Friday, April 24, 2015

Proposed Public Land Transfer Denounced by Recreation Businesses

More than two dozen Grand Valley businesses have joined up with an environmental lobby organization to denounce any transfer of federally controlled public lands to the state. The local businesses have signed onto a letter heading to lawmakers in Denver. The letter argues that “the huge cost to the state of managing these lands would lead to greatly increased development and a loss of access that would put our businesses at risk.” The debate over public land ownership is heating up this week as a proposed law moving through state legislature hopes to take away the federal government’s ultimate control over hundreds of thousands of acres of area currently watched over by the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. A vast majority of the letter’s signatories are businesses with an invested interest in recreation and tourist opportunities. Some say they've come out in support of the status quo, citing fears that any shake up in control could create instability in the economy. Co-owner of Rapid Creek Cycles in Palisade Scott Winans said although he doesn’t always agree with BLM decisions, he believes their management is currently the best course of action. Senate Bill 15-039 was introduced by Republicans in January and passed through the state senate this week. It seeks to give Colorado concurrent jurisdiction over federal lands...more

If your whole business model is based on the public having access to federal lands, you are in deep doo doo and should be praying that these lands are transferred. 

Armed Oregon protesters gather at Bureau of Land Management office over mine dispute, report says

More than 100 demonstrators, some of them armed, reportedly surrounded the Bureau of Land Management’s Medford, Oregon district office Thursday to protest the agency’s regulations against a rural gold mine. Supporters of the Sugar Pine mine tell the Mail Tribune that Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials lied when they said mine owners George Backes and Rick Barclay needed to file a plan with the agency for what they called previously unknown mining activity. The agency told Backes and Barclay that they had to file a plan or remove their equipment. Some of the protesters who congregated in the agency's parking lot were members of the Oath Keepers movement, an organization made up of former and current law enforcement personnel who vow to disobey government orders they deem unconstitutional. Mary Emerick, a spokeswoman for the Oath Keepers, told the Mail Tribune that volunteers from the organization have been guarding the mine. She said those volunteers came from various parts of the western U.S. The armed volunteers started showing up last week after Barclay called upon them because he was afraid the agency would seize the equipment. The miners contend they legally control all of the land and resources within the claim, which they say has been continuously mined since the 1800s. The agency has said the land belongs to the federal government and the miners have to file a plan of operations if they want to continue working in the area. "(The miners) have a particular interpretation of the Constitution that has not been recognized by any federal court," BLM spokesman Tom Gorey told the Mail Tribune. Although Barclay did call upon the armed volunteers, he is looking to distance himself from any actions that could replicate what happened in Nevada last year...more

Alaska Miners Dispute Jewell's Claim That ‘Much’ Of Alaska’s Federal Lands Are Open To Mining

Alaska mining advocates are taking issue with something Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said last week, while defending federal resource management in Alaska. Here’s what Jewell said: “We are in no way preventing development of Alaska’s resources on public lands. We’re facilitating development in a number of areas. Much of the mining in Alaska is on public lands.” The Alaska Miners Association has written a letter to Jewell disputing that “much” of Alaska’s mining is on federal lands. Alaska has six big mines. Two, Kensington and Greens Creek in Southeast, are on federal land. The others are on state and Native land. Deantha Crockett, executive director of the mining group, says Alaska has more than 400 placer mines, but only about 80 are on federal land. “I think our concern is when you say “much” you’re talking about 18 percent of placer mines, and two out of six large-scale mines,” Crockett said. “I guess I don’t consider that to be ‘much.'” Crockett says the lack of mining activity on federal land didn’t happen by accident. More than 60 percent of the state is federal land, but Crockett says too much is closed to mining. “And the then the acreage that is administered by the federal government that isn’t closed to mineral entry, frankly, there are tremendous permitting delays and a whole bunch of bureaucracy that’s affecting these operation from moving forward,” Crockett said...more

Study: Oil and gas drilling consuming millions of acres

Drilling for oil and gas, which has increased substantially in many parts of the country over the past decade, has impacted millions of acres of agricultural and range land, according to researchers. A study published today in the journal Science found that between 2000 and 2012, about 7 million acres – the rough equivalent of three Yellowstone National Parks – was given over to well pads and related roads. About half of the acreage was rangeland, and roughly another 40 percent was cropland and 10 percent forestland. A very small amount was wetland. The researchers calculated that crop production lost due to drilling amounted to 130 million bushels of wheat, about 6 percent of the wheat produced in 2013 in the region under study. In addition, land clearance for drilling over that period destroyed about 7 million animal unit months (an animal unit month is the forage required for one animal for one month.) The range land taken out of production over that decade is nearly equivalent to all range land managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, according to the study...more

Heinrich proposes feds have final say over power lines

Sen. Martin Heinrich wants to give the federal government the power to override state and local decisions on siting new power lines as part of an effort to help build grid capacity and boost renewable energy, but his proposal is drawing fire from Republicans concerned about federal overreach. Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, introduced legislation this week that would allow the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, to step in and approve “new priority” lines when local and state authorities can’t or won’t grant approval within a year of a project’s application. Current law allows the federal government to use eminent domain proceedings for construction of natural gas lines when local jurisdictions won’t approve them, but cities and states still have final say on electricity lines. Heinrich’s bill would change that. The senator said his legislation would only give FERC “narrow authority,” but state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn Jr., Gov. Susana Martinez and Rep. Steve Pearce – all New Mexico Republicans – told the Journal they oppose giving the federal government more say over state and local land use decisions...more

Folks shouldn't be surprised that Martin "The Federales Friend" Heinrich would introduce legislation such as this.  He doesn't believe that individuals, local gov't or state gov't have the knowledge, expertise or power to impose the environmental agenda upon us.  Put another way, he's afraid local government will pay too much attention to you and your neighbor's concerns and not enough attention to the latest national fad, in this case renewable energy.  Just pay your subsidies to the solar and wind industry, let them trounce your property rights and let Heinrich's feds have the final say.  

Still don't think he's the fed's best friend?  Just look who is exempt.  The articles says, "The expanded FERC authority would not apply to transmission lines crossing federal lands such as military bases or Indian reservations."  Your property isn't exempt, state property isn't exempt, but certain federal lands are exempt.  Their friend is watching out for them, but not for you.

USDA lays out broad climate change mitigation plan

...USDA rolled out 10 "building blocks" that will use partnerships and other resources to work with farmers in implementing new ways to farm more efficiently. USDA plans to offer technical assistance and financial incentives to participating producers.
Soil health: Soil resilience and productivity will be promoted through no-till and conservation tillage; the effort aims to increase the use of no-till systems to cover more than 100 million acres by 2025.
Nitrogen stewardship: Focus on the right timing, type, placement and quantity of nutrients to reduce nitrous oxide emissions and provide cost savings through efficient application.
Livestock partnerships: Encourage broader deployment of anaerobic digesters, lagoon covers, composting, and solids separators to reduce methane emissions from cattle, dairy, and swine operations, including the installation of 500 new digesters over the next 10 years.
Conservation of sensitive lands: Use the Conservation Reserve Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to reduce GHG emissions through riparian buffers, tree planting, and the conservation of wetlands and organic soils. The effort aims to enroll 400,000 acres of lands with high greenhouse gas benefits into the Conservation Reserve Program.
Grazing and pasture lands: Support rotational grazing management on an additional 4 million acres, avoiding soil carbon loss through improved management of forage, soils and grazing livestock.
Private forest growth and retention: Through the Forest Legacy Program and the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program, protect almost 1 million additional acres of working landscapes. Employ the Forest Stewardship Program to cover an average of 2.1 million acres annually (new or revised plans), in addition to the 26 million acres covered by active plans.
Stewardship of federal forests: Reforest areas damaged by wildfire, insects, or disease, and restore forests to increase their resilience to those disturbances. This includes plans to reforest an additional 5,000 acres each year.
Promotion of wood products: Increase the use of wood as a building material, to store additional carbon in buildings while offsetting the use of energy from fossil fuel.
Urban forests: Encourage tree planting in urban areas to reduce energy costs, storm water runoff, and urban heat island effects while increasing carbon sequestration, curb appeal, and property values. The effort aims to plant an additional 9,000 trees in urban areas on average each year through 2025.
Energy generation and efficiency: Promote renewable energy technologies and improve energy efficiency. Through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program, work with utilities to improve the efficiency of equipment and appliances. Using the Rural Energy for America Program, develop additional renewable energy opportunities. Support the National On-Farm Energy Initiative to improve farm energy efficiency through cost-sharing and energy audits...more

Key facts about the drought that’s reshaping Texas

Summary: Texas agriculture suffers from a severe drought as it exhausts its groundwater. Activists (as usual) blame our burning of fossil fuels. What do scientists say? How severe is the drought? What are its causes? How will this reshape Texas?  {1st of 2 posts today.}

The media overflows with debates asking do you believe in climate change? As with evolution, much of America remains in denial: some on the Right deny that it’s happening now; some on the Left deny that it’s omnipresent in history. Both use science as magicians use their wands, to confused us. But we have reliable sources to guide us. How to find them is the subject of many posts on the FM website,.
Today we look at the Texas drought. The New Republic gives us a well-written example of how not to do it: “Fear in a Handful :Of Dust by Ted Genoways — Excerpt…
Climate change is making the Texas panhandle, birthplace of the state’s iconic Longhorn, too hot and dry to raise beef. What happens to the range when the water runs out? … Soon, environmental activists and reporters {ed: not scientists} began to ask whether “drought” — a temporary weather pattern — was really the right term for what was happening in the state, or whether “desertification” was more appropriate.
… In fact, hydrologists estimate that even with improved rainfall, it could take thousands of years to replenish the groundwater already drawn from the South Plains.
… “If climate change is the real deal,” {Linden Morris} said, “then the human race as we know it is over. And I don’t believe that.”
Climate change is the “real deal”, but someone should tell Morris that few scientists believe we are “over”. Genoways ‘confusing article mixes together several trends, most seriously conflating three important but largely unrelated trends: groundwater depletion, the current drought, and climate change.
Farmers and ranchers have been draining the Ogallala Aquifer (a finite store of water, part of a system underlying about 80% of the High Plains) at an ever-faster rate since the 1940s. The current drought in Texas has further accelerated their pumping. As scientists have warned for generations, at some point we will exhaust this great aquifer network and then the Midwest economy will irrevocably change. Much US agriculture relies on unsustainable methods. It’s a phase in our history, like the California and Alaskan gold rushes. (For more information see this by the USGS; also seen the graph showing depletion levels here.)

But despite his apocalyptic language, Genoways doesn’t show that many climate scientists (let alone a consensus) believe that climate change, natural or anthropogenic, is largely responsible for the Texas drought. Let’s see review the evidence, and see what they say about the Texas drought.

Yavapai County ranchers appeal tax court ruling on grazing land values

A huge alliance of Yavapai County ranchers is appealing portions of a tax court ruling about the value of the county's grazing land. Even though a tax court judge lowered the value of their grazing lands for property tax purposes, the judge didn't consider the values of federal and state grazing leases, which generally are lower. "In order for anybody to be in the cattle business (here), we have to have state or federal leases," said plaintiff Andy Groseta, a Verde Valley rancher and the immediate past president of the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association that joined the Arizona Tax Court appeal of the county assessor's values. Only 25 percent of the land in Yavapai County is private, according to government statistics compiled by the Western Rural Development Center. Groseta said he fears the higher tax rates will push ranchers out of business, along with the open space and wildlife waters they provide...more

Coyote urban: String of sightings in Manhattan this year

One moseyed around Manhattan's East Village. Another was caught in trendy Chelsea. Yet another rambled through a Hudson River park this week. Tourists? Hipsters? Coyotes. A string of recent sightings in Manhattan has drawn new attention to the wily critters that have been spotted periodically in New York since the 1990s. Experts say New Yorkers should expect to see more of them as they become more comfortable adapting to city streets and parks. Call it coyote urban. "I would say that this is going to be a new normal: that coyotes are going to continually show up in downtown New York City," says Daniel Bogan, a coyote researcher at Siena College. At least four coyotes have been spotted around Manhattan so far this year, and one was seen clambering around on the roof of a Queens bar before disappearing, says Sarah Aucoin, the director of the city's Urban Park Rangers program. Three of the animals were captured in Manhattan and released in Bronx parks with established coyote populations, she said. Police chased after the fourth on Wednesday in Manhattan's Riverside Park, even using a helicopter  until the animal secreted itself in deep brush near Grant's Tomb...more

Oh, how I hope they proliferate.

Work to remove dangerous dead trees in the Carson National Forest closes Canjilon Lakes area

A chunk of the Carson National Forest, including the area surrounding the popular Canjilon Lakes, will be closed for at least the next year while officials decide how best to safely remove uncounted numbers of dead and dying trees. “More than 70 percent, 80 percent of the mature spruce, fir and aspen have been dying because of insects, diseases and drought,” said Kathy DeLucas, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service. The two popular fishing lakes are about 40 miles north of EspaƱola. The closure will cover about 1,100 acres, with the most significant damage in an area of about 250 acres. That includes the fishing lakes and a 48-site campground. “We’re closing it for at least this year, maybe longer for safety reasons,” she said. “We have concerns about trees falling on fishermen, picnickers and campers.” The western tent caterpillar is the main culprit as it eats the foliage – particularly of aspens – denuding the trees and leaving them susceptible to disease during periods of drought, DeLucas said. Concerns over the infestation have been growing in recent years, with the Forest Service cutting down about 5,500 stricken trees last year alone, she said. But the problem has gotten so widespread that the Forest Service is reluctant even to send in its own employees, DeLucas said. In the coming years, the closures could spread to the equally popular and nearby Trout Lakes...more

Illegal immigrant deportations plummet as amnesty hampers removal efforts

Deportations have plummeted by another 25 percent so far this year, with the government even struggling to find enough criminals to kick out of the country, according to the latest statistics that suggest President Obama’s amnesty has hampered removal efforts. That could undercut Mr. Obama’s legal justification for the deportation amnesty, where the pace of deportations has been raised as a key way of judging whether the president is complying with the law by trying to grant “deferred action” to millions of illegal immigrants. The numbers for the first six months of fiscal year 2015, which began Oct. 1, are striking: The government has deported just 117,181 immigrants, which is just three-quarters of the 157,365 immigrations kicked out during that same period a year earlier, according to figures provided to Congress. “This is a stunning free fall in enforcement activity, not just deportations but arrests too,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports stricter immigration limits. “It turns out that even criminal arrests and deportations have dropped, including those of the ‘worst of the worst’ Level 1 felons, and the huge numbers of criminal releases continues.” Overall, deportations are down a stunning 41 percent in the last three years — and the drop began almost exactly at the beginning of Mr. Obama’s 2012 temporary deportation amnesty for so-called Dreamers...more

Thursday, April 23, 2015

US to announce plans to reduce agricultural carbon emissions

Federal agricultural officials are planning to announce voluntary programs and initiatives for farmers, ranchers and foresters meant to build on President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat global warming — and don’t require congressional approval. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is expected to unveil plans Thursday at Michigan State University, where Obama signed the sweeping farm bill into law last year. The efforts, many of which have their roots in that law, aim to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions, boost carbon capture and storage and come with various enticements, including grants, low-interest loans and technical assistance. Vilsack said the agriculture industry accounts for about 9 percent of U.S. emissions, adding that compares favorably with the rest of the globe but can be improved. Obama administration aides have said the issue of climate change became even more attractive after the November election, because the Democrat has considerable leverage to act without Congress. Such actions, though, have drawn fierce objections from Republicans and the energy industry. Specific actions to be announced Thursday include reducing the unnecessary use of fertilizer and methane emissions from cattle and swine, reforesting areas damaged by wildfire and disease and encouraging tree planting in urban areas. For methane reduction in particular, the federal program promotes installing more anaerobic digesters, which use naturally occurring bacteria to break down organic waste to produce biogas, a fuel similar to natural gas...more

Feds plan to improve resilience of four regions around US to impacts from climate change

Three federal agencies announced April 21 that they'll begin collaborating with state, local and tribal partners to restore four areas around the country that are now vulnerable to climate change and other ecological problems such as sea-level rise, wildfires and invasive species. The Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the goal is to ensure that long-term conservation efforts in the selected areas in southwest Florida, Hawaii, Washington state and the Great Lakes region take climate change into account, according to a combined press release from the agencies. "Climate change is impacting every corner of the nation – from the Everglades to the Arctic – which has ramifications for our natural and cultural heritage, public health and economic activity," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in the statement. "Through increased collaboration, we can pool resources and bring the best available science to bear as we take a landscape-level approach to make these treasured lands and waters more resilient to the impacts of climate change." Over the next 18 months, the work will address specific strategies that will "benefit wildfire management, mitigation investments, restoration efforts, water and air quality, carbon storage and the communities that depend upon natural systems for their own resilience," the release added.  The initiative is part of the Obama administration's plan to improve America's natural defenses against extreme weather, protect biodiversity and conserve natural resources. Obama recently said that climate change is the biggest threat facing the planet...more

Earth Day: 22 Ways to Think about the Climate-Change Debate


Reasonable people can disagree about the nature and extent of climate change. But no one should sally forth into this hostile territory without reason and reflection.

“Some scientists make ‘period, end of story’ claims,” writes biologist and naturalist Daniel Botkin in the Wall Street Journal, “that human-induced global warming definitely, absolutely either is or isn’t happening.”

These scientists, as well as the network of activists and cronies their science supports, I will refer to as the Climate Orthodoxy. These are the folks who urge, generally, that (a) global warming is occurring, (b) it is almost entirely man-made, and (c) it is occurring at a rate and severity that makes it an impending planetary emergency requiring political action. A Climate Agnostic questions at least one of those premises.

Trying to point out the problems of the Climate Orthodoxy to its adherents is like trying to talk the Archbishop of Canterbury into questioning the existence of God. In that green temple, many climatologists and climate activists have become one in the same: fueled both by government grants and zealous fervor.

Room for debate

But the debate must go on, even as the atmosphere for dialogue gets increasingly polluted. The sacralization of climate is being used as a great loophole in the rule of law, an apology for bad science (and even worse economics), and an excuse to do anything and everything to have and keep power.
Those with a reasoned agnosticism about the claims of the Climate Orthodoxy will find themselves in debate. It’s April 22nd — Earth Day. So I want to offer 22 ways to think about the climate-change debate. I hope these points will give those willing to question man-made climate change some aid and comfort.

1. Consider the whole enchilada
First, let’s zoom out a few orders of magnitude to look at the Climate Orthodoxy as a series of dots that must be connected, or better, a series of premises that must be accepted in their totality.
  • The earth is warming.
  • The earth is warming primarily due to the influence of human beings engaged in production and energy use.
  • Scientists are able to limn most of the important phenomena associated with a warming climate, disentangling the human from the natural influence, extending backward well into the past.
  • Scientists are able then to simulate most of the phenomena associated with a warming earth and make reasonable predictions, within the range of a degree or two, into the future about 100 years.
  • Other kinds of scientists are able to repackage this information and make certain kinds of global predictions about the dangers a couple of degrees will make over that hundred years.
  • Economists are able to repackage those predictions and make yet further predictions about the economic costs and benefits that accompany those global predictions.
  • Other economists then make further predictions based on what the world might be like if the first set of economists is right in its predictions (which were based on the other scientists’ predictions, and so on) — and then they propose what the world might look like if certain policies were implemented.
  • Policymakers are able to take those economists’ predictions and set policies that will ensure what is best for the people and the planet on net.
  • Those policies are implemented in such a way that they work. They have global unanimity, no defections, no corruption, and a lessoning of carbon-dioxide output that has a real effect on the rate of climate change — enough to pull the world out of danger.
  • Those policies are worth the costs they will impose on the peoples of the world, especially the poorest.
That is a lot to swallow. And yet, it appears that the Climate Orthodoxy requires we accept all of it. Otherwise, why would the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publish a document called “Summary for Policymakers”?

2. Models are not evidence

The problem with models is that they are not reality. Whenever we try to model complex systems like the climate, we’re only getting a simulacrum of a system, designed to represent projected scenarios. So when a climatologist presents a model as evidence, he is playing a kind of game. He wants you to think, by dint of computer wizardry, that he has drawn for you a picture of the world as it is. But he hasn’t. And if observation of surface temperatures over the last 18 years has shown one thing, it’s that climate models have been inadequate tools for forecasting complex natural phenomena.

3. Forecast is not observation 

In the first IPCC assessment of 1992, the authors wrote, “Scenarios are not predictions of the future and should not be used as such.” Whether one views the models as predictions or as scenarios, the evidence is barely within the most conservative of these in the most recent assessment, which is essentially designed to hide good news.

When one attempts to forecast — that is, to tell the future — one is not engaging in observation. That is not to claim that prediction isn’t a part of the scientific enterprise; it’s simply to say that when one’s predictions (or scenarios) are off, one’s theory is suspect, and it must be modified and tested again. Any theory, and any forecast scenarios on which it’s based, have to be tested in the crucible of observation. The Climate Orthodoxy has thus far failed that test.

NMSU Cowboy Reunion 1966-1967 Houston, Reeves, Brown, Stewart

Here's two tunes each from 1966 and 1967:  David Houston - Almost Persuaded, Jim Reeves - Snowflake, Jim Ed Brown - Pop A Top, and Wynn Stewart - Its Such A Pretty World Today.

Feds bypass protection for Sierra sage grouse

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell reversed the government’s proposed federal protection for a type of sage grouse specific to California and Nevada on Tuesday, and said it shows it’s still possible to head off a bigger, looming listing decision for the greater sage grouse across 11 Western states. Jewell joined Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and others in announcing she’s withdrawing the government’s 2013 proposal to declare the bistate, Mono Basin sage grouse a threatened species along the California-Nevada line. The bird found only along the Sierra’s eastern front no longer faces the threat of extinction thanks to voluntary conservation efforts and range improvements initiated by ranchers, local governments, private land owners and public land managers, she said...more

NMSU Cowboy Reunion 1965 - Mack, Louvin, Reeves, Wright, Wheeler

We heard quite a bit from Buck & Roger in 1964, so here's some other artists with hits of 1965:  Warner Mack - The Bridge Washed Out, Charlie Louvin - See The Big Man Cry, Del Reeves - Girl On The Billboard, Johnny Wright - Hello Vietnam, Billy Edd Wheeler - Ode To The Little Brown Shack

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Court - Road trumps mouse in wildlife refuge

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district judge’s decision that allows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to transfer land within the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge as an easement for a road that will encircle the Denver metropolitan area. WildEarth Guardians, an environmental group, pursued the lawsuit by claiming the roadway will jeopardize the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse, an endangered species. But the court noted that the federal law that created the wildlife refuge at the site of a former nuclear weapons facility specifically foresaw its use for a road. link

A copy of the decision is here