Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Clarification

Thanks for all the kind comments.

In my Note to Readers post yesterday I mentioned I would be spending less time in front of a computer.  Its doctor's orders.  I have a severe case of lymphedema and must spend most of my time in bed, in lymphedema pumps and with my feet higher than my heart.

They have limited my time in the wheelchair which means I have less time for internet searches and therefor you'll see fewer posts.

Some thought I was gone for two weeks and that is not the case.  I was just letting you know The Westerner may look a little different and I may miss some things.

Editorial: BLM sells out NM, nation with SunZia green light

This is one green light that should have stayed red.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s announcement that her department’s Bureau of Land Management had given the “go” to a controversial electricity transmission line across New Mexico is a threat to national security at a time of global challenges that range from radical Islamic terrorists to increased Iranian militancy to a bristling and bulked-up Vladimir Putin.

The proposed 515-mile power line would be designed to take electricity from wind and solar farms in central New Mexico to Arizona to be sold in Western markets.

Jewell says the $1.2 billion power line project by private developers that will cross land used by the White Sands Missile Range “will help unlock the abundant renewable energy resources in the Southwest, creating jobs and bringing reliable, sustainable power to a growing corner of our country.”

White Sands is an invaluable asset to the U.S. military for testing technologies and weapons to keep the nation and its people safe. The military has had serious concerns about SunZia’s alignment across the Northwest Extension. The state’s Military Base Planning Commission also opposes the alignment.
U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican, has been adamantly opposed to the line’s encroachment on the range. “It appears that, with one stroke of a pen, Sec. Jewell will permanently damage our national security,” he said in a written statement.


And then the Albuquerque Journal editorial pulls no punches when it comes to Senator Martin Heinrich:

U.S. Sen Martin Heinrich, a Democrat, has been equally adamant in his support for SunZia – opting to side with its eco-friendly potential over tangible concerns over national security and current economic reality. Heinrich, of course, is a darling of environmental groups and collects big campaign dollars from them. Environmental concerns are among his top five contributors, according to Ballotpedia.org, and gave Heinrich $377,465 from 2007 through 2014.

If New Mexico voters don’t share Heinrich’s rather utopian view, they should take note that they can and should express their displeasure at the voting booth in 2018.

It's nice to see that New Mexico's largest newspaper is noticing what the ranching/rural community has known for a long time.  They continue to suffer under Heinrich's "utopian" wilderness and national monument designations (See here, here, here, here, here and here).

Will endangered species status help the Mexican gray wolf?

by Jeremy Miller

Earlier this month, one of the U.S.’s most threatened and controversial species received new protections that federal wildlife managers hope will allow the species to gain new ground in its home range of New Mexico and Arizona.

On January 12, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Mexican gray wolf, or Canis lupus baileyi, as an endangered subspecies under the Endangered Species Act. Before the new rule, Mexican grays were protected under the E.S.A. but lumped in with their larger, more northerly relative, the gray wolf, reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995. Today more than 1,500 grays inhabit large swaths of the northwestern U.S.

...Under the new rule, the USFWS will seek to establish an experimental population of between 300 and 325 Mexican grays. The rules also significantly expand the boundaries of the wolves’ protected range and areas where animals can be released. The former territory comprised portions of the Gila and Apache National Forests but the new rule pushes the southern boundary for the experimental population from Interstate 10 all the way to the U.S.-Mexico border. (However, the northern boundary ends at Interstate 40, so wolves that travel to the Grand Canyon and into potential habitat beyond are not protected.)...

According to Tuggle, the rule is also accompanied by “clearer and more flexible rules to support the interests of local stakeholders” – namely, a provision that allows individuals to get permits allowing them to kill wolves that attack livestock or domestic dogs.

This “take” provision is one of several aspects of the law that has drawn criticism from environmental groups, such as the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife. The same groups have also pointed out that the law is unusual in that it defines a maximum rather than minimum population threshold.

Senate Democrats slam White House oil drilling plan

Several Democratic senators from states along the East Coast roundly criticized Tuesday the Obama administration's plan to allow offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. The move by Sens. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Ben Cardin of Maryland comes a day after the all-Republican congressional delegation slammed the President's proposal to declare 12 million acres of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) off-limits to drilling. The Republican opponents of that plan said the White House's move would hurt Alaska's economy. Democrats on Tuesday used a similar argument, arguing a potential oil spill could be catastrophic to the economies of their states. "The fact is drilling in the Atlantic is a risk-reward proposition," Menendez said. "All of the risk is put on the backs of our shore communities and all of the reward goes to Big Oil." The proposed plan released by the Department of the Interior would include 14 potential lease sales in eight planning areas -- 10 in the Gulf of Mexico, three of the coast of Alaska and one in part of the Mid- and South Atlantic, which includes areas offshore Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia...more

Wolf count meets critical threshold

Wolves in Oregon have hit the threshold for consideration of taking them off the state endangered species list. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Tuesday that the latest wolf census confirms at least seven breeding pairs — six in northeastern Oregon and one, led by the famous wanderer OR-7, in the southern Cascades. The state wolf management plan calls for a status review once there have been four breeding pairs producing pups that survive a year for three years running. That review will be presented to the state Fish and Wildlife Commission when it meets April 24 in Bend. The earliest a decision could be made would be at the commission’s June 5 meeting in Salem. The milestone was reached just seven years after wolves introduced into the Northern Rockies started moving into Oregon from Idaho...more

Worry for Solar Projects After End of Tax Credits

For more than a year now, an enormous solar thermal power plant has been humming along in the Arizona desert, sending out power as needed, even well after sunset. The plant, called Solana, was developed by the Spanish energy and technology company Abengoa and has succeeded in meeting an elusive solar goal — producing electricity when the sun is not shining — and displacing fossil-fuel-based power in the grid. “With the sun going down at 6 or 7 o’clock at night, all the other forms of solar production are essentially going to zero,” said Brad Albert, general manager for resource management at Arizona Public Service, the state’s main utility, “while Solana is still producing at full power capability. It just adds a whole lot of value to us because our customer demand is so high even after the sun goes down.” Indeed, Abengoa opened another mammoth plant on Friday in the Mojave Desert in California that uses a similar approach. But despite the technology’s success, Abengoa and other developers say they do not have plans at the moment to build more such plants in the United States. And that is largely because of uncertainty surrounding an important tax credit worth 30 percent of a project’s cost. Although the subsidy, known as the Investment Tax Credit, is to remain in place until the end of 2016, when it will drop to 10 percent, that does not give developers enough time to get through the long process of securing land, permits, financing and power-purchase agreements, executives and analysts say...more

Congressional Border Tour Shows Breaches in Barrier Fence

A bipartisan group of members of the House Homeland Security Committee spent Saturday meeting with Arizona border ranchers, seeing drones at Ft. Huachuca, and driving along the fence between Arizona and Mexico. The 19 Republicans and two Democrats will consider a new Border Security bill this week. Six of the members on the trip were visiting the border for the first time. U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Tucson, is a member of the committee and acted as a tour guide for her colleagues. The tour took the group by areas of the border wall that had been recently breached by alleged smugglers, she said. “So they see first hand and they hear first hand the concerns and fears border residents have,” McSally said. On Wednesday, the full House is expected to take up the border security bill McSally has cosponsored. U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson will be in Phoenix this week to deliver a speech on border security...more

At Newly Discovered Water Temple, Maya Offered Sacrifices to End Drought

Nestled in a quiet forest in Belize, a deep aquamarine pool holds ruins from a time when the ancient Maya turned to a "drought cult," archaeologists suggest, and hurried sacrifices to a water god to try to stave off the fall of their civilization.  At the Cara Blanca site in Belize, archaeologists report the discovery of a water temple complex: a small plaza holding the collapsed remnants of a lodge and two smaller structures. The main structure rests beside a deep pool where pilgrims offered sacrifices to the Maya water god, and perhaps also to the demons of the underworld. The find paints a picture of drought-stricken devotion during the collapse of the Maya. The pyramid-building civilization thrived across Central America for centuries, only to see most of its cities collapse after A.D. 800. Beneath Cara Blanca's white cliffs, pilgrims sacrificed pots, jars, and bowls to the temple pool's depths. The sacrifices apparently came from both near and far, pointing to the ruin as a place where people from across the region came to pray for rain. "The pilgrims came there to purify themselves and to make offerings," says University of Illinois archaeologist Lisa Lucero, who led the team that explored the ruins. She has plumbed the depths of the cenote, or natural pool, for four years, finding long-lost offerings of ceramics and stone tools in its depths. "It was a special place with a sacred function," she says. But it would seem that Chaak and the evil gods of the underworld set the Maya up for their fall, with the rain they gave and then withheld. Penn State anthropologist Douglas Kennett and colleagues have reported that stalagmite records show that high rainfall likely led to a Maya population boom that lasted until A.D. 660. That in turn set up their kingdoms for a fall when the rain stopped. Repeated droughts unseated the Maya kings, their cities collapsing starting around A.D. 800 throughout Central America. The rain shortfall may have also sparked a "drought cult" of people who, eager to placate Chaak, left a spate of sacrifices at caves and cenotes across the suddenly desperate Maya realm. Similar sacred qualities might explain why the water temple at Cara Blanca appears to be partly constructed from the cenote's tufa stone. During its construction, the floors of the shrine were sprinkled with a blanket of sacrificed potsherds and fossil teeth or claws dredged up from the pool, as well. Small water jars predominated among the ceramics. Some were painted with a water motif of wavy lines and spirals, and one bowl was painted with a jaguar, associated with water and caves in Maya mythology.  Other caves visited by the drought cult are similarly adorned with blankets of potsherd offerings, Moyes says. Human sacrifices also may have started to appear during that time in the deep recesses of the underworld's caves, the home of Chaak...more

McDonalds fights food myths with this video

McDonald's came to Caldwell to shoot a five-minute YouTube video showing how J.R. Simplot Co. prepares fries for the fast-food chain at its potato-processing plant. A Simplot spud farm near Grandview also stars. Fry potatoes are fired through a cutter at more than 60 miles per hour, partially fried, dipped into preservatives and sugar, and frozen, all at the Caldwell plant. What's McDonald's angle? To prove its fries aren't made from a mash injected into molds. The video is part of a series showing how McDonald's processes its beef, eggs, Chicken McNuggets and McRib. "There's a lot of questions about our food, and in some cases myths or misperceptions," a McDonald's spokeswoman told the Statesman. "We want to lay it all out on the table and show the honest process."...more 

Here's the video:

http://youtu.be/el0EDgyO39w

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1366

Continuing with the King label here is an unissued side by the Delmore Brothers (When I'm Gone) Don't Talk About Me.  The tune was recorded in Hollywood in January of 1946. 

http://youtu.be/k8RD3md6W3E

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Note to readers

Due to some issues will be spending less time in front of a computer for the next couple of weeks



Exposed EPA Memo: Tie Fighting Global Warming To Americans’ ‘Personal Worries’


An Environmental Protection Agency memo sent to top officials implored the agency to build up support for its agenda by tying its regulatory agenda to the “personal worries” of Americans. “Polar ice caps and the polar bears have become the climate change ‘mascots,’ if you will, and personify the challenges we have in making this issue real for many Americans,” reads a memo sent around to top agency officials in March 2009, just months after President Barack Obama took office. “Most Americans will never see a polar ice cap, nor will most have the chance to see a polar bear in its natural habitat,” the memo reads. “Therefore, it is easy to detach from the seriousness of this issue. Unfortunately, climate change in the abstract is an increasingly — and consistently — unpersuasive argument to make.”...more

Yes, us poor, ignorant folks just don't kimo sabe them abstract thingies; so just fool us into doin' what's right.

San Antonio Expected to Okay Continuation of 'Aquifer Sales Tax'

City Council on Thursday will discuss whether to continue the 1/8th cent sales tax which has been collected for the past 15 years to pay for projects to protect the Edwards Aquifer, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports. Annalisa Peace, Executive Director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance and a long time advocate for conservation efforts to protect the Aquifer, says the program has 'absolutely worked' to protect what remains the region's major source of drinking water. "In our opinion, the best thing you can do to protect the recharge zone is to keep it in it's pristine state, and this program does exactly that," Peace said. The sales tax is used mainly for purchasing property over the Recharge Zone to keep the property from being developed, and to prevent ranchers from irrigating the land. "We are assured that those areas will never be developed and that is very very important, because the biggest threat that we see to water quality and quantity is urbanization." The money from the sales tax, which was approved by the voters in 2000 and reauthorized twice since then, has paid for the purchase of what is now the Government Canyon State Wilderness Area, as well as helping pay for preserving the land over the Bracken Bat Cave. Some of the land which is purchased goes into public hands, while money has also been used to buy 'conservative easements.' That land remains privately held, but cannot be developed or irrigated, and is subject to periodic inspection...more


A good example of how a community surrounded by private land protects it's watershed.  Now if it was federal land there'd be a helluva fight, settled in court years later, with some local federal official saying they'd made the right decision since nobody was happy..

Bison not cattle's top competitor for range forage, ecologists say

...So, for ranchers leasing Bureau of Land Management-owned land for grazing beef cattle in southeastern Utah's Henry Mountains, where Ranglack studies bison, it's logical to assume the large, free-ranging herbivores are the livestock's main competitor for forage. But that's not the case, Ranglack says. The biggest consumer, he discovered after two years of study, is actually the much smaller, and less conspicuous, rabbit. With faculty mentor Johan du Toit, professor in USU's Department of Wildland Resources and Ecology Center and USU statistician Susan Durham, Ranglack published findings in the Jan. 26, 2015 issue of the Journal of Applied Ecology. The team's research was supported by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. "As we started the study, we first met with ranchers to measure their perceptions of wildlife-livestock conflict in the Henry Mountains," Ranglack says. "Most felt bison were consuming more than their share." The Henry Mountains bison are descendants of animals transplanted to the area from Yellowstone National Park in 1941 and thought to be one of the few genetically pure groups of the species. Challenges for the UDWR, which manages the bison, are determining how many of the animals live in the area in a given year, where they prefer to forage, the impact they have on available cattle forage and how many should be harvested during the hunting season. Ranglack and colleagues constructed 40 grazing exclosures in the conflict area to observe foraging behavior. Cattle consumed about 52 percent of the total grass biomass on the shared range, while bison ate about 13 percent. Lagomorphs – that is, jackrabbits and cottontail rabbits – gobbled up about 34 percent of the food. "Because they're nocturnal and small, lagomorphs are less noticeable on the landscape," Ranglack says. "Unless you look closely – as we walked around shared grazing areas, we found rabbit pellets everywhere." Looking at the big picture, the rabbits' proliferation comes into focus. "With a reduced coyote population, lagomorph populations are likely higher than what we would expect naturally," Ranglack says. "Lagomorphs' nutritional needs also affect their choice and consumption of forage." Pound for pound, rabbits eat much more than bison and the big-eared mammals need food of higher quality because they metabolize it quickly, he says. "In contrast, bison can live on food of much lower nutritional quality because they digest their food so slowly," Ranglack says. "It takes up to 80 hours for grass to pass through a bison's digestive system, which gives plenty of time for nutrients to be absorbed."...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1365

We'll be sampling a collection of 78s on the King record label this week.  Here is Hank Penny - Hope You're Satisfied.  Recorded in Cincinnati in March of 1945.  Other notables in the studio that day were Roy Lanham on guitar and Zed Tennis on fiddle.

http://youtu.be/Fluc1bVohHw

Monday, January 26, 2015

National Park Service official expected to take reins at CEQ

The White House is planning to hire a National Park Service official and public lands expert to take the helm at the Council on Environmental Quality, according to two sources familiar with the administration's plans. Christy Goldfuss, who's now deputy director of congressional and external relations at the Park Service, will soon join CEQ as a senior adviser, according to CEQ spokeswoman Taryn Tuss. She's expected to ultimately replace acting CEQ Chairman Mike Boots, who's slated to step down in March after leading the agency for the past year, the two sources outside the White House told Greenwire. Goldfuss will be central to the administration's work on climate change -- a priority for the remainder of the term, Tuss said today in a statement. She declined to comment on personnel shuffles that may occur when Boots leaves his office. "She will help oversee implementation of the President's Climate Action Plan and work with other White House partners on new strategies to tackle this global challenge, and will continue to advance the President's agenda for protecting the lands and waters Americans value." Goldfuss will be part of a new green leadership team in the White House. Obama's top environmental aide, John Podesta, plans to leave the administration next month. His energy portfolio will be taken over by White House budget expert Brian Deese, the White House announced this week (E&E Daily, Jan. 22). Along with Deese and Obama's special assistant for energy and climate, Dan Utech, Goldfuss would be tasked with pushing through the White House environmental agenda during the administration's final years...more

States Challenge Federal Control of Western Lands

by Bonner Cohen

    The large swaths of federal lands in western states are at the center of a debate over the future of tens of millions of acres between the eastern rim of the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
    Under the “Transfer of Public Lands Act,” signed into law in 2012 by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R), the federal government had until Dec. 31, 2014 to relinquish control of more than half of the 54.3 million acres Washington controls in the Beehive State. The deadline came and went, without any federal land being conveyed to Utah. Arguably symbolic, the law was a sign of mounting discontent in Western states over Washington’s dominance.
State Would Benefit
     In addition to ordering Washington to transfer the title to 31.2 million acres of federal land to Utah, the 2012 statute commissioned the University of Utah’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, Utah State University, and Webber State University to conduct an economic analysis of the proposed land transfer. The analysis, released Dec. 1, concluded if the land transfer were completed by 2017, Utah would incur an additional $280 million in costs to manage the newly gained lands, but the costs would be more than offset by an expected $331.7 million in royalties from the development of natural resources, primarily oil and natural gas.
    In a statement Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), incoming chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, with jurisdiction over federal lands, said, “The findings of this report confirm that the state is more than capable of taking on the management of these lands.”
Rumblings in Montana
    Although Utah has been the most aggressive in challenging federal ownership of land within its borders, rumblings of discontent are also being heard in Montana. The Helena Independent Record (12/26) reported State Rep. Jennifer Fielder (R-Thompson Falls) is spearheading efforts to have federal lands transferred to Montana. The Record’s article quotes Fielder saying, “Montanans can do a better job than the federal government managing our lands.”
    Fielder chaired a working group on federal lands for the Environmental Quality Council, a committee of the state legislature. The working group’s draft report to the legislature in 2014 recommended transferring federal lands to the state, but—in a compromise worked out with Democrats—only after all other means had been exhausted.
    The transfer of federal lands to western states, whether to be managed by the states or to be sold off to the highest bidder, is fiercely opposed by environmental lobbyists, including the Sierra Club and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA). In early December SUWA began running radio and TV ads opposing what they termed a “land grab” by western states. In one TV ad showing people fishing and riding horseback, a voice said, “Seizing public lands: A bad idea we can’t afford” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZybaikGlb6E).

Bonner R. Cohen is a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1364

Its Swingin' Monday and we bring you Bob Dunn's Vagabonds - It Must Be Love.  The tune was recorded in Houston on March 2, 1939 and released as Decca 5694.  Bob Dunn was the first artist to record with an amplified steel guitar, which he did in January of 1935 while a member of Milton Brown's Musical Brownies. 

http://youtu.be/58CHpbRdv5Y