coli; the Natural Resources Defense Council; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; and Center for Food Safety.   That the law prohibits data gathering on public lands makes it even more insidious...more

Backcountry skiers suspected in loss of 1,000-plus trees near Ski Santa Fe

Renegade backcountry skiers set on blazing their own trail are suspected of illegally chopping down 1,000 trees or more within the Santa Fe National Forest not far from Ski Santa Fe. The culprits may be passionate about their sport and love the exhilaration of freely weaving through the trees on fresh powder, but they are criminals, says Mike Gardiner, the forest’s assistant special agent in charge of law enforcement. Not only did they break human laws, but also they interfered with the laws of nature. “There are a lot of things to consider with something like this. The felling of green trees, which are normally seed trees, that’s not good for the forest,” he began. “There’s erosion down into the watershed, the impact on habitat – including avian habitat – and an increased fire risk when you unnecessarily add to the fuel load on the forest floor.” Gardiner suspects the predators cut paths through the forest so they could partake in what’s called glade or tree skiing, a form of off-trail skiing through wooded areas. Part of the appeal is the isolation. Skiers have access to virgin snow and don’t have to watch for traffic from other skiers...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1506

Here's another good one by Skeets McDonald, Cheek To Cheek With The Blues.  The tune was recorded in Nashville on Nov. 19, 1959.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

AQHA Prevails in Cloning Lawsuit

On October 26, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit entered an order denying the plaintiffs’ petition for rehearing of the opinion that rendered judgment for AQHA in the cloning lawsuit. Specifically, that opinion held that the plaintiffs’ evidence did not prove a conspiracy to restrain trade and that “AQHA is not a competitor in the allegedly relevant market for elite Quarter Horses.”

“We are delighted with this decision,” said Craig Huffhines, AQHA Executive Vice President. “Our staff and legal teams have devoted countless hours fighting for our members’ rights, and we’re grateful for the Fifth Circuit’s decision that leaves intact the well-reasoned opinion in AQHA’s favor.”
For more information on the American Quarter Horse Association, visit

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHAnews on Twitter and visit

Miners Versus U.S. Government: Which Claims are Accurate?

The tensions between the owners of the White Hope Mine in Lincoln and the U.S. Forest Service continue to run high as the litigation is set to begin. We exclusively sat down with the owners and they tell us the back story behind the dispute. The sleepy town of Lincoln made headlines this summer because a fleet of armed men marched into town to protect a privately owned mine from the U.S. Forest Service, who the miner's say were threatening to take over their land and destroy their equipment. "That's when it really heated up and it got the point that they supposedly hired a crew to come in and tear our buildings down and that's when I requested the Oath Keepers to come in for security,” said White Hope Mine Owner George Kornec. To fully understand this dispute, we go back to 1924 when Kornec's family claimed the land under a 1907 mining law. Fast forward to 1986 when the Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management declared the mine claims abandoned because Kornec missed a filing deadline by one day, which he blames on a post office. " I went to the clerk and recorder’s office, they notarized the paper, they recorded the papers and they said they wouldn’t be ready until after noon for me to pick up. So I went back and took the papers from that office around the corner to the post office. They had no sign stating that anything mailed after noon would be stamped for the following day,” noted Kornec. Another complaint by the forest service is that the miners have explosives on their property illegally. "The powder magazines have been inspected and approved by the ATF. The Forest Service has no authority over it and the AFT and Forest Service has even had words over it. They're over stepping their bounds,” added Kornec...more

Upper Green stockmen navigate constant griz threat

In early July Albert Sommers was in an all-terrain vehicle checking up on the thousands of cattle that graze the vast rangelands near the headwaters of the Green River. Sommers is Sublette County’s representative in the Wyoming House and president of the Upper Green River Cattle Association. On that day he was also looking for signs of grizzly bear activity: a dead calf, a spooked herd of cattle or even tracks. Keeping tabs on bears and their doings is a part of daily life on Union Pass. An hour into the drive Sommers opened a barbed wire gate to access the Mud Lake East grazing unit, the first parcel he reached that day that had cows in it. Not far down the road past the gate, a grizzly bear track as wide as two human palms was imprinted in the dirt on one side of the two-track. “A 7-inch track is a big bear,” Sommers said as he hunched down to give it a look. “You see we didn’t hit any of these tracks until we got in here. It’s where the food source is.” Five years ago wildlife managers confirmed 20 Upper Green livestock depredations that could be attributed to grizzlies. In 2014 the count of grizzly-killed cattle was 66 — at the time a record. In response, last year eight grizzlies were relocated from the Upper Green and managers killed two more bears that had a history of killing cows. This year was even worse, preliminary Game and Fish data shows. Grizzly bears this summer and fall were confirmed to have killed 79 head of livestock. Five grizzlies that made a kill lost their lives in response, and another nine bears were captured and relocated. “This was the worst year we’ve ever had — worse than last year,” Sommers said...more

Ca. wildfire losses set to near $2 billion

More bad news for insurance carriers operating in California – a report released this week from Guy Carpenter & Company anticipates that insured losses from the two September wildfires in the state could approach and even exceed $1.75 billion. That’s up significantly from a report earlier this month from Aon forecasting losses of $1 billion. The report, “US Wildfire: An Ever Present Hazard,” utilizes data from Guy Carpenter clients and subsidiaries, as well as from the National Interagency Fire Center, which found that 9.27 million acres were destroyed by the fires through October 8. That’s compared to a 10-year average of about 6.3 million. The damages near those incurred in the 1991 Oakland firestorm that cost more than $2.6 billion in 2014 dollars. In fact, they are so high that many insurers are pulling coverage from policyholders due to an “unacceptable risk of wildfire.” Already, several homeowners have found themselves served with non-renewal notices and no other choice but to seek out expensive coverage in the excess and surplus lines market...more

Bad news for Canadian oilsands? U.S. pipeline-fighters celebrate downward turn

Opponents of Canada's oil industry are celebrating this week over news they see as vindication of a pipeline-fighting strategy that began in the United States with Keystone XL. Their burst of enthusiasm was prompted by news that Shell was shuttering an 80,000-barrel-a-day project — and specifically citing the lack of pipeline infrastructure as part of the reason. That announcement prompted a congratulatory message from a political activist who began organizing Nebraska ranchers opposed to Keystone XL five years ago. Jane Kleeb emailed ranchers Wednesday to say their work against the Alberta-to-Texas project was having a ripple effect across the continent, with the expansion of the Alberta oilsands now in doubt. "Turns out fighting Keystone XL with all the might of small and large groups in U.S.A. and in Canada is working," Kleeb wrote. "Not only to stop Keystone XL but to stop the tarsands expansion."...more

Rare Alaskan wolf is caught in the balance between ecosystems and economies

The story of the wolves, the island and the ancient forest began long before there were struggling sawmills and endangered species. But that lost world has a name now: the Tongass National Forest, in southeast Alaska. So do the wolves and the island. They have all become prominent characters in one of the more remote but revealing battles for balance between ecosystems and economies in the West. The wolf is known as the Alexander Archipelago wolf, a relative of the more common gray wolf that roams mainland North America. The island is Prince of Wales Island, an outpost 55 miles northwest of Ketchikan that, at nearly 2,600 square miles, is home to just 6,000 people and accessible from the mainland only by boat or plane. The forest is home to giant evergreens — spruce, hemlock and cedar, some 800 years old and more than 200 feet tall. They are part of the 17 million-acre Tongass, America’s largest national forest. The government calls it “the most intact temperate rain forest on Earth.” Those, however, are fighting words. This spring, with the approval of the U.S. Forest Service, loggers began cutting thousands of acres of old-growth trees on Prince of Wales Island in one of the largest and most controversial timber sales in the Tongass in two decades. State and federal officials say the project is essential to the livelihoods of people on the island, where the last remaining large sawmill employs about 50 people...more

Feds won’t give Congress internal docs on climate research

The federal government’s chief climate research agency is refusing to give House Republicans the detailed information they want on a controversial study on climate change. Citing confidentiality concerns and the integrity of the scientific process, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said it won’t give Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) the research documents he subpoenaed. At the center of the controversy is a study that concluded there has not been a 15-year “pause” in global warming. Some NOAA scientists contributed to the report. Skeptics of climate change, including Smith, have cited the pause to insist that increased greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels, are not heating up the globe. Smith, the chairman of the House Science Committee, vehemently disagreed with the study’s findings. He issued a subpoena for communications among the scientists and some data, leading to charges from Democrats that he was trying to intimidate the researchers. Late Tuesday, NOAA provided Smith with some more information about its methods and data but refused to give Smith everything he wanted...more

Energy Department smashes pumpkins for causing climate change

How scary are your jack-o’-lanterns? Scarier than you think, according to the Energy Department, which claims the holiday squash is responsible for unleashing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Most of the 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins produced in the U.S. end up in the trash, says the Energy Department’s website, becoming part of the “more than 254 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the United States every year.” Municipal solid waste decomposes into methane, “a harmful greenhouse gas that plays a part in climate change, with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide,” Energy says...more 

WildEarth Guardians challenges forest restoration plan in Jemez Mountains

The Santa Fe-based WildEarth Guardians environmental group has lodged a formal objection to a forest restoration plan in northern New Mexico for forest restoration activities on 170 square miles of the Santa Fe National Forest in the Jemez Mountains. WildEarth Gaurdians said it objects in particular construction and reconstruction of 120 miles of road to access timber. The Forest Service’s Southwest Jemez Mountains Landscape Restoration Project includes logging, prescribed fire and other activities to address watershed conditions and prevent wildfire, WildEarth Guardians said. WildEarth Guardians says it supports limited tree cutting and prescribed burning, but that the construction and reconstruction of roads “will result in persistent impacts on water quality that are unacceptable.”...more

Owens Valley ranchers at mercy of LA, drought

Water in the aqueduct that helped fuel Los Angeles’ growth was flowing toward the city Wednesday for the first time in six months after workers removed an earthen and concrete dam that had diverted runoff to the parched Owens Valley. With little mountain runoff due to a historic drought, water managers made the unprecedented decision to try to meet legal obligations to keep the Owens River flowing, control dust from a dry lake bed and irrigate pastures where cattle graze instead of sending water to the city. For those in the Owens Valley, who have a history of conflict with the metropolis hundreds of miles to the south, the plugged-up aqueduct brought relief to some and left others to suffer the drought’s misery. Cattleman Mark Lacey got a taste of both. In the southern end of the valley this summer where the Department of Water and Power mostly fulfilled irrigation contracts, Lacey’s cattle grazed amid an oasis as cool, clear water poured onto verdant fields framed by barbed wire. About 100 miles north, where DWP didn’t allow ranchers to take irrigation water, land Lacey leases turned dry and dusty. Lacey had to lay off some ranch hands and he trucked a third of his cattle to Nebraska and sent another third to greener pastures in Nevada and Oregon...more

Big and small mills lobby for piece of the timber pie

Tucked deep in Congress' bill to fund the government in 2015 was a request to the Forest Service: Get moving on a long-stalled rule that could aid the survival of America's small timber mills. The report language "strongly encouraged" the agency to write a directive that could ensure small mills are not bullied out of federal timber contracts by larger, better-capitalized corporations. The language, which was backed by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), signaled Congress' growing involvement in a debate that has sown deep rifts within the forest products industry. At issue is whether protections for small businesses currently in place for conventional timber sales should be extended to stewardship sales, which are an increasingly popular way for the Forest Service to sell timber. The debate could be one of many policy flashpoints as lawmakers debate an omnibus spending bill to keep the government running past Dec. 11. And it's an issue that has blurred party lines and pitted small-business advocates against labor unions in a battle for access to federal timber...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1505

Let's get Ranch Radio kicked off again with a 1953 instrumental by Howard White titled Ensonata. The tune is on his CD Western Swing and Steel Instrumentals issued by Bear Family records.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The drone invasion is real, and it's heading your way

A Federal Aviation Administration official said in early October he expects a million personal drones to be given as gifts during this year's December holidays. Yet little federal regulation exists, state regulation is aimed chiefly at law enforcement, and the FAA's drone-use recommendations have too often gone ignored by owners of personal drones. Camera-equipped drones are available online from $20 to over $1,000, with many ranging from $80 to $300. In mid-October, the FAA revealed deep concern by announcing that by Christmas it would require recreational drones be registered with the Department of Transportation. Also it disclosed it might use military tools to spot operators and force down their drones. Dangers fall in two areas: safety and privacy protection. Recent incidents in New York and elsewhere evidence safety infractions. A drone with a camera flew close to a police helicopter over Brooklyn; another did the same near the George Washington Bridge. Similar incidents occurred over Times Square and Citi Field. Fans at the 2015 U.S. Open tennis tournament saw a personal drone crash into the stands. Existing law was applied: The drone operators were charged with reckless endangerment, one additionally charged with obstructing government administration. Commercial pilots reported a drone coming within 100 feet of a passenger jet in July near John F. Kennedy International Airport at 1,700 feet of altitude. The FAA says pilots nationally now report about 100 drone sightings per month. A drone crashed on the White House lawn in January. Another crashed into a chimney of the New York state Capitol in Albany, N.Y. Yet another was spotted near a New York prison. The U.S. Forest Service on the West Coast reported 13 wildfires where personal drones interfered, in one case forcing pilots to break off aerial firefighting for fear of a collision. Privacy invasion dangers have been illuminated in recently passed state laws. In 2015, Arkansas, targeting voyeurism, banned use of an unmanned aerial vehicle to videotape, film, photograph, record or view people who have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Mississippi added a provision to its peeping-tom statute in mid-2015 that makes it a felony to peep using a periscope, telescope, binoculars, camera, motion-picture camera or drone. A 2014 North Carolina law bans private surveillance or photos, and a 2014 Indiana law bans drone use on private property without consent. Many states already guard citizens from privacy invasions by government by stopping police agencies from using drones for surveillance without a search warrant...more

Michigan inks unique pact to help in 3 national forests

Michigan has entered into a unique agreement with the U.S. Forest Service that will allow state natural resources officers to support conservation efforts in the national forests located here. The “Good Neighbor Authority” pact will help bolster work being done in the forests, Ottawa and Huron-Manistee national forests located in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula. Details of the kind of work to be done in each of the forests will be hammered out in individual contracts in the coming weeks. “Good Neighbor Authority Projects will expand our capacity to achieve forest management outcomes described in the forests’ 2006 Land and Resource Management Plans,” said Kathleen Atkinson, the U.S. Forest Service’s eastern regional forester, in a statement. “I’m excited to have a new tool that allows us to work together in unprecedented ways into the future.” Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials will assist in restoring forest, range-land and watershed areas of the national forests. It’s an arrangement federal officials believe will benefit the communities where the work is done. It will include revenue generated by timber sales from the forest lands where the work is done. “This authority is a significant way for the Forest Service to partner with state agencies to make improvements to the land, benefiting local communities and their economies with timber receipts generated from Good Neighbor Authority,” Atkinson said...more

49 senators oppose Obama's climate rules

A bipartisan coalition of nearly 50 senators signed a bill Tuesday to repeal President Obama's contentious climate change rules for power plants. The resolution, proposed by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., was introduced with 47 senators joining them as cosponsors on the "resolution of disapproval." The resolution would repeal the centerpiece of President Obama's climate change agenda, called the Clean Power Plan, but he is virtually guaranteed not to sign it. The Clean Power Plan requires states to reduce emissions by one-third by 2030. Critics say the plan oversteps EPA's authority by regulating states instead of individual power plants. Studies performed for industry have shown that the regulations would raise costs for consumers significantly, while making the electricity system vulnerable to power outages...more

UC Berkeley study links economic inequality to climate change

Newly published research uses science to lump the issues of climate change and economic inequality for political lobbying. A study published last week by professors at the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that climate change will reduce the income of an average person by 23 percent and increase global inequality by the year 2100. The study followed a previous UC Berkeley study published just a month earlier, proposing changes to climate policy. The results of the study find that climate change will increase global inequality majorly, alleging warming is beneficial for colder countries such as Europe, which tend to be more advanced and rich, but more harmful for hot countries such as Africa and South Asia, which tend to be poorer; thus allegedly widening the global inequality gap by roughly 77 percent...more

Climate Consensus Con Game

At the outset, let’s be quite clear: There is no consensus about dangerous anthropogenic global warming (DAGW)—and there never was. There is not even a consensus on whether human activities, such as burning fossil fuels to produce useful energy, affect global climate significantly. So what’s all this fuss about?

Let’s also be quite clear that science does not work by way of consensus. Science does not progress by appeal to authority; in fact, major scientific advances usually come from outside the consensus; one can cite many classic examples, from Galileo to Einstein. [Another way to phrase this issue: Scientific veracity does not depend on fashionable thinking.] In other words, the very notion of a scientific consensus is unscientific.

The degree of consensus also depends on the way the questions are phrased. For example, we can get 100% consensus if the question is “Do you believe in climate change?” We can get a near-100% consensus if the question is “Do you believe that humans have some effect on the climate?” This latter question also would include also local effects, like urbanization, clearing of forests, agriculture, etc.

So one has to be rather careful and always ask: What is the exact question for which a consensus has been claimed?

Subverting Peer Review

Finally, we should point out that a consensus can be manufactured—even where no consensus exists. For example, it has become very popular to claim that 97% of all publications support AGW. Here the key question to ask is: Which publications and what exactly is the form of support?

Thanks to the revelations of the Climategate e-mails, we now have a more skeptical view about the process which is used to vet publications. We know now that peer-review, once considered by many as the ‘gold-standard,’ can be manipulated—and in fact has been manipulated by a gang of UK and US climate scientists who have been very open about their aim to keep dissenting views from being published. We also know from the same e-mails that editors can be bullied by determined activists.

In any case, the peer-review process can easily be slanted by the editor, who usually selects the reviewers. And some editors misuse their position to advance their personal biases.

Judge rules man had right to shoot down drone over his house

It was a case that gripped the nation. Or at least Kentucky. Should it have temporarily escaped your pressured memory, William Merideth in July said he saw a drone flying above his property in Hillview, Kentucky. He believed it was spying on his 16-year-old daughter who was sunbathing in the garden. So he took out his shotgun and blasted the drone out of the sky. He was arrested for wanton endangerment and criminal mischief. Now a Kentucky court has declared Merideth an innocent man. Bullitt County District Court Judge Rebecca Ward on Monday dismissed all charges against Merideth, reported local TV station WDRB-TV.  The drone's owner, David Boggs, had produced flight data that insisted his machine had been flying higher than Merideth had claimed. The judge, however, seems not a fan of big data. She's a woman of the people. She declared that two human witnesses saw the drone below the tree line. This evidence was, to her, conclusive. To her, this was an invasion of Merideth's privacy...more

Sharyl Attkisson: The ‘66,000+’ illegal immigrants released in 2013-14 had ‘160,000 convictions’ [video]

Sharyl Attkisson has a must-watch report out on sanctuary cities and the criminal histories of the more than 66,000 illegal immigrants released in the U.S. in 2013-2014.

The released illegal immigrants had 166,000 convictions: 30k DUI, 414 kidnaping, 11,000 sex assaults, 395 homicides.

See the news report here

Control of federal lands emerges as an issue in the GOP presidential race

If Ken Ivory could ask the Republican presidential hopefuls a question at their debate Wednesday night in Colorado, the state lawmaker from Utah would raise a subject that might seem arcane to much of the nation but no doubt would stir strong responses from the event's Western audience. First, Ivory would hold up a color-coded map showing the huge amount of land in the West — about 50% of the entire region, compared with a fraction of that in the East — owned by the federal government. Then Ivory would hit the candidates with his radical proposal: Why not transfer control of most of that land to the states, which could clear the way for more hunting and fishing, more oil wells and coal mines and tree harvests, with all the economic benefits that surely would follow? "Why shouldn't the federal government have to treat all the states equally?" said Ivory, himself a Republican, who has been pitching his plan around the country through an advocacy group he founded, the American Lands Council. "If they were really serious about a solution big enough to solve so many of the major issues that face our nation — economic, environmental, national security, energy — this is the only solution." Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are among those who have strongly endorsed the idea, but other Republican candidates also have signaled varying degrees of sympathy for conservative voters in Colorado and beyond who are frustrated by what many say are excessively restrictive federal policies on public lands in the West. It is hardly a new cry — and experts widely dismiss the notion as economically and environmentally implausible — but it appears to be getting louder. At least 10 states in recent years have approved legislation that tries to claim federal land or explore the possibility of doing so, helping prompt the Republican National Committee last year to draft a "resolution in support of Western states taking back public lands." Some Western Republicans, facing battles with the federal government over mining and water quality controls, have called for abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency. Last week, Jeb Bush, a relative moderate in the current Republican field, outlined a federal lands policy he said would direct federal agencies to allow states to determine, "consistent with law," land uses that are sustainable and locally compatible. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) released an energy policy this month pledging that his administration would "work with Congress to ensure that states and tribes — not the federal government — have the primary role in oversight of energy development within their borders." And Donald Trump, one of the GOP front-runners, has called for dismantling the EPA. "What they do is a disgrace," Trump told Fox News. "Every week they come out with new regulations. They're making it impossible." A report this week from the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund found that seven GOP presidential candidates — Paul, Cruz, Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum — have expressed support for transferring or privatizing U.S. land and energy reserves...more

Attorney: Utilities' negligence led to New Mexico wildfire

Two electric utility companies did nothing to prevent one of the largest fires in New Mexico recorded history and later showed no remorse, an attorney for more than 300 plaintiffs told jurors Tuesday. In closing arguments, plaintiffs' attorney Tom Tosdal said the Las Conchas Fire could have been averted had Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative Inc. responded to potential dangers by doing inspections and managing potentially hazardous vegetation along its power lines. Jemez Mountains Electric attorney Al Green said many of the co-op's top executives are from the area and cared very much about the effects of the fire. Green also dismissed claims that the co-op ignored industry standards. He said the utility had a tree-trimming program at the time of the fire that was much like those adopted by rural co-ops across the country...more

Science does not support international agency opinion on red meat and cancer

An international committee assigned to review all of the available evidence on red meat and cancer risk were divided on their opinion whether to label red meat a “probable” cause of cancer, according to the Beef Checkoff nutrition scientist and registered dietitian who observed the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) process. After seven days of deliberation in Lyon, France, IARC was unable to reach a consensus agreement from a group of 22 experts in the field of cancer research, something that IARC has proudly highlighted they strive for and typically achieve. In this case, they had to settle for “majority” agreement. While IARC represents a select group of opinions, it doesn’t always represent consensus in the scientific community. A large meta-analysis, published online in May in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, analyzed the relationship between red meat intake and risk for colorectal cancer and concluded “red meat does not appear to be an independent predictor of CRC risk,” according to Dominik Alexander, PhD, MSPH, the epidemiologist who conducted the research on behalf of the Beef Checkoff...more

Bishop criticized after temporarily stopping funding to Land and Water Conservation Fund

Over the past five decades, more than $171 million have flowed into Utah through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. As chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Congressman Rob Bishop turned off the flow of that money, temporarily, last week. “What we are doing now is a violation of the law and I’m not going to go forward with allowing this administration to continue to violate the law so that they can have money with which to play,” said Bishop during a FOX 13 News exclusive interview Monday. Bishop is critical of reauthorizing the fund without reviewing how it is operating. He said the fund is meant to send 40% of its money to state managed projects. He added that number has dropped to 16%. “I’m not going to allow the agencies just to squirrel the money away and play with it. It’s not their play thing. It has to be accounted, it has to be solving a problem,” Bishop said. The LWCF has wide bi-partisan support, and Bishop’s hard stance is drawing wide criticism. President Barack Obama indirectly called out Bishop saying in his weekly online public address, “Republicans in Congress should reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund without delay.” Bishop doesn’t like not knowing where the money is being spent. The congressman signed a letter to the Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, and Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, calling for an accounting of how the LWCF has been spent, which pieces of land funds have acquired and details about those lands such as if they have been surveyed and if public recreational uses have been approved. Critics argue the delay is halting projects that were already planned. Bishop said that’s not true. He added the fund has billions of dollars already dedicated, enough to fund projects at its current pace for the next 70 years...more

Let's hope Bishop hangs tough.  It's certainly reasonable for Congress to obtain a full accounting of how the expenditures were used in the past before they authorize expenditures for the future.  Let's also hope the new budget "deal" doesn't permanently reauthorize the LWCF.

Feds: Efforts to block sage grouse protection could backfire

Attempts by rural Nevada counties, mining companies and others to block new U.S. policies intended to protect the greater sage grouse could backfire on the critics and ultimately force the reconsideration of a recent decision to keep the bird off the list of endangered species, federal land managers warn. Justice Department lawyers representing three U.S. agencies say it took an unprecedented effort by officials in 11 western states from California to the Dakotas to persuade the Fish and Wildlife Service last month to reverse its 2010 conclusion that protection of the grouse was warranted under the Endangered Species Act. The new finding was based on assumptions that added protections in the land-planning amendments being challenged will be carried out to ensure the grouse no longer is threatened with extinction, they said in a brief filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Reno. Any injunction blocking implementation would "diminish the protections for sage grouse ... undo four years of collaboration and could undermine FWS' finding," U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden wrote. U.S. District Judge Miranda Du has set a hearing for Nov. 12 in Reno to consider granting a preliminary injunction blocking the amendments...more

As large animals disappear, the loss of their poop hurts the planet

It only takes a glance at a history book and a look out the window to know that our planet has lost many of its biggest creatures: The world that was once home to mammoths and towering dinosaurs can now barely maintain stable populations of rhinos and whales. But according to a new study, we've got more to mourn than just the animals themselves. We've lost their feces, too — and that's a bigger problem than you might think. Why should we miss steaming piles of dinosaur dung? According to research published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, megafauna play a greater role in the spread of nutrients across the planet than scientists ever realized. The research focused on modeling the distribution of phosphorus, a nutrient necessary for fertilizing plant growth. Scientists know that animals help carry these nutrients around by, well, not pooping where they eat. Without this process, nutrients would end up following gravity onto the ocean floor, instead of spreading as high as the mountain tops. But these days most of the nutrient recycling that happens is due to bacteria — not wandering poopers...more

Two things are clear: 1) We have a Dung Distribution Delimma, or if you prefer, a Poop Production Problem, and 2) Every time the Forest Service or BLM cuts the number of cattle they are harming the planet. 

Next Few Weeks Will Reveal Full Extent Of Oil Industry Suffering

Get ready for some bad news and red ink. With the bulk of quarterly earnings reports in the energy industry yet to be announced, there are already $6.5 billion worth of asset write-downs, according to Bloomberg. And that could be just the tip of the iceberg. A Barclays’ assessment last week predicted $20 billion in impairment charges from just six companies. Write-downs occur when the expected future cash flow from an asset falls sufficiently that a company has to report that the asset has lost some of its value. With oil prices half of what they were from mid-2014, oil and gas fields around the world are no longer worth what they used to be. Some oil fields that were previously expected to produce in the future may no longer even make sense to develop given current oil prices. As a result, investors should expect billions of dollars in further write-downs in the coming weeks. Persistently low oil prices are putting a lot of pressure on the dividend policies of oil and gas producers. The Wall Street Journal reported that four oil majors – BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, and Chevron – have a combined cash flow deficit of $20 billion for the first half of 2015. In other words, these big players are not earning enough revenues to cover expenditures, share buybacks, and dividends. With such a large cash flow deficit, something has to give. All four are focusing on slashing spending in order to preserve their promises to shareholders, with dividends especially seen as untouchable...more

Feds Want to Shut Off Oil & Gas Lights Near Parks

The National Park System has proposed updating 36-year-old regulations regarding oil and gas operations on its public lands. Monday's action follows on the heels of a federal judge's ruling at the end of September to delay a similar Bureau of Land Management action. The NPS proposal includes rules for surface and groundwater contamination, fracking waste water disposal, disruption of wildlife, visitor hazards such as hyrogen sulfide gas, and views being spoiled by manmade items such as light pollution from operations' burning "excess" natural gas, among other subjects. Under the rule, the 60 percent of operations previously exempt from NPS oil and gas rules because they were "grandfathered" in when the rules were written, would no longer be exempt. Both agencies are under the umbrella of the Department of Interior. In mid-March, Interior's Secretary Sally Jewell announced the department's intentions to support the Obama Administration's ambitious clean energy and climate change reform agenda, and referenced both the recently stalled BLM action and the NPS proposed action.   The NPS proposal would apply to 534 non-federal oil and gas operations on a total of 12 NPS sites, and would address issues such as surface contamination, leaks, spills, odors, noise, disruption of wildlife migration routes, adverse effects on sensitive species, archaeological damage from blasting, and visitor safety hazards such as hydrogen sulfide gas, and explosions and fires from leaking oil and gas. Specific regulations concerning fracking impacts to water quality and waste water disposal are included in the proposal. Also of concern are impacts to the visitor experience, such as "viewshed" intrusions by roads, traffic, pipelines and drilling, and night sky intrusion from artificial lights and gas flares...more

Wild horse advocates say government agency fails herds

A report that found the Bureau of Land Management carelessly sold mustangs to a buyer who shipped them to slaughterhouses came as little surprise to advocates who believe the agency is incapable of handling the growing herds that roam federally protected land. "This report paints a pretty clear picture of government incompetence and a deliberate attempt to subvert the federal law that is supposed to protect" the horses, said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. The agency's solution has been to round up thousands of horses each year. While some are adopted, most are maintained in holding facilities, where there are presently 47,329 animals. The BLM is running out of room and has cut back on the number of animals it rounds up. Ultimately, the agency wants to have the ban on selling the horses to slaughter overturned, Roy said. BLM spokesman Tom Gorey denied that charge. Congress will not fund horse slaughter, and the BLM has no intention of selling animals to those who would have them butchered, he said. But the report by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Inspector General did little to assuage Roy's concerns. The agency says the land reserved for the animals should support no more than 26,715 horses and burros. "We have 58,000 horses and burros on the range, so any suggestion that there is a quick fix is a misstatement or a delusion," Gorey said. "The on-range population of wild horses and burros is already consuming twice the forage allocated to the animals as compared to the appropriate management level," he added...more

Budget deal would cut popular crop insurance program, farm-state lawmakers object

The deal includes a proposed cut in crop insurance support of $3 billion according to a release from the American Soybean Association. But farm-state lawmakers have fought to protect it, saying it makes the most sense for farmers and for the budget since it pays out when farmers suffer losses. Congress got rid of other types of subsidies in a wide-ranging farm bill a year ago, including payments that went to farmers regardless of crop yield or crop price. While this is unacceptable, it is of particular concern for cotton producers in my district as crop insurance is now the sole means of risk management available. One of the “gotchas” in the Bill is Section 201 that calls for USDA to renegotiate the agreement with private crop insurance companies by December 31, 2016 and then to renegotiate the agreement(s) at least every five years thereafter...more

Pew: Gun deaths are down 30% since 1993

by Matt Vespa

Conservatives have been saying it for months and now new data back up the claims. America isn’t a shooting gallery. Our schools are not war zones. And there is no gun violence epidemic. According to Pew Research, homicides rates have stabilized, with the overall gun death rate dropping 30 percent since 1993:
Several mass shootings this year have brought renewed attention to the issue of gun violence in America, and President Obama has again called for Congress to change the nation’s gun laws.
But the increased spotlight on guns does not reflect the overall gun violence trend in the country. Although most Americans think the number of gun crimes has risen, the U.S. gun homicide rate has actually stabilized somewhat in recent years, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of death certificate data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The nation’s overall gun death rate has declined 30% since 1993. This total includes homicides and suicides, in addition to a smaller number of fatal police shootings, accidental shooting deaths and those of undetermined intent. For example, in 2013 there were 467 fatal police shootings, up from 333 in 2009.
Yet, Pew did note that suicides are growing, which is something that needs to be tackled, hopefully in congruence with reforming our mental health system. In 2013, Pew found there was a 49 percent drop in gun homicides between 1993-2010. The Bureau of Justice Statistics marked a 39 percent drop in gun-related homicides between 1993-2011, roughly the same period.  Recently, the FBI noted a 3.9 percent drop in gun homicides between 2013 and 2014. The numbers might be different, but the conclusion is the same: gun homicides are down.

Chickens are evolving 15 TIMES faster than expected

Evolution is typically a slow and steady process, often occurring over the course of hundreds and thousands of years. So researchers were surprised to recently discover that the genetic makeup of chickens has mutated twice within just half a century. Such changes in the mitochondrial genomes were thought to only change about 2 per cent every million years, suggesting that the birds are evolving a staggering 15 times faster than expected. The discovery was made by researchers from the Universities of Oxford and York. They studied the genes of White Plymouth Rock chickens, a pedigree breed, and found that two mutations had occurred in the mitochondrial genomes of the birds in just 50 years. It was also discovered that in one case, mitochondrial DNA had been passed down from the father, showing that so-called 'parental leakage' is not as rare as previously believed. The research, published in Biology Letters, suggests there could be a disparity between long-term and short-term estimates of mitochondrial changes. It also shows that mitochondrial changes are not always inherited from the mother...more

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Someone is stealing prime cuts of beef from live cows in Canada

With beef prices at record highs, some cattle rustlers are wreaking havoc on Canadian cattle ranches. Police and cattle ranch owners in the North Okanagan region of British Columbia are reporting that criminals have been shooting roaming cattle and butchering them right in the field to take out prime cuts of meat, reports CBC News. Last Tuesday, rancher Jeremy Wasylyszyn said that someone shot a cow and her calf along a logging road then left the carcasses to rot after cutting out prime tenderloin sections from the bovines. "Her and her calf were standing there alive as ever," Wasylyszyn told CBC News. "We'd come back about two and a half, three hours later to find her and her calf shot and the tenderloin taken out of the back of the cow and the calf." Wasylyszyn believes that the thieves were likely after more meat. "Two strips of meat on either side of the spine. They've cut them out of the cow and the calf … I think they totally had intentions of taking more, but I don't think they realized how much traffic was on the road." He is offering a $10,000 (USD $7,600) reward for any information about the butchering thieves that leads to an arrest and conviction. But Wasylyszyn isn’t the only rancher in the area whose experienced the gruesome crime. Earlier this fall, three cattle were found on Coldstream Ranch property in the North Okanaga region with their hindquarters completely removed...more

Florida Ends 2-Day Bear Hunt After 295 Confirmed Kills

After just two days, Florida ended its controversial black bear hunt because a higher than expected number of bears had been killed. Wildlife authorities said late Sunday that 295 bears taken overall, nearing the official limit. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posted a statement on its website saying it had closed the 2015 hunt because it was approaching an agency “objective” of 320 bears overall. “The 2015 bear hunt is officially over,” the statement said. Wildlife officials had already shut down hunting in designated central and east Panhandle regions of Florida after the first day Saturday. The statement late Sunday said additional North and South units were closed to hunting after the second day, meaning hunting had ended in all four “bear management units” were it was allowed. Authorities say they weren’t alarmed by the numbers, saying the figures suggest the bear population is higher than they thought. The hunt was approved earlier this year after considerable and contentious debate. Backers estimated Florida’s black bear population had grown to 3,500 — from a few hundred in the 1970s. But opponents challenged those numbers. More than 30 states allow bear hunting in some form, officials said...more

Federal Land Action Group to Hold Forum

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Land Action Group, led by Congressman Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), will hold their next forum on Monday, October 26, 2015 entitled “More Local Control of Public Lands: Efforts at the state and local level ”.
WHAT: Federal Land Action Group Forum: “More Local Control of Public Lands: Efforts at the state and local level ”.
WHEN: Monday, October 26, 2015, 4:30pm ET. 
WHERE: 1310 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

About the Federal Land Action Group:
In April 2015, Rep. Chris Stewart (UT-2) and Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-1) launched the Federal Land Action Group, a congressional team that will develop a legislative framework for transferring public lands to local ownership and control.
This Group, chaired by Rep. Stewart, will build on the work started by Utah and other states in recent years. “The federal government has been a lousy landlord for western states and we simply think the states can do it better,” Stewart said. “If we want healthier forests, better access to public lands, more consistent funding for public education and more reliable energy development, it makes sense to have local control.”
Rep. Bishop, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said, “This group will explore legal and historical background in order to determine the best congressional action needed to return these lands to the rightful owners. We have assembled a strong team of lawmakers, and I look forward to formulating a plan that reminds the federal government it should leave the job of land management to those who know best.”
The Federal Land Action Group will hold a series of forums with experts on public lands policy, with the goal of introducing transfer legislation.

Antibiotics law, consumers shift livestock industry: California first in nation to require veterinarian oversight

In the wake of a local legislator’s years-long efforts to curb the proliferation of antibiotic resistant bacteria, California has become the first in the nation to enact strict regulations over how its livestock industry administers antibiotics. With the public tuning in and becoming more informed on how their food is produced, consumers are also causing a shift in the market as several major fast food chains recently announcing they’ll stop serving antibiotic-fed meat. State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, spent two sessions pushing bills to curb the overuse of antibiotics in California-raised livestock. For years, several interest groups and even Gov. Jerry Brown called for Hill to strengthen his proposal before they’d support his plan. A sticking point related to whether antibiotics can be used to treat animals that aren’t sick — ultimately, changing the bill to prevent regular and widespread use on healthy animals pushed it into law. As Brown signed Hill’s legislation into law this month, California will be the first in the nation to require strict veterinary oversight of antibiotics in livestock and forbid the pharmaceuticals from being used to promote growth beginning January 2018. With 70 percent of the nation’s supply used on animals and 97 percent of that obtained over the counter, Hill said having medical professionals oversee the administration of antibiotics will change industry practices for the better. Hill said he was prompted to act by fear of a return to the days before live-saving discoveries like penicillin were made. According to the Centers for Disease Control, antibiotic-resistant bacteria is responsible for killing nearly 23,000 Americans a year and sickening another 2 million. “People are becoming conscious and aware of the problem as more publicity occurs and I think they know we need to change our behavior,” Hill said...more

Monday, October 26, 2015

Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: License to Kill or Coexist?

In Yellowstone most grizzly bears die from human causes, and most grizzly bear deaths are avoidable according to the federal government which has protected them since 1975. The spate of 46 grizzly bear deaths thus far this year is shocking, as is the recent rate: an average of about one bear killed every 2 days since September. There have never been so many illegal killings reported in one year, 10 and counting. Applying a federal estimator to account for unknown mortality, about 70 bears or 10% of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population is dead this year. These numbers are part of a larger trend of increasing mortalities that call into question the wisdom of removing protections (“delisting”) and legalizing a bear trophy hunt. A review of past agency recommendations, discussed below, underscore that much more can and must be done to ensure the safety and well-being of grizzly bears and people in this world-class ecosystem. The documents containing these recommendations also reveals some deeply twisted thinking about legalizing killing of grizzly bears to reduce poaching – and the profound problem of the government echo-chamber...more

Sandoval alone on sage grouse lawsuit, but Laxalt isn't

But the big story now is the chill between Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and GOP Attorney General Adam Laxalt — and that amid last week's exceptionally public rift over Laxalt joining a lawsuit that challenges new federal land-use restrictions across Nevada, the state's four Republican members of Congress leapt to Laxalt's side, not Sandoval's. Sandoval, long the unquestioned leader of Nevada Republicans, hasn't been happy with Laxalt since shortly after the attorney general took office in January. In one of his first acts as the state's top law enforcement officer, Laxalt joined 25 other states in suing to block President Barack Obama's "executive amnesty" for undocumented immigrants. Sandoval didn't support the move, and he let Laxalt know as much, saying immigration policy was a federal matter. But land-use policy is another issue entirely. Unlike immigration, the governor has an important role in state land management decisions that affect the sage grouse. The habitat of the ground-dwelling bird covers much of Nevada and the West, and environmentalists and their allies in Washington have long seen the sage grouse as their best chance to seal off millions of acres from energy development, ranching and recreation.  Sandoval wanted a chance to continue talks with the Interior Department to work out land policies in the state's favor. "Let's sue if we don't get relief," he said. "But I have to be able to have a dialogue with federal decisionmakers. I have to engage them. Suing them will inhibit my ability to do that." He expected his authority and five years of work on the issue to be respected. But Laxalt felt the state couldn't wait to join the lawsuit. And Laxalt said that although his staff communicated with the governor's staff, a direct conversation or meeting with Sandoval "was never put together but ... it was requested on this issue many times." When Laxalt filed the amended complaint in federal court in Reno on Thursday, his office and Sandoval's office began sending dueling statements, with Sandoval saying Laxalt "is acting in his personal capacity and does not represent the State of Nevada, the Governor, or any state agencies," and that the governor is "disappointed that the Attorney General has again chosen to ignore a direct request from his client."  But Sandoval's implication that Laxalt acted alone simply isn't true. In fact, the person who appears alone is Sandoval himself. Not only did the leadership of nine Nevada counties (including populous Washoe) and two mining companies feel they would suffer irreparable harm without immediate legal action, but U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Nevada Reps. Joe Heck, Cresent Hardy and Mark Amodei all applauded Laxalt's move as absolutely necessary...more

Retired Forest Service Leaders Urge Lease Cancellation in Badger-Two Medicine

A slate of former U.S. Forest Service leaders this week joined a growing bloc of supporters calling for the cancellation of energy leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area near Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack received a letter from 19 former U.S. Forest Service leaders recommending that all oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine be cancelled. In the letter, the former land managers encouraged the agencies to cancel the leases, and collectively aligned with the recommendation of an independent federal agency that oversees the preservation of historic places, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), which last month said energy exploration on the Badger-Two Medicine would degrade the region’s cultural values, and that no amount of mitigation could lessen the damage. The leases are on land considered sacred by the Blackfeet Tribe. The entire 165,588-acre area encompasses lands within the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Lewis and Clark National Forest and Flathead National Forest, and is listed as a Traditional Cultural District under the National Historic Preservation Act...more

Storm microburst demolishes 17 Calcot cotton warehouses in Arizona

A powerful weather event called a microburst demolished 17 warehouses and damaged 21 remaining structures at Calcot Limited’s cotton warehousing facility in Glendale, Ariz. (Phoenix area) on Oct. 18. The extent of the damage at the Calcot site was so significant that the City of Glendale issued an “unsafe to occupy” notice on the 70-acre parcel until further investigation. Glendale ordered Calcot staff to vacate its office by Oct. 25 at 5 p.m. Calcot appealed the order to allow essential staff to work. Calcot is a cotton marketing cooperative based in Bakersfield, Calif. and markets cotton for grower members in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas...more

Outdoors industry muscles into politics of public land

The backcountry can be a great place to escape – except when it comes to politics. That’s especially true in western swing states such as Nevada and Colorado where political experts and special interest groups are already trying to galvanize allies and marginalize enemies for the 2016 campaign cycle. And when it comes to winning votes from outdoors enthusiasts public lands become the political battlefield. Look no further than a recent push from the Outdoor Industry Association to highlight swing state voters’ affinity for keeping public land in Nevada and Colorado in the hands of the federal government. The association, which represents about 4,000 outdoor recreation supply manufacturers, distributors, retailers and others, hired the polling firm Public Opinion Strategies to highlight opposition among likely voters to proposals that would prompt the federal government to unload public land holdings. “We definitely wanted to get some insight into the political viewpoints of folks who are ... part of the outdoor recreation economy,” said Gareth Martins, spokesman for the group.  Martins said the association has made political contributions in the past and it maintains a policy agenda on its website that’s dedicated to recreation access to public land in the United States and global trade issues. They published results of the Nevada and Colorado poll to coincide with the upcoming Republican presidential candidate debate in Boulder, Colo., on Wednesday. The poll of 500 likely voters in each state showed Democrat, Republican and independent-leaning respondents oppose state government takeover of federal land...more

Obama: I've set aside more acres than any president ever

President Obama's weekly remarks

Hi, everybody. Our country is home to some of the most beautiful God-given landscapes in the world. We’re blessed with natural treasures — from the Grand Tetons to the Grand Canyon; from lush forests and vast deserts to lakes and rivers teeming with wildlife. And it’s our responsibility to protect these treasures for future generations, just as previous generations protected them for us.

Since taking office, I’ve set aside more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters — more than any President in history. Last month, we announced that 11 states had come together with ranchers, and industry groups to protect a threatened species — the sage grouse — without jeopardizing local economies.

Two weeks ago, we announced that we’re creating one new marine sanctuary on the Potomac River in Maryland, and another along Lake Michigan in Wisconsin — part of unprecedented efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes. We also joined a coalition of countries cracking down on illegal fishing that threatens jobs and food security around the globe. And I’m going to keep protecting the places that make America special, and the livelihoods of those who depend on them.

We’ll also keep doing what we can to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late. Over the past six years, we’ve led by example, generating more clean energy and lowering our carbon emissions. Our businesses have stepped up in a big way, including just this past week. Some of our biggest companies made new commitments to act on climate — not just because it’s good for the planet, but because it’s good for their bottom line.

This is how America is leading on the environment. And because America is leading by example, 150 countries, representing over 85% of global emissions, have now laid out plans to reduce their levels of the harmful carbon pollution that warms our planet. And it gives us great momentum going into Paris this December, where the world needs to come together and build on these individual commitments with an ambitious, long-term agreement to protect this Earth for our kids.

Now Congress has to do its job. This month, even as Republicans in Congress barely managed to keep our government open, they shut down something called the Land and Water Conservation Fund. For more than half a century, this fund has protected more than 5 million acres of land — from playgrounds to parks to priceless landscapes — all without costing taxpayers a dime. Nearly every single county in America has benefited from this program. It has bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. Republicans in Congress should reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund without delay.

After all, as Pope Francis reminds us so eloquently, this planet is a gift from God — and our common home. We should leave it to our kids in better shape than we found it. Thanks, and have a great weekend.


Yale Study Concludes Fracking Does Not Contaminate Drinking Water

The Sierra Club should start printing retractions (something they’ve been getting a lot of practice doing), because researchers from Yale University have concluded that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, doesn’t contaminate drinking water! “[There is] no evidence of association with deeper brines or long-range migration of these compounds to the shallow aquifers” concludes the new study, which was published in the highly prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The study, the largest of its kind, sampled 64 private water wells near fracking sites to determine if they could be contaminated by fracking fluids. The Yale researchers found essentially no contamination in well water, and the amounts they did detect were hundreds or thousands of times smaller than can be detected by commercial labs...more

Wave of litigation hits Obama climate rule

The publication of the EPA's carbon rule for power plants has prompted a flurry of legal and legislative action, ushering in a lengthy battle over the future of the Obama administration's key climate change initiative. More than two dozen states and a slew of interest groups and companies sued over the Clean Power Plan on Friday after it was published in the Federal Register. Leading state attorneys general called the rule an illegal expansion of federal power that they said will have a dramatic impact on electricity pricing, grid reliability and jobs. The Clean Power Plan is intended to cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 32 percent over the next 15 years by assigning carbon targets to states and asking them to find ways to hit them. The rule, finalized in August, is the centerpiece of Obama’s climate agenda — but its sweeping scope and strict standards make it an especially contentious regulation...more

Obama’s Science Czar: ‘Man-Made’ Climate Change Endangering Shrimp, Lobsters, Crabs

John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said at a White House-sponsored event that some of the excess carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater to form carbonic acid. This puts at risk all of the marine organisms that make their shells from calcium carbonate including shrimp, oysters, lobsters, crabs and many of the zooplankton near the base of ocean food webs,” Holdren said at the White House’s Summit on Climate & the Road through Paris: Business & Science. “We know too that climate change will continue for many decades to come.” According to Holdren, the “pace and pattern of the changes in climate” that have occurred since the industrial revolution match with “great fidelity” what climate science told us would result from the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. “Clear beyond reasonable doubt is that the ongoing human-caused changes in climate are already causing harm to life, property, economics and ecosystems including more extremely hot days and longer and stronger heat waves often accompanied by worse smog,” Holdren said. “Longer allergy seasons, a larger fraction of total precipitation coming in extreme downpours resulting in floods and mudslides, an increase in the power of the strongest tropical storms, shoreline erosion and aggravation, coastal flooding by sea levels rising, longer and more intense droughts in regions prone to drought, a longer wildfire season and larger areas burned in regions prone to that and major impacts on ecosystem dynamics, including the factors governing pest outbreaks and geographic ranges of tropical diseases,” he added...more

New US Corruption Probe Targets Venezuelan Company With Connections To RFK, Jr.

The U.S. government has launched a series of corruption probes into Venezuela’s state-owned oil company that has strong ties to a charity group run by liberal elite Robert Kennedy, Jr.  U.S. investigators are looking into Venezuelan officials are using Petróleos de Venezuela (PdVSA) to “loot billions of dollars from the country through kickbacks and other schemes,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The probe is also “attempting to determine whether PdVSA and its foreign bank accounts were used for other illegal purposes, including black-market currency schemes and laundering drug money,” sources told The WSJ. This may not be good news for Citizens Energy Corporation, a charity run by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. that’s been getting cheap oil from a PdVSA subsidiary. CEC uses financial returns from commercial investments, including in third-world oil companies, to give free or discounted heating oil and other services to poor families across America.CEC says that in the last nine years Citgo has provided $500 million in heating assistance to 2 million families in 16 states.  Kennedy, a former House Democrat and a rabid environmental activist, has defended his decision to get Venezuelan oil from critics in the past...more

Bacon to be classified as dangerous as asbestos by World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) will soon warn that some of America’s favorite meats are as dangerous a cigarettes. WHO will target processed meats such as bacon, ham and sausages as causes of cancer and will say red meat is also hazardous to health in a decision to be released Monday. The findings resulted from a meeting of scientists from 10 countries. The Daily Mail reports WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer will conclude that a host of processed meats should be placed in the highest of five possible rankings as “carcinogenic to humans.” The ranking will put burgers and bacon alongside asbestos, arsenic, cigarettes and alcohol. The justification behind the decision, according to the Daily Mail, is that when meat is being preserved through processes like smoking carcinogens can be added. Red meat on the other hand has been linked to bowel cancer, according to the U.K’s Department of Health. The decision is already drawing fire from scientists and meat experts, with the North American Meat Institute claiming the the report went against “both common sense and dozens of studies showing no correlation between meat and cancer.”...more

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Name it and claim it

by Julie Carter

Times are hard. Folks are doing all they can to make a living and pay the light bill. Often, that includes owning several businesses in an attempt to corner a share of the commercial dollars available in any given location.

Unusual names for business are not unusual. Clever and cute titles can be found everywhere painted on signage or flashing in lights declaring a multitude of types of commerce.

The Girdle Garage, Get Plastered, Get Crabs Here and A Pane in the Glass are examples of crafty titles of businesses offering only a suggestion of the goods and services within. One of my favorites is “Sweetie Pie’s Ribeyes.” Now how could you pass that one up?

However, the ones that always catch my eye are the folks that are uniting a number of skills under one roof and indentifying them all in the business name. Every state has these but I always get a kick out of noting the frequency of them when I drive down any Texas highway.

I’m told by a native Texan that one of the state’s mottos is “Bluer skies, brighter stars. Colder beer, wilder bars. A Denton, Texas establishment quite possibly proves at least one of those points.

Mable Peabody's Beauty Parlor & Chainsaw Repair Night Club is a Denton landmark. It is the oldest nightclub in Denton, opened in 1976 by Margaret Hunnicutt. Morphing through a number of name changes, the now infamous name was selected as the result of several glasses of wine and great friends. 

A food and beer store in Dublin, Texas is named Chigger Ranch. It's a landmark and locals give you directions from there. “You go east from Chigger Ranch about two blocks and take a left.”

There at one time was a business called House Leveling and Livestock Commission. That fits right in with a few others in the general area: Hanson’s Egg Farm and Horse Training, Ellie’s Home-style Café and Welding Repair, Outlaw Bail Bonds, Steak and Sushi and Joe’s Liquor Sales, Auto Repair and Daycare.

Down the road a piece was the Western Store and Saloon that combined old and new signage into a business plan. I witnessed the hosting of their fourth grand opening since the first three went so well. In that area at one time, you could find the Everlasting Life Church and Livestock Auction.  Services were on Wednesday and Sunday with a Goat Sale on Friday and Cattle Sale on Saturday.

Down the road from there was an old beer joint that had been closed for quite a while. However, the outside has been repainted and adorned with the silhouettes of shapely girls similar to those seen on the mud flaps of trucks, standing up but clearly nude.

Signage on this establishment declared it as “Spring Break” and on the front of the building was another sign that said, “Interviewing Dancers.” The place was in no way ready to open and there were never vehicles or other signs of civilization around it.

The locals are questioning where “exotic” dancers could be found among the “corn-fed” locals and the Lake Dwellers, the name given to a sect of folks who thrive hillbilly-style near the banks of the regional lakes.

It was suspected that possibly the business never had any intention of opening and someone was just having fun interviewing dancers.

Free enterprise will thrive.

Julie can be reached for comment at