Subscribe: The Westerner
http://thewesterner.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
Language: English
Tags:
endangered species  federal  fish wildlife  interior  mexico  new mexico  new  office  policy  service  species  wildlife  zinke   
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: The Westerner

THE WESTERNER



Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo.



Updated: 2018-04-21T18:22:29.773-06:00

 



White House reportedly exploring wartime rule to help coal, nuclear

2018-04-21T18:22:29.733-06:00

According to reports from Bloomberg and E&E News, the Trump Administration has been exploring another way to help coal and nuclear generators: the Defense Production Act of 1950. The Act was passed under President Truman. Motivated by the Korean War, it allows the president broad authority to boost US industries that are considered a priority for national security. On Thursday, E&E News cited sources that said "an interagency process is underway" at the White House to examine possible application of the act to the energy industry. The goal would be to give some form of preference to coal and nuclear plants that are struggling to compete with cheap natural gas. link



Otter Poop Helps Scientists Track Pollution at a Superfund Site

2018-04-21T13:00:37.067-06:00

The Duwamish River, which winds through Seattle, contains a lot of unpleasant stuff. In one industrially contaminated stretch, which has been designated a Superfund site, levels of many pollutants exceed state health standards. The compounds, which include notorious chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), settle in river sediments and make fish and shellfish unsafe to eat. Swimming amidst this pollution is a population of river otters. Now researchers are proposing to use otter poop to help monitor a 17-year-long plan to clean the river, recently approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Biologist Michelle Wainstein, from Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, says the charismatic mammals are top predators who mainly eat fish and crabs but also dine on frogs, birds and small mammals. All these river denizens take in pollutants and pass them along to otters. The otters, in turn, use communal latrines on shore to defecate, making it easy and noninvasive to sample their scat for pollutants. “They like to get together and have poop parties,” Wainstein says. This kind of sampling can give scientists a much better idea of what is getting into a body than simply analyzing water or river sediment. Picking up scat to determine pollutant levels also is preferable to trapping otters, because handling the creatures “can be extremely stressful for animals,” says Elizabeth Peterson, a postdoctoral researcher at Colorado State University–Pueblo...MORE



California announces tentative funding for new giant dams

2018-04-21T07:23:06.630-06:00

California officials said Friday that eight major water projects qualify for a share of billions in state drought funds, an announcement that breathes new life into plans for two reservoir expansions in the Bay Area and two new massive dams in the Central Valley. Bids to enlarge the East Bay’s Los Vaqueros Reservoir and Santa Clara County’s Pacheco Reservoir were deemed eligible for the highly sought Proposition 1 money. So were proposals for a new, 13-mile-long reservoir in Sites (Colusa County) and a new, 18-mile-long reservoir known as Temperance Flat near Fresno. Friday’s funding decision was good news for proponents of the storage projects, most of whom had been denied money in a tentative verdict announced in January. The California Water Commission initially determined that just three of 11 proposals submitted met Proposition 1’s strict terms for providing public benefit. Most of the applicants appealed the original decision, which could have doomed many of the projects, resulting in a new round of scoring...MORE



EPA to unveil policy aimed at avoiding legal action over oil and gas polluters: source

2018-04-20T16:25:15.870-06:00

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) office of enforcement will announce a new policy aimed specifically at helping polluters in the oil and gas industry, The Hill has learned. The new policy, which has not been finalized, will focus on offering more flexibility to oil and gas companies that choose to self-audit their emissions and report any failures to meet EPA’s regulations, according to an EPA employee with knowledge of the plan. EPA's head of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA), Susan Bodine, has plans to announce the policy Friday at the EarthX Law and Policy symposium in Dallas. The announcement is timed with Earth Day, which is Sunday. The date is also notable because it's the eight year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which dumped nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Bodine will be speaking on a panel focused on sustainable and ethical corporate decisionmaking...MORE



Girl Scouts to press EPA on coal ash

2018-04-20T13:07:54.315-06:00

Some Central Illinois residents are heading to the nation's capitol to call on the EPA. They want to keep strict regulations on coal ash in place. The toxic waste comes from coal plants and can seep into groundwater if left unmonitored. It's turned up in the Vermilion River and now, environmentalists fear it'll happen more often if rules change. Not only environmentalists are concerned. Some young Girl Scouts are also taking up the fight. They may be young, but they know exactly what coal ash is and the threat it poses to the environment and their health. "I want to be an environmental lobbyist." It's something 7th grader Amelia Hopkins has known since kindergarten and Girl Scouts is giving her a head start. Her decorated sash is proof, but now she's stepping things up a notch. Monday, she and her younger sister are heading to D.C. to speak before the EPA. The agency is considering the rollback of a 2015 Obama-era regulation lowering standards for the clean up and disposal of coal ash. It leaves it up to states to enforce the rules. For Amelia, it could be bad news for summer camp at Lake Springfield...MORE



US official appeared to delay protections for endangered species at behest of oil group

2018-04-20T10:47:20.731-06:00

The Texas hornshell is a sleek green-grey mussel that once thrived in the Rio Grande watershed, its habitat stretching from southern New Mexico down into the arid Texas borderlands. Some of its habitat happens to overlap with rich deposits of oil and gas. Amid a long-term decline in its range, the Obama administration in 2016 proposed to declare the mussel an endangered species. Upon taking office, however, the Trump administration changed tack. A top interior department official, Vincent DeVito, appears to take credit for helping to delay federal protections for the species at the behest of fossil-fuel industry groups, one of several examples of his willingness to prioritize the needs of extractive industries with business before the government, according to public records obtained by the Guardian and Pacific Standard as well as Documented and the Western Values Project, both watchdog groups. DeVito, a Boston energy lawyer and the former co-chair of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in Massachusetts, is a little-known figure in the US government. He is one of a host of political appointees hired by Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary whose department oversees well over 400m acres of public land and can determine the fate of species that inhabit them. Yet DeVito is now emerging as a critical player. At a speech last summer to Americans for Prosperity, a political advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers, DeVito described his role at the department as “the office of energy dominance”. Officially, there is no such office, though “energy dominance” has become a slogan for the interior department’s fossil-fuel-first policy agenda...MORE



Ranch Radio Song of the Day

2018-04-20T07:41:45.863-06:00

TGIFF! Its Fiddle Friday and we have Crossing The Catskills by Vassar Clements. The tune is on his 1973 album by the same name.

https://youtu.be/uDg3aW_0Y4Y
allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uDg3aW_0Y4Y" width="560">



Boozman Appointed to Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (with Heinrich)

2018-04-20T07:41:26.490-06:00

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) has been appointed to serve on the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, the organization responsible for directing funds raised by the sale of the Duck Stamp to waterfowl habitat and hunting conservation. “I am honored to serve on the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission and be a voice for Arkansas wetlands, which are extremely important to the Natural State’s wildlife, tourism industry and economy. As a duck hunting destination, it’s critically important that we protect waterfowl habitat in order to continue attracting sportsmen to our state. I look forward to working with commission members to preserve our lands for outdoor enthusiasts,” Boozman said. Established in 1929, the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission was created and authorized to consider and approve the purchase of wetlands and other areas recommended by the Secretary of the Interior for purchase or easement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), as well as establish new waterfowl refuges. The Duck Stamp is a major source of revenue that helps fund the purchase of migratory bird habitat. Since the commission's establishment, more than 5.6 million acres have been acquired by FWS for addition to the National Wildlife Refuge System. The commission typically meets three times a year. In addition to Boozman, members of the commission are:

Chair – Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior
Martin Heinrich, Senator from New Mexico
Robert J. Wittman, Representative from Virginia
Mike Thompson, Representative from California
Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture
Scott Pruitt, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency



Farm Bill Reduces Endangered Species Protections

2018-04-19T11:51:13.304-06:00

Well, it seems the current House farm bill draft is getting more controversial day by day. For example, in addition to proposed changes to the nutrition programs, the draft bill includes a provision that would allow EPA to approve pesticides without undertaking reviews now required to protect endangered species. As expected, environmental groups are up in arms and argue that the provision is an “unprecedented” attack that could have lasting ramifications for ecosystems across the nation. Their concern is that the bill would allow the EPA to skip consultations with agencies that include the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, which oversee the implementation of Endangered Species Act protections. “This removes the requirement to bring in the expert agencies,” said Lori Ann Burd, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program. She said it would gut protections for endangered species. But Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee see the language as a “commonsense reforms” to an “onerous and conflicting” consultation process that needs to be modernized, according to a summary provided by the panel’s majority. “We're trying to streamline that process,” House Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, told the press. “EPA doesn't have the resources to do a species-by-species deal, so we're trying to figure out a way to protect species, but also being able to get the crop protection things [pesticides] in place. The current system works to the advantage of people who don't want anything to happen.” The committee is scheduled to mark up the bill today...MORE(SCROLL DOWN)



Once Rare Nectar-Feeding Bat Removed From U.S. Endangered Species List

2018-04-19T11:41:23.291-06:00

Thirty years ago, the future looked grim for the lesser long-nosed bat. In 1988, with a population of less than 1,000 and only 14 known roosts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed it as endangered. But things are looking up for the bat. As the agency announced this week in a press release, the bat has recovered enough to be removed from the list. Thanks to bi-national efforts over the last several decades, there are now around 200,000 lesser long-nosed bats at 75 roosts in the American Southwest and Mexico. It is the first bat ever removed from the United States’ Endangered Species List due to population recovery. “The science clearly shows threats to the bat have been eliminated or reduced to the point that the bat has recovered,” says Amy Lueders, the agency’s service southwest regional director, in a statement. The nectar-feeding bat’s recovery is also good news for the environment. It’s an important pollinator and seed disperser of saguaros in the Sonoran Desert and tequila-producing agave in central Mexico. Though some populations of the bat migrate between the United States and Mexico, others stay in Mexico year-round. The creatures contribute to healthy habitats in both countries...MORE



Otero County to have largest cannabis cultivation facility in North America.

2018-04-19T11:28:19.672-06:00

New Mexico's top medical marijuana producer is buying farmland in southern New Mexico where it plans to build what it says will be the largest cannabis cultivation facility in North America. Ultra Health announced the acquisition Thursday, unveiling a three-dimensional rendering of what the facility will look like via social media. The property spans nearly one-third of a square mile (81 hectares) in Otero County. It will include 20 acres (8 hectares) of indoor cultivation, 80 acres (32 hectares) of outdoor cannabis fields and another 100 acres (40 hectares) of outdoor hemp fields. Ultra Health president and CEO Duke Rodriguez says the company is preparing for a future in which New Mexico stands to benefit from an expanded medical marijuana market and legalized recreational use. Legalization is shaping up to be among the campaign issues in the gubernatorial race. The company says the grow facility is expected to employ about 100 people...MORE



Zinke signs order to expand recreational opportunities

2018-04-19T11:09:21.941-06:00

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has ordered his agency to expand recreational opportunities on public lands and waterways. An order signed Wednesday directs the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies to develop plans within 90 days that focus on expanding recreational opportunities. The order also directs bureau heads to designate a full-time employee to oversee recreation. Zinke said the order follows through on his oft-stated goal to “refocus on Interior’s long-standing but recently forgotten recreation mission.” Americans are fortunate to have “amazing public lands and waters to carry out our tradition of outdoor recreation,” Zinke said. But he said the Interior Department must continue to create opportunities to increase access. Zinke named senior adviser Rick May to oversee recreational policy across the department. The order follows one Zinke signed in September to expand hunting and fishing on federal lands. He said it would improve wildlife management and conservation...MORE



Oregon wildlife officials kill 2 wolves in effort to save cattle

2018-04-19T10:13:38.619-06:00

Oregon wildlife officials shot and killed two wolves from a helicopter Wednesday in an attempt to reduce killings of cattle by the predators. The killings have reignited a debate between the state, ranchers and environmentalists about how to manage wolves, which were hunted down for 100 years until they disappeared in 1947. Another young female wolf was shot and killed by a state wildlife official on April 10 on private land where previous depredations occurred. All three wolves belong to the Pine Creek Pack, which roams in eastern Oregon's Baker County, and has killed four calves and injured six others in recent days, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said. The state pays ranchers for wolf-killed livestock...MORE



Ranch Radio Song of the Day

2018-04-19T06:29:53.161-06:00

Today we have the #3 song from 1958 - Ballad of a Teenage Queen by Johnny Cash

https://youtu.be/D_TWMWwtcf8
allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/D_TWMWwtcf8" width="560">



Obama Interior Secretaries Spent More Than Ryan Zinke on Chartered Flights

2018-04-19T05:49:09.119-06:00


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has spent far fewer taxpayer dollars on chartered flights than his two predecessors in the Obama administration, public records show. The Daily Signal’s examination of travel records found that on average Zinke’s two predecessors spent more annually on such noncommercial flights, despite media reports critical of Zinke’s spending on travel. The cost of such chartered flights for Zinke totaled $72,849 in his first six months as interior secretary, the travel records show. The average annual cost of such flights for his two predecessors in the Obama administration, Ken Salazar and Sally Jewell, from fiscal years 2010 to 2016 was $155,515, according to records provided by the Interior Department to the House Natural Resources Committee. Salazar and Jewell spent just over $1 million on chartered flights over the seven years, the records show.Taxpayers were billed for more than $640,000 for Salazar’s chartered flights in fiscal years 2010, 2011, and 2012...MORE



Zinke grilled about edited science report

2018-04-19T05:41:12.258-06:00

House Democrats grilled Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this week about National Park Service officials deleting all references to the human cause of climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report. Zinke told a House Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday that he and other political appointees at the Interior Department, which oversees the Park Service, have not seen the draft. And he repeated a vow that he will not censor scientific reports. Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting last week reported that Park Service officials had edited the scientific report, which outlines the risks of sea level rise and storm surge at 118 coastal national parks. Groups of Senate and House Democrats on Friday requested an investigation by the Interior’s inspector general. At the hearing, Zinke said the drafts were obtained through a public records request to a university and that he wants an investigation into how the media reviewed the drafts before he did. Rep. Chellie Pingree told Zinke she is concerned about sea level rise at Acadia National Park in her home state of Maine. “When that report comes out, I personally don’t want to see it edited to remove any reference,” she said. Zinke responded, “If it’s a scientific report, I’m not going to change a comma.” Earlier in the hearing, Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat from Minnesota, referred to a similar vow Zinke made last month at a Senate hearing. “You even challenged any member to find an altered document and now we have that proof,” she said. “This clear interference of political leadership is forcing employees to violate their scientific integrity policies and it must stop...MORE



Feds Flood Church Camp for Inner City Kids

2018-04-19T05:39:12.444-06:00

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 Contact: William Perry Pendley, 303/292-2021, Ext. 30Feds Flood Church Camp for Inner City KidsMountain States Legal Foundation defends rural Nevada church camp devastated by repeated flooding inflicted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife ServiceApril 18, 2017 – DENVER, CO. For seven years, Pastor Victor Fuentes battled the federal government to protect his church’s camp for kids outside Pahrump, Nevada. It was a battle he did not expect when he fled Fidel Castro’s dictatorship to come to a land where the Constitution protects property rights. Today, Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) joined Pastor Fuentes and his church, Ministerio Roca Solida Iglesia Cristiana, in their fight against the government’s repeated destructive flooding of their camp and the theft of their water rights.Ministerio Roca Solida asserts that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service illegally diverted two spring-fed streams that cross its property, triggered four devastating floods in seven years, and inflicted over $225,000 in damages. “Federal officials abandoned common sense, flouted required federal permits, and dismissed expert warnings about the tribulations their actions would visit upon the camp,” said MSLF attorney Christian Corrigan. “Misconduct by the federal government does not get much more high-handed, spiteful, and brazen than this.”In 2006, the Church purchased the idyllic 40-acre parcel—surrounded by the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge—for retreats, baptisms, and hosting troubled youths from Las Vegas seeking to turn their lives around. The Church spent over $700,000 to repair buildings, restore septic systems, and make improvements. Pastor Fuentes and church volunteers built most of the buildings on the property.In late 2010, the Fish & Wildlife Service, without required Clean Water Act permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, illegally diverted valuable desert streams that had run across the property since before Nevada became a state, cutting off the Church’s surface water supply. Incredibly, the Service’s diversion channel was not designed to accommodate rain or runoff waters; therefore, within weeks of the diversion, the re-routed streams jumped their new banks and directed a torrent of mud and water throughout the entire camp severely damaging structures, injuring livestock, and wreaking other havoc. After the agency refused to restore its property, the Church began its battle to force the federal government to restore its water rights, end the nearly annual flooding, and compensate it for the damages it inflicted.“It is especially tragic that a man who fled communist tyranny should learn the harsh lesson that, here in America, the federal government is the world’s worst neighbor,” said William Perry Pendley, MSLF president.In 1991, Pastor Fuentes escaped Cuba and secured political asylum after swimming seven miles, at night, from Santiago Cuba to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Desperate to bring his ailing mother to America for medical treatment, he became involved with former Cuban nationals who promised to secure her freedom in exchange for his participation in an illicit drug distribution scheme. Caught and convicted of drug distribution, he served a three-year sentence, but while doing so was exposed for the first time to religious mater[...]



Mapping out a solution for livestock haulers

2018-04-19T05:51:22.844-06:00

...One of the concerns regarding the adoption of the new ELD system for livestock haulers, as well as any other truckers is cost. ELDs, can cost from $200 to $1,000 plus a $30-$50 monthly fee. They’re designed to record driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement and speed, miles driven and location information. They electronically report that data to federal and state inspectors and help the DOT enforce its Hours of Service regulation. “Many livestock transportation companies are smaller fleets, operating on thin profit margins. Additional costs to purchase, install and maintain ELDs will add additional costs to the fleet operations,” said Tom Moyer, manager of Livehaul Logistics for PV Transport, an affiliate of Clemens Food Group. “In addition, incorporating ELDs may influence the decision of our older, professional drivers to remain or retire from the transportation industry. Many of these drivers grew up on the family farm, worked on the neighbor’s farm or dad was a truck driver and they rode with him in the summer months, developing their love and sprit of life on the open road. Livestock transportation companies may not be able to replace or fill their trucks’ empty seats if we adopt this new system.” Still, there are many proponents of the regulation, including the American Trucking Association. According to the association, an electronic solution is long overdue, as it was a proposed rule in 2007 designed to replace cumbersome paper logs and eliminate fraudulent reporting while addressing the safety hazards of drowsy driving. HOS-compliant drivers with nothing to hide stand only to benefit from the ELD mandate, ATA maintains. However, when it comes to hauling livestock there’s more to consider, said Michael Formica, assistant vice president and legal counsel, domestic policy for the National Pork Producers Council. “The hours of service rules were set up with a one-size-fits-all system by DOT – that’s not how it works,” he explained. “If you have to pull over when your time is up with a truck full of shoes, it’s no big deal – pulling over with a truck full of animals is something different.” Driving for only 11 hours a day is not going to allow livestock haulers to get their job done, Formica said. “Most transport of cattle is going to be longer than the current hours of service allow. With hogs, the problem will be having to cut back on the number of runs they can get done within their HOS shift.” In addition, there’s a lot of time spent loading and unloading animals, which currently would be deducted from the total 14-hour daily HOS allotment. NPPC, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Farm Bureau and other stakeholders are all working together to communicate these issues of concern to lawmakers to develop a system that makes sense for the agricultural branch of the trucking industry. “We have made a lot of progress – we have a pretty good relationship with the Dept. of Transportation,” Formica said. “They [DOT] recognize that there is a problem that needs to be solved now.” Formica said that since the livestock industry is just a small part of the overall trucking industry the needs of livestock haulers weren’t even considered when the HOS rules were first established. “As a regulatory agency, DOT’s focus is highway safety first and foremost. We, as an industry, need to provide them with data that can show them alternatives to the current regulations.” One suggestion is expanding the HOS drive time to 14 hours, which would give drivers more time to get to their destinations, [...]



NM Rancher fights SunZia powerline

2018-04-18T23:04:11.868-06:00

I am writing this to give reasons for opposition to the SunZia project.Many readers might say that “green energy”is the future. And, in the long term they might be right. But when something is pushed before it’s time, the results are usually bad. I won’t go into details on other projects that were pushed ahead of market forces and turned out poorly, but history is replete with them. Suffice to say, those that fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it.When SunZia applied before the Arizona Corporation Commissioners, the chairman and one other dissented with giving SunZia approval. In his dissent, Chairman Little gave 4 reasons. I have added two additional reasons for New Mexico. The arguments are written first with the counter argument after.SunZia claimed it would reduce transmission congestion. There was no proof of this claim. In fact, for most of the distance in New Mexico, there is no parallel line. So, no congestion.SunZia claimed it would support the development of additional renewable energy sources. This is speculative. Government agencies are not supposed to be in the business of market speculation.SunZia claimed it would give an option for compliance with ever tightening federal air quality restrictions. Again, this speculated that federal air quality restrictions will be tightened. This has not happened under the current administration. In fact, regulations have been loosened.SunZia claimed it would provide needed jobs and State and local revenues. This is not the case. The construction jobs will be given to companies that specialize in power line construction. The number of jobs has steadily decreased from 43,000 to 3,946 with only 203 are expected to be continuous after construction is complete. That pales in comparison to the jobs lost at White Sands Missile Range. In a public meeting, we were told they had lost 940 jobs and were likely to lose more because of SunZia.The chairman also dissented on the need for the renewable power in Arizona. This does not apply since none of the power is scheduled to remain in New Mexico.In New Mexico, the Bureau Of Land Management failed to adequately address scenic, historic archeological and environmental issues. One example is that the line was scheduled to be buried. The map showed the burial right on top of an archeological site. When we asked about this, the response was “What site?” When we showed it to them, it was later described in the follow up Environmental Assessment as an Indian village. There was no concern for the dozens of petroglyphs in the area. When we contacted the local Isleta Pueblo tribe, they said they had never been informed. This is a violation of NEPA. Additionally, they also never addressed the amount of birds that will be killed by the above ground power lines. And they skirted the issue of ruining the view shed in central New Mexico.I could go on, but suffice to say, this is a big problem for New Mexico. There is other information about burying power lines and the benefit in doing so at Responsible Electrical Transmission Alberta. It needs to be stopped before the damage is irreversible.ThanksTommy LeeLee has established a GoFundMe account, Fight SunZiaWe are fighting the SunZia powerline. We want to preserve our views, protect the Rio Grande flightpath for waterfowl and our property rights against this totally unnecessary powerline. [...]



EPA's Pruitt under OMB spending probe; senators urge his ouster

2018-04-18T17:51:13.914-06:00

The White House budget office said on Wednesday it was probing whether a $43,000 soundproof phone booth installed for Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt violated the law, while dozens of Democratic senators called for him to resign over allegations of ethics lapses. Pruitt has been under fire for potential ethics lapses, including flying first class, excessive spending on security, and the rental of a room in a Washington condominium owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist. The Office of Management and Budget is reviewing whether spending on the booth installed in Pruitt’s office broke a law prohibiting federal agencies from incurring expenses in excess of available funds, known as the Anti-Deficiency Act. “We take the anti-deficiency statue very, very seriously and if (it’s) been broken, we’ll follow the rules,” Mick Mulvaney, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, told lawmakers in a House hearing. “We will enforce the law, and we’ll do so in a transparent fashion.” An OMB spokeswoman said the probe had already begun and her agency was working with the EPA on it. The EPA’s approval of the phone booth violated both the anti-deficiency law and another requiring agencies to notify Congress when they obligate more than $5,000 in federal funds to make improvements in an office of a presidential appointee, the Government Accountability Office, a congressional watchdog, said on Monday...MORE 


This could very well be the first step to his ouster or resignation. 
Somebody in the EPA budget office or the office of Congressional Affairs was bound to know this was a problem. Was Pruitt set up or were the career officials afraid to speak up?



Ranch Radio Song of the Day

2018-04-18T06:07:17.179-06:00

Yesterday's tune by Faron Young was #2 on the charts in 1958. Today we have the #1 song for that year, City Lights by Ray Price.

https://youtu.be/4LeXL9JtAR8
allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4LeXL9JtAR8" width="560">



Perspectives: Bundy Ranch, 4 years later

2018-04-18T05:42:17.271-06:00

Bryan HydeThe four-year anniversary of what some refer to as the Battle of Bunkerville came and went last week. It’s probably safe to say that we’re all a little surprised at how things have shaken out since the events of 2014. Even just a short year ago, the fate of Cliven Bundy and those who stood with him still hung in the balance.Few could have predicted that the charges against Bundy and others would be dismissed with prejudice and that most of them would be free men. Fewer still could have foreseen that the federal government’s flagrant disregard for justice would be the reason for that dismissal.From the government’s point of view, the situation seemed like a slam dunk.People who face charges in federal court are convicted 97.7 percent of the time. It’s not that every one of them are actually guilty or that the prosecutors and investigators are just that good.It’s what you’d expect when going up against a politically-driven opponent with virtually unlimited resources and time. Often defendants will take a plea deal for a lower charge and lighter sentence simply because if they take it to the jury and lose, the sentence will be much worse.The Bureau of Land Management had been at odds with Bundy since 1993 when he refused to go along with their attempts to convert the grazing and water rights he owned into rented privileges for which he must pay their bureaucracy. Over time, as the BLM underwent management changes with the election of a new administration in 2008, the decision was made to find a way to bring Bundy into compliance....Several attempts to impound Bundy’s cattle ended in failure for the government when Bundy simply refused to cooperate with the attempted rustling. At no point was he violent with anyone.As the BLM set about putting together a new operation to trespass the cattle off the disputed allotment, they had access to multiple threat assessments the FBI had done on the Bundy family. According to the FBI, the threat posed by the Bundys was minimal – as in the lowest threat level possible....Instead of heeding these assessments, the BLM, under the direction of Special Agent Dan Love, set about putting together the most militarized, aggressive and heavy-handed operation in its history. Why else would there have been a federal joint terrorism task force complete with SWAT teams, snipers and around-the-clock surveillance of Bundy Ranch in the weeks before the April 2014 impoundment?Why else would a 200-man task force be sent to Bunkerville with orders to “kick them in the teeth” and to tase, manhandle and point loaded firearms at innocent people?READ ENTIRE COLUMN Left unresolved, however, is the issue that was the primary instigator of these events: Who owns these lands and which form of government (federal, state or local) has jurisdiction over them?[...]



New Jackboot City

2018-04-18T04:47:52.234-06:00

K. Lloyd Billingsley 

 The squad came at dawn, Remington model 870 shotguns at the ready. They broke down the door, rushed in and handcuffed a man before shoving him into a police car. One might think they were after a terrorist, escaped convict, or murderer. In reality, this was a raid by the enforcement division of the office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education. The target was a woman wanted on some student loan issue. She was not there, but the armed squad carted off her estranged husband Kenneth Wright and their three kids. Such armed raids, the DOE explains, are necessary to combat issues such as bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds.

An armed squad decked out in bulletproof vests worked their way through a crowded train station and an observer might have thought they pursued an armed attacker. Actually, this was an operation of the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response squad of the Transportation Security Administration. Tasked to screen airline passengers, the TSA has expanded to sporting events, music festivals, rodeos and train terminals. With bomb-sniffing dogs in tow, the armed VIPR squads stop people at random, which amounts to an unwarranted search that violates constitutional protections.

The federal government increasingly deploys military force and thuggish tactics against civilians...

 



Bailed-out Banks Launch Coordinated Attack on Law-abiding Gun Owners

2018-04-17T19:14:50.757-06:00

There is growing evidence that some of America’s financial elite want to create a world in which America’s public policy decisions emanate from corporate boardrooms in Manhattan rather than from citizens and their elected officials.  This was demonstrated in recent weeks when both Citigroup and Bank of America announced changes to their corporate guidelines aimed at preventing law-abiding Americans from exercising their constitutional rights.
According to Citigroup’s new policy, the nation’s fourth largest bank will withhold business from companies that fail to sufficiently curtail the Second Amendment rights of their customers. Specifically, the policy requires “new retail sector clients or partners” to refrain from selling standard-capacity magazines, to prohibit the sale of firearms to law-abiding adults aged 18 to 20 years-old, and to ignore a vital statutory safety valve provision that permits a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) to transfer a firearm three days after a background check has been initiated. Citigroup has also stated that it will further scrutinize the firearms manufacturers they do business with.
Bank of America’s policy targets firearms manufacturing. During an April 10 interview with Bloomberg Television, Bank of America Vice Chairman Anne M. Finucane announced that the company no longer intends to lend money to firearms manufacturers that produce certain configurations of commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms. Making clear that Bank of America only opposes civilian access to semi-automatic firearms, Finucane stressed to the anti-gun news outlet that the bank will no longer finance “military-style firearms” for “civilian use.”
In a March 22 blog post announcing Citigroup’s policy change, Citigroup Executive Vice President of Global Public Affairs Ed Skyler lamented that politicians have been too reticent to trample upon the rights of their constituents, and that this respect for the U.S. Constitution prompted Citigroup to act. Before joining Citigroup, Skyler worked for the administration of New York City Mayor and gun control financier Michael Bloomberg...MORE



Student activist David Hogg calls for boycott of Vanguard and BlackRock over gunmaker ownership

2018-04-17T18:59:48.011-06:00

One of Parkland, Fla.'s most prominent student activists on stopping gun violence has called for a boycott of Vanguard and BlackRock, two of the world's biggest investors in gunmakers. In a post on Twitter on Tuesday, David Hogg remarked on the firms' ownership of gun maker stocks, adding "if you use them, feel free to let them know." Then he added two tags: BoycottVanguard BoycottBlackrock. Hogg led a successful advertiser boycott of Fox television's Laura Ingraham's show last month after Ingraham publicly mocked his college acceptances. Hogg survived the shooting at a Florida high school in February that left 17 people dead. Since then, he and fellow classmates have led a nationwide protest movement over gun violence. BlackRock and Vanguard, giant managers of exchange traded funds and other passive-style investments, are the biggest owners of publicly traded firearms makers like Sturm Ruger and American Outdoor Brands. That's because these funds track stock indexes that include the stocks of the gun makers. BlackRock recently said it had created new funds that would exclude those stocks for investors that wanted to avoid owning them. The fund manager has also said it is in active conversations with gun makers about their businesses...MORE