30 Dec 2008, 11:31pm
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Fed and US Treasury Give-Away (Looting) $8 Trillion and Counting

New Bank Credit Lines Rated by Moody’s Drop to Six-Year Low

Bloomberg.com, Dec 17, 2008 [here]

… The $8.5 trillion committed by the U.S. to rescue the financial system hasn’t succeeded in unlocking credit markets that seized up with the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in 2007. …

Economy rescue: Adding up the dollars

CNNMoney.com, Dec 4, 2008 [here]

[$7.2 trillion committed and $2.6 trillion already spent.]

Financial Crisis Tab Already In The Trillions and Counting

CNBC.com, Nov. 28, 2008 [here]

Given the speed at which the federal government is throwing money at the financial crisis, the average taxpayer, never mind member of Congress, might not be faulted for losing track.

CNBC, however, has been paying very close attention and keeping a running tally of actual spending as well as the commitments involved. And there’s been quite a jump since we last tabulated things two weeks ago.

Try $7.36 trillion dollars. That’s more than double what was spent on WW II, if adjusted for inflation, based on our computations from a variety of estimates and sources. …

Fed Covers Up Financial Crisis–Bailout Cost May Be Much Higher

Investment-blog.net, Nov. 12, 2008, [here]

While the government is clearly spending a lot of taxpayers’ money to bail out financial firms, the tally is even bigger than most Americans (economists and pundits included) are probably aware or willing to admit.

The bailout bonanza has gotten so big and happened so fast it’s the true cost often gets lost in the discussion. Maybe Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke prefer it that way because the tally so far is nearly $3.5 trillion, and that’s before a likely handout for the auto industry.

Yes, $3.45 trillion has already been spent, as Bailoutsleuth.com details:

$2T Emergency Fed Loans (the ones the Fed won’t discuss, as detailed here)
$700B TARP (designed to buy bad debt, the fund is rapidly transforming as we’ll discuss in an upcoming segment)
$300B Hope Now (the government’s year-old attempt at mortgage workouts)
$200B Fannie/Freddie
$140B Tax Breaks for Banks (WaPo has the details)
$110B: AIG (with it’s new deal this week, the big insurer got $40B of TARP money, plus $110B in other relief)

Tallying up the “true” cost of the bailout is difficult, and won’t be known for months if not years. But considering $3.5 trillion is about 25% of the U.S. economy ($13.8 trillion in 2007) and the U.S. deficit may hit $1 trillion in fiscal 2009, hyperinflation and/or sharply higher interest rates seem likely outcomes down the road.

Ed Note: and none of that includes the Obama Stimulus Package, now pegged at $775 billion:

Obama economic team tries to allay worries about stimulus plan

LA Times, Dec 24, 2008 [here]

Vice President-elect Joe Biden met with seven advisors for an hour here as Obama vacationed in Hawaii. With the incoming administration acknowledging the stimulus plan could cost as much as $775 billion over two years, Biden seemed intent on reassuring Americans the money would not be wasted. …

29 Dec 2008, 10:51pm
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New Jersey, Pennsylvania farmers don’t like the smell of a federal ‘cow tax’

By Bill Wichert, Lehigh Valley Express-Times, December 28, 2008 [here]

The rear end of a cow could become the next source of financial hardship for farmers.

Facing lower milk prices and higher operational costs, dairy farmers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania say they couldn’t afford the so-called cow tax, a suggestion made by federal officials to charge permit fees for livestock as a way of regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s just another expense a farmer doesn’t need,” said Layne Klein, whose family has been running a dairy farm for 73 years in Forks Township. “I guess you’d call it one more nail in the coffin.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency raised the concept in a recent report on possible greenhouse gas regulations under the Clean Air Act. Those regulations also could be extended to small businesses, schools, hospitals and churches.

In its comments on the EPA proposal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the regulations might force permitting requirements on dairy farms with more than 25 cows, beef cattle operations with more than 50 cattle, swine facilities with more than 200 hogs and farms with 500 or more acres of corn.

The permit costs would mean $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 a head for beef cattle and $20 per hog, according to Liz Thompson, a research associate with the New Jersey Farm Bureau. A herd of 75 dairy cows would carry a price tag of about $13,000.

“It’s almost incredulity,” said Thompson, describing the reaction of some farmers. “‘What, are you kidding me?’” … [more]

Ed Note: for more on the EPA’s proposed “cow flatulence tax”, see [here]

26 Dec 2008, 11:10pm
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Washington State Governor Suffers Brain Freeze

Compiled by ICECAP [here]

Statewide Emergency Declared by Governor Gregoire

By KHQ-TV, Dec 26, 2008 [here]

On Christmas Eve, Gov. Christine Gregoire proclaimed a state of emergency in Washington due to the state’s ongoing series of winter weather and storms. Gregoire notes snowfall has reached record or near-record level in 30 of Washington’s 39 counties.The proclamation enables the state to respond quickly to local requests for emergency support and assistance arising from new storms. Prior to the Governor’s declaration the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) convened an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss current conditions and the forecast for two major winter storm systems that could bring another 18 inches of fresh snow to the region.

The County Commissioners were also briefed that road crews have finished plowing primary arterials and emergency routes, and are currently working on secondary arterials and well-traveled hills. With more snow in the forecast through Monday, residential areas may not be serviced for several days.

Also, Seattle’s use of sand on icy roads called more environmentally harmful than salt. Read more [here].

As Tom Nelson’s blog post [here] indicates, this is a source of major embarrassment to the governor. On the first day of the 2008 legislative session Gov. Christine Gregoire announced a multifaceted climate change bill that could dramatically reshape the state’s economy. Despite the time squeeze, Gregoire urged action on the global warming bill. “The future of our economy, the future of our great state is at stake,” she said.

Icecap Note [here]: According to a Seattle resident who wrote Icecap, more snow has fallen in the Seattle area recently than any other time except the winter of 1942-43. “I am a Seattle native and 78. I had a paper route in 1942 and had to slog through snow 2 to 3 feet deep dragging a sled. This snow pack remained for four or five weeks.” He continued, “The real stupidity by far is that of Mayor Nickels, who prohibited the use of salt on roads because it might harm fish in Puget Sound (salt water). The spin from the mayor is that rubber edges on plow blades that pack the snow on the roads rather than remove it is used in NY and Chicago, both of which have flat terrain while Seattle’s is more hilly than SF. Nickels and the entire city council should be recalled for stupidity.”

[Seattle Mayor] Greg Nickels recall proclaimed in 2007 a 50% reduction the Pacific Northwest snowfall based on the bogus study by State Climatologist Phil Mote published by the AMS which cherry picked the start and end time of the snowpack analysis - choosing the very snowy 1950 to start. We noted that in a story [here], given the flip back to the cold PDO, the snow drought may be over and indeed the last two years have seen record or near record snowpacks. No word from Mote or Nickels. Perhaps they are snowed in.

Our Seattle emailer also noted “Gregroire’s pride is enacting the Western Climate Initiative (Little Kyoto cap and trade system) involving 7 states and 4 Canadian Provences. Already a hundred or so employees are busy inventorying emission levels and determining the CO2 emission quotas for all emitters notwithstanding the fact that WA has one of the smallest carbon footprints in the nation. A $6.5 billion deficit is anticipated for the current budget cycle, that is large enough to bankrupt the state. They seem determined to ruin the economy while solving non-existent problems.”

25 Dec 2008, 9:41pm
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Editorial: Leave timber management to foresters

By Andy Martin, Wallowa County Chieftain, 12/24/2008 [here]

Judge doesn’t consider fire danger

For nearly two decades, the vast majority of the logs that keep the handful of Oregon lumber and plywood mills still around in business come from private forest lands, or state forests.

A meager 8 percent of the trees come from federal forest lands, despite the fact the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies control nearly 60 percent of the forests in Oregon.

While logging on national forest land has become next to impossible because of the Endangered Species Act and other laws, a few timber sales get past the heap of anti-natural resource use regulations. The Forest Service has the authority to approve small logging projects on sites less than 1,000 acres with a quicker environmental study. Known as “categorical exclusions,” the sales are possible under a 2003 policy adopted by the Bush administration as part of the Healthy Forests Initiative.

Environmental groups, however, have found a way around the policy that allows wise use of Oregon’s natural resources by filing lawsuits in a California federal court where judges are more likely to ignore sound science, the threat of catastrophic wildfires and the impact of forest policy on local communities and economies.

That’s what happened earlier this month when U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell halted timber sales already under way in Wallowa County. The judge ruled in favor of the Sierra Club, which sued the Forest Service to stop the logging.

Why is a judge with no experience in forest management deciding how our natural resources should be used when professional foresters are recommending the opposite?

more »

22 Dec 2008, 1:53pm
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Global Cooling Envelops Northern Hemisphere

Bitter cold, high winds chill Midwest, East [here]

Bone-numbing cold spread Monday from the Midwest to the East, forcing millions to bundle up and scurry from place to place. Snowfall in northern New England topped 40 inches in one town, and travel remained disrupted as the days ticked town toward Christmas. …

Temperatures in Chicago were expected to be higher Monday—but still only in the single digits.

Will Canada see its first white Christmas since ‘71? [here]

The first day of winter brought wind-chill warnings, snow and a bevy of storms to cities across Canada on Sunday, potentially laying the groundwork for the first cross-country white Christmas in nearly four decades. …

Phillips said some parts of the country are seeing snowfall amounts that have outpaced last year’s record and near-record totals at this point in the season.

Severe Cold Wave to Hit Europe [here]

The development of a major blocking high pressure system over the north Atlantic and its subsequent backing west is about to throw most of Europe into the coldest winter weather pattern in many a year. In fact, Temps over the next month or so are liable to average 6-10 degrees F below normal over the center part of the continent …

I wish to point out, with no malice intended, that the two countries who have major scientific organizations that have been pushing the global warming idea, Britain and the UKMET and the US with NOAA have been burned by the cold that has developed here. NOAA had a December forecast for a warm central US for November that they were forced to revise and the UKMET forecast for a rather bland winter for Europe speaks for itself. It’s anything but bland, whether it averages out near the average or not, because what is coming has not been seen in years.

Beijing’s coldest December day in 57 years [here]

Winter truly arrived in Beijing yesterday with the highest temperature of the day down to minus 8.8 F. Media reports say it was “the coldest day in December in the last 57 years.”

22 Dec 2008, 12:07am
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Global cooling brings early white Christmas

By Deroy Murdock, Ventura County Star, December 20, 2008 [here]

Winter officially arrives with Sunday’s solstice. But for many Americans, autumn 2008’s final days already feel like deepest, coldest January.

New Englanders still lack electricity after a Dec. 11 ice storm snapped power lines. Up to 8 inches of snow struck New Orleans and southern Louisiana that day and didn’t melt for 48 hours in some neighborhoods.

In Southern California this week, a half-inch of snow brightened Malibu’s hills while a half-foot barricaded highways and marooned commuters in desert towns east of Los Angeles. Three inches of the white stuff shuttered Las Vegas’ McCarren Airport that day and dusted the Strip’s hotels and casinos.

What are the odds of that?

Actually, the odds are rising that snow, ice and cold will grow increasingly common. As serious scientists repeatedly explain, global cooling is here. It is chilling temperatures and so-called “global-warming.”

According to the National Climatic Data Center, 2008 will be America’s coldest year since 1997, thanks to La Niña and precipitation in the central and eastern states. Solar quietude also may underlie global cooling.

This year’s sunspots and solar radiation approach the minimum in the sun’s cycle, corresponding with lower Earth temperatures. This echoes Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Dr. Sallie Baliunas’ belief that solar variability, much more than CO2, sways global temperatures.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service reports that last summer was Anchorage’s third-coldest on record.

“Not since 1980 has there been a summer less reflective of global warming,” Craig Medred wrote in the Anchorage Daily News. Consequently, Alaska’s glaciers are thickening in the middle. “It’s been a long time on most glaciers where they’ve actually had positive mass balance,” U.S. Geological Survey glaciologist Bruce Molnia told Medred October 13.

Similarly, the National Snow and Ice Data Center found that Arctic sea ice expanded 13.2 percent this year, or a Texas-sized 270,000 square miles. Across the equator, Brazil endured an especially cold September. Snow graced its southern provinces that month.

“Global Warming is over, and Global Warming Theory has failed. There is no evidence that CO2 drives world temperatures or any consequent climate change,” Imperial College London astrophysicist and long-range forecaster Piers Corbyn wrote British Members of Parliament on Oct. 28. “According to official data in every year since 1998, world temperatures have been colder than that year, yet CO2 has been rising rapidly.”

more »

19 Dec 2008, 2:03pm
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Fed Refuses to Disclose Recipients of $2 Trillion

By Mark Pittman, Bloomberg.com [here]

Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve refused a request by Bloomberg News to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from U.S. taxpayers and the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

Bloomberg filed suit Nov. 7 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act requesting details about the terms of 11 Fed lending programs, most created during the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed responded Dec. 8, saying it’s allowed to withhold internal memos as well as information about trade secrets and commercial information. The institution confirmed that a records search found 231 pages of documents pertaining to some of the requests. …

“Notwithstanding calls for enhanced transparency, the Board must protect against the substantial, multiple harms that might result from disclosure,” Jennifer J. Johnson, the secretary for the Fed’s Board of Governors, said in a letter e-mailed to Bloomberg News. …

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would meet congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system. …

“There has to be something they can tell the public because we have a right to know what they are doing,” said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Arlington, Virginia-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. …

In response, the Fed argued that the trade-secret exemption could be expanded to include potential harm to any of the central bank’s customers, said Bruce Johnson, a lawyer at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in Seattle. That expansion is not contained in the freedom-of-information law, Johnson said.

“I understand where they are coming from bureaucratically, but that means it’s all the more necessary for taxpayers to know what exactly is going on because of all the money that is being hurled at the banking system,” Johnson said. … [more]

Ed Note: According to Robt. Fanning , “In the past 60 days,the feds just spent (without hearings) 4 times as much covering up the banking scandal as they did for all the wars and all the social programs of the first 80 years of the Twentieth Century.” source: Commodity Research Bureau Yearbook isbn 13- 978- 0- 471- 78443- 2 page 133 Gross federal debt

18 Dec 2008, 7:51pm
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Oregon GW Alarmist To Be Named Head of NOAA

by Chris Horner, Planet Gore, Dec 18, 2008 [here]

Just as I predicted in a book out just in the nick of time, the “back door” entrance to the National Academy of Sciences is bearing very sour fruit, affirming that the whistle should have been blown on this degradation of standards before it got out of hand and — as it is apparently about to — resulted in serious policy consequences after its beneficiaries entered positions of governmental responsibility riding their scientific laurels of questionable heritage.

In addition to the back-door man John Holdren, noted below, Greenwire reports that

Barack Obama is expected to name a professor of marine ecology tomorrow as the next head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to sources close to the nominee. The NOAA pick, Jane Lubchenco, is a conservationist who has focused much of her research on climate change, ecosystems and marine reserves. The announcement is expected at a press conference tomorrow in Chicago, where Obama will introduce other key advisers on his “science team.”

Again from Red Hot Lies — a timelier Christmas gift I cannot imagine — we see that:

Others entering through this [NAS back door] route include Gore advisor and the world’s most renowned global warming alarmist, the astronomer Jim Hansen, and Jane Lubchenco —- a key driver in the regulate-in-the-name-of-climate-change effort by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, discussed below. Lubchenco’s activism is the subject of fawning profiles by the likes of the leftwing Mother Jones magazine.

Ed Note: Good for Oregon to send Lubchenco packing, but bad for the country as a whole to put another pseudo-scientist enviro wacko in a position of political power.

16 Dec 2008, 9:59pm
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Dorgan hopes cattle methane emissions fee runs out of gas

Grand Forks Herald, December 14, 2008 [here]

BISMARCK — Sen. Byron Dorgan is raising a stink about feds who may have their eye on taxing cow farts.

In response to an Environmental Protection Agency report citing the amount of greenhouse gases — meth… ane, that is — produced by belching and flatulence of cows and pigs, Dorgan has introduced the Livestock Emissions Tax Ban Act. It would stop the EPA from putting a fee on livestock owners for gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Farm groups, including the Farm Bureau, are worried the EPA could be taking steps that could lead to taxing ranchers’ livestock.

A Dorgan statement said, “If you ever wonder why the American people view their government with distrust, just refer to this weekend’s news about the deep thinking going on at the Environmental Protection Agency.”

He warned that “somebody in the bowels of EPA’s headquarters” has been examining greenhouse gases produced by livestock.”

Federal agencies ought to use common sense, Dorgan said, “and clearly, there are much more important issues facing the nation than this one. So, just to clear the air (legislatively), I have introduced legislation that would prevent the EPA from implementing any scheme the would tax or otherwise charge farmers and ranchers for the methane emitted by their animals.”

He said that while EPA said it’s not proposing such a tax, he wants to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Obama picks Salazar as Interior secretary

By Jim Tankersley and Julie Cart, LA Times, December 16, 2008 [here]

Reporting from Washington — President-elect Barack Obama plans to name Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) to lead the Interior Department — an appointment that could put the brakes on several controversial energy development projects across the West.

Two senior Democrats said Monday that Obama would name Salazar, a Latino, to the post, rounding out an energy and environmental policy team announced at a Chicago news conference.

If confirmed, Salazar would head a department with a broad portfolio, including managing the troubled Bureau of Indian Affairs. Salazar, 53, would also oversee the nation’s national parks and other large swaths of public lands, making him the country’s foremost landlord. And he would be responsible for the Bureau of Land Management, which sets policy for oil and gas drilling, mining and other resource extraction on public land. … [more]

16 Dec 2008, 9:41pm
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A Giant Breach in Earth’s Magnetic Field

Science@NASA, Dec. 16, 2008 [here]:

NASA’s five THEMIS spacecraft have discovered a breach in Earth’s magnetic field ten times larger than anything previously thought to exist. Solar wind can flow in through the opening to “load up” the magnetosphere for powerful geomagnetic storms. But the breach itself is not the biggest surprise. Researchers are even more amazed at the strange and unexpected way it forms, overturning long-held ideas of space physics.

“At first I didn’t believe it,” says THEMIS project scientist David Sibeck of the Goddard Space Flight Center. “This finding fundamentally alters our understanding of the solar wind-magnetosphere interaction.”

The magnetosphere is a bubble of magnetism that surrounds Earth and protects us from solar wind. Exploring the bubble is a key goal of the THEMIS mission, launched in February 2007. The big discovery came on June 3, 2007, when the five probes serendipitously flew through the breach just as it was opening. Onboard sensors recorded a torrent of solar wind particles streaming into the magnetosphere, signaling an event of unexpected size and importance.

“The opening was huge—four times wider than Earth itself,” says Wenhui Li, a space physicist at the University of New Hampshire who has been analyzing the data. Li’s colleague Jimmy Raeder, also of New Hampshire, says “1027 particles per second were flowing into the magnetosphere—that’s a 1 followed by 27 zeros. This kind of influx is an order of magnitude greater than what we thought was possible.” … [more]

16 Dec 2008, 9:39pm
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Scientists Denounce AP For Hysterical Global Warming Article

By Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters, December 15, 2008 [here]

Scientists from around the world are denouncing an Associated Press article hysterically claiming that global warming is “a ticking time bomb” about to explode, and that we’re “running out of time” to do anything about it.

As reported by NewsBusters, Seth Borenstein, the AP’s “national science writer,” published a piece Sunday entitled “Obama Left With Little Time to Curb Global Warming.”

Scientists from all over the world have responded to share their view of this alarmist propaganda:

How can this guy call himself a “science reporter?”

He is perhaps the worst propagandist in all the media, and that’s stating something.

In his latest screed, he screams: “global warming is accelerating”

How then does he explain the fact that the mean global temperature (as measured by satellite) is the same as it was in 1980?

How can global warming be “accelerating” when the last two years have seen dramatic cooling? Is this guy totally removed from all reality?????

He completely ignores any evidence contrary to his personal beliefs, and twists everything to meet his preconceived notions.

How can anyone so ignorant be a reporter for AP? Seriously? — David Deming, University of Oklahoma … [much more]

16 Dec 2008, 5:19pm
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Defying Predictions, Sea Level Rise Begins to Slow

by Michael Asher, Science, December 15, 2008 [here]

Satellite altimetry data indicates that the rate at which the world’s oceans are rising has slowed significantly since 2005. Before the decrease, sea level had been rising by more than 3mm/year, which corresponds to an increase of about one foot per century. Since 2005, however, the rate has been closer to 2mm/year.

The decrease is significant as global climate models predict sea level rise to accelerate as atmospheric CO2 continues to increase. In the 1990s, when such acceleration appeared to be occurring, some scientists pointed to it as confirmation the models were operating correctly.

Sea level rise was calculated from altimetry data from the TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1 satellite missions, published by the University of Colorado, Boulder. … [more]

16 Dec 2008, 3:33pm
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Alaska Glaciers Growing Again

By DENNIS T. AVERY for the Journal Star,Dec 14, 2008 [here]

Alaska’s glaciers grew this year after shrinking for most of the last 200 years. The reason? Global temperatures dropped over the past 18 months.

The global mean annual temperature has been declining recently because the solar wind thrown out by the sun has retreated to its smallest extent in at least 50 years. This temperature downturn was not predicted by the global computer models, but had been predicted by the sunspot index since 2000.

The solar wind normally protects the Earth from 90 percent of the high-energy cosmic rays that flash constantly through the universe. Henrik Svensmark at the Danish Space Research Institute has demonstrated that when more cosmic rays hit the Earth, they create more of the low, wet clouds that deflect heat back into outer space. Thus the Earth’s recent cooling.

Unusually large amounts of Alaskan snow last winter were followed by unusually chilly temperatures this summer. “In general, the weather this summer was the worst I have seen in at least 20 years,” says Bruce Molnia of the U.S. Geological Survey. “It’s been a long time on most glaciers (since) they’ve actually had positive mass balance (added thickness).”

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14 Dec 2008, 11:46pm
Latest Forest News
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U.S. forest chief could have local ties

By Keith Chu, The Bend Bulletin, December 13, 2008 [here]

WASHINGTON — Two U.S. Forest Service officials with Central Oregon connections are being mentioned as candidates to head that agency after President-elect Barack Obama takes office, according to environmental groups and former Forest Service officials.

The Forest Service chief is a civil servant, not a political appointee, but past presidents have chosen chiefs who reflect their policy goals. Because of that, Obama isn’t expected to retain current Chief Gail Kimbell.

Two names that have been floated as replacements are Forest Service Associate Chief Sally Collins, who is currently number two at the agency, and External Affairs Officer Leslie Weldon. Both served as supervisors of the Deschutes National Forest and now work in the agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

But with an abundance of high-profile problems to tackle, it will likely be sometime next year before the next administration chooses a new agency head, according to people in contact with the Obama transition team. After all, Obama has yet to name a secretary of agriculture or the undersecretary of agriculture who oversees the Forest Service, let alone a Forest Service chief. … [more]

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