Environmental groups bury feds with Endangered Species petitions

by Hugh Holub, Tucson Citizen, Apr. 22, 2011 [here]

The litigious environmental groups are using the New York Times to try and justify what they are doing and get more money for the feds to list more endangered species.

But there is another side to this story that needs exposing.

Under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), one can get attorney fees from the government if you successfully sue them to do what they are supposed to be doing.

Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) the feds have a short period of time to respond to a petition to list a plant or animal as endangered. If the feds don’t act within that time frame, the petitioner can sue the feds and basically there is no defense to the suit. The feds have to roll over and pay attorney fees to the group that filed the listing petition.

Thus, if a federal agency such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service has a limited budget to begin with, and an environmental group such as the Center for Biological Diversity or Earth Guardians petitions to have hundreds of plants and animals listed as being endangered, US Fish and Wildlife will default because they can’t process all the petitions within the deadline.

Then the group such as Center for Biological Diversity sues US Fish and Wildlife to force them to list the petitioned species, and seeks attorney fees. More often than not US Fish and Wildife gives the petitioner its attorney fees.

What we don’t know for sure…because the media has failed to investigate what is called “EAJA Abuse”… is how much money is Center for Biological Diversity and Earth Guardians are getting from US taxpayers in legal fees from filing these hundreds of petitions to list all these critters and plants.

There are reports that EAJA payments to groups like Center for Biological Diversity and Earth Guardians run into millions of dollars.

You will probably never see the Arizona Daily Star chase this story.

But the story must be followed and the truth be outed. … [more]

25 Apr 2011, 9:54pm
Latest Forest News
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Battle over wilderness land in Malheur County continues

By Larry Meyer, Argus Observer, April 21, 2011 [here]

VALE — Wilderness areas continue to be a contentious issue in many areas of the West particularly in regions that have large amounts of federal land designated as Wilderness Study Areas, as is the case in Malheur County.

Ranchers and others are trying to remove the Wilderness Study Area designation from land so it can be opened up to a number of different uses. The Oregon Natural Desert Association, on the other hand, is pushing to have those WSAs designated as wilderness. That will take an act of Congress, but ONDA is requesting the Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council to organize a collaborative effort for wilderness designations, and that will be council’s agenda when it meets next week in Lakeview.

The SEORAC is a 15-member representative citizen council that gives input and advice to the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service on planning and management of public land within the BLM’s Lakeview, Vale and Burns districts.

To pre-empt any action by the Advisory Council, Malheur County Court signed a letter in opposition to any wilderness areas, and local ranchers were encouraging other organizations and people to sign similar letters to be presented at the council’s meeting April 28 and 29. …

The County Court’s letter said, “Wilderness designations in the county will cause irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources to an unmanaged landscape, which is contrary to our customs and culture.”

The court said identifying wilderness characteristics is based on arbitrary decisions made without regard for the limitations wilderness designations place on local economies.

“Wilderness designation obscure the benefits of our past investments in land management activities that continue to protect and maintain healthy, productive landscapes,” the court said in its letter. “We disagree with the proposal by ONDA to block up large areas as wilderness landscapes.” … [more]

25 Apr 2011, 9:50pm
Latest Wildlife News
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EDITORIAL: Idaho provides cautionary tale

Wallowa County Chieftain, April 21, 2011 [here]

This is a tale of two states. In one, the reintroduction of wolves has resulted in a political meltdown leading the state Legislature to call on the governor to issue a disaster declaration.

In the other, wolves are relative newcomers but have amply demonstrated the threat they pose to livestock by killing dozens of sheep and cattle.

Idaho and Oregon present a case study of the reintroduction of wolves, which are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. In a real sense, what is happening in Idaho today is what could happen in Oregon tomorrow.

In 1995, 66 wolves were trapped in Canada — where tens of thousands of them roam — and released in Idaho. They had been eradicated in the U.S. because of the problems they created for settlers. Since reintroduction, the wolf population has multiplied exponentially.

Today about 1,650 wolves live in Idaho and they have taken up residence in neighboring states.

However, instead of declaring the reintroduction a success and allowing the state to manage wolves as it would other wildlife, extremists for years used the federal courts to dictate whether the wolves in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington should remain protected. …

Livestock owners have gone to the Oregon Legislature asking for permission to protect their property. Among other requests, they want the ability to kill a wolf that is attacking livestock.

That is only reasonable, and the Legislature would do well to guarantee that basic property right. Once the wolf is taken off the federal endangered species list — which hopefully will happen soon — livestock owners must be able to protect themselves and their animals. … [more]

Forestry Groups Express Continued Concern Over Spotted Owl Plan

PRNewswire, April 21, 2011 [here]

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced the opening of a 30-day public comment period limited to a technical appendix to the Northern Spotted Owl Draft Revised Recovery Plan released last fall. Forest landowners and mill owners expressed disappointment at the Service’s failure to release other aspects of the current draft plan and skepticism about the time allowed. Further public review is sorely needed in light of the chorus of criticism raised by Members of Congress, the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, the forest products industry, environmental groups and scientific peer reviewers.

The agency received nearly 12,000 public comments on the initial draft late last year. Many of those comments noted that controversial recommendations included in the previous draft lacked adequate transparency and scientific rigor. Following similar criticisms from federal land management agencies, the Service indicated that it was working to address these concerns. It is unclear if the public will get an opportunity to see how the Service has responded to these serious shortcomings.

“We know the Service has made changes to key provisions of the Draft Revised Recovery Plan in response to concerns of federal land management agencies. We’ve raised the same concerns. We don’t understand why those revisions aren’t being released to the public now so we can comment before they are final. Why isn’t the Service willing to hear what the public has to say?” Tom Partin, President of the American Forest Resource Council, asked.

The initial draft ignored the most up to date science for how the owl can be saved, proposed drastic restrictions on private lands and rural economies while failing to aggressively address the increasing risks of wildfire and the barred owl. “We hope the Service has taken into account the impact of the more dominant barred owl on the spotted owl’s survival and that aggressive control measures are taken in the revised plan. Science is showing that setting aside even more habitat, including private lands, will do little to help the spotted owl, and may make matters worse by making even more room for the barred owl to flourish,” said Mark Doumit, Executive Director of the Washington Forest Protection Association.

The Service should utilize the latest scientific modeling as a basis for policy changes. “It is important that we allow the scientists to complete their process before making management recommendations that will affect thousands of people in rural communities, already struggling from the Great Recession. Hopefully, we will see that reflected in the new information in Appendix C,” said Ray Wilkeson, President of the Oregon Forest Industries Council.

California Forestry Association President David Bischel stated, “Ironically, some of the most robust populations of Northern Spotted Owls occupy sustainably managed private forests of Northern California. The first draft of the recovery plan completely ignored the positive benefits provided by pro-active forest management. We hope the Service recognizes the proactive measures that private and state landowners have already made towards owl conservation, and not add more regulatory gridlock.”

“We urge the agency to engage the public fully, learn from and respond to the concerns raised in the public comments, and pursue an approach that recognizes and rewards good forest stewardship and the many well paying jobs it supports throughout the region,” said David Tenny, President and CEO of the National Alliance of Forest Owners. … [more]

EPA Rules Force Shell to Abandon Oil Drilling Plans

By Dan Springer, FoxNews.com, April 25, 2011 [here]

Shell Oil Company has announced it must scrap efforts to drill for oil this summer in the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska. The decision comes following a ruling by the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board to withhold critical air permits. The move has angered some in Congress and triggered a flurry of legislation aimed at stripping the EPA of its oil drilling oversight.

Shell has spent five years and nearly $4 billion dollars on plans to explore for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The leases alone cost $2.2 billion. Shell Vice President Pete Slaiby says obtaining similar air permits for a drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico would take about 45 days. He’s especially frustrated over the appeal board’s suggestion that the Arctic drill would somehow be hazardous for the people who live in the area. “We think the issues were really not major,” Slaiby said, “and clearly not impactful for the communities we work in.”

The closest village to where Shell proposed to drill is Kaktovik, Alaska. It is one of the most remote places in the United States. According to the latest census, the population is 245 and nearly all of the residents are Alaska natives. The village, which is 1 square mile, sits right along the shores of the Beaufort Sea, 70 miles away from the proposed off-shore drill site.

The EPA’s appeals board ruled that Shell had not taken into consideration emissions from an ice-breaking vessel when calculating overall greenhouse gas emissions from the project. Environmental groups were thrilled by the ruling. …

At stake is an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil. That’s how much the U. S. Geological Survey believes is in the U.S. portion of the Arctic Ocean. For perspective, that represents two and a half times more oil than has flowed down the Trans Alaska pipeline throughout its 30-year history.

The Environmental Appeals Board has four members: Edward Reich, Charles Sheehan, Kathie Stein and Anna Wolgast. All are registered Democrats and Kathie Stein was an activist attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund. Members are appointed by the EPA administrator. … [more]

Note: and gasoline prices keep on climbing, as per Obama’s pre-election promise. Nice to know he appointed radical left Luddites on a Sabotage America mission to key EPA positions.

Grazing prohibited to protect grouse

Judge rules to remove cattle near Jarbidge

By KATHERINE WUTZ, Idaho Mountain Express, April 20, 2011 [here]

More than 450,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land south of Twin Falls will be free from grazing for the foreseeable future, due to a recent decision by a federal judge.

Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the U.S. District Court for Idaho ruled on April 13 to uphold a previous decision that forbade livestock grazing on 28 grazing allotments on public land in the Jarbidge area. The ruling was in favor of plaintiff Western Watersheds Project, based in Hailey.

The move was lauded by conservationists, who say grazing has damaged sage-grouse habitat.

“Closing these allotments to livestock grazing makes sense in light of the collapse of the sage-grouse populations across the Jarbidge,” said Todd Tucci, a lawyer with Advocates for the West who represented Western Watersheds during the case.

Randy Smith, regional game manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said grouse numbers have been dropping steadily since 2006.

“I wouldn’t use the word collapsing,” he said, “but we’ve seen about a 50 percent drop in sage grouse numbers in the Magic Valley region.”

Smith said the department isn’t sure what’s causing the decline, though West Nile virus was likely a factor. He said wildfires in the Jarbidge area have damaged habitat and caused declines in the population there that exceed regional averages.

However, he said, properly managed livestock grazing is neither good nor bad for grouse habitat. … [more]

Note: the government’s scientific finding that grazing does NOT impinge on sage-grouse was thrown out by the judge, who is NOT a scientist of any stripe.

20 Apr 2011, 9:51am
Latest Climate News
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Late chill may set record

Region usually hits 60-degree mark by now

By Mike Prager The Spokesman-Review, April 19, 2011 [here]

Statistics are now proving what just about everyone in the Inland Northwest knows: This has been one of the coolest and wettest springs ever.

After record-setting rainfall in March, Spokane has yet to hit the 60-degree mark and is on the verge of breaking the record for latest occurrence of 60 degrees.

Spokane’s highest temperature so far this spring was 59 degrees on March 31.

The National Weather Service says that in nearly 130 years of recordkeeping, the latest date for reaching 60 is April 22, set in 1917.

Even if the temperature reached 60 today – and it probably won’t – it would still be the third-latest date for hitting that benchmark of spring. … [more]

Note: coldest winter/spring on record records are being set all over the Pacific Northwest. Evidently all that alleged (Climategate frauded up) warming is somewhere else on the planet.

20 Apr 2011, 9:45am
Latest Fire News
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Aerial firefighting company grounds its fleet of 8 planes

By Celinda Emison, Abilene Reporter-News, April 19, 2011 [here]

Aero Union, the aerial firefighting company that has been working missions in the area, grounded its planes voluntarily because of a dispute with the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Forest Service over safety inspections.

Company officials said Aero Union’s fleet of eight air tankers, three of which are in Abilene, were grounded because of issues with the company’s certification, calling the dispute a “paperwork issue.”

“During a recent audit of Aero Union Corp.’s repair station, FAA inspectors raised concerns about whether certain required safety inspections had been performed on some of the company’s aircraft,” said Lynn Lunsford, a spokesman for the FAA in Fort Worth. “Aero Union voluntarily removed its airplanes from service pending a resolution of the issue. We are working on a solution with Aero Union that would allow the company to safely return its planes to service in a timely manner.”

Aero Union officials are concerned over the matter.

“Our deepest sympathy goes out to the people of Texas,” said Britt Gourley, CEO of Aero Union based in California. “Our pilots and mechanics are literally sick about this situation as they take firefighting very seriously.”

On Tuesday, Aero Union officials held emergency meetings with the U.S. Forest Service and the FAA in Washington and Los Angeles, urging the agencies to grant a variance to allow the planes to go up and fight the fires.

The planes were grounded on April 13, after flying fire eradication missions over the Swenson Fire in Stonewall and Kent counties that has burned more than 122,000 acres.

“Safety is not an issue,” Gourley said, adding that the company’s independent FAA representative has “represented that conclusion to the FAA.”

Aero Union has a five-year firefighting contract from the federal government that was approved in 2008. …

“We prefer to fight fires, not bureaucracies,” Gourley said. “We hope to be back flying soon.” … [more]

20 Apr 2011, 8:38am
Latest Climate News
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Debunking the Greenhouse Gas Theory in Three Simple Steps

by John O. Sullivan, Live Journal, April 18th, [here]

A group of international scientists find that carbon dioxide is a coolant, the calculations in the greenhouse gas theory are wrong and humans are not killing the planet.

It may have taken the Climategate controversy to prompt a growing band of specialist scientists to come forward and work together to help climatologists get themselves out of an almighty mess. But at last we know for sure that the doomsaying equations behind “man-made global warming” were fudged, the physics was misapplied and group thinking perpetuated gross errors.

Yes, the greenhouse effect has now been proven to be a fabrication. That mythical concept called ‘back radiation’ whereby heat was supposed to be recycled in the atmosphere and its effects worsened by the dreaded burning of fossil fuels is contradicted. In reality it’s now been shown that the atmosphere acts like a coolant of Earth’s surface, which, otherwise, would have a temperature of 121 Degrees Celsius, or 394 Kelvin (K). …

In a recent ground breaking paper Professor Nasif Nahle proved that carbon dioxide (CO2) actually works as a coolant when it interacts with water vapor in the atmosphere to induce the air temperature to cool, not warm.

Physicist, Joe Postma, in his epic debunk further describes the correct application of the laws of thermodynamics to address how the thermal capacity (or conductivity) works with the ‘coolant’ CO2. As Postma tells us,

“Carbon dioxide and other atmospheric gases merely serve to make the atmosphere cooler in daytime, warmer at nighttime. This is what empirical evidence tells us. … The atmosphere keeps the planet from getting too hot in the daytime, and too cold at night time”.

Just that simple realization alone kills the so-called ‘blanket’ analogy of greenhouse gas theorists stone dead. … [more]

17 Apr 2011, 9:19am
Latest Fire News
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California Fire Victims File Lawsuits Against Property Owner

Avvo, April 15, 2011 [here]

The owner of a 300-acre estate in California faces a lawsuit filed by two people who were allegedly injured in a massive 2008 fire on the property.

According to KEYT News, a Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge has ruled that the case against property owner Mary Robinson can continue. Robinson had sought to have the legal action filed on behalf of Lance and Carla Hoffman thrown out because the people responsible for starting the fire were on the property illegally.

The news agency reports that ten people are accused of trespassing onto the Tea Garden property in November 2008 and starting a bonfire. The group then allegedly left the property without completely extinguishing the flames.

The subsequent four-day fire reportedly destroyed close to 2,000 acres and more than 200 homes in Santa Ynez Mountain foothills. …

The lawsuit seeks damages to cover the more than $5 million in medical expenses incurred by the Hoffmans. … [more]

See also the Tea Fire [here]

Commentary: ESA – The fleecing of a nation

By Carl Sampson, Blue Mountain Eagle, April 13, 2011 [here]

… As taxpayers we complain incessantly about the amount of money the federal government spends. These days 42 cents of every dollar is borrowed, making the waste of taxpayer dollars even more of an outrage.

But we have on the books laws that cost an inordinate amount of money, don’t really do anything and mainly benefit the legal community.

We speak, of course, of the Endangered Species Act and a basketful of related environmental laws. Only a handful of species have recovered using the law. Some of those “recoveries” involved little more than moving the animals from one place to another.

Such was the case with gray wolves. Listed as “endangered” in the Lower 48, biologists moved 62 of them from Canada, where upward of 30,000 wolves live. Then the wolves were let loose and everyone was banned from shooting them. Now, through the wonders of procreation, wolves are spreading across the West.

One can only assume a government agency will spend a pile of money studying how that “recovery” happened. A pile has already been spent in courts as environmental groups — on the federal government’s dime — have wrangled with federal managers to “protect” the alleged “endangered” wolves, which now number more than 1,200.

The ESA is also used to stop any number of activities, from construction projects to ranching to cutting weeds.

A recent example of that last activity took place in California, home of the Los Padres National Forest. Managers there had planned to clear roadside brush and weeds along 750 miles of forest roads.

An environmental group sued to stop the work, arguing that cutting the weeds threaten protected and sensitive species.

Mind you, all of the work would take place within 10 feet of the road.

To protect this “sensitive” environment, the judge in the case issued an injunction and ordered to the U.S. Forest Service to hire a full-time biologist. According to the simplyhired.com website, a federal biologist makes about $56,000 a year, plus benefits. That’s about $26.92 an hour.

Assuming the weed-cutting takes place on both sides of the roads — a total of 1,500 miles — is done at 1 mph, that’s 1,500 hours. Multiply that by the hourly pay rate, and that’s a little over $40,000.

That’s $40,000 for nothing. And don’t forget the federal government will have to pay the legal fees of the environmental group’s lawyers and those who represented the Forest Service. … [more]

Note: Carl Sampson is the managing editor of the Salem-based Capital Press.

See also: Roadside Fuels Management Shut Down on the Los Padres NF [here]

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