Thursday, May 03, 2018

DuBois column

Can you believe Ca. is leading the way on states rights over federal lands? Plus endangered species, ranchers and dogs.

U.S. sues California

In a release the Department of Justice announced it had filed a civil action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the State of California, Governor of California Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr., and the California State Lands Commission. The feds are seeking a declaration that California Senate Bill 50, enacted in October 2017, is unconstitutional and seeking an injunction against implementation of this state law. Under the law California has the first right to purchase federal lands or to arrange for a specific buyer.

SB 50 interferes with federal land conveyances in the State of California says the Justice Department.  The California law gives a state agency the power to block the sale, donation or exchange of federal lands by the federal government to any other person or entity. SB 50 also “seeks to penalize (up to $5,000) any person who knowingly files real estate records pertaining to a federal land transfer unless the California government certifies that the transfer complies with state law.”

“The Constitution empowers the federal government—not state legislatures—to decide when and how federal lands are sold,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “California was admitted to the Union upon the express condition that it would never interfere with the disposal of federal land.”
The feds say the California law violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution and the Property Clause, which purportedly gives to Congress the authority to regulate and dispose of the federal lands.

California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, a member of the State Lands Commission and a Democrat running for governor, says the feds are “attacking our state and our very way of life." California Democrats reportedly welcomed the latest fight and vowed to defend the law.

This lawsuit is replete with historical, political and legal ironies.  It is like the Civil War all over again. We now have Democrats defending states’ rights on federal lands and Republicans defending the supremacy of the almighty feds. The Democrats adopting the position of the Bundy family while the Republicans claim the right to commit reconstruction on these lands.

I say it is time the states receive an Emancipation Proclamation with respect to these lands.

Farm Bill and endangered species

The House Ag Committee is marking up a Farm Bill that allows EPA to approve pesticides without consulting with the US Fish & Wildlife Service.   Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee see the language as a “commonsense reform” to an “onerous and conflicting” consultation process that needs to be modernized. More than 60 agriculture groups in January wrote a letter urging Agriculture Committee leaders to include the provision in the bill, saying the current review and permitting requirements are “redundant” and provide no additional environmental benefit, but instead impose additional costs on farms and businesses. The language grants EPA the “express authority and responsibility to ensure the protection of threatened or endangered species and critical habitat in connection to pesticide registrations.” They report it has taken the EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service over two years to complete just three registration reviews. With over 1,600 separate ingredient reviews due in the next six years, it is clear some type of reform is necessary.

This is upsetting to the enviros. “It’s a poison-pill rider in the most literal and unfortunate way,” said Jordan Giaconia with the Sierra Club. It takes just one harmful chemical to be injected into the ecosystem to cause widespread damage, he said. “The ramifications are pretty far reaching.” You would think they’d be happy, because look what the Republicans are giving them: billions of dollars each year to be spent on the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation innovation grants, the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, and on and on. The enviros should be happy and the Republicans should be ashamed, but neither seems to be.

Susan Combs

The former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and State Comptroller Susan Combs was recently appointed Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish, wildlife and Parks at the Department of Interior and the enviros are getting what they deserve on this one. For months now Senator Durbin 0f Illinois has had a hold on her nomination to be the Assistant Secretary of Policy, Management and Budget. Why? Because of what Zinke was doing on national monuments. The enviros were successful there, but now they have to deal with her being over the agency that administers the Endangered Species Act, he he.

The media has been filled with headlines of Combs being an “enemy” 0f endangered species. "Putting Combs in charge of the Fish and Wildlife Service is like appointing an arsonist as the town fire marshal," said Stephanie Kurose with the Center for Biological Diversity.

However, these stories are distorting her record. I've known and worked with Susan Combs since she was the Commissioner of Ag in Texas, and I don't believe she disagrees with the intent of the ESA. What she will bring is a reasonable reading of the act along with some common sense approaches on how to implement its various provisions. In reality, that is what the enviros fear. 

No arson by the town fire marshal here. Just Sheriff Susan Combs putting an end to the enviros game of using the ESA as a land-use control device instead of a species protector.

Udall & Heinrich

New Mexico livestock organizations, both north and south, are united in their opposition to the anti-grazing language in the President Obama proclamations creating the two most recent national monuments in New Mexico.

That united opposition is of apparently no importance to the New Mexico Senators. They have introduced the America’s Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States (ANTIQUITIES) Act of 2018. Among other things, the legislation “officially declares Congress’ support for the 51 national monuments established by presidents in both parties between January 1996 and April 2017” and states that presidential proclamation creating national monuments “cannot be reduced or diminished” except by an act of Congress. In other words, it would permanently place in law the two anti-grazing proclamations affecting New Mexico ranching families.

Perros in peril?

Environmental researchers are now calling dogs an “invasive” species, or an “invasive mammalian predator” or a “non-native introduced species that are wreaking havoc on the ecological balance of many sensitive ecosystems.” They cite research claiming “domesticated dogs have imperiled 188 threatened species of animals and caused 11 mass extinctions globally!”

They will be coming after your dog next. Will we hear a new battle cry, “Canine free by ‘23”?

Until next time, be a nuisance to the devil and always check that cinch.

Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003, is the author of a blog: The Westerner ( and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship and The DuBois Western Heritage Foundation

This column first appeared in the May editions of the NM Stockman and the Livestock Market Digest 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's because it State's rights of first refusal over citizens to buy or arrange for another party to buy Federal land.

The purchasing funds come from the new gas tax, as allocated by SB 1.

When the state aquires either Federal or private land, it doesn't keep up on paying the county property taxes ... which is one reason why rural counties are short on funds.