Sunday, May 31, 2015

Pollution, global warming dooming Earth's ecosystems

I swear.
Back in 2013, we announced the results of an unprecedented 10-year-study, published in PLOS ONE, on amphibian abnormalities on national wildlife refuges (pdf). We found that on average, less than 2 percent of frogs and toads sampled on 152 national wildlife refuges had physical abnormalities involving the skeleton and eyes—a much lower rate than experts first feared based on earlier reports. This indicated that the severe malformations such as missing or extra limbs repeatedly reported in the media during the mid-1990s were actually quite rare on national wildlife refuges. However, there were a few hot-spot clusters that had higher rates of abnormalities. One of these hot spots was at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. We found that wood frog tadpoles were attacked by dragonfly larvae 30 minutes sooner and three times more often in warm, slightly polluted water treatments, than in cooler, pollution-free treatments. The experiments simulated the effects of degraded water quality due to road runoff and climate change. The increased predation observed in this study supports previous research and could also help explain the prevalence of malformed frogs in some refuge hotspots. [US Fish and Wildlife Service]
Much of Alaska is under a red flag warning seeing conditions previously unknown in human or even geological history.

From 2011:
Rising temperatures and growing variability in rainfall are affecting the size of all species in the ecosystem from microscopic sea organisms to land-based predators, say researchers. "Our study suggests that ectotherms (cold-blooded animals like toads, turtles, and snakes that rely on environmental heat sources) are already changing a lot," said David Bickford from the National University of Singapore and co-author of the study.
There are only 400,000 Greater sage grouse left and Wyoming is ground zero.

Choose a hand basket and get ready for a helluva ride into the sunset of history.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Missoula Indy: Lee CEO should awake to find spiders coming out of her mouth

At the risk of leading a dead horse to water and making it drink click on this op-ed from a Missoula-based gadfly. A snip from Dan Brooks' piece should help you get the gist:
I wish Chuck Johnson well in his retirement, and I wish Mike Dennison luck in his continued career. Since I've got one left, I also wish that Mary Junck would awake to find that spiders come out of her mouth instead of words when she tries to talk.
Democracy is under attack, fellow Democrats.

With fewer journalists covering legislatures no voting public can perform the duties of citizenship with any accuracy whatsoever.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Creationist museum visit thwarted by science

I swear:
Lincoln Elementary students were unable to visit the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum after a Washington, D.C.-based group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, sent a letter claiming the event was illegal. The museum's founder and director, Otis E. Kline Jr., said the public school tours are modified to focus on material evidence, not religious teaching, but he does not yield in his belief that fossils and geologic records point to ideas such as the notion that all animal species appeared at once or that life is too complex to develop by chance. "If evolution makes a claim and the claim is refuted by science, then I have no problem saying that, because that's the truth," Kline said. "We don't make things up here." [Casper Star-Tribune]
South Dakota passed a statewide curriculum after dumbing down climate and history requirements to assuage that state's science deniers.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bison exchange becoming political powerhouse

Jim Stone is the executive director of the Rapid City-based InterTribal Buffalo Council: it's a clearinghouse for tribes that want bison and parks that have a surplus.
The council argued that its relationship with the Interior Department and the national parks should be a partnership rather than a business arrangement. The council is a federally chartered Native American organization empowered and owed support by centuries' worth of federal law and treaties, and it gets funding from the Interior Department, just as the national parks do. By at least one account, the three Northern Plains national parks that have bison herds have provided at least 10,000 bison to tribes and other entities during all their years of culling. Those bison have gone on to reproduce, helping raise the American bison population into the hundreds of thousands. [Casper Star-Tribune]
Plenty of hits here come from members of Congress and even from the White House. Pending news is often heralded in searches that lead readers to interested party.
While the deadline for comment is June 15, please stay engaged and informed as the new planning process goes forward. If you care about the future of one of Yellowstone’s most beloved and iconic animals, now is the time to get involved. [Bozeman Daily Chronicle]
Are cows drinking the West dry? It’s time for tough questions: Tom Ribe / Writers On The Range.

People have a right to know where their food is produced and what’s in it: Tom Jopek.

President Obama: rewild the West.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Beetles to biomass: USDA promoting regional harvest

The mountain pine beetle is hard at work clearing centuries of overgrowth throughout the Rocky Mountain Complex, so is the western spruce budworm. But leaving dead or dying conifers on the forest produces methane, an even more dangerous greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports seven regional integrated Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAPs) that develop regional systems for the sustainable production of advanced biofuels and biobased products. The regional systems focus on non-food dedicated biomass feedstocks such as perennial grasses, sorghum, energy cane, oilseed crops, and woody biomass. Specifically, goals for this aspect of the operation include benchmarking the performance of equipment used to harvest, process, and deliver beetle-killed trees, and then optimize the logistics for site conditions, specific end uses, and facility locations. [USDA blog]
Forest and land managers have learned that fuel treatments where fire is introduced after mechanical harvest helps to restore forests where emerging aspen and other hardwoods add biodiversity necessary to healthy ecosystems while sequestering carbon.

As firefighting costs strain federal budgets removal of fuels in areas where roads already exist just makes sense.

Monday, May 25, 2015

South Dakota not last in sloth

Hey, South Dakota isn't 50th in something!

Minnesota's winters are at least as brutal as either western neighbor but is 7th in workout time and residents are physically active over 75 minutes a week. North Dakota finished 50th in workout minutes and minutes spent running while Washington, DC placed 51st in the country. My home state of South Dakota is 43rd working out less than an hour each week. Colorado is second, Montana mid-range at number 27 and Wyoming is just ahead of the Land of Infinite Vegetating at 41st.

My adoptive state of New Mexico ranks 9th working out over 73 minutes a week. We walk year round at least four hours a week.

Read more linked here.

More bird pix: click on any for a better look.

Male black-headed and rose-breasted grosbeaks: image captured through porch screen

Female black-chinned hummingbird

Scott's oriole: image captured through window screen.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Wild horses draining budgets, wreaking habitat havoc

The modern horse was introduced to North America by the Spanish late in the 15th Century.

In Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and seven other states the Bureau of Land Management adopts out, seeks private pastures for, and feeds wild horses.
The 1971 Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act didn’t delineate the administration of an adaptable, fecund species that was dumped onto the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM’s adoption program for wild horses, which initially functioned as a way to reduce herds, was soon outpaced by reproduction. Over a horse’s life, the tab will run $49,000 per head. Already, BLM faces an annual bill for the wild horse program at more than $75 million. [The Cody Enterprise]
From WNAX:
Legislation has been introduced in the House to ban all horse slaughter in the United States. The Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2015 would make it illegal to sell or transport horses or part of horses in interstate or foreign commerce for human consumption. The South Dakota Stock Growers Association opposes the measure. Executive Director Silvia Christen says there needs to be a way to deal humanely with unwanted or older horses. Christen says without slaughter available the population of horses would rise and create a financial burden and a hardship for finding ways of disposing of them. The sale of horsemeat for human consumption in the U.S. is currently banned but is subject to review every year. There is no federal law that prohibits transport of horses for slaughter from the U.S .to Canada or Mexico. [WNAX]
The Oglala Lakota Nation had been pursuing an abattoir as an economic development opportunity according to Tim Huether writing in the Bennett County Booster:
Tribal council member Craig Dillon from the LaCreek District confirmed that they are indeed looking at it but said they have a long way to go, but have also come a long way on the project. The location they are considering for the plant is just under two miles north and west of the U.S. Hwy 18 and U.S. Hwy 73 junction which is 12 miles east of Martin. The tribe owns approx. 220 acres there that Dillon said would be a good location. Slaughtering horses ended in the U.S. in 2007 after Congress began prohibiting the use of federal funds to inspect horses destined to become food during 2006.
The Crow and Northern Cheyenne Nations are litigating with the State of Wyoming about whether the rights of tribal nations include subsistence hunting on public grounds where bison or wapiti held Rocky Mountain ecosystems together just three hundred years ago.

In a state where horses are exported to Mexico the New Mexico legislature euthanized the latest attempts to ban that harvested meat for human consumption. The US Department of Agriculture reports the United States has sent more than 12,000 horses across the southern border for slaughter so far this year.
The Bureau of Land Management estimates that 49,209 wild horses and burros (about 40,815 horses and 8,394 burros) are roaming on BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states, based on the latest data available, compiled as of March 1, 2014. (This compares to the 2013 estimate of 40,605 animals.) Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years. As a result, the agency must remove thousands of animals from the range each year to control herd sizes. The ecosystems of public rangelands are not able to withstand the impacts from overpopulated herds, which include soil erosion, sedimentation of streams, and damage to wildlife habitat. [BLM Quick Facts]
In an era when western states are scrambling to preserve habitat for the threatened Greater sage grouse how is running nurseries for introduced species like wild horses and burros either conservative or sustainable?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Lee newspapers crush Montana capital bureau

Update, 24 May, 0817 MDT:
Texas leads the way with more than 50 full-time Capitol reporters, and South Dakota brings up the rear with only two. [Journalists, politicians react to loss of Capitol reporters]

My gut is growling something about Gannett and Lee Enterprises getting hitched.

Waves of gloom and doom are sweeping through Montana's media family.
Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison, Montana's most prominent political reporters, are leaving their posts next week as the Lee Newspapers State Bureau closes. "It's a loss for everyone who cares about informed civic discussion of statewide politics. Their decades of institutional memory and experience are unmatched," said Dennis Swibold, a University of Montana School of Journalism professor. Dennison and Johnson could have taken new reporter positions at significantly lower pay, but chose to take buyouts. Lee is the largest newspaper company in Montana. [Kristen Inbody]
Stock in LEE spiked yesterday in unusually strong trading.

Lee newspapers in the state include the Billings Gazette, Helena Independent Record, Montana Standard, Missoulian, Ravalli Republic and the Mini Nickel advertiser.

Some, but not all of the Lee Newspapers of Montana supported Democrat Jon Tester while endorsing a white Mormon for president.

The Bismarck Tribune supported earth haters Willard Romney and Rick Berg. The Rapid City Journal also supported only earth haters, as did the Sioux City Journal.

The Casper Star-Tribune threw President Obama under the coal hauler while the Lincoln Journal-Star supported both the President and former senator Democrat Bob Kerrey.

The Sioux City Journal and its parent company are earth haters' wet dreams.

After her company's stock lost half its value, Jim Romenesko's story on Lee Enterprises CEO Mary Junck's pay raise rolled through the twitterverse like a bowling ball.

Comments on the Lee decision from Romenesko here.

Reactions to the news can be found here, here and here.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Today's intersection: history and stupid white people

Reading through newspaper websites serving the Mountain West every morning often leaves this blogger shaking his head over stuff found among the electrons.

The Casper Star-Tribune covered a meeting of the Cody, Wyoming school board where teabaggers are resisting teaching truths to American students.
That agenda, they say, includes discussion of global warming and a disproportionate focus on the stories of minorities. Aligned to the controversial Common Core State Standards, the readings cover a variety of subjects including global warming, evolution and race. Material for high school students also focuses on British, American and contemporary literature. Many opponents of the readings, such as trustee William Struemke, are active in the local Tea Party. Struemke said the materials presented "a very liberal, very slanted view of the world." He complained that stories within the texts are disproportionately about minority groups and that he would like to see more "white leaders" included. [Complaints about global warming, race stall Cody school board]
The Cody Enterprise covered the story, too.

Comes this posted at Indianz:
For instance, I find it awkward to stand to the Star Spangled Banner at events or gatherings. I feel a strong sense of embarrassment, knowing what I know about this new society. I believe that was the beginning of my search for my true self. Mount Rushmore is supposedly a symbol of egalitarianism or a “Shrine of Democracy.” However, that perception changed gradually to "Shrine of Hypocrisy.” At the same time, I see the practice of using the flag to promote personal, biased, and often hostile attitudes towards minorities. More accurately, this is an advancement of the belief, theory, or doctrine that white people are inherently superior to all other racial groups, and are therefore rightfully the dominant group in any society. [excerpt, Ivan F. Star Comes Out]
NPR's Morning Edition host, Steve Inskeep is touring with his new book on President Andrew Jackson. Inskeep is meticulous in his description of Jackson as a racist slaveholder dedicated to removing American Indians from their ancestral lands.

How tribal members have any respect for stupid white people whatsoever remains a mystery.

W√≥jupi Wi — Moon When the Leaves are Green.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wyoming data trespassing law creating chilling effect on science, dooming wildlife

Update, 20 May, 1217 MDT, New Federal Sage Grouse Protection Plan Ignores Threat from Ranching: KCET.
Given the deep discounts federal lands ranchers pay for grazing permits compared to those ranchers whose livestock graze on private land, public lands ranching is one of the most thoroughly subsidized industries in the West. If we taxpayers are essentially going to pay ranchers to graze cattle on our land, those ranchers should at least be willing to come to the table to address ways that their profits harm our irreplaceable wildlife.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service will extend federal protection to sage grouse unless states like Wyoming adopt strategies to guard breeding grounds.
Wyoming’s new data trespassing law made national headlines last week when an opinion column in Slate raised the question of whether it attempts to criminalize data collection activities among citizens, including taking photos on public lands such as Yellowstone National Park. That was the argument of Justin Pidot, a University of Denver assistant professor of law. He’s not an uninterested bystander in the issue, because he represents the Western Watersheds Project. At issue is that the law portends to apply to state public lands, and that it creates a question of whether it attempts to apply to federal public lands, as the non-profit Western Watersheds Project believes. “The mere fact that you have a criminal statute that applies to this conduct sends a real chilling message to citizens who might like to engage in these [data collecting] activities,” Pidot said. While lawmakers debated a data trespassing bill last summer, 15 ranchers sued Jonathan Ratner and the WWP for allegedly trespassing on private land to access Bureau of Land Management parcels to collect water samples. [excerpt: Gregory Nickerson, Wyofile]
Domestic cattle spread antibiotic-laced manure in sensitive ecosystems killing the fungi that break down organic material and strengthen trees' resistance to bark beetles in mixed pine/aspen forests.

Wyoming receives nearly half of federal mineral receipts. (pdf)
“Within agriculture in the West, the thirstiest commodity is the cow,” says George Wuerthner, an ecologist at the Foundation for Deep Ecology, who has studied the livestock industry. Christopher Ketcham, The New Republic.
As the Department of Interior identifies several states where bison can be reintroduced to historic ranges, some cattle producers are resisting overtures from tribes and the US Park Service to begin rewilding portions of the West.
Public lands ranching is the most widespread commercial use of public lands in the United States. Ranching is one of the primary causes of native species endangerment in the American West; it is also the most significant cause of non-point source water pollution and desertification. Hobby ranchers and corporate-entities hold the lion’s share of grazing permits on hundreds of millions of acres of public lands. Most of the rest of public land ranchers rely on service jobs in small towns as their primary source of income. Rural communities support public land ranchers not the other way around. BLM and Forest Service staff and conservationists continue to be subjected to psychological and physical intimidation in the field. [Western Watersheds Project]
Cattle worsen the cheatgrass cycle and endanger habitat essential to keystone species like the threatened Greater sage grouse.

Author Thomas McGuane examines the changing West: Albuquerque Journal.

Expect my home state of South Dakota to advance similar anti-science legislation.

Western livestock producers are the real ecoterrorists. Having a conversation about conservation with a conservative is like peeing into a haboob.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Wyoming prosecutions unchanged by Colorado cannabis

“The change in drug arrests has been nonexistent,” said Sweetwater County, Wyoming Sheriff Mike Lowell. “You’re going to deal with it, you’re not going to stop it.”

Colorado's cannabis industry has not only not telegraphed an increase in prosecutions for possession in Lowell's county charges have dropped 18 percent from 2013 to 2014 and only 8 percent of arrests in Wyoming involved the herb. Even felony cannabis seizures by Highway Patrol troopers are trending downward and the number of pounds of confiscated product dropped 50 percent from 2012 to 2013.

Sheriff Lowell has his deputies undergo other interdiction training saying his agency is far more concerned with methamphetamine and heroin.

Chris Christian is director of the Wyoming chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Her group has filed to put a proposal to legalize therapeutic cannabis on the state's ballot after Denver law firm, Hoban & Feola LLC volunteered to help write the measure. A statewide poll conducted last year by the University of Wyoming found 72 percent of Wyoming residents support medical cannabis.

A new Wyoming law "makes it a misdemeanor crime to enter open land with the intent of collecting resource data, including photographs or soil, water and air samples, without statutory, contractual or legal authorization or permission from the owner."

Want to encourage young people to become involved in the democratic process in your state? Get legal cannabis on the ballot.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sen. Tester to introduce geothermal plan

Geothermal mining has been a topic of keen interest in Montana for decades.
Montana Senator Jon Tester is aiming to introduce a bill that would set a target of generating 50,000 MW of geothermal energy by 2025. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently has over 800 geothermal leases but only 59 have the status of currently producing, totaling about 1500 MW of geothermal capacity on public lands, with about 1.5 million homes receiving electricity from them. Some research has indicated that enhanced geothermal systems could enable developers to expand geothermal up to 100,000 MW in the coming years and Google has investing in this technology. [Climate Action]
More on the Google-backed Newberry volcano geothermal test linked here.

In 2010, some of the country's American Indian nations were left without power for many weeks because utility companies have succumbed to the moral hazards of disaster declarations that pay them to replace ice-downed power transmission lines year after year.

Oregon Public Broadcasting has compared hydraulic fracturing for geothermal versus for natural gas.

Utah's former GOP governor, Jon Huntsman set that state on a course toward geothermal power generation.

Cyrq Energy built a geothermal electric generator in New Mexico that is now online.

The Santa Fe National Forest on Wednesday announced plans to study potential environmental impacts of developing geothermal energy: Santa Fe New Mexican.

Above map courtesy of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Deadline looming for bison plan

Plenty of hits here come from members of Congress and even from the White House. Pending news is often heralded in searches that lead readers to interested party. This post is trending.
Join us for a “write-in” event in Bozeman at the Story Mansion (811 South Willson) on Tuesday, May 19 at 6:30 pm, where the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Gallatin Wildlife Association are bringing together people from all walks of life to learn more about this new planning process for wild Yellowstone Bison. We will be writing comments to be submitted to the National Park Service as well. While the deadline for comment is June 15, please stay engaged and informed as the new planning process goes forward. If you care about the future of one of Yellowstone’s most beloved and iconic animals, now is the time to get involved. [Bozeman Daily Chronicle]
Tribal nations were ignored in talks of delisting the Yellowstone grizzly bear.
James Walks Along was forced to abandon an address to the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee (YES) of the joint federal and state Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) by Brian Nesvik, IGBC Chair and Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) Wildlife Division Chief, at the committee’s spring meeting in Cody, Wyoming. Walks Along emphasized the spiritual significance of the grizzly bear to the Cheyenne. “This Holy Mountain of ours, Bear Butte, is named because of the mightiness of the grizzly. We have a lot of history with this great animal, and many stories. Grizzlies are like humans. We respect them for being like us,” he explained. [Native Sun News, posted at Indianz]
Are cows drinking the West dry? It’s time for tough questions: Tom Ribe / Writers On The Range.

Wildlife Services, the animal killing arm of USDA, is part of a one-day, non-lethal predator damage management workshop on Thursday, May 21 in Polson, Montana.
The goal of the workshop is to provide information to the public on the science behind non-lethal predator damage management methods and the practical applications of these methods as a part of a comprehensive damage management plan for protecting livestock and other property. [Char-Koosta News]
President Obama: rewild the West.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Train travel still far safer than driving

An Amtrak derailment has killed six seven eight but that crash spared 232 231 some 200 lives. The train is believed to have gone into a 50 MPH curve at 100.
Despite this, such gore is a staple of news broadcasts. However, maybe some good can yet come of this: there is a major need for repairs and upgrades in U.S. infrastructure. Train travel is one place to invest the dollars. Actual threats like climate change are too abstract to appreciate, while on TV we get panic about Malaysian jets and train crashes. [Princeton Election Consortium]
If you're one of 238 and go down in an airplane your ass is toast.

Talk of direct passenger rail service between the Empire Builder at Shelby, Montana and the Southwest Chief at Pueblo, Colorado through Denver continues.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

US christianity being swept into dustbin of history

Tell me if you've heard this one before.
A Montana Catholic schoolteacher fired for having a baby out of wedlock can't sue because she led her classes in prayer and participated in other religious activities that prevent her from filing a discrimination claim, attorneys for the school said. Former Butte Central teacher Shaela Evenson is accusing the school and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena of pregnancy discrimination, sex discrimination and breach of contract. She was fired in January 2014 after diocese officials received an anonymous letter saying Evenson was unmarried and pregnant. Evenson became pregnant through artificial insemination and gave birth to a boy last year. It was the first child for Evenson and her partner, Marilyn Tobin. [Associated Press]
At the time of the firing the couple was not eligible to marry under Montana law.

Some get it. Some don't.
The Christian [sic] share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. This is the second time the Pew Research Center has conducted a Religious Landscape Study. The first was conducted in 2007, also with a telephone survey of more than 35,000 Americans. [Pew Research Center]
Christianic white supremacist, misogynist, pariah and witless GOP pawn, Steve Sibson, will compete with Tara Volesky, Kevin Kenkel and Twyla Mah for open Mitchell school board terms.

The city's election is scheduled for June 2.

Sibson is a 'special' case, if you get my drift. He reminds readers of Madville Times that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney answers to Santa Satan before country.

A perennial loser, Sibson suffers from paranoid delusions and acute depression.

Sibson's Religionist Right is resisting parts of Common Core because the standards stress human influence on climate change, genocide of indigenous by colonizers, gender equality and social justice.

Paul of Tarsus was hung over and had been smoking opium when he was overcome with it. Jesus of Nazareth was tempted by it in the desert after fasting. Joseph Smith was 18, drunkenly praying that God would forgive him for sins of debauchery when he got it. Wovoka witnessed a solar eclipse on peyote that compelled a generation of Ghost Dancers.

Metanoia, visions, angels, the Holy Spirit--God's work on Earth, Right?

Maybe it's all in your head.

Former NPR religion correspondent, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, went looking for the "God Spot," that place in the human brain that receives the Holy Spirit then compiled her results in a book she called The Fingerprints of God where she describes Temporal Lobe Epilepsy with a scientist's fascination in exquisite detail.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Nothing happens in South Dakota without federal money

France now controls each end of South Dakota.

A bentonite mining firm that operates near Belle Fourche signed a merger agreement with the French company Imerys.
Estimates are that more than 60 percent of cat litter used in the North American marketplace come from the Colony plant. The company is one of two in the area that are major customers of rail transportation on the former DM&E line. [Milo Dailey]
The vast majority of bentonite mined near Belle and Colony, Wyoming, where it is loaded onto rail cars at a plant owned by Halliburton, is on public ground. Most of that is prime habitat for the threatened sage grouse and under lease from the US Bureau of Land Management.
The city of Belle Fourche’s grant requests for the design and construction of a railway for the industrial park have been tabled, denied, withdrawn, or are still pending. A federal grant was also applied for, and the Department of Transportation grant that was announced for more governor released funds intended for rail projects, is still pending. That pending request was for $1.8 million. [Black Hills Pioneer]
Todd Keller, a former Belle Fourche mayor questions the boondoggle.
Keller spoke to the outgoing and new council questioning the value of the $8.4 million Industrial Rail Park, and suggested that the city should end the project, which could happen if the key rail spur element is removed. The Belle Fourche City Council in December applied for $2.2 million in a federal Economic Development Administration grant toward the planned Industrial Rail Park rail terminal project. If the grant request is approved, the funding will go toward the $8.4 million total project that would literally put rails into the new Industrial Rail Park for an on-load and offload facility. It would serve much of western South Dakota and nearby areas of neighboring states. So far the city has invested approximately $2.85 million in the rail park, including utilities and streets, from its budgeted $4.5 million. [Milo Dailey]
A Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad off-load facility in Belle Fourche would go unused.

A call to an RCP&E executive this morning has revealed that the firm supports the loading expansion in Belle Fourche. She also said that the line between Crawford and Dakota Junction, Nebraska connecting to Rapid City is active and hauling bentonite south to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and to Union Pacific.

She said that although there is virtually no westbound shipping over the line between Wolsey and Rapid City, South Dakota or Colony, Wyoming the State of South Dakota subsidizes enough siding development, money that the state receives from the federal government through the transportation bill, that shipments of one-way freight allow the railroad to cash flow. The state owns the right of way.

The railroad is content to move product at ten miles an hour between Wall and Fort Pierre where Cretaceous shale buckles track bed every year.

She also said that at this time RCP&E has no intention to secure leases for new rail bed from Colony to the Powder River Basin coal fields and that the railroad won't transport coal across South Dakota.

When asked she could not say whether the company's parent, Genesee & Wyoming is talking to that state or its residents about leasing the relatively short distance from Colony to its rights on the BSNF main line near Gillette.

Volcanic clays like bentonite make radioactive waste repositories such as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico possible.

Adjacent to RCP&E's holdings east river federal money built the salted fat plant in Brookings for French company, Bel Brands. The dairy industry supporting it relies on H2-A immigrants, farm bill subsidies and cheap water then gives back to the community by making the Big Sioux River the 13th most polluted waterway in the US.

The federal transportation bill expires again at the end of May with the likelihood of another extension.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Blogger drives Montana to preserve Native languages, South Dakota to rename Black Hills peak

The Missoulian reports that rudimentary Arabic is being offered to Hellgate High students. Sure. That's cool.

But, why not preserve Crow, Blackfeet, Assiniboine and the other tongues native to Montana? For over twenty years this interested party has hammered the absence of Lakota in South Dakota high schools and on language equivalents for geographical features on SDDoT highway maps.

Now, those things are happening.

Federal agencies recognize tribal nations as the 51st State and realize that the West should be rewilded.

The line forms at my rear.

Pat Duffy walks on

Update, 13 May: Patrick Duffy obit in the Rapid City Journal linked here.


What a shocker! Pat Duffy commented on a local blog just hours ago. He was 58.
“Lift” should be “life.” No pun intended. [comment, Pat Duffy]
He represented Pete Larson in the Sue dinosaur case.

When media in South Dakota need a Democrat in the state to speak about actions in Congress they have nobody to call. It won't be Rick Weiland or Pat Duffy or Bernie Hunhoff or even Bob Burns and it certainly won't be South Dakota Democratic Party's new chair, Ann Tornberg or vice-chair, Joe Lowe.
Epidemic civic illiteracy in both parties fuels this largely pointless political combat that has raged for decades. Whether the head of a state political party supports or resists Roe and its progeny means nothing in jurisprudential reality, but almost everything in political reality. -- Patrick Duffy.
KELO teevee chooses to quote Al Franken (D-MN) when it needs a statement.

So, who will it be? Cory Heidelberger? Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether? Anyone? Bueller?

When there are Democratic Party chairs in Harding, Butte, Ziebach, Corson, Clark, Douglas, Faulk, Haakon, Hutchinson, Jackson, Jones, Potter, Sully, and Todd Counties i will think about sending another fucking cent to a South Dakota Democrat.
Oglala Lakota Tribe officials passed a resolution banning Rapid City lawyer Patrick Duffy from the Pine Ridge Reservation, after Duffy hired on to defend a Philip man charged with disorderly conduct for behavior toward Native Americans at a hockey game. Duffy couldn't be reached for comment on this story. [Kevin Woster, Tribe Bans Lawyer Representing Man Charged In Hockey Game Incident]
Editor's note: Woster is married to Mary Garrigan, Duffy's ex-wife.

Sad to watch the earth hater SDGOP establishment chortling over the loss of a prominent Democrat.

Read the Rapid City Journal piece linked here.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Methane bubble: Black Hills Corp. adds more rigs, fracking near Chaco

Significant amounts of natural gas on federal lands are being wasted, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year and adding to harmful greenhouse gas emissions, a congressional investigation has found. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office also said the Bureau of Land Management failed to conduct production inspections for hundreds of high-priority oil and gas wells — roughly 1 out of 5 — to ensure full payment of royalties to the U.S. [Santa Fe New Mexican]
While groups are suing the Bureau of Land Management to prevent oil and gas encroachment on the Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Black Hills Corp. is raping again.
The Rapid City, SD-based firm now has three wells producing in the Mancos and expects to have as many as 10 online by the end of this year, with long-range reserve projections of about 10 Bcf/well, CEO David Emery said on an earnings conference call. Three horizontal natural gas wells were placed on production early in the first quarter with what Emery characterized as "strong production results to date that have exceeded our expectations." He called it "truly a win-win situation." The company continues to talk with regulators and stakeholders in seven states and evaluate prospects for reserves, including the Mancos shale properties. [some earth hater rag]
Win-win my sore pink glutei.

Even as prices plummet, Rapid City-based Black Hills Corp. remains focused on its substantial oil and natural gas holdings in the Mancos Shale within the San Juan and Piceance basins. The firm is bankrolling water diversions, too.

Black Hills Energy was named a top polluter in the region.
'With all the ground-based and airborne resources that the different groups are bringing to the region, we have the unique chance to unequivocally solve the Four Corners mystery,' said Christian Frankenberg, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, who is heading NASA's part of the effort. [Daily Mail]
After cutting NASA's budget John Thune and the GOP leadership are postulating that Earth science being conducted by the agency is not real science.
U.S. geoscientists are accustomed to being used as a punching bag by climate change skeptics in Congress, who challenge the science of global warming. But some influential Republican legislators are now going a step further, by denigrating the discipline itself. The idea that the geosciences aren’t hard science comes as a shock to Margaret Leinen, president of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and a former head of the National Science Foundation’s geosciences directorate. Senator Bill Nelson (D–FL), the top Democrat on the full commerce committee and the only current member of Congress to have flown in space, took a more gentlemanly tack. “Let me point out that budgets are not always as clear as what we think they are,” he said, noting that several other NASA accounts also support exploration activities. “Earth science relates directly to everything we are doing in space exploration,” Nelson asserted. [Jeffrey Mervis]

NASA turns satellites not only to study pollution in South Dakota but also to learn how a force like the Anthropocene affects a planet.
Methane's lifetime in the atmosphere is much shorter than carbon dioxide (CO2), but CH4 is more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of CH4 on climate change is 25 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period. [US Environmental Protection Agency]
After a century of exploitation Black Hills Corporation has announced a $70 million dollar cathedral to capitalism in occupied Rapid City.

Several utilities are based in South Dakota because of the state's regressive tax structure. Meanwhile, the state just raised taxes on those least pay to pay them...again.

South Dakota's earth hater governor has installed in his Reichstag a member of the Emery dynasty as an apparatchik tribal liaison to persuade some unwitting tribal nation trapped in the state to host a radioactive dump for fracking's waste.

BKH stock has been sliding.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Minnesota cannabis industry locked and loaded

Cannabis is already legal in parts of South Dakota but getting the means of cultivation, seeds and clones past Marty Jackley's gestapo is daunting.
Minnesota's marijuana makeover was kicked into high gear Tuesday with a tour of a new cannabis-growing plant. "Nine months ago, this was all farmland. It's pretty amazing," said Dr. Kyle Kingsley, CEO of Minnesota Medical Solutions, as he led reporters through his sleek new plant in Otsego, about 35 miles northwest of Minneapolis. The high-tech, ultrasecurity, super-secret building is one of two marijuana factories in the state. The other is in Cottage Grove, operated by LeafLine Labs. [St. Paul Pioneer Press]
Public Policy Polling released a survey commissioned by Minnesota NORML from January 18-21, 2015. 49% of Minnesotans want legal cannabis ala Colorado and Washington, 44% are opposed; men embrace legalization 51/43. 76% of respondents condone therapeutic access. Even Republicans showed support at 61% and American Indians showed overwhelming approval at 93%. 54% believe cannabis prohibition is not more effective than alcohol prohibition, 51% think Minnesota’s economy would benefit from market legalization.

North Dakota has legalized cannabis so getting the means to cultivate onto the Standing Rock tribal nation is already taking place. But distribution of finished product remains smoke and mirrors unless states and tribes adopt a regulatory strategy and form compacts.

Monday, May 4, 2015

PRTC expansion dooms sage grouse in Powder River basin

Sage grouse will be extinct in 100 years and could be extirpated from the Powder River basin in 30 years if their decline continues at its current rate, according to the Garton report released last week in Environment and Energy Daily. Santa Fe-based WildEarth Guardians says the study follows the bird’s cycles going back to 1965 and is a warning of what could happen if Western states don’t step up conservation efforts for the grouse.

Oil and gas production, pipelines, climate change and the newly expanded Powder River Training Complex are accelerating the extinction of the once-prolific bird.
Andrea Bowman, agent with the Bowman County NDSU Extension office, said one of her concerns rested with sage grouse, a species already drawing concern due to dwindling population. Bowman said her concern would be how the presence of the bombers would affect the sage grouse and area livestock. Potential bird aircraft strikes could also occur in the low MOA where migratory flyways converge, such as in Bowman County. [BOMBING OVER BOWMAN – PART II]
At least one Ellsworth B1-B bomber went down over southeastern Montana because of a bird strike and the Air Force has released murky findings in the downing of another which some have said was brought down by an irate Carter County rancher with a .30-30 Winchester.

In adopting the Environmental Impact Statement the Federal Aviation Administration added conditions before the implementation date including the establishment of "communications coverage—subject to the FAA’s acceptance—in new airspace areas prior to their use," according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
[The US Army has] found that protecting the birds would restrict the availability of training lands; limit the size of training lands and ranges; restrict the use of firing points; and impose restrictions on future development and construction. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a Sept. 30 deadline to decide whether to propose the greater sage grouse for federal protection. [Casper Star-Tribune]
Settling ponds used in the coal bed methane industry in the Powder River Basin are breeding mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus also threatening the Greater Sage Grouse.

On the 45th anniversay of the Kent State massacre we have learned nothing: military madness is killing my country.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Missouri River dams too toxic to drain as corps cancel Spring Pulse

Lewis and Clark Lake is 30% full of sediment.
Last month, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released a report that showed that no lakes, and only a few streams, in the Minnesota portion of the Missouri River Basin met state standards for supporting aquatic life and recreation, meaning they are not safe for fishing and swimming. None of the lakes in the Missouri River Basin met the aquatic recreation standard. [Fulda Free Press]
Findings of more than a hundred studies on individual dam removals were published recently in the journal Science. Here's a snip from the abstract:
Forty years ago, the demolition of large dams was mostly fiction, notably plotted in Edward Abbey's novel The Monkey Wrench Gang. Its 1975 publication roughly coincided with the end of large-dam construction in the United States. Last year's removals of the 64-m-high Glines Canyon Dam and the 32-m-high Elwha Dam in northwestern Washington State were among the largest yet, releasing over 10 million cubic meters of stored sediment. [ECOLOGY: 1000 dams down and counting]
Low-head dams can be lethal. As silt fills irrigation diversion dams lower quality water with higher salinity enters the system ultimately rendering soils incapable of supporting life. Snow and rainwater capture provide much higher quality water for irrigation likely making the beleaguered Lewis and Clark boondoggle obsolete before it's finished or even fully funded.

Aquifer sources are not considered high quality water for irrigation but fossil water from limestone contains the minerals that made us human. Note the huge number of Hutterite communities applying for permits awaiting approval at South Dakota's Department of Ecocide and Natural Ruination to pump dwindling aquifers.

Some want to dredge Lewis and Clark and sell the silt as frac sand because its too toxic to remediate.

A study released 2 April in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that the renewable fuel requirement is transforming the Midwest landscape.
The massive increase in corn ethanol production has led growers to plow up millions of acres of grasslands to produce more corn and soybeans, degrading water and air quality and destroying critical wildlife habitat. How much more evidence will it take before Congress gets serious about reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard and putting that last nail into the coffin of the corn ethanol mandate? [AgMag Blog]
After cutting NASA's budget John Thune and the GOP leadership are postulating that Earth science being conducted by the agency is not real science.
SDSU scientists Bruce Millett and W. Carter Johnson, working with Glenn Guntenspergen of the U.S. Geological Survey, tracked 95 years of weather data from 18 weather stations throughout the region. They published that far-reaching study, “Climate trends in the North American prairie pothole region 1906-2000” in 2009 in the journal Climatic Change and have continued to research the topic since then. They chose the 18 weather stations for the completeness of the weather records available at those locations and because the 18 sites are well distributed across smaller ecoregions within the Prairie Pothole Region, or PPR. “Drainage of wetlands in the wetter, eastern PPR has lowered the potential of the PPR to produce waterfowl in a warmer greenhouse climate,” the scientists wrote in their study. [Nixon, SDSU scientists: Climate change may limit size of nation’s “duck factory”]
The frequency of dams on the Missouri River system is killing native fish and the game industry is restocking with non-native species.
Agriculture is the single largest source of nutrient and sediment pollution entering waters of Southwest and West Central Montana. [Upper Missouri Waterkeeper]
There was too water in the upper Missouri basin last October but because of low mountain run-off the US Army Corps of Engineers has cancelled (pdf) the 2015 March and May Pulses putting the success of spawning endangered pallid sturgeon at further risk of extinction while threatening the entire river system itself.

Rivers often disperse the extra sediment from behind a dam within weeks or months of dam removal. Removal of the Fort Edward Dam on New York’s Hudson River released so much contaminated sediment that the river was later named a Superfund site. A similar fate would befall the Missouri River if dams were not dredged before being decertified; but, migratory fish would recolonize newly accessible habitat within a matter of days.

We are truly fucked.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Larson dinosaur case pits earth haters against each other

The sixth annual Black Hills Film Festival (BHFF) opens at Rapid City's Elks Theatre on May 6 and expects to screen more than 30 films, documentaries, shorts and feature films from South Dakota. Hill City will show films at three venues.
Pete Larson has discovered thousands of fossils around the world, co-authored three books and led the team that unearthed the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found. But there's one black mark on his record: a federal conviction that landed him in prison almost 20 years ago. [Casper Star-Tribune]
At first, it was Pat Duffy v. Kevin Schieffer but now it's earth hater on earth hater:
"It's possible that he was overzealously prosecuted but yet guilty of the crimes on which he was found guilty of," said Rep. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls. Neither he nor fellow Republican Rep. Lee Schoenbeck, of Watertown, has seen the film. "Unless it had a detailed review of the criminal investigation file, I probably wouldn't spend my time watching it," Schoenbeck said. "There is no chance that any legislators knew the details of that criminal case that would warrant them for voting for that resolution." Rep. Mike Verichio, a Republican from Larson's home of Hill City, said he introduced the resolution after an outpouring of requests from constituents who had watched the documentary and thought Larson was unjustly imprisoned. [Casper Star-Tribune]