Saturday, January 31, 2015

Livestock grazing kills millions of wildlife annually, costs taxpayers billions

Update, 31 January, 0900 MST:
As shown in a recent Chatham House report, the livestock sector contributes nearly 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, roughly equivalent to those from transport. The results are compelling. A shift toward less meat-intensive, emission-intensive diets would also realize important co-benefits. A move to promote a diet that is less rich in meat, and that has a greater share of chicken and pork as opposed to beef and lamb, would bring significant benefits to public health, including reduced incidence of heart disease, cancers and diabetes associated with overconsumption of meat. [Laura Wellesley, If We All Eat Meat, We’re Doomed]

Republicans hate subsidies unless industrial agriculture benefits.
The study, Costs and Consequences: The Real Price of Livestock Grazing on America’s Public Lands, comes as the Obama administration prepares Friday to announce grazing fees for the upcoming year on 229 million acres of publicly owned land, most of it in the West. The report was prepared by economists on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity. The federal subsidy of the grazing program goes beyond the direct costs and fees. There are vast indirect costs to grazing on federal lands, including the government killing of native carnivores perceived as threats to wildlife, wildfire suppression caused by invasive cheat grass facilitated by cattle grazing, and expenditure of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds from protecting other species threatened by livestock grazing. “The full cost of the federal grazing program is long overdue for a complete analysis,” the study said. [The Center for Biological Diversity]

There are eight grazing allotments on the Northern Hills district that can no longer support livestock.
There are four federal land management groups that allow grazing: the National Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the National Park Service. Tom Smith, range staff officer for the Northern Hills Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest said there are 36 allotments in his district, eight of which are vacant. The allotments add up to 304,387 total acres and each allotment ranges from 1,223-20,479 acres in size. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has 504 grazing allotments in Western South Dakota said Carmen Drieling, the group’s rangeland management specialist. “It’s a rate based on a formula that we have nothing to do with,” Smith said. “Congress set up the formula during the Regan [sic] administration and has done nothing to change it.” Currently that rate is $1.35 per grazing pair, per month. “It’s ridiculously cheap,” he said. “If you were to lease private land to do the same thing, you’re looking at $30. $20 would be cheap.” [Mark Watson, Black Hills Pioneer]
Betty Olson is an earth hater state legislator defending the Bundyists in Nevada. Writing in the Black Hills Pioneer she says:
The federal government shouldn’t be allowed to own any land within a state’s boundaries unless it is granted permission by the legislature of that state, and so far, no state has given that permission to the federal government.
Cliven Bundy's eldest son was arrested after another incident with law enforcement. The elder Nevada rancher is still at large after standoffs with federal officials over whether he should pay to graze on public lands.

President Obama, it's time to rewild the West: tear out the main stem dams, extend the CM Russell Wildlife Refuge to Oacoma, South Dakota along the Missouri River and to Yellowstone then to the Yukon.
Ranchers who rely on the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Oglala Sioux Tribe grazing permits were recently notified that their leases will expire in October 2015. The plan would reintroduce buffalo into the South Unit by carving the Stronghold Buffalo Grazing Unit out of private land and leased lands within the South Unit of Badlands National Park. It was approved in June by the tribal council. The tribe is currently working with the National Park Service to create the nation's first tribal national park that would encompass the 133,000-acre South Unit. The plan includes the return of bison to the park and the end of cattle grazing. "The National Park Service and the tribe are working to resolve issues that will result in legislation that could be introduced," Perry Plumart, Sen. Tim Johnson's press secretary, told the Journal on Wednesday. Plumart said the senator is impressed by their cooperation. [Andrea Cook, Rapid City Journal]
It’s time for cougars to enjoy Endangered Species protection and for you, Mr. President, to dissolve the Black Hills National Forest; and, in cooperation with BIA Forestry and Wildfire Management, rename it Okawita Paha National Monument then make it part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Missouri River dams killing native fish

Christopher Guy, assistant unit leader with the US Geological Survey Montana Cooperative Fishery Unit and professor at Montana State University, joined Dakota Midday host Karl Gerhke on Bill Janklow's idea of public radio to talk about the importance of recent findings on the endangered pallid sturgeon in the upper Missouri River basin.

Update, 1630 MST, 28 January:
According to American Rivers, an advocacy group that tracks U.S. dam removals, 72 dams in 19 states were torn down in 2014, a record. That is roughly double the annual number from 10 years ago. Some 1,185 dams have been removed since 1912, according to the group. The fleet of U.S. dams, however, is still enormous. The Army Corps of Engineers counts at least 87,000 dams in its database. Removing dams produces its own benefits. Public safety is enhanced by reducing the risk of a dam failure, and moribund freshwater fisheries are rejuvenated when a segmented river is reconnected. [Circle of Blue]
Below the Missouri River dams pallid sturgeon are showing signs of recovery but above?

Pallid sturgeon come from a genetic line that has lived on this planet for tens of millions of years; yet it has been decades since anyone has documented any of the enormous fish successfully producing young that survive to adulthood in the upper Missouri River basin. Now, fisheries scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, Montana State University and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have shown why, detailing for the first time the biological mechanism that has caused the long decline of pallid sturgeon in the Missouri River and led to its being placed on the endangered species list 25 years ago. In a paper published this week in the journal Fisheries, the scientists show that oxygen-depleted dead zones between dams in the upper Missouri River are directly linked with the failure of endangered pallid sturgeon hatched embryos to survive to adulthood. Given what the new research shows about how no oxygen is available to hatched pallid sturgeon embryos, the authors of the paper propose that officials will need to consider innovative approaches to managing Missouri River reservoirs for pallid sturgeon conservation to have a chance. [press release, US Geological Survey]
Another Montana researcher is probing the relationship of whitebark pine with the slippery jack mushroom. Confirming my own long-held suspicion she has learned that antimicrobials are disrupting fungal communities throughout the Mountain West.

President Obama: decertify the dinosaurs that are the main stem dams, tear the earth fuckers down and rewild the West.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Black Hills religious cult gearing for end days

Update, 1227 MDT: Seth Tupper is doing a series on the polygamist doomsday sect building in the Black Hills.
For several minutes I had been gawking and Sean had been shooting photos. Then our eyes were drawn to the most imposing thing on the site, the guard tower. It’s much like the guard towers at prisons — three stories high, with windows at the top providing a 360-degree view of the grounds. [Tupper, Miles from nowhere: A trip to a compound that keeps secrets]
As South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley looks away as a favor to political allies, Charlie Najacht of the Custer County Chronicle has amassed an archive mountain and is on full tilt about the growth of the compound housing members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints near Pringle.

Even Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler seems on edge about having a polygamist group known for human trafficking digging in his jurisdiction.
In South Dakota, they worry those expelled would head north, bringing the same problems to their state. “There's been building going on all through the summer and all of a sudden it stops and there's nothing and the projects were never really completed either,” Wheeler says. The construction has caused enough concern neighbors in the area have started to pack up and move out. "They're digging a huge foundation for something, now. There's speculation that it could be a temple, who knows?” Najacht says. [KUTV]
Seth Tupper has published a pair of reports on the Waco-like compound applying to tap massive volumes of Black Hills water that would support what could become the biggest town in Custer County.
“If Custer County P and Z is going to put its head in the sand,” said one of the letters, referring to the county’s planning and zoning office, “I guess it will take Pierre to do something before this turns into Waco, Texas.” Waco was the site of a 1993 federal siege at a Branch Davidian compound that ended in the fiery deaths of 76 members of the religious sect. Craig Bobzien, supervisor of the Black Hills National Forest, wrote that the proposed well, in combination with other existing and future uses of the aquifer, could harm a “rare warm water spring ecosystem” in the area. [Tupper, Compound's neighbors fears Waco-like scenario]
The man who submitted the application for the compound is Seth Jeffs, brother of Warren Jeffs, the former head of the FLDS. Warren Jeffs, who married multiple underage brides as young as 12, is serving a life sentence for sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault of children. Seth Jeffs was convicted in 2006 of helping to hide Warren Jeffs from authorities. [Tupper, Religious compound's water could serve thousands, Park Service says]
Lifted from Wikipedia:
Church leaders have encouraged their flock to take advantage of government assistance in the form of welfare and the WIC (woman-infant-child) programs.[citation needed] Since the government recognizes only one woman as the legal wife of a man, the rest of his wives are considered single mothers and are eligible to receive government assistance. The more wives and children one has, the more welfare checks and food stamps one can receive. By 2003, for example, more than $6 million in public funds were being channeled into the community of Colorado City, AZ. In his book Under the Banner of Heaven (p. 15), Jon Krakauer writes that, "Fundamentalists call defrauding the government 'bleeding the beast' and regard it as a virtuous act." Carolyn Campbell ("Inside Polygamy in the '90s,", 102) adds, "The attitude of some polygamists is 'the government is untrustworthy and corrupt, and I'm above it, but give me those food stamps and free medical care.'"[83]
Also from the Rapid City Journal:
A secretive religious group linked to national cases of polygamy and the marriage of underage girls may be expanding to the Edgemont area, and there may be little Fall River County officials can do. The property in question was part of the estate of Buddy Heck and was left to Doris Seabeck and to Carolyn Fines. Seabeck is Heck’s sister and is the personal representative of his estate. Seabeck signed the purchase agreement, which is being contested by Fines in the courts. The commissioners said that as Carolyn Fines is state’s attorney Lance Russell’s mother, there may be some conflict of interest on the county’s part.
Lance Russell is now an earth hater SD legislator who was censured by the state's judiciary for leaking grand jury testimony.

Host families are being sought for teen refugees:
“They are much more successful if they stay with a family,” said Jean Goode, Safety Net’s clinical Case Manager, said of the ex-FLDS teens. “They have very little information about the outside world. They were taught to be afraid of people who were not like them.”
Oh well, in fundamentalist red state South Dakota all women are just breedstock anyway.

A foreign company wants to mine uranium in the vicinity tapping even more water.

South Dakota's newly elected junior senator wants to end protections for the state's water supplies.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Democrats pressure SD governor after children die in state custody

Under GOP cover South Dakota is a state where STDs and unchecked diseases like measles are free to run rampant.
The plan attempts to reduce South Dakota's startlingly high rate of adolescents who are committed to the care of the Department of Corrections by focusing on the most dangerous offenders and pushing lower-risk juveniles into community-based treatments. Juveniles committed to state care live in various settings, from the state's STAR academy campus to private, in-patient treatment programs. The measure would encourage the courts to keep lower-risk offenders at home to receive out-patient treatment for such things as addiction and mental health issues.
"This is a big deal," said Sen. Billie Sutton, a Democrat from Burke who was part of a panel that studied the issue and recommended the changes. "This is a big deal for South Dakota, and it's a big deal for the kids of South Dakota." The body of evidence on successfully rehabilitating juvenile offenders emphasizes keeping adolescents with their families and in their schools, but a state panel report released last month found that, statewide, courts at times place juveniles in expensive state-sponsored care simply because community-based options aren't available. [Associated Press]
This case stank from the very beginning.
Let [me] explain the "wooden box", they have a wooden box in place that children can drop a note into if they [feel] they are being [mistreated]. Can you imagine a scared child even considering putting a note in that box when all they want to do is to do what [they're] told so can [they can] go home. Brady would tell me that all the time. Mine and Brady's final visit was close to two hours at Custer Regional Hospital. Brady was very coherent but VERY yellow! He had a two inch cut on top of his head and I asked him about it and he stated that they accidentally nicked his head when they were shaving the boys heads.
Brady got up and walked to bathroom on his own (which outside of room and down the hall). The doctor told us he had a blockage in the vein that goes to the liver and they didn't have the equipment there to take care of this so they were going to fly him to Sioux Falls. Please keep in mind while all this is going on there at least five men from STAR behind a curtain and whispering with the doctor and amongst themselves. The doctor did NOT once tell me that this was life threatening for I would have NOT left Brady!!! After pushing for medical records I find out that Brady was going into septic shock before they loaded him on the plane, so WHY did they continue that flight??? [Dawn Van Ballegooyen, some edits.]
The Division of Criminal Investigation is apparently still reviewing procedures at a Black Hills 'boot camp' after another child died while in the custody of South Dakota 'Corrections.' Brady Folkens of Brookings was 17.
Folkens’ mother, Dawn Van Ballegooyen, said she went to Custer to visit him Saturday and was told he was ill when she arrived. She talked to her son, who said he had been sick for a few days and had thrown up. Medical staff told her he had liver blockage. “He was awake, and he was a little yellow,” she said. “But he was my same Brady.” Corrections spokesman Michael Winder said Folkens said he felt ill beginning Thursday. Shortly after his mother’s visit, Folkens was flown to Sioux Falls. Van Ballegooyen followed in a vehicle, and had her sister meet Brady at the hospital. But by the time she arrived at the hospital in Sioux Falls, her son had died, and staff were working to revive him. [Beth Wischmeyer, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
Flown from the Custer Airport to Sioux Falls, about 350 miles: a flight of at least two hours in a state plane?

Brady's mother has been billed for the fateful plane ride and believes the state may have have infected her son with Hepatitis C possibly during a forced hair cutting incident, his immune system weakened from a potent acne medication contraindicated for use with other medicines with which Folkens was being treated.

In a phone interview Ms. Van Ballegooyen told this blog Brady never had a previous acne condition. After being urged to by the Brookings Police Department she signed off on Brady's admission as a child in need of supervision (CHINS) after Folkens' experimentation with cannabis. She is distraught with grief and is ready to fight for the truth but has yet been able to find a lawyer who wants to go up against Attorney General Marty Jackley.

She said she has been poring over documents and doing extensive readings on the legal ramifications of criminal neglect leading to wrongful death and the window for an argument before a judge is closing.

Brady's official death certificate shows the 17-year-old died from lymphocytic myocarditis associated with Parvovirus B19: Dawn Van Ballegooyen believes that the state is covering up key evidence.

Why was he not helicoptered to Rapid City about fifteen minutes away for dialysis? Why was Brady admitted to the State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy without any symptoms of Hepatitis C but then was later diagnosed with it?

The state has a history of poor choices made by state employees: fourteen year old Gina Score died after a forced run in 1999. The state settled with Score's family for an undisclosed amount of money without accepting guilt for her death.

This might be as close to an admission of guilt by the State as we'll see without a trial or lawsuit:
Jim Seward, general counsel for Gov. Dennis Daugaard, said the group is tasked with finding ways to divert youth away from commitments at the state's juvenile facilities in Custer, Plankinton and Sioux Falls. If the juvenile justice system were a pool, Seward said, with the shallow end being county probation and monitoring, DOC commitments would represent "the deep end." It's also clear that regardless of the divergent definitions and programs, South Dakota commits more juveniles per capita than almost any other state. More populated parts of the state are more likely to have options for troubled youth beyond a trip to the STAR Academy. Judges, prosecutors and probation officers from smaller areas have told work group members that they'd like to see more ways to avoid commitments. [John Hult, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
This is a good example why PAs or CNPs assigned to medical cases is questionable: as i suspected, whoever diagnosed Hep C profiled Brady as a user and chose to do nothing about it.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Foreign companies driving GOP to exploit Dakotas

With blessings from a now-dead GOP governor a foreign company plundered sacred ground in Lawrence County, South Dakota and left an environmental catastrophe. Now another earth hater former governor is groveling before the US Environmental Protection Agency he wants to kill to clean up the mess.
The EPA is planning to spend an extra $50-million to reduce acid mine drainage at a former strip mine in the Northern Black Hills that is now a Superfund site. [SDPB]
Another foreign company based in Canada wants to mine Custer County:
There are three ways to mine uranium: underground mining — the grandfather of mining — open pit mining, which was prevalent in South Dakota in the 1950s and ’60s, and ISL, which is what Azarga proposes for the Dewey-Burdock project. In order to harvest the uranium, it would be mined through the aquifer and pumped to the surface. In order to extract the uranium, the substance attaches itself to resin beads and is then taken to a processing plant, purified and made into yellowcake for use. Azarga has stated it plans to build a processing plant on site as well as market its services to other regional uranium mines. [Custer County News and Chronicle]
With prodding from Republicans, TransCanada, yet another foreign company, is suing to condemn private property in several US states for a pipeline for China.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pipeline incident every 30 hours in the US

The time-lapse video below includes every "significant pipeline" incident in the continental United States—along with their human and financial costs—from 1986 to Oct. 1, 2014. On average one significant pipeline incident occurs in the country every 30 hours, according to the data. [Common Dreams]

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

White America to blame for Indian gangs; CRYP working for Indian Country

Update, 0940, 21 January, from Indian Country Today Media:
Late last week the South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation released the findings of its investigation into the shooting death of Allan Locke on December 20, 2014, in the Lakota Homes neighborhood of Rapid City, South Dakota. The shooting occurred the day after Locke attended a protest against unnecessary police shootings. Although the independent Native media reported an alternative account of what took place that night, the Native community in Rapid City was once again left out of the conversation. Local journalists failed to dig beyond the public statements made by city officials who did everything in their power to show support for the RCPD, even without a proper investigation having been completed. While the South Dakota media served as a propaganda machine for the city and its police department, Native people were busy doing their own research unveiling relevant facts surrounding the incident including posts from the officer involved. Speaking out against police brutality, corrupt cops and unnecessary shootings is in no way an indictment of the majority of honest police officers across the country. It is simply the duty of the press and of good cops to expose wrongdoing, criticize bigotry, and to protect and serve the people. [Brandon Ecoffey, The Inequity of Justice and Reporting in South Dakota]
Part 2: The dreams of Priestess Bearstops.

Part 3: Reuben Crow Feather is poised to become a leader in the American Indian Movement.

Sent to this interested party:

Julie Garreau is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and is the executive director of the Cheyenne River Youth Project. Julie has been CRYP’s director since the organization’s 1988 inception, volunteering in the position for 12 years. She began working for the organization full-time in 2000. She has seen the project through its exhilarating development from a tiny, one-room youth center in a former Main Street bar to a comprehensive youth and family services organization that includes the Billy Mills Youth Center — “The Main” — for children ages 4-12 and the Ċokata Wiċoni Teen Center, which serves youth ages 13-18. Julie is a dedicated youth advocate, and she hopes that CRYP will become a model for other communities to follow as they develop effective, sustainable youth programming. [Cheyenne River Youth Project]
Julie is also vice-chair for the Dewey County chapter of the South Dakota Democratic Party.

“He went from innocent to fucking gangster,” said James Cross. “He’s probably the smartest one of all of us, but he just wanted to be like Dad. He won’t be out till 2029 or 2030.” The growing threat of Native gangs is not a retelling of cowboys and Indians set against the backdrop of a modern black market. It’s a story about how historical trauma, federal policy and tribal pride have created a new Indian problem: organized crime. James Cross and his twin brother, Gerald Cross, sat outside smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. Both of them were taken from their Anishinaabe and Dakota parents at the age of 4 because of alcoholism and were adopted by a white family. Between 1992 and 2002, Native Americans came into contact with violent crime at double the rate (pdf) of the rest of the nation;around 60 percent of victims described their attackers as white. “When you’re so used to just dealing with everything with violence? That’s why everybody can’t even believe I’m doing this.” [Ahtone, A cross to bear: James Cross knows why Native American kids join gangs]
Tristan Ahtone started as an intern for Wyoming Public Radio: now he is a multi-media journalist, contributor to Al Jazeera, NPR and National Native News. He is vice president of the Native American Journalists Association and a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma.

The emergence of warrior societies led by veterans of the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, and Kosovo has unified young people in North America's tribal regions. Movements are growing from the Mohawk Nation in Quebec and New York to the Lakota strongholds in South Dakota, among the descendants of the Arapaho in the Mountain West, south to the Navajo Nation and into the border regions of the Tohono O'odham.

From Al Jazeera English:
In recent years in particular, Canada's indigenous communities have shown the will and potential to grind the country's economic lifelines to a halt through strategically placed blockades on the major highways and rail lines that run through native reserves well outside of Canada's urban landscape. There are more than 800 outstanding native land claims held against the Canadian government. And in many First Nations communities there is deep crisis, with poverty, unemployment and overcrowding the norm. According to figures from the Assembly of First Nations, more than 118 First Nations lack safe drinking water and some 5,500 houses do not have sewage systems. Almost one half of homes on native reserves are in need of "major repairs", compared with 7 per cent of non-native homes. Natives suffer a violent crime rate that is more than 300 times higher than Canada's non-native population, while natives represent 18.5 per cent of the male prison population and one-quarter of the female population, although natives only constitute 4 per cent of the total population.
In the US, where sovereignty rights, culture and language resurgence and growing capital resources from burgeoning black markets are building alternatives to hopelessness, suicide, and repression in Indian Country, deaths from firearm violence are higher than in any ethnic group.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Move B1s to Malmstrom or Minot

Rapid City likes having billions of dollars injected into his economy by the federal government as do Wyoming and Montana.
Montana government officials are on the attack and South Dakota officials are playing defense as federal agencies consider approval of the Powder River Training Complex. Leading the fight from both sides of the Montana-South Dakota border are the states’ senior U.S. senators, Jon Tester, D-Mont., and John Thune, R-S.D. Thune has been working eight years to get the airspace expansion approved. Meanwhile, Tester’s office says he’s been working against it just as long. Tester’s opposition to the Ellsworth-related project puts him in the crosshairs of not only Thune, but also other other South Dakota politicians. [Seth Tupper, Rapid City Journal]
Tester and newly elected earth hater Sen. Steve Daines pledged to introduce an amendment to the bill creating TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline that would block low-level flights over parts of their state. Since President Obama has pledged to veto any bill that would create the climate killing pipeline that Democratic Senator Tester supports he would have to vote to overturn to implement the amendment he added to prevent flyovers at the proposed Baker, Montana on ramp.

After the 1997 crash of a B1-B in Carter County a responding volunteer firefighter from Alzada told this interested party the multi-million dollar aircraft was brought down by a rancher with a .30-30 Winchester. Just miles away another multi-million dollar bomber augured in recently as did a private aircraft.

Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, an important figure in national security and commander of the 20th Air Force and based at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming was recently fired. Overall, Carey was responsible for three wings of U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles: 9,600 people and 450 missiles in all. Several Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile units have drawn increased scrutiny lately: in August the Inspector General gave a failing grade to the 341st Missile Wing based at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana and a March inspection led the Air Force to decertify some members of the 91st Missile Wing based at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota will likely never vote for a Democratic president. Closing Ellsworth but leaving Warren, Malmstrom and Minot to anchor the US Northern Command would be mostly painless for the party of Truman.

It's time for endangered sage grouse to get a reprieve from extirpation: close this training range and convert Ellsworth to a fire-fighting tanker base.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Black Hills bat destined for species protection

In response to the rapid and severe decline of the northern long-eared bat – a species important for crop pest control – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a special rule under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that would provide the maximum benefit to the species while limiting the regulatory burden on the public. If finalized, the rule, under section 4(d) of the ESA, would apply only in the event the Service lists the bat as “threatened.” The Service’s proposal will appear in the Federal Register Jan. 16, 2015, opening a 60-day public comment period. “White-nose syndrome is having a devastating effect on the nation’s bat populations, which play a vital role in sustaining a healthy environment and save billions of dollars by controlling forest and agricultural pests,” said Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius. “Although a final listing decision has not yet been made, we believe we can best serve the American people by proposing and seeking comment on a potential 4(d) rule now, so if we determine listing as threatened with a 4(d) rule is appropriate, the rule can be implemented immediately.” [press release]
In some caves in the Northeast, northern long-eared bat populations have declined by up to 99%.

GOP donors being subsidized by the federal government to log in the Black Hills are putting pressure on the state's congressional delegation to resist habitat protection for the black-backed woodpecker, too.

Watersheds are recovering due to the efforts of the mountain pine beetle to reduce ponderosa pine infestation even as state agencies quietly remediate human-caused contamination in the Waters of the US.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wyoming diocese damns firing squad bill; Obamacare suddenly critical

Update, 15 January, 06:22 MST: “We know there is no reason to panic."

Wyoming's earth hater governor and legislature are expected to expand Medicaid to 17,600 residents under the Affordable Care Act but they don't want to call it that.
Gov. Matt Mead is on board for Wyoming to expand Medicaid, he said Wednesday at his annual State of the State address to the Legislature. The only problem is his decision came about $100 million too late. That’s the amount the state has thrown away so far by refusing to accept the federal government’s generous offer to pay for 100 percent of the expansion costs for the first three years. That money was lost solely because Mead and the Legislature’s GOP leadership don’t like Obamacare. Mead cited other factors, like businesses attracted to Wyoming because it has quality health care; the 800 new jobs estimated to be created; the financial help it would give hospitals. But poor, sick people? Sorry, they don’t seem to be a priority for his administration. They weren’t even worth mentioning in the governor’s “State of the State.” [WyPols, Medicaid Expansion Is Suddenly Mead’s Priority]
From the Casper Star-Tribune:
But oil prices have dropped. The state could lose about $220 million if prices hover near $55 a barrel in the current budget cycle, under one pricing scenario. On Tuesday, southwest Wyoming sweet crude was trading at $38.64 a barrel. From Democrats, House Minority Leader Mary Throne, D-Cheyenne, had a different message: Lawmakers ought to banish the words “boom” and “bust” from their vocabularies. [Laura Hancock]

How can you make this shit up?
It is likely that the Wyoming State Legislature will be considering two death penalty bills in the upcoming General Session: (a) one, already introduced, seeking to include the firing squad as a method of execution (pdf); and (b) another seeking to abolish the death penalty all together. [Diocese of Cheyenne]
Laura Hancock's story in the Casper Star-Trib linked here.

In more #wyleg news:
Supporters of a Medicaid waiver that would help 3,700 members of tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation get health care said the key to success is to stop calling it “Medicaid expansion” and to ask [Governor Matt Mead] to weigh in. Tribes are able to ask the feds for a waiver to start demonstration projects to improve Indian health care, but they have to receive official approval from the state to obtain the additional Medicaid dollars. Lawmakers could amend the budget, or they could introduce a separate bill to add the tribal Medicaid funds. [WyPols, Panel Asks Mead to Help Tribes Get Medicaid Funds]
Tribes should administer their own federal funds but red states and Republican attorneys general keep suing to strip their sovereignty by clogging courts, draining tribal resources, budgets and staff.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tribes expect to see more green from cannabis

Hey guess what the ninth most important cash crop in South Dakota is.

Tribes can do this: the South Dakota Legislature should be kept out of the cannabis loop completely unless Deadwood chooses to be the test bed off-reservation. Addiction? After some guy named Janklow closed the brothels in Deadwood for political gain to cover up his being implicated in the death of Jancita Eagle Deer, Bill Walsh and Tom Blair pressed a five-dollar bet limit to preserve historic Deadwood because the Syndicate Building burned to the ground.

If Democrats won't do it Republican legislator Steve Hickey can write a bill that would adopt Minnesota's medical cannabis law worthy of FDA scrutiny, legalize for adults then allow Deadwood and the tribes grow and distribute under a compact putting the gaming commission to tax and regulate.

Deadwood and tribal gaming are inextricably linked: would revenue from the sales of cannabis require a change in the state's constitution, too?
The notion that marijuana users are lazy and unproductive stoners is like most stereotypes fueled by ignorance. Part of the pitch used by states like Colorado in their campaigns for legalization was that it would attract the top talent and minds from across the country to come work in the state. For someone who has spent a significant amount of time in the Ivy League frat scene I can tell you first hand that some of the people occupying top positions in this country’s most profitable businesses indulged in the recreational use of pot from time to time. There are those who fear the danger of addiction and this is a concern but addiction is already present and we lack the funds to address it. I ask these same people to show me one person who has overdosed on marijuana, and to quote Tucker Max, “I will show you my stable of rainbow colored unicorns ridden by Leprechauns.” The time to legalize is now. [Brandon Ecoffey, posted at indianz]
Cherished reader and contributor, Bill Dithmer, believes cannabis could bring needed revenue to tribes:
Legalizing the growing of hemp and the industries that would come as a result of that one act would make huge strides on the Pine Ridge Reservation. What we are doing is not working, hasn’t worked in the past, and history is a guarantee that it wont work in the future so why not perpetuate change now? The Pine Ridge is in the unique position to bring it's people out of poverty and at the same time give lawmakers in Pierre a bloody nose. If they legalize industrial hemp and pot at the same time their history with this state would just be a bad dream. [Bill Dithmer, comments], links mine.
Democrats are losing even more credibility with young people and American Indians. Tribes trapped in South Dakota and in other states with off-reservation properties are considering a test of cannabis law.

The Pinoleville Pomo Nation is planning a $10 million, 2.5 acre indoor cannabis growing facility to be completed in February even as the US Forest Service battles illegal grows in California.
A federal judge in California is weighing the constitutionality of a 45-year-old act that classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug along with LSD, cocaine and heroin. U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller in Sacramento held a five-day fact-finding hearing on the classification question late last year, and final arguments are scheduled for next month, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday. Her ruling is expected later this year. [The Cannabist]
Just say now.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Montana GOP split on agenda, closed primaries

Montana's legislature is thick with earth haters but so far Dems lead in bill requests.
One week into Montana’s 2015 Legislature, one thing is clear: The conservative-moderate split in the Republican Party that determined key outcomes of the 2013 Legislature is alive and well, and set to do it again. This time it took only a matter of days to spill messily out into the open, culminating in Thursday’s floor votes on the House rules, giving this same coalition more power to bring to the floor -- and perhaps pass -- bills that conservative Republicans have vowed to stop. And Gov. Bullock? He sounded pretty pleased Friday morning, saying major proposals before the Legislature deserve “an up-or-down vote.” [Mike Dennison]
From the Billings Gazette:
After nearly three hours of comment and debate, Montana Republicans voted overwhelmingly Saturday to join a lawsuit seeking to limit their primary elections to those registered with the GOP. The Republican State Central Committee approved the motion by an 83-43 vote in Helena. They will join a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court against the state and its open primaries. Republican central committees from Ravalli, Gallatin, Sanders, Dawson and Stillwater counties are named in the lawsuit against Secretary of State Linda McCulloch and county election officials over open primary election laws. [Associated Press]
Primaries are expensive and allow far too much mischief: since turnout is so pathetic especially during midterms political parties should end them and choose candidates at the state conventions.

If South Dakota Dems don't boycott the session they are all cowards.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Wuerthner: Bundy, ranchers the real ecoterrorists

In 2008 at a Bureau of Land Management Oil and Gas lease auction Tim DeChristopher bid on 14 parcels of land (totaling 22,500 acres) for $1.8 million that he had no intention of buying. The FBI arrested him and charged him with a two-count felony indictment. DeChristopher was branded an “eco-terrorist.” A good example of the opposite federal government reaction is how the BLM and FBI responded to Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. Bundy has repeatedly thumbed his nose at the federal government by refusing to pay minimal grazing fees for more than 20 years (he now owes more than a million dollars), and his failure to remove his cattle from federal property (our property). Instead of being arrested and taken off to jail as DeChristopher was, Bundy is still living free in Nevada, enjoying life as a celebrity. [George Wuerthner, posted in Counter Punch], photo: Wuerthner, links mine.
Surprise! The Anthropocene has triggered trophic cascades.
George Wuerthner, a prolific author, ecologist and longtime critic of grazing on public lands, came to Steamboat Springs in the midst of Agriculture Week on Tuesday to talk about the role of predators, particularly wolves, in healthy natural ecosystems. The theory behind that much talked-about phenomenon, Wuerthner explained, is that when animals like wolves and cougars are removed from the top of a food chain, the numbers and behaviors of prey species are significantly altered. Wolves have, however, aggressively reduced the number of surviving coyote pups by 30 to 40 percent in Glacier and Yellowstone national parks, Wuerthner said. Coyotes are rivals of wolves when it comes to hunting. Mature male cougars tend to dominate large territories that overlap the smaller territories of the three or four females they breed with. When a hunter kills a trophy lion, the removal of that dominant individual allows younger, less effective hunters to occupy the territory. It’s most often these younger lions that interact with human society on the edge of cities like Boulder, Wuerthner said. [Tom Ross, Steamboat Today]

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cattle worsening cheatgrass fire cycle in Ellsworth bomber range, sage grouse habitat

As Senator don Juan Thune (earth hater-SD) loses his fight to expand the Ellsworth Air Force Base bomber range sage grouse are getting a respite in the war on their habitat.

After a wildfire risk assessment federal agencies have converged on a game plan. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is advancing a new wildfire-fighting strategy that protects a wide swath of sagebrush country in the intermountain West and home to a struggling bird species. Much of the affected region is in the area John Thune wants to practice-bomb.
Rangeland wildfires in the West have grown more massive and destructive in recent decades. Scientists say warmer and drier summers have increased the length of the region's wildfire seasons, which are made worse by fire-prone invasive species, particularly cheatgrass. Interior officials later said U.S. wildlife officials would continue analyzing sage grouse data and decide whether protections are warranted by fall. One of the possible changes suggested at the conference by BLM Director Neil Kornze was to put the protection of rangeland resources ahead of property. John Freemuth, a public land policy expert and Boise State University professor, said a new firefighting approach that considers the entire ecosystem could work if the various agencies involved aren't overwhelmed by its complexity or end up in turf wars over which one should take the lead on potential changes. [Keith Ridler, Casper Star-Tribune]
Department of Interior releases carbon findings:
Forests, grasslands and shrublands and other ecosystems in the West sequester nearly 100 million tons (90.9 million metric tons) of carbon each year, according to a Department of the Interior report released today.
Cheatgrass doubles the likelihood of fire. Recall Southeastern Montana's Ash Creek Fire Complex smack dab where the bomber range is.

More on cheatgrass from the Summit County Citizens Voice.
This non-native species was first introduced to the United Sates from Asia in packing material. Initially distributed along rail lines, it spread throughout many States including Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, and South Dakota.-- By Fabian Menalled MSU Extension Cropland Weeds Specialist
Christopher Joyce, NPR:
These cheatgrass fires are increasing partly because the climate is warmer and also because more people are living in cheatgrass country. There are some things that can be done though, like planting green borders of less flammable vegetation around cheatgrass as a fire break.
From the USGS Western Ecological Research Center:
There is significant concern that repeated burning at historically appropriate fire return intervals for ponderosa pine forest will benefit this invasive plant to the detriment of native species. There is additional concern that the high flammability of cheatgrass fuelbeds will lead to fire return intervals that are more frequent than occurred historically and that are prescribed in the agency fire management plans, potentially preventing recruitment of pine seedlings and leading to type conversion of native forests to alien grasslands.
Again, Christopher Joyce:
And there's a fungus that kills cheatgrass — it's called the black fingers of death — but introducing it could be biologically risky to other plants.
Grazing cheatgrass early in the season by native ungulates that deposit organic fertilizer helps restore native plants.

EPA announces redevelopment tools:
To further promote the reuse of potentially contaminated lands with renewable energy, the EPA released three model comfort letters specific to renewable energy development.
Wyoming receives nearly half of federal mineral receipts. (pdf)

Mr. President: rewild the West.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Proposed prairie pipelines pumping pimps

While prices slide, Charlie Hoffman likes the idea of condemning South Dakota land so a Canadian company can sell refined tar sands bitumen to China and Bakken crude can create jobs - for pimps.

As earth haters like don Juan Thune, Tike Mike Rounds and Krusti Noem plot how to jam the Keystone XL pipeline up America's armpit girls as young as ten are for sale in the Bakken.
Over the past six months, Forum News Service has investigated an emerging issue in the Bakken oilfield region of western North Dakota: sex trafficking, including the trafficking of children. We reviewed hundreds of documents and conducted more than 100 interviews with law enforcement officers, victim service providers, victims rescued from the sex trade and experts who have examined the issue regionally, nationally and internationally. In the past year, federal and state courts in North Dakota have charged seven people with offenses related to sex trafficking or felony facilitating or promoting prostitution. The cases involve allegations in Bismarck, Minot, Williston and Dickinson, including the case of one man who pleaded guilty to enticing women to travel to the “fracking areas” to work as prostitutes and two accused of operating brothels in Oil Patch cities. [Billings Gazette]
At least one South Dakota Republican calls it the "fed's war on energy" when it's really Big Energy's war not just on the Earth but on women and girls, too.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Cannabis becoming mainstream

As the Sioux Falls Free Thinkers plan a billboard campaign to raise awareness of South Dakota's draconian cannabis laws a Montana judge has stricken key portions of that state's repressive legislation.

From the Helena Independent Record:
District Judge James Reynolds of Helena permanently enjoined the implementation of certain provisions in the law. These have never taken effect because of his 2011 decision temporarily enjoining these provisions or the state stipulating it would not enforce them pending the outcome of the case. [Charles S. Johnson]
Eastbound I-90 in South Dakota is still a killing field for non-whites.
Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug – no medical benefits and potential for abuse – and is not federally approved for medical treatment of any disorder or disease. Clinical testing, however, has been limited because of restrictions set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The drug does have potential benefits as a medication for pain and nausea, and as a source of symptom relief for cancer patients, according to the National Cancer Institute. [Patrick Anderson, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
In 2004, in defiance of federal law, Montana voters passed an initiated change to the state's constitution that legalized the cultivation, distribution, and medical use of cannabis. In a previous session, that state's earth hater legislature gutted most of the law and Governor Schweitzer allowed the changes without signing the bill.

Now the legal cannabis industry is all but dead in Montana after raids on dispensaries and arrests of growers. One courageous former caregiver, Montana Cannabis, appealed and lost a lower court decision upholding the federal prohibition of the herb.

AP writer, Matt Volz, brings the story using the malapropism "pot" to describe medicine in his piece published at the Lee-owned Helena Independent Record:
...Chris Williams is stepping up his challenge of the federal operation that changed the face of the industry in the state. The March 2011 raids resulted in the prosecution of dozens of providers, shut down their businesses and caused many others to shut their doors out of fear that they would be next. Several other marijuana providers joined his lawsuit, as did the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, which also is suing to overturn the new restrictive state law and is backing a referendum asking voters to repeal the law in November’s election.
This interested party has voiced frustration with Democratic Governor Steve Bullock, because of his public silence on the issue.

New Mexico, on the other hand, has been virtually free from federal crackdowns. Considered the most restrictive medical cannabis law in the US, that state currently issues 21 permits per 100,000, New Mexico's earth hater governor recently signed additional coverage for cannabis patients. The law was hammered out in legislative committee instead of being codified by the passing of a voter-written initiative.

It has been fascinating watching the fascist right haranguing President Obama for what it calls his "regulatory tyranny stifling economic growth" while selectively ignoring the Obama administration erasing a promising industry and effectively chilling civil liberties.

On what grounds would SCOTUS choose to hear an additional appeal of the Montana law if it gets that far, especially in light of the Court ruling on provisions of health insurance reform as a tax?