Wednesday, May 31, 2017

World Awaits Trump Decision on U.S. Future in Paris Accord

Momentous arguments inside the West Wing over the future of the Paris climate accord became a messy public spectacle on Wednesday, with some aides saying that President Trump had decided to abandon the landmark global warming agreement while others insisted that no decision had been made. Three administration officials with direct knowledge of the intense White House debate said early Wednesday morning that Mr. Trump was expected to withdraw the United States from the 2015 climate change accord that committed nearly every nation to take action to curb the warming of the planet. In addition, three other officials said later Wednesday that they expected him to withdraw from the agreement, though they said that decision could still change. Hours later, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he had made his decision and would announce it in the Rose Garden at 3 p.m. Thursday. The White House’s legislative affairs office has suggested another route: Sending the Paris agreement to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. Since it would require an impossible two-thirds vote, that alternative would also lead to withdrawal. Other White House insiders disputed those reports, saying that no verdict had been reached. Mr. Trump, speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, offered only that “I’m hearing from a lot of people, both ways,” and promised a decision “very soon.”...more

First Prison Term Handed Down in Bundy Armed Standoff in Nevada

A judge called a New Hampshire man a "bully vigilante" and sentenced him Wednesday to more than seven years in prison for his role organizing armed backers of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy after a standoff with U.S. agents in 2014. Gerald "Jerry" DeLemus became the first person sentenced for his ties to the confrontation that became a rallying cry for those who want vast stretches of federal land in the U.S. West put under local control. Eighteen others are in custody. DeLemus has been jailed for almost 16 months, so the sentence means the 62-year-old former U.S. Marine will spend about six more years behind bars. DeLemus arrived at the Bundy ranch hours after the tense armed standoff that led to the release of the rancher's cattle and was hailed as a victory in a decades-long fight over government-owned land. He then spent more than a month in an encampment organizing armed patrols and serving as an intermediary between a self-styled militia and local authorities. He had been expected to get a six-year sentence after pleading guilty last August to conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S. and interstate travel in aid of extortion. But Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro in Las Vegas added time after faulting DeLemus for trying to withdraw his pleas. She said she didn't think he accepted responsibility for his actions. "I have to say, Mr. DeLemus, that you unfortunately are blinded by the information you choose to believe," she said...more

Did Billy the Kid Really Die in a Shootout? He May Have Actually Lived to 90

By Bobbie Jean Sawyer

He went by many names — Henry McCarty, William Henry Bonney and, most notably, Billy the Kid. The infamous Old West outlaw was first arrested at 16. At the age of 18, he shot and killed a man during an altercation at an army camp in Arizona. At 21, he was killed — shot by sheriff Pat Garrett — and the man forever known as Billy the Kid was laid to rest in Fort Sumner, N.M. Then again, maybe he wasn’t. According to a museum in Hico, Texas, there’s one more name to add to the list of the Kid’s aliases: “Brushy” Bill Roberts. Brushy Bill lived out a peaceful life in the central Texas town of Hico until he suffered a heart attack while walking to the post office in 1950 at the age of 90. Up until his death, Brushy Bill maintained that he was Billy the Kid. A Tale of Two Bills Hico’s Billy the Kid Museum speculates that Billy moved to Texas in 1883, two years after his supposed death in New Mexico. He went by the name William Henry Roberts, but most folks just called him Brushy Bill. Sue Land, director of the Billy the Kid museum in Hico, says the best piece of evidence that Billy the Kid escaped Fort Sumner unscathed is Pat Garrett’s own deputy. “When the deputy United States Marshal that was with Pat Garrett at the time rolled the body over, he looked up at Pat Garrett. It’s recorded in the Marshal’s office in New Mexico that he told Pat Garrett ‘You’ve killed the wrong man,'” Land tells Wide Open Country. Land says since Garrett shot in the dark, it’s likely that he mistakenly shot another man that night. The man Garrett killed reportedly had a full beard, while Billy only sported peach fuzz. Unwilling to admit his mistake, Garrett identified the young man as Billy the Kid and buried him. “He was going to bury Billy the Kid and that’s what he did,” Land says. As for the evidence that Brushy Bill was the Kid, it all comes down to a man named William Morrison. He was a probate investigator who had been hired by Joe Hines, one of the Kid’s former associates. Hines told Morrison that Billy was still alive and living in Texas. Intrigued by the idea that one of history’s most notorious criminals had cheated death, Morrison traveled to Texas to meet with Brushy Bill. “Brushy told him he was Billy the Kid and he wanted him to help prove it so that he could get the pardon that had been promised to him back in the 1800s by the governor of New Mexico,” Land says, referring to a pardon Billy claims he was promised by governor Lew Wallace. Still in need of convincing, Morrison sought further proof that Brushy was telling the truth...

Amid Scandal, JBS Names New Chairman

By Greg Henderson

Ensnared in an enormous corruption scandal, Brazilian president Michel Temer has vowed to serve out his term until the 2018 election. But many doubt Temer’s confidence. “The government is hanging from a thin thread,” Jimena Blanco, head of Latin America research at Verisk Maplecroft, told the Financial Times. Brazilian's confidence in their government is diminished by the fact the latest scandal comes less than a year after former president Dilma Rousseff was impeached. Temer’s corruption was revealed two weeks ago when Joesley Batista, the former chairman of JBS SA, the world’s largest meat packer, released a secretly recorded conversation he had with Temer allegedly discussing bribes to be paid to the Brazilian politicians including the president. Since that revelation, Batista and his brother, CEO Wesley Batista, have resigned their positions. JBS SA announced over the weekend that Tarek Farahat was unanimously elected Chairman to replace Batista. In the same meeting, Jose Batista Sobrinho, was unanimously elected vice Chairman of the Board. Temer’s corruption was revealed two weeks ago when Joesley Batista, the former chairman of JBS SA, the world’s largest meat packer, released a secretly recorded conversation he had with Temer allegedly discussing bribes to be paid to the Brazilian politicians including the president. Since that revelation, Batista and his brother, CEO Wesley Batista, have resigned their positions. JBS SA announced over the weekend that Tarek Farahat was unanimously elected Chairman to replace Batista. In the same meeting, Jose Batista Sobrinho, was unanimously elected vice Chairman of the Board. Brazilian prosecutors are demanding a fine of $3.4 billion, which has investors nervous. JBS already has billions of dollars in subsidized loans. The company has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade, growing from revenue of $1.8 billion in 2006 to $49 billion last year. JBS entered the U.S. market a decade ago with the purchase of Swift & Company. Last year JBS was the nation’s second largest beef packer with roughly $14 billion in sales. In 2009 JBS bought controlling interest in Pilgrim’s Pride, and in 2015 JBS bought Cargill Meat Solutions pork processing business. Operating as a subsidiary of JBS USA, JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding LLC (Five Rivers) has a combined cattle feeding capacity of more than 980,000 head of cattle with locations in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Idaho. In addition to these locations, Five Rivers (on behalf of JBS Food Canada) manages a 75,000 head capacity feedyard in Brooks, Alberta, Canada...more

David Burge

There Ain’t no Economics in Economic Impact Studies

Economic impact studies are everywhere.
Whether it’s to support a new highway project, special tax breaks for solar energy, the building of a civic center or sports complex, or to promote subsidies for Hollywood film producers, you can find an economic impact study, often touting how great the project will be for the state or local economy.
The formula is simple, predictable, and effective. A special interest group that stands to benefit from the project funds an economic impact study that purports to provide hard numbers on the number of jobs, the increase in wages, and the additional output that will be generated by the project or subsidy, and it will do this on an industry-by-industry basis. It makes grandiose claims about how much overall economic growth will be enhanced for the state or region generally. Once the report is completed, the special interest group that paid for the study will tout these results in press releases that will be picked up by the largely uncritical media establishment, ensuring that the political decision makers and others who determine the fate of the project receive political cover.
These studies all have several things in common. First, they typically use proprietary, off-the-shelf models with acronym names like IMPLAN (Impact Analysis for Planning), CUM (Capacity Utilization Model), or REMI (Regional Economic Model, Inc.). Rights to use the models are purchased by professional consulting firms who are hired by the interest groups to do the studies. Furthermore, seldom do those who actually perform the studies have formal training in economics. Instead, their expertise is in using one or more of the aforementioned proprietary models. And finally, all of these studies ignore basic principles of economics and, as a result, do not meaningfully measure what they claim to be measuring—the economic impact of the public policies and projects that they are assessing.

Real Economic Impact Analysis: “the seen and the unseen”

To properly assess the impact of any economic activity, whether it’s building a convention center or sports stadium or installing a vast solar power plant, it must first be understood that the project will yield directly observable activities that one can reasonably expect to occur and there will be economic activities that don’t occur but otherwise would. By definition, these impacts, while real, are not directly observable.
The second category is what economists call opportunity costs. Opportunity costs are the result of the fact that all economic activity uses scarce resources that, under normal conditions, would be used for other purposes had the project under consideration not occurred. Opportunity costs, while real, are by their nature related to resource uses that are diverted from economic activities that would otherwise be pursued and are therefore unseen.
Any economic impact study that does not attempt to assess these opportunity costs cannot legitimately be called economic analysis. In fact, not attempting to take account of the latter is considered to be the biggest mistake that non-economists make when thinking about economic issues. As the nineteenth-century economist Frederic Bastiat famously pointed out: “There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist considers both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.”
For example, let’s imagine that a local government decides that it wants to spend $20 million on constructing a convention center to serve both the local community and possibly outside groups who might use the facility for meetings or conferences. In general, what would a true economic impact study have to take into consideration? Of course, the study would look first at “the seen,” that is, the effect of the $20 million expenditure on the industries that might be directly impacted, such as the construction industry, local suppliers of materials and equipment, labor demand in these industries, etc. These would be immediate effects as the construction begins and is carried out to completion. Of course, local restaurants and hotels might benefit and therefore increase their output as a result of this new business. If labor is paid more in these industries, then these workers will go out and spend some of that money increasing the demand for other products. These are often called ripple or secondary effects of the $20 million expenditure,and they are what are typically called the “multiplier” effect of the initial spending.
The point is that, at least conceptually, these activities actually occur and can be seen. But what must be realized is that none of them is free. Every dollar that is spent as these “impacts” occur and every resource that is used, including labor, has an unseen opportunity cost. Starting with the original $20 million, the question is simple. What economic activities would have occurred if that money remained in the hands of the taxpayer? It would have been spent on various goods and services or saved in local banks and therefore would have had an economic impact that would also have had secondary effects associated with it. This would have to be subtracted from the visible effects.
During the process of building the convention center, as discussed, local resources will be used. For example, the demand for labor will increase which means that for some, wages will be increased in the process of bidding labor away from other possible uses. Some local industries unrelated to the construction of the convention center will see their costs rise and will either contract their business or reduce investment in future expansion. This means that other workers, again those not related to the construction of the convention center, will see a reduction in the demand for their services over what it otherwise would be and would face the prospect of lower wages.
The point to be made here is that this would occur while the visible ripple or secondary effects that are being analyzed are occurring. What needs to be understood is that the measurements of visible effects are actually describing how the building of the convention center, or any similar project, is absorbing resources away from other economic activities. A true assessment of the economic impact of this or any other project would have to estimate the losses due to these unseen activities and subtract them from the values associated with the seen activities.
The fact is that economic impact studies that are typically invoked by interest groups and state and local governments don’t even attempt to get it right. In a description of one of the more common models offered by the U.S Department of Commerce, it is stated that “As policy makers and the public are often skeptical about economic impact claims, you need credible analysis to demonstrate the effects of your project. State and local stakeholders need to understand how a new development may add to income, output, and employment in their economy.” This statement captures the essence of what is wrong with all commonly used economic impact models. It also helps explain why they cannot accurately be labeled as real “economic” models. The possibility of “new development” subtracting from any of these three variables is not part of the vision. There is a reason for this. The possibility that a new project could cause a net reduction in income, output, or employment is ruled out of the models by their methodology. The “unseen” of opportunity costs go unexamined and therefore unaccounted for. Bastiat would label this a “bad economics” I would go a step further and argue that it is not economics at all.

Roy Cordato, Ph.D. is Senior Economist and Resident Scholar at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, NC.

Poll: Two of Three Voters Say Establishment Media Includes Much ‘Fake News’

The most trusting supporters of the establishment media were found among Hillary Clinton’s voters, where only 42 percent said the media contains much fake news. Fifty-eight percent of her voters disagreed with the statement that “there is a lot of fake news in the mainstream media.” One-sixth of Clinton’s voters, or 14 percent, strongly disagreed that the statement that the establishment media includes a lot of fake news. Eighty-five percent of Donald Trump’s voters believe “there is a lot of fake news in the mainstream media,” according to the poll of the 2,006 registered voters. Overall, Trump’s voters split 85 percent to 15 percent in agreement, while Clinton’s voters split 58 percent agree to 42 percent disagree. That adds up to a 64-point gap between the two camps about the scale of fake news in the establishment media. The poll also reported that independents split 60 percent in agreement to 40 percent disagreement, putting them much closer to Trump’s voters than to Clinton’s voters. The survey of 2,006 registered voters was conducted online between May 18 to May 20 by the Harris Poll. Amid the disagreement over fake news, the survey also showed much agreement between Trump and Clinton voters in some areas...more

New Law Could Declare Nuclear Reactors To Be ‘Green Energy’ To Save Them

Connecticut lawmakers have proposed legislation to save in-state nuclear reactors by classifying them as green energy, which would allow them to better compete with heavily subsidized wind and solar power. The Republican-backed bill allows nuclear power to participate in a state green energy power markets since it doesn’t generate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Last year, electricity prices in New England hit near-historic lows, forcing nuclear reactors to effectively pay to remain operational...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1858

Did you ever wonder why A-10 always appears so be so frustrated? Zip, Zip, Zipper by the  Light Crust Doughboys. may provide an answer. The tune was recorded in Ft. Worth on Feb   1941.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Democrat Leaders Send Letter Urging Secretary Zinke to Reject Attempts to Eliminate National Monuments

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (NY), and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (IL) released the following statement on a letter they sent to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today urging him to reject efforts to shrink or eliminate national monuments in carrying out the President’s April 26th executive order: “Today, we are calling on Secretary Zinke to protect important cultural and historic landmarks on our public lands, which face an unprecedented threat. National monuments across the country reflect the rich history of our nation. We urge the Secretary to reject efforts to diminish or outright eliminate national monuments – as the President’s executive order seeks to do – and ensure they can be celebrated by Americans of all walks of life for generations to come.”...more

 The letter is embedded below:

Law Students Seek to Ban Rodeo After Horse Dies

Montreal, Canada – Law students at the University of Montreal have filed an injunction, seeking to stop Montreal’s Urban Rodeo plans for the city’s 375th anniversary this summer. “This barbaric activity has no place in Montreal,” said Alanna Devine, Montreal SPCA director of animal advocacy said in a news release. The injunction was filed after a horse died at a rodeo in Saint-Tite. The bucking horse threw the rider, then collapsed on the ground. Attending veterinarians believe a nerve was pinched in the horse’s back, causing him to fall to the ground and die. Montreal’s mayor is emphatic that the rodeo will happen, despite some major sponsors dropping out. “We agree to disagree. You can ask me all the questions you want, in any way you want, and you will get exactly the same answer. End of story,” he told reporters. link

The US Military Has A Whole List Of EPA Rules It Wants To Get Rid Of

The Pentagon wants the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to repeal, modify or clarify nearly two dozen regulations that create extra layers of red tape and compliance for military operations.
EPA has been accepting public comments since April on which regulations should be rescinded or modified. The Department of Defense was quick to submit a draft memo to EPA in April detailing 22 regulations they want to see repealed or change. In one instance, the Pentagon asked the EPA to modify a regulation on hazardous emissions from internal combustion engines. That rule requires military maintenance crews to change engine oil and filters every 500 hours of use a year, which applies to all sorts of equipment, from tractors to bulldozers to lawnmowers. The Pentagon also wants EPA to repeal all agency guidances that did not go through the rulemaking process. The Pentagon noted how EPA has used guidances to circumvent the traditional rulemaking process, which violates federal law. “EPA cannot rely on policy and guidance as if it carries the weight of law, unless the policy/guidance has properly undergone an Administrative Procedures Act-approved rulemaking process,” the Pentagon wrote...more

Rick Perry Will Attend A Summit Meant To Further The Goals Of The Paris Climate Agreement

Michael Bastasch

Energy Secretary Rick Perry will head to Asia to meet with partners of an international agreement created by the Obama administration and other countries to help meet the goals laid out in the Paris climate agreement. Perry will travel to Japan to visit the site of the Fukushima nuclear power plant that was hit by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Perry will head to China on Tuesday to attend, ironically enough, the second Mission Innovation Ministerial summit, Axios reported Tuesday. Mission Innovation (MI) was created by nearly two dozen countries, including the U.S., during the 2015 United Nations climate summit in Paris, France to help meet the goal of the Paris climate agreement to keep future global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. The U.S.’s MI narrative page reads: “if the longer-term goal of the recent and historic Paris Agreement (2015) is to be realized, that is, to stay ‘well below 2 degrees C’, it will require a sustained strategy of ‘deep decarbonization’ across all aspects of energy production, transformation and use.”...more

What happens to these people when they get to D.C.?

Look at Perry prior to him becoming Energy Secretary:

REPORT: Kushner ‘Modifying’ His Stance On The Paris Climate Accord

Michael Bastasch

White House adviser Jared Kushner seems to be “modifying” his stance on the Paris climate agreement, according to a source close to him, and now argues that the “standards” of the accord need to be changed. Kushner, the husband of First Daughter Ivanka Trump, may be shifting his stances on certain policy issues, The New York Times reported, as President Donald Trump looks to put a series of scandal behind him. “Instead of urging the president to keep the United States in the Paris climate accord, as he sought to months ago, he has come to believe the standards in the agreement need to be changed,” a source close to Kushner told TheNYT. The Daily Mail seemed to confirm TheNYT’s report, citing an unnamed administration official who told the paper that Kushner’s “basic position is that the standards need to be changed, and the question is can you stay in the Paris Agreement with the changes.” Kushner has been considered a moderating voice in the White House, including pushing Trump to break his campaign promise to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. He was joined by Ivanka, economic adviser Gary Cohn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Kushner and Ivanka reportedly blocked language from an executive order critical of the Paris Agreement. But now Kushner wants to change “the standards in the agreement,” which likely refers to the Obama administration’s pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions...more

Judges Reject Orange County's Claim That Social Workers Didn't Know Lying In Court Was Wrong

Using taxpayer funds, government officials in Orange County have spent the last 16 years arguing the most absurd legal proposition in the entire nation: How could social workers have known it was wrong to lie, falsify records and hide exculpatory evidence in 2000 so that a judge would forcibly take two young daughters from their mother for six-and-a-half years? From the you-can't-make-up-this-crap file, county officials are paying Lynberg & Watkins, a private Southern California law firm specializing in defending cops in excessive force lawsuits, untold sums to claim the social workers couldn't have "clearly" known that dishonesty wasn't acceptable in court and, as a back up, even if they did know, they should enjoy immunity for their misdeeds because they were government employees. A panel at the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit this week ruled on Orange County's appeal of federal judge Josephine L. Staton's refusal last year to grant immunity to the bureaucrats in Preslie Hardwick v. County of Orange, a lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages. In short, judges Stephen S. Trott, John B. Owens and Michelle T. Friedland were not amused. They affirmed Staton's decision...more 

This goes back to January, but is still an amazing story.

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1857

A-10 made sure we had a Swingin’ Monday, and I’m not slowing things down a bit as we bring you Rex Allen and some up-tempo Dixieland swing with the tune Ragtime Melody.  The tune is on his Jasmine label 2 CD collection

Monday, May 29, 2017

U.S. cattle grazing plan for Idaho monument draws criticism

Federal officials on Friday released a cattle grazing plan for central Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve that immediately came under fire from an environmental group. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Final Environmental Impact Statement allows cattle grazing on nearly all of the roughly 275,000 acres it administers in the monument. The document stems from a federal lawsuit filed by the Western Watersheds Project citing concerns about sage grouse and a subsequent court ruling requiring the federal agency to come up with a new plan. Lisa Cresswell, the planning and environmental coordinator for the Twin Falls District of the BLM, said the document combined with the BLM’s 2015 Greater Sage Grouse Approved Resource Management Plan Amendment protects sage grouse habitat while allowing grazing in Craters of the Moon. “We were mostly trying to direct livestock grazing toward (seeded areas) and away from native sagebrush,” she said. Craters of the Moon contains ancient lava flows of rough and jagged rocks, but some areas not covered by the flows are suitable for cattle grazing. The plan reduces by 300 acres the amount of cattle grazing area compared with the previous plan, and it reduces the number of cattle by a small amount. That’s not enough of a change, said Greta Anderson, deputy director for Western Watersheds Project. “Our concerns that the BLM’s livestock plans will continue to contribute to sage-grouse decline within this National Monument are unresolved,” she said in an email to the Associated Press. Anderson also said that the sage-grouse Resource Management Plan Amendments that the BLM cites as providing sage grouse protections in the Environmental Impact Statement are themselves being challenged in court in a case that hasn’t been resolved...more

Scientists Accidentally Help Poachers Kill Endangered Species

by Andrew Follett

Scientific studies on rare or endangered species may accidentally help poachers kill them, a commentary published Friday by Australian National University concluded. The authors argued publishing studies with the locations of rare species could drive them to extinction by making it easy for poachers to find them. The authors called on researchers to adopt a policy of strategic “self-censorship” to shield the animals and plants they study...more

And here is the scary part:

Many species are likely targets for poachers, so the study suggests sharing detailed information about where the species is found only with government agencies, while hiding it from the public.  

Can you imagine what the Forest Service, BLM, etc. would do with this? Only they would have info on, say, critical habitat, while "hiding" it from individual landowners or the general public.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Getting the lessons

by Julie Carter

As was common in those days, Bill was one of those young men who struck out to make his name in the cowboy world as a teenager. It was 1948.

At only 14, Bill spent the summer away from his Colorado home cowboying on a ranch in the Davis Mountains in Texas.  When he arrived, the heavy summer rains were beginning to fill a large manmade lake at the ranch. The cow boss, Charlie Greer, was worried that it may wash out. He kept a close watch on the water level.

Bill and another young cowboy, Slim Benson, came by the lake about four one afternoon on their way to the headquarters five miles beyond.  They ate a late dinner, hungry as the pups they were. As they finished their meal, Charlie Greer walked in and both boys cowered. To them Greer was the meanest son of gun they knew and they were both scared to death of him.

Greer spoke. “Bill, how much does the water level have to rise in the lake before it starts to run out the spillway?”

Bill, feeling like a big dumb kid, turned to his partner and said, “Oh I don’t know, what do you think Slim?”

Charlie Greer got right in Bill’s face and shouted, “If I had wanted Slim’s opinion, I would have asked him. If you don’t know, you get your butt back on your horse and trot back down there and find out. And you damn well better not come back until you find out.”

Bill saddled up and rode the five miles back to the lake, made his calculations and trotted back to headquarters. He made his report to Greer sometime after 10 pm and long after dark.

Lesson learned.

Whenever a new hand showed up at the ranch he was given an assigned string of horses to ride. That cowboy had to ride them no matter if they were sorry, bucked or were just plain dumb. The cowboys were allowed to trade horses with each other if they wanted.

Charlie Greer rode the best horses since he was the boss. He had one horse called Rocky that Bill thought was the best horse he’d ever seen.  His mouth watered every time Charlie rode Rocky. Bill really wanted him in his string.

One day later in the summer Greer said to Bill, “Would you trade me Jughead for Rocky?” Now Bill knew Jughead was the dumbest horse ever born but he knew he’d trade any horse he had, real quick, for chance at Rocky.

The next morning Bill rode Rocky and he was everything he thought he might be. He was one happy cowboy. The following morning when the remuda came in, he saw that Rocky had a big swelled up place on both sides of his withers. He felt terrible and couldn’t figure it out. He hadn’t made a horse sore all summer.

Three days later Greer told Bill, “I know you feel bad about Rocky’s back, don’t you.” Bill admitted he did. Then Charlie said, “The next time someone offers to trade you a good horse for a dumb one, you had better run your hands over his back and legs and really look him over close. Rocky was getting a sore back when I traded him to you.”

Lesson learned.

Life’s lessons await us in every single day, every action. It can be a long stretch from teen to adulthood. Some make the trip in a reasonably timed fashion. Others never get there at all.

If we get to thinking too highly of ourselves all we need to do is try ordering someone else’s dog around. That’ll bring a rapid humbling.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Open Letter to Secretary Zinke regarding the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

The Honorable Ryan Zinke
Secretary of Interior
Monument Review
MS-1530, U.S. Department of Interior
1849 C. Street, NW
Washington, D.C

RE: Open Letter to Secretary Zinke regarding the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (OMDPNM) review

Dear Secretary Zinke:

In the greater scope of your monument review process, my letter may not materially impact readership, but I live face-to-face with this monument. The designation of the OMDPNM impacts my life every day and I have come to feel helpless in the preservation of my life’s investment and the continuity it represents since before my great grandfather trailed cattle across our ranch on the Butterfield Trail in 1888.

He watered at our headquarters at a spring then known as Neire Springs. It was one of only a few natural waters in the big dry stretch of country from Picacho Peak to Ft. Cummins. Arguably, it was the most dangerous stretch of the trail from St. Louis to San Francisco.

We have reason to now believe his partner was Boze Ikard, the enduring character the world now knows as Deets in the made for television series, Lonesome Dove. Both had ridden for Charles Goodnight in Texas. Ikard was with Goodnight and Loving in the horrendously difficult first trips up the Goodnight-Loving Trail while my grandfather came later and trailed JA and PAT cattle north on the Palo Duro- Kansas railhead routes.

Their partnership was the unheralded but hugely difficult task of driving “mixed” herds (cows, calves, and bulls as opposed to mature steers) with the intention of establishing permanent ranching operations as opposed to driving cattle to markets. In that process, they assumed the responsibility of not just the stewardship of those cattle, but the creation of infrastructure that allowed them to exist. Today, there is diminishing understanding of the implications of that undertaking.

They joined what my friend, Myles Culbertson, refers to as the “economic and cultural phenomena of a grazing society” that remains uninterrupted since the era of settlement following the Spanish exploration. It is a society that provides 99.7% of every drop of water that is available to livestock and wildlife alike in the OMDPNM footprint. It is also a fragile society. Within the agriculture community in Dona Ana County, the county most impacted by the designation, recruitment of next generation stewards is 17%. That means that only 17% of the farming, ranching, and dairy segments has a young steward standing in the wings. We can’t offer assurances or robust opportunities because of the uncertainties emanating from federal land use dominion. Please remember that all this “iconic” monument land is simply reshuffled within a framework of government owned land that already consumes 94.5% of the entire county!

Our private land, therefore, is ever dearer in order to create infrastructure that makes our operations more productive and secure. This raises the two points of this letter. The first deals with the proclamation setting forth the creation of the monument and the disposition of private lands landlocked within the footprint. This concern arises from the NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARRACK OBAMA vested authority clause which states that Lands and interests in land within the monument’s boundaries not owned or controlled by the United States shall be reserved as part of the monument upon acquisition of ownership or control by the United States.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand the implication. The United States intends to control our lands. It can be further determined from the maps wherein our private ranch properties are not excluded by boundary demarcations (unlike the upper end imbedded residential developments along the Organ Mountain face).

Certainly, we are subjects of existing rights, but, when the allowances of the Antiquities Act are considered, only two protected objects are allowed. Those are scientific and historic. That doesn’t include “iconic landscapes, ecological diversity, general and widespread southwestern fauna and flora, or prehistoric matters that may or may not be “ripe for discovery” without qualification. Likewise, they are not authorizations to pick winners or losers. You mirrored our fears when you said, “Monuments should never be put in a position to prevent rather than protect.”

There are 90 families directly impacted by this monument that exist only because of the land on which they fill the role of steward. If they wrote you a comment, they would represent three tenths of one percent of the number of public comments you received the first week of the comment period. Like mine, their letters may not “materially impact readership”, but they also live face-to-face with this monument and feel totally exposed and unprotected.

What they represent is historic in every sense of that word, and has been recognized as so by the local conservation district as well as the seven-member Council of Border Conservation Districts.

This, my second point, elevates the requirement of federal law to observe and deal with local governance in land use planning. When you offer your recommendations to President Trump, you must recognize this designation treats the matter of historic in antagonistic juxtaposition to valid local land use planning. Your task of resolution is not just proper and fitting.  It is required by law.

I look forward to meeting you and discussing this. My colleagues, this local cadre of a greater organized society, do as well. We take our stewardship very seriously. In this unbroken four century historic relationship, future generations should be elevated into the consideration of purpose of land designations rather than a conditional use.

It is that simple, and it is that important.


Stephen L. Wilmeth
OMDP Monument Rancher

    Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “There is a big storm brewing over the status of these monuments that was under estimated. The size of these designations are simply too monstrous. The outcome is likely going to be greater political tit for tat over which only deeper resentment and distrust will result. We have all been put into a terrible situation.”

Baxter Black: The grapevine

What better way to impress his new lady friend, thought Rob, than to take her to his friend's rancho for an afternoon branding and BBQ? His '84 model two horse trailer had been repaired so many times that it looked like a well drillin' rig! The '98 pickup was using 2 quarts of oil to a tank of gas and his horse was…well, ol' Yella looked right at home.

Rob was eager as a piddlin' puppy when he picked up Delilah and headed north outta Los Angeles. One large obstacle lay in the pit of his stomach like a pea in the Princess's mattress…THE GRAPEVINE! It was a monster of a hill dreaded by truckers and people who still drove a small hatchback. The engine was screamin' when they finally leveled out at the summit of the Grapevine. Rob gave Delilah a comforting look. She smiled back uneasily. Then the motor blew! A big dent appeared in the hood and it sounded like someone had dropped a Caterpillar track into his fan! They crossed silently into a service station at the bottom of the grade. He assured his sweetheart there was 'no problema'.

By dark he'd borrowed a pickup and they both agreed returning back home was the best option. He loaded Yella, hooked up the trailer and back over the Grapevine they flew! Halfway down to Rob managed to slip his arm behind Delilah's neck. Soon she was lulled into discussing her dreams of home and family. She snuggled closer as he noticed a tire bounce by him on the driver's side! He couldn't help but see the huge rooster tail of sparks spraying up from beneath his trailer!

Lee Pitts: Turning Minutes Into Hours

Realizing that I have had vast experience in organizational work (I was once appointed Keeper of the Cards in the Nipomo Men's Club and Poker Society), several people have inquired as to how they too could be as successful in organizational work as I have been. As a public service I will now answer some of your questions.

Q. I have recently been urged by mail to become a "stakeholder?" What is that?

A. Generally, if the dues of an organization are less than $50 a year such people are known as "members." Once over that threshold mere members become "stakeholders." See how much more important and impressive that sounds? Henceforth when people see you at the auction barn they'll point to you and say, "See that guy over there, the guy with his shirt tucked in, he's a stakeholder!"

Q. What is required of a stakeholder?

A. Let me put it in terms you might understand. For there to be leaders we must have followers. Have you ever seen a cow in heat followed by several steers? The steers have no idea why they are following the cow and if they caught her they wouldn't know what to do with her. Even if they did know what to do, they wouldn't be very effective because they are, well, they're steers now aren't they? But they do serve a purpose. The rancher will know which cows are in heat and can then inseminate them. That's why we need people like you as stakeholders. Got it?

Q. I think so. Does that mean I should aspire to become a leader or officer of a club or organization? 

A. Meetings are a male dominated ritual much like musical chairs… and when the music stops you definitely want to be sitting in one. This is known as "going through the chairs." The primary benefit of going through the chairs is that when you attend your annual convention several gaily colored ribbons will dangle from your name badge, thereby setting you apart as someone who has enough working knowledge of parliamentary procedure to bring the cocktail hour to a close. 

Q. How does one rise to ascendancy in organizational work?

A. I can best answer that question by comparing it to the life of a cattle grub, and I mean that in a flattering way. After you get bitten by the bug to be a politician you begin your organizational life in its lowest form, on the membership committee in charge of recruiting new members. This is tough duty. You'll soon learn what a heel fly feels like walking around in manure 24 hours a day. But soon you will begin your upward ascendancy through the body of the organization. If you only speak when spoken to and use the proper fork when eating your hearts of palm at the annual banquet, eventually your time will come and you'll one day pop out the top.

Q. Are there any short cuts to the top?

A. It's imperative that you feel obligated to speak in a solemn voice whenever a crowd of three is gathered. Preferred topics include estate tax relief, ancestor worship and where the next vacation, I mean meeting, will be held. You must sprinkle these impromptu speeches liberally with key words such as paradigm, unity, empowerment, strategize, Power Point, human resources, synergy, cloud-centric, actualize and empower. Talk a lot about your "vision", even if it is somewhat impaired from the previous night's executive session in the hotel bar. 

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1856

Our gospel tune today is Hank Snow’s 1952 recording of I’m Moving On To Glory.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Interior Secretary Zinke Defends Agency Budget Cuts

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is defending the Trump administration’s budget proposal unveiled last week, despite deep cuts it would make to land-management agencies that could have severe consequences in Montana and other western states. The budget, which is still subject to approval by Congress, carries cuts to the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture — agencies that, combined, manage more than 700 million acres of public land. The Trump administration’s budget would cut Interior funding by about 11 percent, reducing funding to $11.7 billion in fiscal 2018 — about $1.6 billion less annually. The proposal would also eliminate programs that Zinke has previously championed, but which he now says the administration considers unnecessary, duplicative or considers a low priority. “It was not an easy job. There were difficult decisions that were made,” Zinke said in a May 23 call with reporters. “This budget overall speaks to the core mission of the Department of the Interior. It funds our highest priorities — safety, security, infrastructure.” Among the programs Zinke said were redundant are discretionary grants to help reclaim abandoned mine sites, National Heritage areas that Trump administration officials say are more appropriately funded locally and National Wildlife Refuge payments to local governments. The budget also significantly decreases funding for new major acquisitions of federal land, cutting such appropriations by more than $120 million. Cuts to the popular and bipartisan Land and Water Conservation Fund total nearly $54 million, an 80 percent cut to this year’s enacted level. Zinke said the administration intends to focus on investing in and maintaining existing federal lands. In particular, the proposal would boost money to help address the roughly $11 billion maintenance backlog within the national park system. Defending the cuts to the land acquisition program, Zinke said, “We need to take care of what we have first.” “I don’t think we need to buy more land, but take care of what we have first before we buy into more acquisitions,” he said...more

The Coors Cure for Colic, or Dos Equis for Equines

I received the following email from Steve Wilmeth today:

We spent a suspenseful last evening with a colicking Popolote. 

He has never shown a hint of trying to colic but there we were with high respiration, no good hind gut sounds, a bit of sweat, and trying to lay down. He had been shod three days ago and he had been gimpy since on his front feet and I was thinking he was just in pain. He had loped out toward the irrigated pasture, though,  when I turned the horses out to graze, but he was heard nickering and  back up at the arena and when I found him he was trying to lay down 

I was immediately on edge. I gave him an injection of banomine immediately and walked him. I called Skip and he was found smiling and sitting on a stool in Pagosa Springs and useless to the current predicament. A call to another vet was not helpful. ...So, I called Pepe to make sure he didn't think it was a shoeing and front feet problem and he came over. We looked at Pop and Pepe asked me if I wanted to try what the Castro's would do in this situation Well, Yea! So to the ice box we went to get a six pack of beer and Pop started getting single swallow drenches until all the beer was gone ... in this case only four bottles. Interestingly, we started noticing he was swallowing the beer more agreeably and was even leaning against the pourer rather than trying to pull away. 

We watched him for a while before Pepe had to leave (to go practice for an upcoming Chareada) but his respiration was down, he had dropped his donger and he was interested in the feed bin. I texted Pepe when he stretched to pee and then he proceeded to push his favored mare (that had rejoined the proceedings from the pasture and who was, by the way, very interested in how Pop smelled with beer on his breath) out of the way and commenced working on the feed bin. Before sunup this morning he nickered at me when i stuck my head out to see if he was still on his feet. 

"Hey,Ace, we could use a little feed out here!" he was suggesting. "Sooner than later if you don't mind ..."

So, the story line is keep some beer on hand if your vet friend happens to be sitting on a stool in Pagosa Springs for your next colic session. Our only adjustment will be Pop won't get the good beer ... he will get the cheap stuff. (These Castro boys are riding 20-30 horses all the time and learned this trick from a horse vet from Mexico and Pepe swears by it) I do too!

Forest Service Owns ‘National Junkyard’ of Thousands of Unused Buildings

The Forest Service oversees thousands of buildings that are unused, many that are falling apart, full of mold, and pose safety hazards, according to a new audit. The inspector general for the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that the Forest Service has compiled over $5 billion worth of repairs to buildings, roads, dams, and trails it operates. Officials admit they are becoming a "national junkyard" by overseeing thousands of decrepit buildings the government does not need. "During our fieldwork, we observed [Forest Service] buildings that were not inspected as well as buildings that forest officials stated had structural issues, mold growth, wide-spread rodent droppings, and other health and safety concerns including 20 buildings with concerns so severe that officials referred to them as ‘red tagged,'" the inspector general reported. "Red tag" refers to buildings and structures that are so unsafe they are closed. Some buildings had asbestos, and one residential building observed by auditors had a 15-foot hole in the roof, as well as mold and fire damage. "As a result, unsafe structures can pose health and safety risks, such as hantavirus or other concerns, to [Forest Service] employees and the public," the inspector general said. Auditors surveyed a sample of 182 dams the Forest Service oversees, and found 76 percent either had no documentation or did not receive required safety inspections. Seventy-seven percent of dams considered to be high hazards "did not receive required safety inspections within the last 5 years." Sixty-one percent had no emergency action plan, and some that did had not been updated since 1982. Dams are considered high hazards if their potential failure is "expected to cause the loss of one or more human lives."...more

Smokey management par excellence? Not hardly 

For your weekend reading, the report is embedded below:

Zinke fills in Interior staff despite key leadership gaps

The Interior Department announced Friday that it is filling in key support staff, while still missing official high-level nominations by President Trump to lead them. The only senior official to be named by the president, other than Secretary Ryan Zinke, is David Bernhardt as deputy secretary, who still needs to be confirmed by the Senate. Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Thursday that she will hold a vote on Berhardt's confirmation at the committee level when the Senate returns after its week-long Memorial Day recess. But then he must be voted on by the full Senate. It has been tough to move political appointees through the Senate, but on top of that Trump has been slow to announce who will fill key posts in many of the offices that Zinke will rely on to move the Trump agenda ahead. The announcements made Friday do not require Senate confirmation. Scott Hommel, a decorated Marine, will serve as Zinke's chief of staff. Caroline Boulton, who served on Zinke's staff when he was a member of Congress, will be Zinke's special assistant, along with Natalie Davis, who served on Trump's inaugural committee. Laura Keehner Rigas, a former official who served under the George W. Bush administration, will be communications director for the agency...more

Trump Might Try To Take The Ax To National Monuments And These People Are Not Here For It

But if the Trump administration does ultimately go after the monuments, the president may end up expending significant political capital in a battle with dubious outcomes. Some also expect protests on the ground. Advocates for multiple monuments under review spoke to BuzzFeed News about how they anticipate responding to any White House effort to curtail what's already been established...Native Americans groups are already gearing up for a legal fight over Bears Ears National Monument in Utah's remote San Juan County, Jonah Yellowman, a board member of the Navajo nonprofit Utah Diné Bikéyah, told BuzzFeed News. President Obama created the monument in December. "If they decide to rescind or shrink, or whatever they're going to do, we're going to go into a lawsuit," he said. "Or whatever it takes." Eric Descheenie, a member of the Navajo Nation and the Arizona House of Representatives, told BuzzFeed News that native leaders are currently involved coordinating a campaign to raise awareness about the monument review. Still, he believes the "writing is on the wall" for Bears Ears. "I think the more level-headed individuals within the administration will recommend a significant downsize, a shrinkage of the monument," he said. "The tribes stand ready to immediately file a lawsuit." Attempts at changing Bears Ears may also prompt a response on the ground. Descheenie said that while demonstrations haven't yet been organized, action by the Trump administration could be "enough to galvanize people's intentions to protest." "If it means congregating in or around bears ears, sure," he said. Terry Tempest Williams, a prominent Utah author and activist, raised the stakes even further, writing earlier this month in the New York Times that Bears Ears "could very well become another Standing Rock in both desecration and resistance."...more

Bear Eyes monument status generates 57K public comments

Tens of thousands of people from across the U.S. have weighed in about whether the new Bears Ears National Monument should be preserved, downsized or rescinded, confirming the monument's center stage position in a review of 27 monuments ordered by President Donald Trump. About 57,000 submissions with comments mentioning the 1.3-million acre (5,300 square kilometers) monument in southeastern Utah had been submitted to a federal government website by Friday evening on the final day of a two-week public comment period that is part of U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's review of the monument designated by President Barack Obama. That accounts for more than half of the 113,000 comments submitted so far about all the monuments under review, which includes monuments created by three former presidents on large swaths of land home to ancient cliff dwellings, towering Sequoias, deep, canyons and oceans habitats where seals, whales and sea turtles roam. Some Bears Ears comment submissions include conservation groups that compiled thousands of individual comments and made one submission, meaning the actual number of people offering their opinion could be much higher...more

Friday, May 26, 2017

A-10 Celebrates This Weekend

No doubt this cowboy has been celebratin' for quite a spell.  If sober, I'm sure he would've hollered Yee-Hah instead of Hee-Yah. LOL

Horse Diapers on Trial

Russellville, KY – 13 members of the conservative Swartzentruber Amish are heading to trial after a judge set their court date for August 2nd. The members of the Amish community are accused of refusing to obey a city ordinance which requires them to put waste collection bags, or diapers, on their horses when traveling on the street. The Swartzentruber Amish believe placing the bags on their horses would be a violation of their religious beliefs, and are fighting the ordinance based on religious freedom. They believe the ordinance specifically targets their religion, but the city says the ordinance is necessary for public safety and is applied to everyone equally. There are 37 lawsuits pending against the 13 Amish. “I’m going to be asking for 37 separate trials,” attorney Travis Lock, who is representing the Amish, told reporters. The penalty for violating the horse diaper ordinance is typically a fine and court costs, but previously Amish have refused to pay the fine and have been placed in jail. Amos Mast is one of those who was sent to jail for refusing to pay a diaper fine. “I’m a farmer, I don’t travel much because I just stay on the farm,” Mast said. “There’s times that I need to be out (on the road), so we just go and face what happens.” The ordinance is facing legal challenges in federal court. link

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1855

TGIFF! Its Fiddle Friday and from his 1970 album Hoedown here’s Chubby Wise fiddlin’ Long John.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Drone Journalist Faces 7 Years in Prison for Filming Dakota Pipeline Protests

A citizen journalist in Morton County, North Dakota is facing up to seven years in jail for flying a drone over the North Dakota Pipeline protests. In October, Aaron Turgeon was arrested by Morton County Police and was charged with a felony count of Reckless Endangerment, a misdemeanor count of Reckless Endangerment, and a misdemeanor count of Physical Obstruction of a Government Function, according to court documents obtained by Motherboard. Together, he faces up to seven years in court if found guilty. His court case is Thursday. For weeks, Turgeon (who also goes by "Prolific the Rapper") documented the North Dakota Access Pipeline protests for several Facebook groups that livestreamed and posted photos and videos about the movement. Several of these aerial videos documented police shooting protesters with water cannons and tear gas canisters...more 

Update: Turgeon was found not guilty on all counts Thursday evening.

Monument designations don't affect livestock grazing (A misguided LTE)

 An excerpt from the letter-to-editor:

It’s hard to beat Ron Gibson's op-ed for being more irrelevant to the issue of whether Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments deserve to continue as part of our nation’s treasure of monuments (“Farm Bureau applauds monument review,” May 18-24, 2017 Moab Sun News). As president of the Utah Farm Bureau, Mr. Gibson understandably focuses on livestock grazing, but monument status doesn’t affect that. Both monument proclamations indicate that the BLM (Bears Ears and Grand Staircase) and Forest Service (Bears Ears) will continue to manage livestock grazing as one of a number of multiple uses. You could hardly graze the desert Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument more: 96.3 percent is active cattle allotments. That percentage is close to the same in Bears Ears, with 100 percent of the Manti-La Sal National Forest portion in active cattle allotments, and likely near that on the BLM portion.

The writer focuses on "active cattle allotments". I don't know if this is done out of ignorance, or with an intent to deceive. In either case it totally misses the point. Let's use Leland Pollock, a county commissioner and a rancher as an example. When Zinke visited the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Pollock told him that prior to the monument being designated he ran 260 head on his allotment, but since the designation he had been cut back to 64 head. The difference had been placed in "suspension" and still appeared in BLM records, but he can't use them. His allotment is still "active" but is no longer an economically viable unit. An that, says Pollock, is "how the federal government is getting rid of the rancher on the monument."

Whether an allotment is "active" or not is irrelevant. It's the number of livestock that is allowed to run on that allotment that is the determining factor.

2016 Southwestern U.S. wildfire report now available

Wildfires burned nearly 600,000 acres last year in a three-state region of the Southwest U.S., more than double the number of acres burned in each of the previous two years, according to a new report published this week detailing the 2016 fire season. The report is the fourth in a series of annual overviews made available from the Southwest Fire Science Consortium and the Ecological Restoration Institute intended to serve as a summary for past years and allow for a comparison with previous fires. Specifically, the report describes effects from the 12 largest fires — each larger than 8,000 acres — in Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas...more

The report is embedded below:

Rangers Overwhelmed by Trashed Out Campsites

The U.S. Forest Service says it's getting photos of public campsites littered with trash right before Memorial weekend, an unofficial start to camping season. "We've heard from multiple people that there are places in the forest that don't feel safe anymore or it's not desirable to go there anymore," Chamise Kramer said. "...Because of the level of mess, broken glass, evidence of drug use." Kramer said the campgrounds that seem to need the most cleaning are free to the public, and further south from the lake, like the Cook and Green Campground. As the weather heats up, rangers have noticed more people further back along the Applegate river, and noticed larger messes left behind. "Year after year, it feels like it's getting consistently worse, there's just more trash being left behind" Former Forest Ranger Dylan Goldey said. A few people have taken it upon themselves to volunteer help and get some of those public lands cleared, but the forest service advises against that. "We really appreciate the help, but we don't want people getting hurt by needles or anything else they might find. Telling us where the problem is will be very helpful."  link

They can't, or won't, take care of it themselves and they advise against volunteers taking it upon themselves. So the camps remained trashed out. And yet, if you mention transferring these lands to the state, all of a sudden they become "our national treasures", or "crowned jewels" or part of our "national heritage". 

And by the way, we in the border states have federal lands that look the same. Only they are being trashed out by the cartels and their smuggling of human cargo and drugs.

Ending Obama EPA's ban on Alaska's Pebble Mine is right for American energy

The Environmental Protection Agency is again drawing the ire of environmentalists, this time by lifting an Obama-era ban on development of Alaska’s Pebble Mine. It's part of a dramatic pivot driven by the Trump administration, with rule changes, proposals and executive orders all intended to realign U.S. public lands policy with the White House’s development-minded approach. If the changes are implemented successfully, the administration has the opportunity to create much-needed jobs in the western half of the country. And if the Pebble Mine is any example, it could finally unchain the United States from what has been a dangerous dependency on critical mineral imports. The proposed Pebble Mine in southwestern Alaska would bring to market 6.44 billion metric tons of copper, gold, molybdenum and silver, four commodities in the group known as “critical and strategic minerals.” These minerals are critical for the manufacture of goods as varied as medical devices, agricultural products, and electronics, and contribute to industries that added $2.78 trillion to gross domestic product last year. Critical and strategic minerals get their designation because they’re not just economically vital; they’re also essential to national defense. The Pentagon maintains 37 mineral commodities as part of the Defense National Stockpile. As recently as 1990, the United States was the world’s largest producer of mineral resources. Geologically speaking, we’re rich. The American West hosts one of the largest, most diverse and most unusually concentrated mineral belts in the world, extending from Colorado to the Pacific Ocean. That geological terrain hosts world-class deposits of chromium, copper, fluorine, gold, molybdenum, platinum and uranium, to name just a few. But quite a different trend has emerged over the last three decades. Earlier this year, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that, of 88 important minerals they track, the United States is more than 25 percent import-dependent for 62 of them. For 20 of those minerals, the United States is 100 percent reliant on imports. Many of those 20 key minerals are absolutely critical to the economy and national defense. The risks are underscored when one considers just how reliant the country has become on imports specifically from Russia and China. China, by far the world’s largest source of minerals, has already used its rare earth mineral wealth as a diplomatic weapon. As Chinese statesman Deng Xiaoping said in 1992: “The Middle East has its oil, China has rare earth.”...more

Farmer Faces $2.8 Million Fine For Plowing His Own Field

A farmer faces trial in federal court this summer and a $2.8 million fine for failing to get a permit to plow his field and plant wheat in Tehama County. A lawyer for Duarte Nursery said the case is important because it could set a precedent requiring other farmers to obtain costly, time-consuming permits just to plow. “The case is the first time that we’re aware of that says you need to get a (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) permit to plow to grow crops,” said Anthony Francois, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation. The libertarian-leaning nonprofit fights for private property rights and limited government. “We’re not going to produce much food under those kinds of regulations,” Francois said. However, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller agreed with the Army Corps in a judgment issued in June. A trial, in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office asks for $2.8 million in civil penalties, is set for August...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

 Didn't have time to make a video, but instead bring you this treat from radiobob805.

 Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel toured the country playing this great old Western Swing. Here I have added Bob Wills and Milton Browns' original records to the live performance by Willie and the Wheel. It's a little naughty. Oh, You Pretty Woman.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fischer Reintroduces Bill to Lift EPA On-Farm Fuel Storage Burden

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), this week reintroduced legislation to provide regulatory relief for Nebraska farmers and ranchers. The bill, known as the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act, builds on her past efforts to modify costly EPA regulations that could negatively affect ag producers with on-farm fuel storage. Across Nebraska and our nation, ag producers store fuel in aboveground tanks on their property. Often, this is because they live miles from the towns where they can refuel. A regulation intended for major oil refineries, known as the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule, would affect the amount of fuel producers can store on their land. It would force families to make costly upgrades to fuel storage tanks and would also impose heavy fines if these tanks go over the on-farm fuel limit exemption mandated by the federal government...more

Farm groups denounce Trump budget

Here goes our rural brethren, decrying the budget cuts.

American Farm Bureau Federation

 "It would gut federal crop insurance, one of the nation's most important farm safety-net programs," Duvall said. "It would drastically reshape important voluntary conservation programs and negatively impact consumer confidence in critical meat and poultry inspection." "This proposal would hamper the viability of plant and animal security programs at our borders and undermine the nation's grain quality and market information systems. It would stunt rural America's economic growth by eliminating important utility programs and other rural development programs.
"Clearly, this budget fails agriculture and rural America."

According to the AFBF, the budget, "guts',"negatively impact", "hamper", "undermine", "stunt" and "fails". 

National Farmers Union

"The president's proposed budget is an assault on the programs and personnel that provide vital services, research, and a safety net to America's family farmers, rural residents and consumers," said Roger Johnson, president of the Democratic-leaning National Farmers Union. "It is deeply disappointing that the president would propose such cuts, especially in the midst of a farm crisis that has family farmers and ranchers enduring a drastic, four-year slide in farm prices and a 50 percent drop in net farm income."

I was wrong in my prediction. The NFU statement is moderate compared to that of the allegedly more conservative AFBF.

 American Soybean Association

"By shredding our farm safety net, slashing critical agricultural research and conservation initiatives, and hobbling our access to foreign markets, this budget is a blueprint for how to make already difficult times in rural America even worse," said Ron Moore, American Soybean Association president and a soybean farmer from Roseville, Ill. 

And on and on it goes. You can read them all by going here.

Trump still deciding on Paris climate agreement

President Trump is still deciding whether the United States will stay in the Paris climate change agreement. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters aboard Air Force One that the topic of the Paris pact came up in Trump's and Tillerson's Wednesday meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, following the president's meeting with Pope Francis. “The president indicated we’re still thinking about that, that he hasn’t made a final decision. He, I think, told both Cardinal Parolin and also told [Italian] Prime Minister [Paolo] Gentiloni that this is something that he would be taking up for a decision when we return from this trip,” Tillerson told reporters en route to Brussels...more

Western group sues Interior for documents on monument designations

A government watchdog group is suing the Interior Department for any records relating to five national monuments named under President Barack Obama, arguing the public deserves to see just how much the Obama administration solicited input on the designations despite what Republicans are saying now. The Western Values Project, based in Montana, filed suit Wednesday in the federal court for the District of Columbia, asking a judge to force Interior to turn over a slew of documents the group had requested in January but that Interior has yet to produce. The group says Republicans have been pushing the false narrative that the Obama administration didn't invite public input into the designation of Bears Ears National Monument and four others, and the documents will prove that the Interior department under Obama asked for and received a deluge of comments. The Western Values Project filed a federal freedom of information request Jan. 19, asking for any "scientific studies, scientific data, agency studies, agency management plans, maps, photos, references, testimony, public comments, congressional input, legal analysis or other such information used to develop the monument designations since January 1, 2014."...more

BLM Proposes Unrestricted Sale of Unadopted Wild Horses

The Bureau of Land Management has released their proposed 2018 budget, which a proposed $70.7 million for management of the Wild Horse and Burro program, a reduction of $10 million. Hidden in the proposed budget is a single sentence that could end the life of nearly 50,000 horses. The proposed budget calls for a management plan “including humane euthanasia and unrestricted sale of certain excess animals.” The unrestricted sale of excess horses would most certainly mean they would be sold for slaughter. Whether the BLM is seeking funding to humanely euthanize the excess horses, or is simply planning on selling them to the highest bidder, remains to be seen...more

Cartel Smugglers, Migrants Growing More Violent Against Border Patrol Agents

Sinaloa Cartel-linked smugglers and migrants are growing more violent against U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Tucson sector as penalties for their crimes stiffen. Realizing that being caught now means almost certain prosecution and incarceration, the smugglers and migrants are increasingly becoming violent with Border Patrol agents in remote border regions in efforts to escape and evade justice. Border Patrol Agent Art Del Cueto, speaking to Breitbart Texas in his role as National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) spokesman, stated, “The smugglers are definitely becoming more violent with our agents. They now try to evade arrest and even use force to get away from us where during the Obama years they would joke with us and not mind being caught. They knew, back then, that they would get away with violating our laws.” Agent Del Cueto continued, “We are talking about significant force and violence being used against our agents. Very recently, one smuggler slammed a large rock into the side of an agent’s head.” The growing violent tendencies are not limited to the cartel’s drug smugglers, according to Agent Del Cueto. “Even the illegal aliens who aren’t smuggling dope are growing more violent as they now face consequences for illegally entering. Before they would be let go the next day or so, now they face incarceration for illegally entering. They are willing to do anything possible to evade us.”...more

House approves bill seeking to upend EPA pesticide rule

The House on Wednesday passed a Republican-backed measure reversing an Environmental Protection Agency requirement that those spraying pesticides on or near rivers and lakes file for a permit. The chamber voted largely along party lines to approve the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017. In the preceding floor debate, the bill's supporters said the rule requiring a permit under the Clean Water Act before spraying pesticides is burdensome and duplicative. EPA already regulates pesticide safety under a different law that gives the agency authority to place restrictions on when and where spraying can occur. The current EPA rule was put in place after a lawsuit was filed by environmentalists and commercial fishermen. They claimed the agency was failing to adequately prevent pesticide contamination in protected waters. A federal appeals court agreed in 2009, forcing EPA to start requiring the permits. Bill sponsor Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, said the permit requirement places an unnecessary burden on farmers and local health officials fighting mosquito-borne diseases. The bill "eliminates a duplicative, expensive, unnecessary permitting process that helps free the resources for our states, counties and local governments better to combat the spread of Zika, West Nile virus and other diseases," said Gibbs, a member of the House Agriculture Committee...more