10/30/23

Section 3, Fourteenth Amendment on trial in Denver

America is watching the disintegration of the Republican Party. 

Not only is Donald Trump disqualified from holding office ever again his lieutenants in both the Senate and the House, including current Speaker of the House Mike Johnson and Jim Jordan (NAZI-OH) will face Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment coming very soon.
“Donald Trump tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election,” says the lawsuit, which was filed on Sept. 6 in Denver District Court. “His efforts culminated on January 6, 2021, when he incited, exacerbated, and otherwise engaged in a violent insurrection at the United States Capitol by a mob who believed they were following his orders, and refused to protect the Capitol or call off the mob for nearly three hours as the attack unfolded.” Similar lawsuits have been filed, and in some cases dismissed, in states including Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan. But the Colorado case — the first to be filed by CREW, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., and the first to go to trial — represents the most substantial test for such efforts to date. [Trial in case seeking to bar Trump from Colorado ballot begins in Denver]
In Minnesota Trump is disqualified under state law where Section 3 is self-executing barring him from the ballot.

10/28/23

March of industrial agriculture decimating native grasslands as American Prairie increases preservation holdings

Ag producers have destroyed shelter belts to plant industrial crops that deplete aquifers and now drought is blowing toxin-laden topsoil into downwind states. Spring wildfire seasons begin in eastern Colorado, western Kansas, the panhandles of Oklahoma, Texas and other Republican-held areas where moral hazard and poor ranching practices routinely decimate the high plains. 

Led by The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit that began buying land in western South Dakota in 2007, sold some of it to Badlands National Park in 2012. The World Wildlife Fund, Defenders of Wildlife and the Nature Conservancy teamed up with the National Park Foundation, Badlands Natural History Association, Badlands National Park Conservancy and the National Park Service Centennial Challenge fund to expand the bison range at Badlands National Park by nearly 35 square miles.
Annual analysis from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reveals 1.6 million acres of grasslands across the US and Canadian Great Plains were destroyed in 2021 – continuing a steady, devastating trend in the region. The Plowprint report once again identified row crop expansion as the primary driver of plow-up, erasing the equivalent of an area greater than the state of Delaware from the map in only 12 months. Destruction of grassland habitat is driven by economics often underpinned by well-intentioned government policies that incentivize conversion rather than protection. [World Wildlife Fund]
But, whether it's American Prairie's bison grazing on ground administered by the Bureau of Land Management in Montana, the US Department of Agriculture killing cattle on the Gila or feds shooting goats in the Tetons socialized grazing just isn't enough to keep some Republicans happy.
American Prairie is pleased to announce the acquisition of three new properties that are rich in wildlife and waterfowl, and provide important habitat connectivity to its existing Wild Horse and White Rock units. These three latest acquisitions bring American Prairie’s total deeded and leased property to more than 462,000 acres. [American Prairie]
BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning has called nearly every Trump era ruling illegal including the failure to manage mustangs safely while blows to morale and an exodus of employees have contributed to horse mortalities during gathers. Welfare ranchers and Republican Earth haters have even resorting to calling Director Stone-Manning an ecoterrorist for her efforts to preserve and restore natural landscapes in the Mountain West.

Greater sage grouse habitat is disappearing at a rate of some 1.3 million acres per year much of it in Wyoming but the BLM doesn't record results of the degradation on private land although it's known to be extensive. Ginned-up belligerents in the so-called "Freedom Caucus" are whining that 8,576 acres or about .02% of a proposed protection area would be locked out to livestock grazing where the current permittee hasn't run cattle for some 27 years. 

An increasing number of scientists believe the US Fish and Wildlife Service isn't doing enough to crack down on red states that flout or simply ignore protections for vulnerable species

Learn more at Progressive Farmer.

10/27/23

After shuttering South Dakota sawmill Neiman spends another $15 million in blue Colorado

In 2018 after the Trump Organization gutted the National Environmental Policy Act then was thrown from the White House Hulett, Wyoming-based Neiman Enterprises closed their Hill City, South Dakota sawmill and is threatening to shutter another in Spearditch. 

So, Neiman wants to log 20 million board feet of ponderosa pine per year in Colorado for the next 20 years. Knot-free old growth ponderosa pine is coveted by door and window manufacturers like Pella, Marvin and Andersen. But, there are far, far better life choices than working in a sawmill for ten years let alone living in states like Wyoming and South Dakota where workers are commodities so Neiman bought mills in blue states Colorado and Oregon that expanded Medicaid. 

Neiman purchased Montrose Forest Products in 2012.
The process generates enough byproducts, like sawdust, wood chips, shavings, bark and dry wood, to fill up to 15 trucks per day, according to General Manager Mike Kusar. “It shows a lot about (plant owner Neiman family’s) commitment to being in Montrose, and making a sawmill facility work in an area that doesn’t have a lot of sawmills left,” Kusar said. [Montrose Forest Products $15 million investment is a win for the company and environment]
An area couple recently motored through Montrose.

10/26/23

Earth hating Nebraska governor hates reporters, too

In 2008 after Nebraska's 1978 median nitrate level doubled lab tests showed a few municipal wells were exceeding the US Environmental Protection Agency limit for uranium when samples jumped as high as 57 parts per billion. In 2011 one irrigation well just four miles from a municipal water source tested 322 parts per billion of uranium or more than 10 times the legal limit for drinking water set by EPA. 

In a 2015 study researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reported that 78 percent of groundwater samples from the Ogallala Formation found with unsafe concentrations of uranium were also contaminated with nitrates from industrial agriculture. Researchers learned that nitrates at levels near the 10-parts-per-million legal limit release uranium into the state’s groundwater, which provides drinking water for 85 percent of Nebraskans.
Gov. Jim Pillen’s hog operations bring jobs and prosperity to this area near his hometown. They also may bring risk to Platte Center’s drinking water. The town had to dig a new municipal well three years ago, after another well recorded nitrate at nearly 12 parts per million. That’s higher than the level the federal government says is safe to drink. Since 1993, Pillen and his family have owned or operated at least 108 livestock facilities – most of them hog barns – spread throughout the state, according to permitting records, as he’s become the largest pork producer in Nebraska. [Pillen’s Water: High nitrate detected on hog farms owned by Nebraska’s governor]
Today, the Ogallala or High Plains Aquifer is being depleted six and a half times faster than its recharge rate and nearly all the groundwater sampled from it is contaminated with uranium and nitrates from industrial agriculture.
Gov. Jim Pillen sidestepped a question Wednesday about whether he planned to apologize to an Omaha-based investigative reporter for saying her work should be ignored because she grew up “in communist China.” It marked the first time Pillen, a first-term governor whose family raises hogs, had been asked directly if he planned to apologize to reporter Yanqi Xu of the nonprofit news site Flatwater Free Press. [Pillen sidesteps question about apology to reporter who grew up in China]
At a defunct AltEn ethanol plant just west of Omaha in eastern Nebraska 150 million gallons of water contaminated with 84,000 tons of pesticide residue have been determined to be too toxic to be spread on area farm ground. In February, 2021 two tanks at the facility burst releasing some 4 million gallons of polluted slurry downstream.

10/23/23

Oops. Montana Highway Patrol sprays Boulder kids with tear gas

We all know cops' lives suck because they reliably abuse the rule of law, their families, alcohol, drugs, food, power, detainees and occasionally murder their wives; but police unions are showered with cash while teachers' unions get the shaft.
Montana Highway Patrol training exercises in Boulder on Wednesday resulted in tear gas and pepper spray wafting over Boulder Elementary third and fourth grade students on the school playground, causing some of them to complain of irritated eyes. The MHP moved its headquarters to Boulder from Helena in 2021 to the campus that once housed the Montana Developmental Center. [MHP tear gas training brings quick end to Boulder Elementary recess]
After fourteen years in the Boulder-based position the Odd Goddess of Basin wasn't rehired as Jefferson County Health Officer because she wouldn't approve the pandemic plan for the Jefferson County Rodeo in 2020.

10/21/23

New owners offer rooms in FLDS compound on Airbnb

In 2021 at the courthouse in a South Dakota county named for a war criminal members of a religious splinter group bought the 140 acre compound built in 2005 by now-jailed polygamist Warren Jeffs for $750,000 despite its $9 million valuation. 

The cult was not delinquent on property taxes but the acreage was sold at a sheriff's auction to settle a $2.1 million judgment against the FLDS, the towns of Hildale, Utah and Arizona City, Colorado. Buyer, Patrick Pipkin is manager of Blue Mountain Ranch of Colorado — a summer camp for at risk adolescents, no less. 

On May 16 of this year it sold for $5,237,475 to SDR Training Center, a nonprofit church registered in South Dakota. Although the property has been subdivided into nine parcels Blue Mountain is holding the mortgage at payments of $21,000 a month but is charging no interest. Now, hosts named Rachel, Caleb and Becca are offering six rooms in "rustic cabins" on Airbnb on two parcels. Becca Keddington is probably related to Hyrum Keddington, named as a principal in SDR.

According to a comment at a Faceberg page the real owner of the compound is Paul Elden Kingston, a polygamist believed to have some 40 wives, over 300 kids and preaches "bleeding the beast." Kingston is an accountant and attorney who has served as the Trustee-in-Trust of the Davis County Cooperative Society (DCCS), a Mormon fundamentalist denomination and part of the Latter Day Church of Christ with assets in the $150 million range. 

Rachel's profile is linked here.

10/20/23

Another Canadian uranium miner exploiting 1872 mining law in New Mexico

Using enriched uranium mined in New Mexico four Los Alamos scientists armed the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and killed over 200,000 children, women and men.

Beginning in 1958 Homestake Mining Company gouged uranium from New Mexico leaving piles of waste rock laden with selenium causing cancers and thyroid disease in its wake. In 1979 an earthen dam collapsed releasing 1,100 tons of uranium waste and 94 million gallons of radioactive and highly acidic water onto Navajo tribal lands

Because the Trump Organization despises Native Americans uranium mining was fast-tracked in and around Indian Country where tribes already suffer from diseases and birth defects wrought by radioactive contamination.
First American Uranium, of Vancouver, Canada, has redrafted and updated a project plan for the Red Basin Uranium/Vanadium Project in Catron County. Jenna Padilla, Forest Geologist of the Cibola National Forest, is the project lead for First American Uranium’s Red Basin revised plan of operations. Padilla said the Cibola National Forest will consult Indian Tribes, interested parties, and the general public on issues and concerns throughout the proposal and application review process. Interested parties may receive notifications through direct letters, emails, social media, public meetings or press releases.[Canadian mine company submits uranium project plan near Datil]
In July Canada-based Anfield Energy bought enCore Energy’s Marquez-Juan Tafoya uranium project in New Mexico. Texas-based enCore has uranium claims or operations in Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and South Dakota.

New Mexico’s Democratic delegation is moving an amendment through Congress to the 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act intending to offset decades of hardships suffered by people downwind of the atomic bomb tests in the 1940s. The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium has scheduled their 11th annual protest at the Trinity site.

Reform of the Mining Law of 1872 that enables foreign miners to gouge minerals from lands managed by the National Forest System and Bureau of Land Management has been prioritized by the Biden/Harris Administration.

10/18/23

As Texas erects razor wire fence with New Mexico Rio Grande water becomes leverage


Water wars are hardly new in the Southwest. Texans backed Earth hater Susana Martinez for New Mexico's governor believing they could call in favors after she was elected.

Our Lady of the Arroyo and her man motored to Abiquiu yesterday to find both the Rio Chama and Rio Grande running at bankfull as New Mexico fills the Cochiti Reservoir hoping to charge Elephant Butte near Truth or Consequences. 

Watersheds in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico provide between 50-75% of the water found in the Rio Grande but irrigators in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas take at least 80% of that from the 1,885 mile long river. At least fifteen native fish species and their aquatic habitat once found in the southern portion of the Rio Grande are now gone because the river dries up every year. A compact limits Colorado to 100,00 acre feet and New Mexico to 200,000 acre feet each year. An acre foot is almost 326,000 gallons.

The ancient waterway is also a major source of supplies for some six million people and cities like Albuquerque and El Paso. 
The latest iteration of the legal fights that span decades, is the Texas claim before the U.S. Supreme Court that New Mexico groundwater pumping below Elephant Butte Reservoir shorts the downstream state its rights to the river’s water. This would be a violation of the 1938 Rio Grande Compact, which splits the water between Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. The federal government officially laid out its objections to the special master’s recommendation that the U.S. Supreme Court adopt a compromise to end the lawsuit over the Rio Grande’s water between Texas and New Mexico. [Feds object to judge’s nod to settle Rio Grande SCOTUS case]
But in July, 2021 tens of thousands of long-suffering Haitians made the nightmare journey through Central America only to end up in facilities like the one owned by Tennessee-based CoreCivic in Torrance County, New Mexico. After being brutalized by riders on horseback in Texas some fifty Haitian and Brazilian asylum seekers were subjected to dire circumstances and denied access to legal counsel while detained at a private prison complex contracted in Estancia, New Mexico by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the US Marshals Service.
Last week, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted a news article about efforts to place razor wire along a portion of the Texas-New Mexico border. “Migrants are entering New Mexico illegally then crossing into Texas,” Abbott claims without sharing evidence in the tweet. “We are stopping it.” [New Mexico Republicans, Democrats at odds over Texas’s efforts to razor-wire TX-NM border]
Due in large part to immigration New Mexico is third in racial equality, second in worker equity, fourth in language diversity and is the sixth most diverse state overall according to WalletHub. 

So, turn off the water: eesy peesy.

ip image: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge just north of Elephant Butte Reservoir.

10/17/23

Cannabis packaging in Santa Fe is not very green


As a cancer survivor Our Lady of the Arroyo has had her green card since 2017 and Fruit of the Earth Organics her preferred dispensary so when New Mexico legalized for all adults they remained a favorite. Their paper packaging is annoying as product can get stuck in the folds at the bottom of the pouch but as we tried other retailers we learned pretty quickly that packaging is a big deal.

With forty dispensaries and counting, Santa Fe is nearing "cannabis retail oversaturation" and some retailers are offering penny pre-rolls or even free grams with purchases. Santa Fe Craft Cannabis lured us in with $1 grams but sure as shit, underneath their display of top shelf flower, is a row of black plastic containers in boxes emblazoned with the label, "Made in China." But they're hardly alone as Best Daze, PurLife, Sacred Garden, R.Greenleaf, Ultra Health and Southwest Cannabis all use plastic containers that are ineligible for refilling.

Fruit of the Earth fell off the top of the 2023 Best of Santa Fe cannabis ratings except for a couple categories because other dispensaries were cheaper and had more strain variety but we have rounded back to them to avoid more plastic going into the municipal waste stream. Their 3.5 gram pouches are unbleached paper and while their 7 gram bags are bleached they're still superior to plastic.

Cannabis ingestion is a shield against Covid-19 according to one study.

10/15/23

Republican civil war heating up in American Redoubt

White Republicans fleeing cultural diversity in California and Oregon have inundated much of Montana bringing their conservative close-mindedness and the commitment to environmental degradation with them. 

The Republican governor is from New Jersey and the state's Trump-worshiping congress member in the eastern district is from Maryland. In the Bitterroot Valley, Hamilton and Ravalli County the John Birch Society is still very strong. 

These seriously phantasmagoricized Birchophiles believe John Wilkes Booth was a patriot who took out a US President after starting the Civil War directed by a Marxist Illuminati. They call President Eisenhower a Communist spy because he spoke out against McCarthyism and want to stop anything that advances the greening of the planet because they suppose Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030 are parts of the global socialist takeover driven by George Soros.
The Ravalli County Republican Central Committee voted early this week to oust its longtime chair, the climax of a long-running factional struggle between hard-right members affiliated with the John Birch Society and the county’s GOP establishment. [A Republican power struggle in Ravalli County]
Donald Trump's attempted takeover of the United States and his followers' attack on the US Capitol was a climax of the JBS movement

Montana and Idaho are part of the American Redoubt where Ammon Bundy and the christianic religionists have holed up to wait out the End Times. The Chair of the Idaho Republican Party is a Bircher

The JBS is aligned with the Wyoming Freedom Caucus and is very active in Park County where the movement is focused on abolishing the Departments of Energy and Education.
The fallout from the Republican Party’s intra-party dispute continued this week as the members of at least two GOP county central committees say Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon and other statewide leaders are dividing the party. The intensity of the division is ratcheting up again. [‘Purity tests and bullying’: Division within Idaho GOP continues]
Having fled Idaho new neighbors Brian and Lara are settling in at Russ and Bea’s old place. Lara is white but Brian is not so when they went into Twin Falls to shop the glares from the Earth haters were threatening enough and have now found sanctuary here in Santa Fe County. 

Just say it: radical christianic terrorism.

10/14/23

TRNP moving 300 bison to two Nations

Before the European invasion Puebloans in what’s now northern New Mexico hunted bison on the high plains along the east slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and today Picuris is one of 76 tribal entities represented on the Rapid City, South Dakota-based InterTribal Buffalo Council (ITBC).

Today, with cooperation from Democratic former South Dakota State Senator and Sicangu citizen, Troy Heinert more bison are coming home to the Nations.

The National Park Service is rehoming 300 bison in the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation and on the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. Executive Director of the InterTribal Buffalo Council Heinert says the move will provide genetic diversity and increase the size of existing tribal bison herds.

The move comes as the US Department of Agriculture is investing in adding more bison to tribal nutrition enhancements.
This pilot will also explore smaller packaging and purchase orders to meet small- and mid-sized enterprises at scale and exclusively target Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) purchase preferences benefiting economically distressed areas, of which all tribal reservations qualify. All producers announced through this pilot operate on tribal lands. [USDA Invests in Bison Purchase Pilot Incorporating Indian Country Bison for Tribal Feeding Programs]
These days only about 500,000 bison inhabit North America and less than 1 percent of their historic range, just 3 percent of the Earth’s land surface remains untouched by human development and a sixth mass extinction is underway. 

After meeting with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland during her visit to occupied South Dakota in October, 2022 Troy Heinert's name has been plastered all over the national news for his work with the ITBC to restore the American Bison to tribal communities in the West.

Montana's Republican welfare ranchers are howling at Yellowstone National Park as it develops a plan that moves more bison to the Nations instead of relying on slaughter to manage numbers.

Sen. Heinert was the first Indigenous American elected to the South Dakota Senate.

Learn more at Wyoming Public Radio.
 

10/13/23

BNSF dragging its feet on passenger rail service

Today, as cold weather slows the Empire Builder through northern Montana both the Front Range and the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authorities are eagerly awaiting some of the $66 billion coming from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA. Amtrak, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Union Pacific are non-voting members of the Front Range Passenger Rail Authority.
According to the Washington state Department of Transportation, 47% of Amtrak Cascades trains arrived on time in 2022, with on-time performance rising to 56% in the first nine months of 2023. The passenger rail company blames illegal interference from freight trains for most of its passengers’ often-substantial delays. But in the United States, freight railroads are not only required to let passenger trains use their tracks, they’re required under federal law to give passenger trains priority when dispatchers have to juggle passenger and freight trains. In March and April 2023, freight traffic was delaying Amtrak Cascades trains enough to drop their on-time performance to 40%. Washington state officials told BNSF they needed to do better, and they got results, according to [WSDOT head Jason] Biggs. Performance rose to 64% on time by September. [Dude, where’s my train? Why freight makes Amtrak late]
With help from Democratic Senator Jon Tester the Big Sky Rail Authority, twenty Montana counties and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai, Northern Cheyenne and Apsáalooke Nations are closer to bringing the former North Coast Hiawatha to life. The Authority hopes to restore passenger rail across southern Montana from North Dakota to Idaho and include some 47 stops in seven states.
“When I sat down with my Republican and Democratic colleagues to craft our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, I fought tooth and nail to ensure that the American West would be fairly represented on the Amtrak Board, and throughout the entire bill,” Tester said in a statement. “I’m pleased to see that the Biden Administration will follow the law and set up an opportunity to do right for rural America by guaranteeing our Amtrak board represents our nation’s diverse geography.” [White House to withdraw Amtrak nominee to lift Senate blockade]
My maternal grandfather was a veteran of the Great War then became a career brakeman and conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1921 he and Grandma Panky honeymooned in Hot Springs, South Dakota riding the train from Humphrey, Nebraska. I have at least one vague memory from my toddlerhood going over the Continental Divide in Colorado while riding the California Zephyr between Omaha and Emeryville, California not far from Castle Air Force Base where my dad was stationed and where I was born.

BNSF Railway is killing grizzlies in conflict with the Endangered Species Act.

Although I grew up in Elkton near Sioux Falls and spent nearly 30 years in the Black Hills and ten in Montana my current obsession is integrating the New Mexico Rail Runner with the Santa Fe Southern spur to Lamy into a route to Denver.

10/11/23

Another community sues a utility for wildfire

Utilities are not your friends. 

Pacific Gas and Electric, Xcel, Black Hills Energy, Hawaiian Electric Company and Public Service of New Mexico or PNM are all responsible for massive blazes causing millions or even billions in damages.
On April 12, 2022, “high winds foreseeably pushed over a tall pine tree” that fell against PNM utility lines, causing an electrical spark that ignited dry vegetation and debris on the ground, the suit alleges. Strong, gusty winds toppled a drought-stressed tree in a steep incline, causing electrical lines to arc and igniting the fire, according to a report issued by the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. [Ruidoso files suit against PNM alleging 2022 McBride Fire caused by negligence]
Since 2013 alone at least 41 fires in the Black Hills region have been caused by trees falling on transmission lines because my home state of South Dakota is a perpetual welfare state and a permanent disaster area. 

Just as the State of South Dakota sued Black Hills Power and Light after the 2002 Grizzly Gulch Fire, Black Hills Energy should sue the shit out of the State of South Dakota for the Legion Lake Fire. A lawsuit settled in 2006 compelled Black Hills Energy to pay the state and federal governments a total of $5.9 million; but the agreement also allowed Black Hills Energy to pretend lightning caused the fire. Logging slash and piss-poor planning turned the Legion Lake Fire into a wildfire. During his investigation South Dakota State University forester John Ball was able to determine the tree that fell on the power line causing December's blaze in Custer State Park hadn't been hit by bark beetles.

Utilities, insurers, county commissions, lenders and developers need to be held accountable for building tinder boxes packed so closely together that homeowners can see into each others bathrooms. Counties should be able to fine property owners who fail to create defensible space or clear dry fuels. Well-funded local and volunteer fire departments could conduct prescribed fires and burn road ditches to create buffers where contract fire specialists don’t exist. But even government can't always protect you from your own stupidity.

10/9/23

Liability concerns threaten Ouray's ice festival

In 1999 we were listening to an NPR story about an ice climbing park in Ouray, Colorado, a former mining town that has remade itself by farming ice when my daughters' mother turned to me and said, "wow, they should do that in the Open Cut." 

It was if she had spoken with the Voice of God. The very next day I made an appointment then met with Homestake Mine General Manager Bruce Breid, an aerial photo of the pit displayed on the wall behind his desk. "What a brilliant idea, Mr. Kurtz, we have water here, here, and here," Mr. Breid said, pointing to locations at the rim near the Homestake Visitor Center. "Can you provide a legal instrument holding Homestake harmless?" 

Right. There was that.

Our Lady of the Arroyo and her man just drove through Ouray and it was packed with travelers soaking in the hot springs and bathing in the Fall colors. But after a 2008 incident at the US Air Force Academy landowners are wary of loopholes in the Colorado Recreational Use Statute or CRUS.
It all started in the early 1990s when adventurous ice climbers asked Eric Jacobson if they could traverse his land in the dark gorge to climb. Jacobson owns the Ouray Hydroelectric Power Plant, which started sparking electricity from water-spun wheels in 1886, making it one of the oldest operating power plants in the world. Jacobson does not have any liability insurance. Neither does the nonprofit that operates the park. Winter visitors spent $13 million in Ouray, which stirred an overall economic impact of $17.8 million when the trickling effect of visitor spending was estimated. The spending by ice park climbers and visitors supported 184 full-time jobs and $6.4 million in local wages. [Ouray Ice Park, once the gold standard for free recreation on private land, caught up in liability concerns]
Image: during a stop at Blue Mesa Reservoir just west of Gunnison DM captured this image of her elderly hunched over driver looking at a dog’s butt.

10/8/23

Cheney receives standing ovation in liberal Missoula

There's an old Vulcan proverb. "Only the daughter of a war criminal could save American democracy."  

According to SmartAsset Missoula is America's most fun city for young adults between 20 and 29 in a state where Democrats are otherwise losing power. Congressional titans like Mike Mansfield and Lee Metcalf have been displaced by idiots Steve Daines, Ryan Zinke and Trump loving Matt Rosendale who should be disqualified from holding federal office for his role in the attack on the US Capitol. Senator Jon Tester might even be turned out even though he is one of America's most popular politicians.

With a bust of Senator Mansfield sitting on a nearby table before a full house of 1,100 mostly progressive attendees Republican former Montana Governor Marc Racicot posed questions to Republican former Wyoming US Representative Liz Cheney at the 40th Anniversary of the Mansfield Dialogues at the University of Montana's Dennison Theater.
Up until this year when Sen. Mitch McConnell eclipsed his record, Mansfield was the longest-serving Senate leader. Cheney said her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, worked with Mansfield. Cheney, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, has said she’s committed to working against Trump, but also has not announced her own political plans, including whether she’d run for president. “The notion that the Republican party is anywhere close to contemplating putting Jim Jordan into the position of Speaker of the House is something that tells you the level of risk we face in our democracy today.” She said the number of people who truly believe the election was stolen is small (“maybe two,” she joked) — and “one of them might be one of your representatives here in Montana.” [Liz Cheney: Hold Republicans accountable for Trump]
So, in 1979 after two salvage timber sales in the Bighorn Mountains Deadwood buddies Rich Schnarr, Ed Fuhs and this interested party went looking for work in Idaho. But, when we drove through Missoula, Montana and saw thirteen hang gliders over Mount Sentinel I knew that was the place I wanted to be. My early twenties were spent under a hang glider aloft or kicking a hacky sack waiting for wind on the top of Mount Sentinel or some other mountain drooling over the Aurora 400 in the back of Popular Mechanics. Missoulians Glade Thompson and Bruce Stoverud perished in their gliders at the foot of Mount Sentinel when I lived there.

Read the SmartAsset piece linked here.

10/7/23

Boulder would end Xcel's monopoly

Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy screws customers in Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and New Mexico but the company gives twice as much campaign dough to Earth haters than to Democrats. 

Boulder, Colorado voted to keep Xcel in 2020 but in light of findings in the causes of the Marshall Fire in Boulder County seven lawsuits have been combined as a class action and filed against Earth hater Xcel in Colorado courts. Now, Boulder residents have had it with the monopoly that furnishes the city's power and burns fossil fuels to generate 58% of the state's electricity.
On its website, Empower Our Future states that one of its goals is to create an “electrical system that is more democratic, decentralized, competitive and equitable than is currently provided by Xcel’s monopoly in Colorado.” When Boulder negotiated the franchise agreement with Xcel, it built in several off-ramps that would allow Boulder to leave before the established end of 2041. Under the agreement, Boulder can only null the agreement in certain years if Xcel fails to meet the laid-out emission requirements, like this year and 2025. But it also has specific years, with the first being 2026, it can leave for any reason. [Climate-focused Boulder mayoral forum puts the heat on Xcel Energy]
In 2018 a majority of Pueblo, Colorado residents pushed the city to end its agreement with Black Hills Energy and create a municipal electric utility. But in 2020 despite acknowledging BHE is a predator residents voted to remain enslaved to the Rapid City, South Dakota-based monopoly yet Pueblo still endures crappy service.

10/6/23

Price reduced: neighbors relist lavender farm


Our neighbor, Penny did three tours of duty in Iraq and is a burn pit survivor so she needs to visit the VA in Albuquerque three times a week for therapy and it’s just too far from out here in the boonies especially in the winter. If the United Snakes was a whole nation the funding for Obamacare, TRICARE, Medicare, the Indian Health Service and the Veterans Health Administration would be rolled together then Medicaid for all would enable Penny to just go into any hospital for her treatment.

Listing linked here.

10/5/23

Climate disasters causing insurance bubble

County commissions are infamous for rubber-stamping new homebuilding in the wildland-urban interface and like most Republicans in the Mountain West they are among the first blaming environmentalists for bringing science-based decision-making to forest policy. 

Utilities, insurers, county commissions, lenders and developers need to be held accountable for building tinder boxes packed so closely together that homeowners can see into each others bathrooms. Counties should be able to fine property owners who fail to create defensible space or clear dry fuels. Well-funded local and volunteer fire departments could conduct prescribed fires and burn road ditches to create buffers where contract fire specialists don’t exist. But even government can't always protect you from your own stupidity.
Co-author of the report Jeremy Porter said it’s not a matter of if, but when the insurance bubble pops. “People have these monthly expectations and if you see a 500, 400% increase in insurance, there are real, quantifiable consequences associated with that,” Porter said. While most people can still obtain insurance in the private market, some property owners in high-risk areas have had to turn to state-mandated insurers of last resort for their coverage. [Wildfire risk is causing an insurance bubble in New Mexico]
Learn more at KOB teevee.

10/4/23

Arizona governor pulls water permit for KSA-owned company

In 2018 the Saudi Ministry of Energy and Agriculture banned the use of groundwater for alfalfa production and in August of 2022 the Democratic candidate for Arizona Attorney General, now AG Kris Mayes called for an investigation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's sweetheart deal to pump Phoenix's reserves for free. 

But in April, after draining fragile aquifers and lobbying for more water from the Gila River Arizona revoked irrigation permits for KSA.
[Governor Katie] Hobbs announced Monday that one of the company's four leases to Fondomonte in the Butler Valley, in La Paz County, would be terminated, and three others would not be renewed when they came up in February. "This is not about the foreign-owned business," Hobbs said. "This is about protecting Arizona's groundwater and getting the best value of the land for the trust beneficiaries. And we're doing due diligence across the board with all state land leases to make sure that that's what's happening. And we'll continue to do that." [Saudi company with alfalfa farms in Arizona to appeal governor's move to revoke groundwater deal]
About 3 million acres of irrigated ag land in Western states are planted to alfalfa and it takes 3 to 6 acre-feet every year to water an acre of it — more in hotter, drier climates. An acre foot is about 326,000 gallons.

Republican former SDGOP chair Dan Lederman is a principal at one of the few lobbying firms that stuck with the KSA as others cut ties after the Khashoggi murder.

10/3/23

America watching the death of the GOP

Some of you know that back in 2018 this interested party declared that Hillary Clinton threw the 2016 election so Donald Trump could destroy the Republican Party. 

I believe she knew that had she won, the Republican House would have impeached and the US Senate removed her before the 2018 midterms, a President Tim Kaine would have met an untimely end before naming a Veep and Paul Ryan would become POTUS. 

Now, watching the entire GOP circling the drain while they drown their comrades trying to flounder from the maelstrom is the schadenfreude we Democrats crave. Trump's installation and downfall is the biggest political sting in the history of the United States. He and the GOP were set up by superior forces and given enough rope to hang the entire cabal. He knows he’s caught and will do anything to save his ass including inciting civil war. 

Today, America is watching the disintegration of the Republican Party. Not only is Donald Trump disqualified from holding office ever again his lieutenants in both the Senate and the House, including former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and his tormentor Matt Gaetz, will face Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment coming very soon.

Since the Speaker of the House doesn’t have to be a member of Congress both Liz Cheney and Arnold Schwarzenegger are being considered for the the seat.

Hysteria, threats putting BLM employees on edge

Tension is high in the Mountain West so local Bureau of Land Management offices and employees are on alert for militant zealots bent on violent disruptions or worse as the agency assesses resource management plans

Whether it's American Prairie's bison grazing on BLM ground in Montana, the US Department of Agriculture killing cattle on the Gila or feds shooting goats in the Tetons socialized grazing just isn't enough to keep some Republicans happy. Greater sage grouse habitat is disappearing at a rate of some 1.3 million acres per year much of it in Wyoming but the BLM doesn't record results of the degradation on private land although it's known to be extensive.

Imperiled by the likes of bellicose seditionist Ammon Bundy and Devils Tower-area welfare rancher Chip Neiman (Earth hater-Hulett) public lands employees are fearing for their lives as the BLM drafts its revised plan for 3.6 million acres in southwest Wyoming. Ginned-up belligerents in the so-called "Freedom Caucus" are whining that 8,576 acres or about .02% of the proposed protection area would be locked out to livestock grazing where the current permittee hasn't run cattle for some 27 years.

BLM-Wyoming Rock Springs Field Office manager Kimberlee Foster said her staffers are being subjected to anti-government threats and menacing remarks some of which appeared in the Cowboy State Daily, a mouthpiece of the far white wing of the Republican Party. Trump adherent, Harriet Hageman, Wyoming's lone US House member is fanning the wildfire and calling for "wiping out" the deep state by targeting federal workers.
“The Red Desert was included in the 44-million-acre Treaty of 1863 with the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, and special places in the Northern Red Desert have been important to many Tribes for millennia. People need to know and understand our ties to our traditional territory and connection to these lands,” said Jason Baldes, the Vice President of the Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council and an Eastern Shoshone Tribal member. “Personally, I know my grandmas and grandpas of long ago were praying and thinking of us, and it is our obligation to do the same for future generations, to attempt to be good people and work to leave this place better than it came to us. This plan keeps our traditional homelands safe from the exploitation we see taking place in other areas, and my hope is these lands can remain the same as they have for thousands of years.” [Agency Plan Supports Wyoming Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation]
Earth haters funded by the Koch and DeVos cabals through Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund and scattered in the American West are aiming to derail President Joe Biden's America the Beautiful Initiative. In 2022, Bowman County, North Dakota Sheriff Frank Eberle began rousing rabble after a local Farm Bureau attacked the initiative. Spurred by Margaret Byfield, a Texas group calling itself American Stewards of Liberty with ties to the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion is holding court and spouting anti-Earth resolutions to county commissions throughout the Mountain West including in Yankton County, South Dakota

The Qochtopus has even set up shop in NE Wyoming where Chip Neiman spits his venom.

Butte County's Travis Ismay has been sharing videos from Ammon Bundy now blocked from moving assets after losing a defamation lawsuit compelling him to pay some $52.5 million in damages to St. Luke's Medical Health System in Idaho. Bundy is scheduled for a criminal contempt trial beginning in November.

10/2/23

Colorado governor all aboard for Front Range passenger rail

Cheyenne, Wyoming is on board with Front Range passenger rail and All Aboard Arizona says passenger rail between Phoenix and Tucson is closer than ever, too. 

So, imagine a time when portions or all passenger rail in the United States are elevated for wildlife egress and a corridor between Mexico City and the Amtrak station in Shelby, Montana is a route to the Yukon River in Alaska intersecting with a bridge over or a tunnel under the Bering Strait connecting South and North America to Russia and the rest of Eurasia.
The vehicle was a battery- and hydrogen-powered whisper-quiet train car on its way to California. The host was Gov. Jared Polis. The guests were county commissioners, Democratic legislators, and other elected officials the governor hopes to count on to support his push to build a passenger rail line from Pueblo to Fort Collins. “I’ve got to kick this thing into high gear,” Polis said with a smile as he made his way to the front cab. The new passenger rail line would likely use freight tracks owned by both Union Pacific and BNSF Railway. Both have been “great partners” so far, said Jim Souby, chair of the rail district’s board. “I’m elated about everything,” he said as the train skimmed across the high desert. “Everything's coming together. I’ve worked on this for a long time and we never had an opportunity like this before.” [Polis wants to land billions for Front Range rail. He’s looking to local leaders for help]
In August All Aboard Northwest reached out to an interested party.

10/1/23

Enviros: Crazy Mountain compromise slanted towards Yellowstone Club

Despite being sacred to the Apsáalooke the federal government has twice proposed the Awaxaawapìa Pìa or Crazy Woman Mountains sometimes called the Crazies as a location for a national park but half the land and every alternate section was owned by the Northern Pacific Railroad or was otherwise privately held. 

In 2014 two national forests based in Montana, one named for the Swiss guy who helped convince President Thomas Jefferson to use an executive order to buy land from a country that didn’t even own it and one named for a war criminal were merged into a single administrative unit. Now, Mary Erickson is the Forest Supervisor for the Custer Gallatin National Forest based in Bozeman and today most of the public land in the Crazies is shared by the Custer Gallatin and Lewis and Clark National Forests but even tribal access has been blocked by the descendants of European settlers.

Republicans aren't just fearful of government overreach; they're frightened public lands will be remanded to the First Nations. So, one solution to making America the Beautiful again and solving national forest and grasslands management woes is moving the US Forest Service from the US Department of Agriculture into Interior where tribal nations could more easily assume additional responsibilities for stewardship on public land, returning the resources to apply cultural fire to their own holdings and rewilding the West.
“Since the close of the comment period last December, the Forest Service has been working diligently to address concerns to put forth the best exchange possible,” Erickson said. “This release initiates a 45-day objection period for those who have standing based on previous involvement. I encourage people to take the time to review materials on the Forest [Service]’s website to understand the draft decision.” John Sullivan, chairman of the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, said his group is still reviewing the proposal but is disappointed in its initial review, particularly given the loss of “historic legal public access to high-quality lands and waters.” He likened the Forest Service’s willingness to pursue the proposal to recent criticism that the Flathead National Forest has done the bidding of POWDR, a Utah-based group seeking to expand Holland Lake Lodge. [Forest Service tentatively approves Crazy Mountain land swap]
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