7 Apr 2010, 10:12pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Idaho wool growers file lawsuit over bighorns

Idaho Statesman, 04/03/10 [here]

LEWISTON, Idaho — The Idaho Wool Growers Association and Shirts Brothers Sheep has filed a lawsuit against the Idaho Department of Fish and Game concerning bighorn sheep management.

The groups in the lawsuit filed earlier this week contend Fish and Game has not lived up to a 1997 agreement the groups say was designed to protect domestic sheep growers from potential adverse effects to their businesses from bighorn sheep introductions.

The groups are asking for unspecified damages “in an amount to be proven at trial.”

The lawsuit comes several months after the Payette National Forest released a set of proposed updates to its plan to keep domestic sheep from intermingling with wild bighorns, citing disease transmission that kills bighorns. …

The 1997 agreement with wool growers included Fish and Game, federal land management agencies, and a bighorn sheep conservation group. The lawsuit contends that in 2007 the Forest Service began reducing domestic sheep grazing to protect bighorns. … [more]

7 Apr 2010, 10:10pm
Latest Climate News
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Climate Bill to Tax Oil at Terminal Rack

By Reuters, Chem.Info News, April 7, 2010 [here]

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Details of an oil industry tax are being filled in Congress as part of an upcoming U.S. climate control bill, sparking a spirited lobbying campaign this week over how the revenues from that tax would be used.

A Senate source familiar with the draft legislation told Reuters that the new fee “will be assessed at the terminal rack,” — where refined oil products await shipment to retail gasoline stations and other end points.

But the source added that no final decisions had yet been made on whether revenues from the tax would be deposited into the Highway Trust Fund and whether they would be earmarked for specific “green” projects or road and bridge repairs that the highway fund normally handles. …

The centerpiece of that bill would be steps to achieve a 17 percent reduction in U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 2020, from 2005 levels. …

A transportation tax on refined oil would likely be passed on to consumers, who could see gasoline prices rise by around 15 cents a gallon. But the actual increase would be linked to the price of pollution permits electric power companies would have to buy under a cap and trade scheme in the bill that also is aimed at reducing carbon emissions. … [more]

6 Apr 2010, 8:43pm
Latest Climate News
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Backdoor Energy Tax

Investor’s Business Daily, 04/05/2010 [here]

Pollution Control: From cars to coal mines, the imposition of economy-killing restrictions is under way. Are the new EPA regulations on auto emissions the precursor to regulating carbon dioxide by executive order?

In announcing the Environmental Protection Agency’s first regulations on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cars, Administrator Lisa Jackson has promised they won’t be the last such rules stemming from the EPA’s “endangerment finding” that carbon dioxide, six pounds of which every human being exhales every day, is a dangerous pollutant.

“These are the first regulations that cover greenhouse gas emissions in the United States,” Jackson told reporters in a conference call last Thursday. She underscored the fact that additional regulations would be forthcoming since “the Clean Air Act talks about additional regulation needed once greenhouse gas pollution is acknowledged to be exactly that.”

Under the new regulations, which begin in 2011, automakers would be required to reduce fleetwide GHG emissions each year, beginning at 295 grams of carbon dioxide per mile and culminating in a cap of no more than 250 grams per mile by the 2016 model year.

James Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said Jackson was “imposing a backdoor energy tax on consumers created by the EPA” despite the fact that Jackson admitted to him that the regulation “won’t have any meaningful climate impacts.”

“This is the initial step in EPA’s regulatory barrage stemming from the endangerment finding,” Inhofe said. … [more]

6 Apr 2010, 5:27pm
Latest Forest News
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Statement from Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on Colorado Roadless Petition

From: USDA Office of Communications, April 6, 2010 [here]

Washington, D.C. - Below is a statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the state of Colorado’s Roadless areas petition:

“The Obama Administration is committed to the protection of roadless areas on our National Forests as these areas are vital for conservation of water resources, for wildlife and for outdoor recreation — an important driver of economic opportunity and jobs in rural communities.

“Governor Ritter deserves substantial praise for his leadership in protecting roadless areas on Colorado’s National Forests. The Colorado petition that he has submitted today provides strong protections for roadless areas. To his credit, Governor Ritter solicited and incorporated additional input from the public and this has improved the petition. As the Governor points out, while the total amount of land protected under the state petition is similar to the amount under the 2001 rule, due to updated inventories of roadless areas, this petition provides protection for over 400,000 acres of roadless areas that were excluded from the 2001 rule. In addition, I want to commend the Governor for proposing that 250,000 acres be granted a higher level of protection under this petition than afforded under the 2001 rule.

“In the coming months, this petition will be put out for comment to allow for additional public input into protection of roadless areas on Colorado’s National Forests. As the Forest Service prepares a draft environmental impact statement for this petition, I have asked that the agency analyze the potential of adding significantly to the number of acres receiving a higher level of protection than the 2001 rule. I’m confident that working with the Governor and with the public, we will craft a final rule that is, on balance, at least as protective of roadless areas — and preferably more protective — than the 2001 Roadless Rule.” … [more]

6 Apr 2010, 5:24pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Environmentalists lose land linked to preserve

KHQ, April 5, 2010 [here]

Pocatello, Idaho - The federal government has canceled three central Idaho grazing allotments that were not being used by livestock, but critical to a preserve run by environmentalists.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management canceled the allotments, which total about 7,000 acres, last month for the Greenfire Preserve near the East Fork of the Salmon River.

The preserve is overseen by Western Watersheds Project, which for years has worked to curtail livestock grazing on public lands across the West.

The BLM canceled the allotments after citing Greenfire officials for making false statements on grazing applications related to the preserve.

Specifically, agency officials focused on statements made by Western Watershed[s] Project officials that they had no intention of letting livestock graze the parcels.

The Idaho State Journal reports the environmentalists have 30 days to appeal.

6 Apr 2010, 5:20pm
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Ruling leaves grazing up in the air

By Scott Sandsberry, The Yakima Herald-Republic, April 6, 2010 [here]

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has shelved its pilot grazing project in southeast Washington after a judge ruled it had acted arbitrarily in moving ahead with the program over the objections of its own biologists.

How the ruling affects a controversial cattle-grazing project in the Whisky Dick and Quilomene Wildlife areas of eastern Kittitas County in May and June, though, hasn’t been decided.

“If the state chooses to ignore the decision — because it technically applies to the 2009 authorization for Pintler Creek on the Asotin Wildlife Area and nowhere else — they do so at their own legal risk,” said Jon Marvel, executive director of Western Watersheds Project, the Idaho-based conservation group that had sued the Wildlife Department over its pilot grazing project.

Western Watersheds has also sued the department over its part in the management process to graze portions of the Whisky Dick and Quilomene Wildlife areas and other nearby state and private lands on neighboring pastures in eastern Kittitas County. No hearing date has been set on that case. Both cases were filed in Thurston County Superior Court.

Western Watersheds attorney Kristin Ruether said the ruling on Friday “addresses the heart of whether it’s appropriate to do commercial grazing on state wildlife areas. It may be a turning point. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Superior Court rulings are not binding on other courts, Ruether said. “But they can certainly be persuasive, especially when the facts might be so similar.”

Jack Field of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association said he was surprised by the ruling.

“I honestly don’t know how that will impact the (Whisky Dick and Quilomene plans),” he said.

Wildlife Department state lands manager Jennifer Quan said Monday that state officials haven’t decided yet “whether the decision has larger statewide implications.”

“We still have yet to make decisions about how we move forward with other permits,” Quan said.

Wildlife Department director Phil Anderson said he thought the issues related to the pilot grazing and Kittitas County projects were “apples and oranges.”

But he said Judge Paula Casey’s ruling had essentially set a new standard for grazing on state wildlife lands that the department would have to consider. … [more]

6 Apr 2010, 5:07pm
Latest Climate News
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AMS/NWA sponsored survey of TV weathercasters: 63% Believe Global Warming is Mostly Natural

Only 4% trust politicians on climate change information

Watts Up With That, 29/03/2010 [here]

In January and February 2010, using a web-based method, we surveyed all broadcast TV members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the National Weather Association (NWA) using member email lists provided by the two professional associations. …

Survey participants responded to a variety of questions assessing their beliefs in and attitudes about “global warming,” questions that have been used previously in our public opinion research.2 More than half of our respondent (54%) indicated that global warming is happening, 25% indicated it isn’t, and 21% say they don’t know yet. About one-third (31%) reported that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, while almost two-thirds (63%) reported it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment. … [more]

6 Apr 2010, 5:00pm
Latest Climate News
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Coldest Siberian Winter On Record

By Will Stewart, UK Daily Mail, 24th March 2010 [here]

Russia’s top weatherman’s blow to climate change lobby as he says winter in Siberia may be COLDEST on record

In a new blow to the climate change lobby, Russia’s top weatherman today announced that the winter now drawing to a close in Siberia may turn out to be the coldest on record.

“The winter of 2009-10 was one of the most severe in European part of Russia for more than 30 years, and in Siberia it was perhaps the record breaking coldest ever,” said Dr Alexander Frolov, head of state meteorological service Rosgidromet.

Statistics are still being analysed in detail, but it is known that in western Siberia the mean temperature was minus 23.2C, with more colder days than in previous years.

Some 63 days were colder than minus 25C and 39 days below minus 30C.

For this part of Siberia, this represents the coldest conditions in 40 years and the second harshest winter in 110 years.

Equivalent statistics for colder eastern Siberia have not been issued yet. … [more]

6 Apr 2010, 4:47pm
Latest Climate News
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U.S. EPA Goes Unconstitutional: Time to Rein in a Rogue Agency

by Marlo Lewis, MasterResource, March 30, 2010 [here]

When did Congress tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to license California and other states to adopt non-federal fuel economy standards within their borders? When did Congress tell EPA to act as co-equal or even senior partner with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in setting fuel-economy standards for the auto industry?

When did Congress tell EPA to establish climate and energy policy for the nation? And when did Congress tell EPA to “tailor,” that is amend, the Clean Air Act to avoid an administrative debacle of its own making?

The answer, of course, is never, never, never, and never. EPA is flouting federal law and the Constitution. … [more]

6 Apr 2010, 4:42pm
Latest Climate News
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NASA plans big boost to climate research budget

By Marc Kaufman, Washington Post, April 1, 2010 [here]

NASA officials laid out plans Wednesday to boost spending on climate research substantially over the next five years, to make up for cutbacks during the Bush administration.

Edward Weiler, the agency’s associate administrator for science, said that NASA’s Earth Science budget will get a $2.4 billion, or 62 percent, increase through 2015. By that point, the program will have launched as many as 10 new missions, collecting information about ocean temperatures, ice coverage, ozone depletion and the central question of how much carbon dioxide is being released through human activities.

The budget increase reflects both a campaign promise by President Obama to focus far more on the threat of climate change and what NASA officials called a “philosophical shift” on the issue. … [more]

See also:

Senators Demand Explanation of NASA’s Flawed Climate Data [here]

NASA Data Worse Than Climate-Gate Data, Space Agency Admits [here]

Note: NASA has been drinking the global warming corn squeezings for a long time. That Obama — he’s never seen a deficit he couldn’t top. Never let an economic crisis go to waste when you can make it worse!!!

6 Apr 2010, 4:34pm
Latest Climate News
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US Navy to Power Fleet with Biofuel

USDA Office of Communications, 04/06/2010 [here]

Navy Region Hawaii Environmental Public Affairs

Honolulu, Hawaii - Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations & Environment Jackalyne Pfannenstiel today kicked off the first of several energy forums to look at ways to increase biofuels production and meet the Navy’s renewable energy needs. The forum comes as a result of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recently signed by the USDA and the Department of the Navy to encourage the development of advanced biofuels and other renewable energy systems.

“As we continue to expand efforts to build a clean energy economy, create new jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we can use the Navy’s fleet as a catalyst to increase demand for biofuels and spur economic opportunity in rural communities throughout the country,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “President Obama has an ambitious renewable energy agenda, and the USDA/Navy partnership we are highlighting today is a critical step to enhance America’s energy security.”

“The Department of the Navy is very energized about the partnership with the Department of Agriculture,” said Navy Assistant Secretary Jackalyne Pfannenstiel. “This collaborative effort will enable us to reduce our petroleum consumption and increase our alternative energy opportunities. The Navy and Marine Corps’ warfighting capability will benefit through a more secure energy future.” … [more]

Note: The US Navy goes green! Or gets drunk on corn squeezings, one of the two. I feel much safer — do you?

6 Apr 2010, 4:24pm
Latest Climate News
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$99 Billion Spent By Feds On Global Warming Hoax

Congressional Budget Office Director’s Blog, March 26th, 2010 [here]

Federal Climate Change Programs

As awareness of global climate change has expanded over past decades, Congresses and Administrations have committed several billion dollars annually to studying climate change and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide. Most of that spending is done by the Department of Energy (DOE) and by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, although a dozen other federal agencies also participate. The effort has included funding science and technology, creating tax preferences, and assisting other countries in their attempts to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions. In a study released this afternoon, CBO examines the government’s commitment of resources to those purposes. The study presents information on current spending and analyzes recent patterns and trends in spending.

From 1998 through 2009, appropriations for agencies’ work related to climate change totaled about $99 billion (in 2009 dollars); more than a third of that sum-$35.7 billion by CBO’s estimation-was provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (see the figure below). During that period, the nation’s commitment to climate-related technology development increased significantly, as has the forgone revenue attributable to tax preferences. Funding for climate science and international assistance, by contrast, stayed roughly constant. … [more]

Note: 99 billion dollars to waste, 99 billion to waste, take one down and flush it away, 98 billion dollars to waste…

4 Apr 2010, 11:38pm
Latest Forest News
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Biggest thinning project in U.S. set

by CYNDY COLE, Arizona Daily Sun, April 4, 2010 [here]

Planning for the largest forest thinning project in the United States is now under way in the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests.

Forest managers plan to solicit private contractors to begin thinning trees by 2012 or 2013. The area is an 800,000-acre swath from south of Mormon Lake, west into the Kaibab National Forest and north toward Tusayan.

Funding would likely come not from the federal government but from the wood products companies seeking to turn the trees into plywood, wood trim or fuel pellets.

Eventually, this 20-year project aims to thin ponderosa pine on 2.4 million acres across multiple forests along the Mogollon Rim — in line with what forest managers and Northern Arizona University’s Ecological Restoration Institute have said will make the forests healthier and less prone to very intense wildfires.

“It’s going to be the largest restoration project ever attempted,” said Wally Covington, ERI director.

The size of the area to be thinned is key to the project being carried out — without a guaranteed, long-term supply of small-diameter trees, no wood products companies would bid on the thinning, and there is no money in the Forest Service budget to do the job.

Mostly, the trees to be thinned would be 16 inches and smaller, wouldn’t include very old trees (before European settlement), and would be outside of wilderness, steep ravines, or contested areas.

Some areas of the Coconino and neighboring forests now have 40 times more trees than they had before European settlement, grazing and fire exclusion. Those practices increased competition for water, susceptibility to disease and probability of large wildfires.

The forests used to be more open, with wide areas between trees.

Covington has long pushed for large-scale work, and he has since been giving presentations to Forest Service administrators in Washington on the need for such action.

“I’m pretty optimistic that at this scale in 25 years, we can get half of the forest restored,” he said. … [more]

4 Apr 2010, 4:18pm
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Easter Earthquake in Baja

Our San Diego correspondent reports a whole lot of shaking going on.

From the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program website [here]


Sunday, April 04, 2010 at 03:40:39 PM at epicenter

Location 32.093°N, 115.249°W

Depth 32.3 km (20.1 miles)

This is a computer-generated message — this event has not yet been reviewed by a seismologist.

4 Apr 2010, 1:24pm
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Watershed thinning to start in spring - Project to employ 50 people

By Vickie Aldous, The Ashland Daily Tidings, April 3, 2010 [here]

Thinning to reduce wildfire danger in the Ashland Watershed could start as soon as mid-May and ultimately provide employment for 50 people, according to officials involved in the project.

After years of planning and community input, the U.S. Forest Service approved the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project in October 2009. It calls for thinning trees and conducting prescribed burns on 7,600 acres in the Ashland Watershed and adjacent watersheds over the next decade.

Siskiyou Mountains District Ranger Donna Mickley said the Forest Service hopes to start work in mid to late-May, or possibly as late as early June.

“This is what all this hard work and collaboration has been about — being able to begin implementation,” she said.

On March 15, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, the city of Ashland, the Lomakatsi Restoration Project and The Nature Conservancy signed a $5.1 million stewardship agreement to carry out the first phase of the thinning project, Mickley said.

Funding from the project comes from $4.5 million in federal economic stimulus dollars meant to put people to work, plus $640,000 in cash and in-kind donations from the city of Ashland, Lomakatsi and The Nature Conservancy.

City of Ashland Forest Resources Specialist Chris Chambers said the city government’s contribution comes mainly in the form of city staff time that was already budgeted. The city is also hoping to get a $47,000 federal timber payments grant that could come through Jackson County.

City officials will find out on May 4 if Jackson County Commissioners award Ashland the grant, Chambers said.

Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor Scott Conroy said the thinning project will create jobs, help restore the watershed and reduce wildfire risk for residents in Ashland and surrounding communities.

Ashland Fire & Rescue Chief John Karns said reducing the risk of large-scale wildfire will help protect homes and the city’s clean water supply, which originates in the watershed.

Crews will start work close to Ashland in the wildlands-urban interface where homes are most at risk from wildfires. Over the 10-year life of the project, crews will gradually work up into the watershed, officials said.

Lomakatsi, a local nonprofit group that does hands-on work to rehabilitate watersheds, will thin small brush and trees, conduct controlled burns and train a workforce in forest restoration, officials said. …

Thinning work can proceed despite a lawsuit filed over parts of the project by Ashland City Councilor Eric Navickas and Arizona ecologist Jay Lininger… [more]

See also:

City won’t join suit on watershed - U.S. Forest Service had sought council’s support [here]

USFS cuts $2 million from Ashland project [here]

City leaders urge thinning of watershed despite lawsuit threats [here]

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