12/31/23

Watching the skies for all mankind

 

Our Lady of the Arroyo and her man are watching For All Mankind, an alternate timeline that supposes the race for space never ended, cooperation with the Soviet Union is workaday and numerous references to Star Trek canon pepper the script including Captain Kirk's speech from A Taste of Armageddon.

After Orson Welles' 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds Adolf Hitler cited the ensuing panic as "evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy" then modeled his final solution on the Native American Genocide. General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin actually used the radio play to his advantage. 

In 2011 Fresh Air's Terry Gross interviewed Annie Jacobsen who described the events leading up to the creation of Area 51. When he was a US Senator, Harry Reid saw human built aircraft at Area 51 that would impress even little green men.

In 2022 the US Air Force created the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) to study and improve data collection then assess potential threats posed by Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena.
AARO is working on a historical record with reports from government employees, service members and military contractors with direct knowledge of any events or documentation of UAPs from as far back as 1945. The office’s website says it “uses a rigorous scientific framework and data-driven approach to better understand UAP,” but that has not produced any evidence of extraterrestrial technology. It says it will not rush to conclusions in its research, and notes that UAPs are often found out do be balloons, celestial events, unidentified aircraft, drones or satellites. [UFO buffs feel the R-E-S-P-E-C-T as government gets serious about research]
Collisions with even micro-particles at near-light speeds make spacecraft design critical to its survival and generating a magnetic field is one way to deflect space debris.
In a groundbreaking development for UFO enthusiasts and researchers, the National UFO Historical Records Center (NUFOHRC) in Rio Rancho has become the official home of the archives of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO). [The National UFO Historical Records Center acquires archives of Aerial Phenomena Research Organization]
If there is a divine creator why would It even care whether one of Its most destructive, malevolent and criminal creations chooses to restrict population growth? Republicans suffer from a disease that influences their eschatologies because they worship a supernatural extraterrestrial as the ‘son of god’ and believe It is coming to Earth to rule under a one-world government. $20 says no one can prove to this interested party that humanity is anything other than a force for utter destruction. Our species will be the instrument to extinguish all life on Earth and some divine thing cares whether we off ourselves? That anyone believes anybody can hold any moral high ground cements humanity’s doom. 

That’s likely why some astrobiologists hypothesize that any civilization capable of interstellar travel is already dead.

12/30/23

Today's intersection: chronic wasting disease and toxoplasmosis

There is research underway and much discussion about how best to control chronic wasting disease in cervids like elk and deer while protecting big cats like cougars and lynx while reintroducing wolves to historic habitats. 

Scavengers like American crows can move CWD from gut pile to gut pile which can remain in soils for years yet transmission of the pathogen to other species including humans is very rare.
Only 2% of the chronic wasting disease prions that go into a bobcat’s mouth can be detected in the bobcat’s poop. And that’s day one. By day two there’s less than 1%, and by day three there’s none at all. In 2021, a team of researchers conducted a similar study on two captive mountain lions and found that while there were infectious prions in their poop, it was only about 3% of what they consumed. That meant 97% of the prions that went in could not be detected when they came out. It’s partly why Jennifer Malmberg, an adjunct UW veterinary sciences professor who led the project, decided to look at bobcats. No one knows for sure what happens on the insides of a lion or bobcat that seems to neutralize a prion that requires lye, bleach or high temperatures to destroy. Malmberg’s best guess is the prions bind to something inside the cats that renders them no longer detectable. [Carnivores and scavengers could help reduce CWD]
CWD is surging in Midwest states like Iowa and Minnesota but Wyoming and Colorado are seeing spikes, too. According to Wyoming Game and Fish, the disease, which occurs mainly in male cervids like wapiti, moose and deer, is found in 34 of the state's 37 mule deer herds and in 15 of the state’s 36 elk herd units. In parts of Canada 85% of male mule deer and 35% of females are infected. Colorado Parks and Wildlife's mandatory testing revealed increases in CWD in three of the state's mule deer herds. 

So, kill off apex predators like grizzlies, wolves and cougars, spray atrazine, neonicotinoids and glyphosate on everything then wonder why cervids like deer and wapiti contract a prion contagion like chronic wasting disease
Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that reproduces in cat species, whether domestic, feral or wild. 

Infected mice lose the fear of cat urine and are more likely to be preyed upon spreading the parasite over significant distances. Toxoplasmosis has been linked to risky behavior in wolves after they ingested cougar scat while living in and around Yellowstone National Park and while the parasite infection can be treated it is never completely eliminated.

A warming climate is blamed for part of increased transmission rates but researchers say the federal government's feeding of elk, especially in Wyoming, in close proximity is also a factor. Hay fed to those animals is likely contaminated with Roundup® and other pesticides. 

ip images.

12/29/23

Beat SAD by moving south

Abominable winters used to take their toll on me while living in Montana and South Dakota: long, frigid, endless despair and Exit 14 looking like a monument to the clear-span building that has been air-dropped into Antarctica. 

Studies published in the Journal of Rural Health and elsewhere found the suicide rate for farmers is not only the highest of any occupation in America, it’s spiking because of a lack of ready access to mental health care services. In 2018 the Rapid City Journal blamed the South Dakota Republican Party for spikes in suicides and depression. So did a Sanford executive. 

But living where winter is less than a month long, days always get above freezing, the legislature is comprised of caring Democrats and cannabis is selling for $4.20 a gram my seasonal affective disorder or SAD has vanished and replaced with effervescent hopefulness.
According to the Mayo Clinic, less sunlight can really mess with our minds and bodies. Fewer rays in fall and winter muddles our body’s internal clock, which can lead to SAD. It also causes a drop in serotonin, which can trigger depression. Less serotonin disrupts the balance of melatonin, which can affect sleep patterns and mood. Lastly, less sunshine means our bodies produce less vitamin D, a source that boosts serotonin in our bodies. [Dakota Farmer]
According to United Van Lines New Mexico is a net inbound state citing retirement and jobs as reasons for moving here.

Las Cruces will be near 60 all week and Tucson will be in the 70s!


12/28/23

Boebert turns carpetbagger


The State of Colorado has chosen the eastern plains for a series of sacrifice zones: prisons, military maneuvers and industrial agriculture

Ken Buck has been representing the 4th Congressional District but decided not to run again citing Republican Party devotion to election fraud and a wannabe dictator. Lauren Boebert has announced she'll move from the 3rd District to the 4th after being caught groping her date in a Denver theatre.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden put a focus on Boebert while touring a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Pueblo, the 3rd CD's largest city, calling her out for opposing the administration's signature legislative priorities. Boebert responded by attacking the president and the Democrats' legislative agenda. In the new district, at least six Republicans are already seeking the nomination, including former state Sens. Jerry Sonnenberg and Ted Harvey, state Rep. Richard Holtorf and conservative talk radio host Deborah Flora. "I am not impressed with another Carpetbagger shopping for a district," Holtorf said. [Lauren Boebert jumps to Colorado's 4th CD in bid to improve reelection odds]

When their religion depends on the end of the world how can the rest of America survive the Republican suicide pact?

ip image: Tyrone is one of several ghost towns dissolving into the high plains along the Santa Fe Historic Trail on US 350 beside the tracks between Trinidad and La Junta.

12/27/23

DEI now overshadowing CRT?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion: Trump state economies are in the toilet according to Creighton University's Ernie Goss but it's not about laziness, it's about Maria shrugged, if you will. 

Add it all up: Rupert Murdoch and Elon Musk — not-so-closeted racists themselves, the Kochs, JBS, the Council for National Policy, the National Rifle Association, Fox News, Tucker Carlson, their attacks on public education and their fear of the "Great Replacement."
DEI efforts encompass issues of racial, gender and disability equity, but it’s race that provokes the most tension. Programs limited to specific populations — such as people of color or those of a certain gender identity — could be subject to legal challenges, according to Jarvis Sam, former chief DEI officer at Nike and founder of the Rainbow Disruption, a DEI consultancy. [2024 might be do or die for corporate diversity efforts. Here’s why.]
Just because we're Democrats doesn't make us subjects; it makes us powerful. The Trump Organization was simply the latest obstacle to public education because it hates people of color and social equity, too. 

The extreme white wing of the Republican Party wants a not so civil war over critical race theory and DEI because oligarchs fear an admission of guilt implies liability and they will be compelled to pay reparations to Indigenous and to the descendants of enslaved people.

12/25/23

Bye Don

I’m dreaming of the Trump airplane 
Just like the one I used to know 
Where the engine’s missin’ and children listen 
To hear death knells in the snow. 

I’m dreaming of a white obit 
With ev’ry happy card I write 
May his blaze be hairy with spite 
And may all Trump’s relatives burn bright.

12/22/23

Water driving land purchases in Nebraska despite industrial ag poisoning pollinators, Gulf

Back in 2012 it was announced that landowners and the US Fish and Wildlife Service joined in a partnership to protect groundwater that recharges the South Platte River. 

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.
Plans are being drawn for a canal to bring South Platte River water from Colorado to Nebraska. That protection is based on a century-old interstate compact between the states which allows Nebraska to take 500 cubic feet per second of water from the river during the non-irrigation season, from October 15 to April 1 every year, but only if Nebraska builds the canal. Colorado officials have promised to defend that state’s water rights vigorously. So far, they have not filed a lawsuit over Nebraska’s plans for the canal. But Lawrence Pacheco, spokesman for Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, agrees that it would be good for the two states to agree on how to proceed. The compact does give Nebraska the right to use eminent domain to acquire land in Colorado. But Nebraska officials say they are prioritizing making purchases on a willing buyer-willing seller basis. [Perkins County Canal plans spark enthusiasm, skepticism in Ogallala]
On a Sandhills property in 2021 Turner Enterprises, Inc. and Turner Ranches announced the launch of the Turner Institute of Ecoagriculture, Inc. a 501(c)(3) public charity and agricultural research organization that will share a formal agreement, facilities and staff with the Center of Excellence for Bison Studies. Turner is the largest private landowner in Nebraska with some 445,000 acres just shy of what We, the People own.
Recently, farmland Realtor Steve Linden said he’s seen an uptick in interested buyers from states like Oklahoma and Texas – states where groundwater is becoming increasingly scarce. Surface water falls under the jurisdiction of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, while local natural resources districts – a system unique to Nebraska – manage groundwater. [Water’s worth: It sits beneath Nebraska’s farmland and has serious value. But who owns it?]
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.
Ethanol factories are giant distilleries that consume corn. The grain is ground up, soaked in water, and fermented, releasing alcohol. What’s left, a mash called distillers grains or wet cake, normally goes into cattle feed, along with nutrients recovered from the stream of liquid waste. But this plant, run by a company called AltEn, was different. It functioned as a disposal site for unsold seed corn, all of it coated with pesticides. Some of the biggest names in the seed business, including Monsanto (which was later acquired by Bayer), Syngenta, and Pioneer, were sending AltEn thousands of truckloads of excess inventory each year. Meanwhile, researchers were linking neonics to piles of dead bees at hives in Germany, Canada, and in the U.S. corn belt. Those bees, like the ones in Judy Wu-Smart’s experiments years later, were getting massive doses of neonics, enough to kill them outright. AltEn tells a story about everything that created it: leveraged farmers looking for security; seed companies selling it in the form of insecticides; compliant regulators; and a style of agriculture that treats the ecosystem as if it’s expendable. [Buzzkill: A bee researcher's colonies kept dying, and she couldn't figure out why. Then, she looked at the ethanol factory down the road.]
In August the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is approximately 3,058 square miles. Nevertheless, Nebraska hopes to create an inland port authority that would move even more poison grain to the Gulf.

Bill Gates is buying land in Nebraska for the water, too.
He has access through 191 existing wells, which add to the value of the land for farmers and investors alike by providing crop irrigation. [Spilling Bill’s beans: Tech billionaire spent $113 million on Nebraska farmland]
Learn more at Progressive Farmer.

12/21/23

Trump is toast



It never ceases to amuse how those who extol the best virtues of living in a republic without knowing how it really works. 

Trump is toast.
Taken as a whole, the structure of Section 3 leads to the conclusion that Donald Trump is one of those past or present government officials who by violating his oath of allegiance to the constitutional rules has forfeited his right to present and future office. But in fact, both common sense and history demonstrate that Trump was an officer, an officer of the United States and an officer under the United States for constitutional purposes. Most people, even lawyers and constitutional scholars like me, do not distinguish between those specific phrases in ordinary discourse. The people who framed and ratified Section 3 saw no distinction. [Why 14th Amendment bars Trump from office: A constitutional law scholar explains principle behind Colorado Supreme Court ruling]
His Earth hating supporters are threatening the lives of the judges but he was impeached for his attempted autogolpe so with a 2/3 vote the US Senate can affirm the impeachments and end this before it goes to the packed SCOTUS because impeachment and conviction in the Congress is political disqualification not a criminal trial. Trump is a career criminal whose actions represent a preponderance of evidence to the US Senate but since Senator Schumer is such a weak Democratic leader he’s been unable to give 17 Republicans any incentive to convict. A stronger Democratic Senate leader would go to South Dakota’s senators and threaten moving the B-21 to a base in a blue state or to a red state whose senators vote to convict. 

Even if Trump survives all the political and legal challenges he’s facing and becomes the Earth haters’ nominee he can’t beat Joe if Liz Cheney gets in as an unaffiliated candidate so it should behoove the uniparty to convict him in the Senate since Nikki Haley can beat Joe without Cheney in the general election.

12/20/23

Black Americans are braving climate disasters but turning the South blue

Way back in the mid-2000s and early 2010s NPR programs ran a series of reports on the Great Migration. 

Now more African Americans are heading back to the South to cities like Atlanta after facing discrimination in places like Detroit, Minneapolis and Chicago. Chicago is a notorious railroad bottleneck where spills of toxic materials are myriad and environmental racism is epidemic. The exodus continues especially after George Floyd was murdered by cops.

Dallas, Orlando, Tampa and Charlotte are among the ten most sought after cities for the "Reverse Migration."
It seems that in the attempt to escape the environmental racism and the poor health outcomes of the North and Midwest, Black people are essentially moving toward the epicenter of climate disasters, says Rhiana Gunn-Wright, the director of climate policy at the Roosevelt Institute. For generations, Southerners survived disasters by leaning on their communities. Along the Gulf Coast, formerly enslaved communities shared food and holed up together away from the swamps and wetlands that absorbed the worst of a hurricane’s blow. Historically, Black voters, a small but steady minority, are the tipping point in elections, and people of color across the region have already reaped positive political benefits. [Moving South, Black Americans Are Weathering Climate Change]
Michelle Alexander has been an associate professor of law at Ohio State University, is a civil rights lawyer, an activist, and was a law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun. She is the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. When she spoke in Santa Fe she reminded the mostly flaming liberal attendees that had Barry Obama been raised in the 'hood his chances would have been unremarkably grim.

12/19/23

Climate catastrophes taking their toll on industrial agriculture, city water supplies

Aquifer sources are not considered high quality water for irrigation because of their salinity but fossil water from limestone contains the minerals that made us human. In my home state of South Dakota some eight million acres are salt-impacted due to seawater intrusion, fertilizer and other soil amendments, irrigation with saline water and roadway deicer applications.
However, for the balance of this winter, consistent above-normal moisture has a low probability of occurring in the Western Corn Belt, with a strong influence from the current El Nino Pacific Ocean temperature pattern, USDA Midwest Climate Hub Director Dennis Todey told a recent NOAA regional forecast webinar. "This is something that people should be monitoring and working with and looking ahead to if we should continue our situation," Todey said. "Because we don't expect with the El Nino that there would be widespread major precipitation that would fix the situation." [Ag Weather Forum: Driest Western Corn Belt in a Lifetime]
Soils are worn out from decades of pesticides, poor farming practices and manufactured fertilizers. Shallow wells and waterways suffer impairment from nitrate pollution making water less available especially where aquifer levels are dwindling.
Current research at SDSU seeks to identify salt-impacted soils and jumpstart the self-recovery process. Salt-impacted soils have economic impacts as rangeland forage production and agricultural crop yields decrease. Annually, the projected loss in worldwide crop production is estimated at $27.3 billion. In the South Dakota counties of Beadle, Brown and Spink counties, the loss from salt-impacted soils is estimated at $26.2 million per year. [Remediating salty soils]
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.

12/18/23

Today's intersection: Obama and salmon

When will spikes in human misery finally compel action on the failures of anthropogenic biomanipulation on the environment? 

Harken back to 2011 and President Obama's State of the Union address.
Today, the US Army Corps of Engineers counts almost 90,000 dams in its database. The Snake River through Idaho, Oregon and Washington that was dammed to deny Indigenous salmon fishing is now the 4th most endangered as drought seizes the region. 

In 2011 this interested party wrote, "President Obama: protect this resource then expand it into the entire upper Missouri Basin by connecting public, private, and tribal lands. Then dismantle the main stem dams in favor of geothermal energy."
We can have both hydropower and robust salmon runs, but need to totally rethink the four dams on the Snake. They are aged, obsolete and their costs exceed their benefits. Despite millions of dollars spent per year on salmon rehabilitation efforts, such as hatcheries, fish ladders, and trucking smolt past dams, Snake River salmon and steelhead are barely returning at 5-10% of goals, and have been for decades. These dams have crushed salmon and steelhead runs and all efforts at a work- around have failed. The dams have turned what was once a fast-flowing cold-water river into a slow-moving series of warming ponds. Salmon have fed people and created wealth for thousands of years, and could continue to do so. Dams, on the other hand, have a finite lifespan. [We can balance hydropower and salmon by removing obsolete dams]
One impetus for some exploration of America's Blue Highways and the Pacific Northwest is a continuing discussion so it seemed only logical that some familiarization with the Columbia River basin would give this interested party some insight about the relationships of western forests to each other.

Removal of the Fort Edward Dam on New York’s Hudson River released so much contaminated sediment that the river was later named a Superfund site. A similar fate would befall the Missouri River if dams were not dredged before being decertified and removed; but, migratory fish would recolonize newly accessible habitat within a matter of days. The Corps has cancelled Spring Pulses on the Missouri River not just because of low flows but because the silt is so poisonous it would kill the very species it says it's trying to preserve. 

Zebra mussels have invaded the Oahe Reservoir in occupied South Dakota because the state agency that exploits wildlife, fish and parks is corrupt by design.

Pallid sturgeon are living dinosaurs but when the Missouri River dams were built it sealed the fate of the now endangered fish. Scientists and the US Army Corps of Engineers have learned that unless newly hatched pallid sturgeon have several hundred miles of unimpeded waters they cannot survive. Rivers often disperse the extra sediment from behind a dam within weeks or months of dam removal

Water managers in the Colorado Basin are freaking out, too.


12/17/23

Guaranteed income advances equity in New Mexico

Back in 2013, NPR's Planet Money reported on an experiment in Kenya.
The results from the study are encouraging, says Johannes Haushofer, an economist at MIT's Poverty Action Lab who was one of the study's co-authors. "We don't see people spending money on alcohol and tobacco," he says. "Instead we see them investing in their kids' education, we see them investing in health care. They buy more and better food." Getting money made people happier, less stressed out. [What Happens When You Just Give Money To Poor People?]
2020 presidential candidate, Andrew Yang wanted to implement a universal basic income of $12,000 a year and guaranteed income (GI) demonstration projects are underway in several states including in New Mexico. 
After receiving GI assistance for a year, our participants reported a noticeable increase in job security. Rural participants and the participants who received the six-month extension reported 14% and 15% increases in employment, respectively.
GI assistance improved housing security for participants of the program, in particular those who were struggling the most to make rent or mortgage payments on time. The number of respondents reporting they had trouble paying the rent or mortgage on time almost every month decreased by 35%. Perhaps even more impressive, the group that received the 6-month extension experienced a 73% increase in respondents reporting never having trouble paying the rent or mortgage on time.
GI participants with children reported noticeable improvements in educational outcomes. The percentage of participants claiming their child is on track to complete their grade level and graduate increased by 9%. For rural participants, this increase was even greater: it jumped by 13%.
Read it all here.

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.

12/16/23

SFNF continues burns despite pushback from timber industry, local gadfly

Trees growing on public land are not agriculture any more than wild salmon are aquaculture so pre-emptive burns and managed lightning-struck fires are essential to restoring balance in western ecosystems. 

Fire managers have climate change guns to their heads so it’s usually damned if you do and damned if you don’t conduct prescriptive burns but it’s probably a straight line from the previous administration’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and crashes in morale within the US Forest Service to current conditions on the Santa Fe National Forest. 

The Forest Service-caused Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire consumed some 341,000 acres of ponderosa pine and understory but also reduced thousands of acres of flammable grasses. The SFNF has closed roads into the burn area until at least the end of the year to reduce impact on soils and is conducting pile burns. A memorandum of understanding or MOU has been signed between the Forest and Kewa Pueblo to partner on recovery efforts and on a firefighter program.

Frank Carroll is a timber industry toady who uses loaded language like “blowtorch forestry” and likes Bobby Kennedy, Jr. But when he lived in the Black Hills he called the 2015 Cold Brook Fire in Wind Cave National Park a "roaring success." Why? Because it was conducted by the Park Service and not the Forest Service even though it burned beyond what was prescribed and six times better for Wind Cave National Park than fire managers had expected.

Sarah Hyden runs an anti-government website with emphasis on the SFNF. They've teamed up to bind the Forest Service's hands in controlling forest overgrowth with managed fire.

12/14/23

Rooftop solar surpassing expectations in Boulder

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. Nevertheless, the utility laid off 44 employees across their eight-state service region, 24 of those positions in Rapid City.

Today, Colorado regulators are sending a clear signal to Xcel and Black Hills Energy to help subscribers transition to rooftop solar but according to an industry watchdog South Dakota ranks last in solar capacity. 

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, Colorado 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. 

Freedom works where?

Read it all at Boulder Reporting Lab.

12/13/23

Colorado hopes to fill gaps in WOTUS created by packed SCOTUS; ND Supreme Court to hear CO2 pipeline case

Throughout its history the US Army Corps of Engineers has had purview over water that flows into bodies that can support navigation and in 2014, through the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Water Act, the Obama White House moved to identify more closely the sources of non-point pollution. 

Waters of the United States or WOTUS legislation seeks to give authority to the EPA to use some teeth to enforce the rights of people downstream to have clean water even from some sources that the US Geological Survey has already identified as impaired. But, the Trump-packed Supreme Court of the United States reversed environmental protection for a majority of American citizens and enabled the corporatocracy to pollute at will.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act has protected the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) since 1972. In Sackett v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the definition of WOTUS did not include wetlands adjacent to streams. Only wetlands with a direct surface water connection to a stream or permanent body of water are now protected under the Clean Water Act. One example of those source waters is a type of sensitive, high-country wetland now potentially left vulnerable: fens. These are groundwater-fed wetlands that form peat over thousands of years, are home to rare plants and insects, and cannot be easily restored if destroyed. Fens are sometimes isolated with no stream as an outlet. [Colorado lawmakers expected to consider state permit program protecting wetlands]
Some it crossing Waters of the United States, Summit Carbon Solutions wants to dig a ditch for a $4.5 billion pipeline vulnerable to rupture and rip up over two thousand miles of unceded tribal lands where thousands of Indigenous Americans are buried then pump carbon dioxide to some sacrifice zone in occupied North Dakota ostensibly to be sequestered.
Filing in support of Summit were Basin Electric and the state of North Dakota. Without survey access, “Basin Electric would face significant time delays in gaining access to land for purposes of performing environmental and land surveys that must be performed prior to final route determination, acquisition of necessary land rights, and constructing electrical transmission lines,” attorneys for Basin Electric wrote. North Dakota’s Public Service Commission has rejected Summit pipeline route application. [North Dakota Supreme Court to hear pipeline survey access case]
Learn more at the Bismarck Tribune.

12/12/23

Feds bail out ND electric coop

Self-reliance or moral hazard? 
FEMA has approved $15.8 million in Public Assistance to assist in recovery from winter storms and flooding that occurred in 2022. This funding reimburses the Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative $15,888,023 for labor and contracts to repair the cooperative’s power transmission and distribution systems damaged during the storm. This funding covers project and repair costs from April 21, 2022, to June 19, 2022, and represents a 75 percent federal cost-share for the project. To date, North Dakota has received more than $58 million in assistance for the 2022 disaster. [FEMA Approves $15.8 Million for Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative]
Ice storms and other calamities driven by anthropogenic climate hijinx routinely knock out electric power often resulting in lost lives and the inevitable cyber attacks on the US will take down the grid for days, even months causing food shortages and mayhem but the addition of virtual power plants or VPPs can change that handling some twenty percent of peak power demand by 2030.

$100 million spent on subsidizing, manufacturing, transporting, erecting and maintaining the Prevailing Winds project would take some 8,000 Basin Power subscribers off the grid. That's right: primary power purchaser Bismarck, North Dakota-based Basin Electric Power Cooperative is an oligopoly paying Prevailing Winds, LLC to rip up land and disturb cultural resources sacred to numerous Indigenous peoples for a grid that has never been more vulnerable to attack and to climate disruptions.

The average cost of a household photovoltaic system has dropped below $3/watt or around $12,810 before tax credits are factored in. Leaving the grid has never been easier so anyone who can afford to it should do it now and with Trump still in the running for the White House it's never been more urgent

It's just a matter of when the next disaster will enrich a utility but even government can't always protect you from your own stupidity.

12/11/23

Today's intersection: border closings and raw sewage

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.
Gerston Miranda and his wife were among thousands of migrants recently arriving at this remote area on Arizona's southern border with Mexico, squeezing into the United States through a gap in the wall and walking overnight about 14 miles (23 kilometers) with two school-aged daughters to surrender to Border Patrol agents. "There is no security in my country," said the 28-year-old from Ecuador, who lost work when his employer closed due to extortion by criminals. "Without security you cannot work. You cannot live." [Smugglers are bringing migrants to a remote Arizona crossing, overwhelming agents]
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.
When human waste flooded part of a U.S. immigration prison in central New Mexico last month, guards ordered incarcerated people to clean it up with their bare hands and put them in solitary confinement when they protested, according to a letter from Sen. Martin Heinrich to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. On Wednesday, Heinrich wrote over the past two years he raised concerns to ICE about chronic understaffing, inadequate access to legal representation, inadequate medical and mental health care, lack of privacy during credible fear interviews, and “grossly inadequate facility conditions.” [After sewage sickens incarcerated people, senator again asks Biden official to close ICE prison]
Rich people can save themselves: they merely flee south and complain that immigrants are taking over the workforce; but, poverty chains those who live in despair year 'round. Migration must be celebrated, not outlawed. I-25 is thick with white people headed into Mexico for the winter, ffs.

Statehood for Mexico would mean more people could save themselves from brutal winters in the North and provide safer homes for migrants.

12/9/23

Democrats applaud as Front Range, Big Sky, AZDOT get a little money for passenger rail studies

A half million dollars each ain't much but it keeps at least two Rocky Mountain passenger rail dreams alive.

Rail service could return to Colorado's Yampa Valley as that state's Department of Transportation partners with the Front Range Passenger Rail District on planning routes from Pueblo, through Denver, to Fort Collins and ultimately to Wyoming and New Mexico.
"Front Range Passenger Rail will modernize our transit system, save people money, and support jobs and housing across our state,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement. “I applaud the Department of Transportation and the Biden administration for securing and providing this funding, and for recognizing the need for this service and the promise to get it done soon.” [Feds accept Colorado’s Front Range rail project into key grant program]
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.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester praised the award in a press release. “I fought hard to ensure that we invested in renewed Amtrak service, and I can’t think of a better place to explore than the North Coast Hiawatha route. I was proud to help secure this funding and designation that will help fuel the next stage of the project, and I look forward to working with the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority to make their vision a reality.” [White House awards $500k to Southern Montana Amtrak Route]
The Rio Metro Regional Transit District has just rolled out satellite WiFi for riders of the New Mexico Rail Runner. 

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.
Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., announced this week that the Arizona Department of Transportation would receive $500,000 to begin planning for a passenger rail corridor that links Amtrak’s existing line, which runs through Tucson, to the Phoenix metro area. [Federal money announced to help bring passenger rail back to the Phoenix area]
ip image: the Alvarado Transportation Center graces downtown Albuquerque. 

Learn more at the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

12/8/23

Spanish study links toxoplasmosis to human frailty

Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that reproduces in cat species, whether domestic, feral or wild. Infected mice lose the fear of cat urine and are more likely to be preyed upon spreading the parasite even more. 

Virtually all hogs in confinement are infected and so are at least a third of Americans. The effects on the gene pool are catastrophic often leading to neuropsychiatric diseases including paranoia, especially in men. Toxoplasmosis is linked to Gender Identity Disorder, too. 

Toxoplasmosis has been linked to risky behavior in wolves after they ingested cougar scat while living in and around Yellowstone National Park. Toxoplasmosis has been linked to depressed mood, feelings of guilt and even suicide in humans. If you’ve lived with a cat litter box in your house you are probably already infected with toxoplasma gondii. 
Our study, performed in an Iberian older adult population with high T. gondii seroprevalence, is the first, to the best of our knowledge, to link serological markers of chronic T. gondii infection with frailty. We identified an association between T. gondii IgG serointensity in T. gondii positive individuals and frailty, resisting sequential adjustments for multiple variables including demographic factors, depression, cognitive deficits, medical comorbidities, and immune-related biomarkers individually associated with both T. gondii serointensity and frailty. [Toxoplasma gondii IgG Serointensity Is Positively Associated With Frailty]
While the parasite can be treated it is never completely eliminated.

12/6/23

New Mexico could use produced water to satisfy compact

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. In parts of the Southwest some authorities are so fearful of deficits in water supplies they've entertained Durango, Colorado-based Western Weather Consultants' pitch to acquire a “weather control and precipitation enhancement license" from the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission but after criticism for not consulting with pueblos the application was withdrawn in 2022. Despite objections from the environmental community the commission's Weather Control Committee approved a Texas company's bid for weather modification in mostly Republican Chaves, Colfax, Curry, DeBaca, Eddy, Guadalupe, Harding, Lea, Lincoln, Otero, Quay, Roosevelt and Union Counties.

A compact limits Colorado to 100,00 acre feet and New Mexico to 200,000 acre feet each year. A lawsuit that could settle a river allocation dispute between New Mexico and Texas is being heard by the Supreme Court of the United States but a deal has been announced and if approved could end the squabble. An acre foot is almost 326,000 gallons or about enough liquid to cover an American football field with a foot of water.

New Mexico owes Texas about 90,000 acre feet as part of the compact but Texas strung razor wire on its border with the Land of Enchantment further poisoning the prospects for cooperation.
Through a $500 million investment, New Mexico will purchase treated brackish and treated produced water to build the strategic water supply. New Mexico sits atop substantial aquifers of brackish salt water, which cannot be used for human or agricultural consumption without treatment. Brackish water supplies are separate from freshwater resources underground. Estimates indicate there may be between two and four billion acre-feet of brackish water underneath New Mexico. A 25 million gallon per day brackish water treatment plant could produce up to 27,900 acre-feet of potable water a year. [Gov. Lujan Grisham to establish first-of-its-kind Strategic Water Supply – $500 million investment will leverage advanced market commitments]
ip image: snow geese winter at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge on the Rio Grande near San Antonio, New Mexico.

12/5/23

As ranchers, oil and gas squeeze wildlife Wind River adapts


The Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming has been suffering the effects of benzene, metals, naphthalene, methane and other contaminants in their water supplies since at least 2011 when the US Environmental Protection Agency warned residents of the dangers of hydraulic fracturing

In 2018, the Wind River Food Sovereignty Project began to address more broadly the food insecurity and high rates of diet-related disease in the community. With help from the Nature Conservancy, Wind Cave National Park in occupied South Dakota contributed to the reintroduction of bison to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho on the Wind River Reservation sending fifty to Wyoming in 2021. Today the Wind River Tribal Buffalo Initiative is part of a program that teaches members traditional methods of drying meat and even modern canning techniques. 

Wapiti or elk, mule deer and pronghorn travel from Grand Teton National Park to winter ranges throughout the region and into the Wind River Reservation. But disease, urban sprawl and oil and gas development have altered historic migration routes.
The ungulate migration is managed by many different players in multiple jurisdictions – like the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Game and Fish, Idaho Fish and Game, private landowners, and the Shoshone and Arapaho Tribal Fish & Game Department. [Wildlife documentary shows how large ungulates migrate far beyond Grand Teton National Park]
Elk in the region are dying en masse from Chronic Wasting Disease that researchers say is exacerbated by the federal government feeding elk in close proximity.
But stopping feeding also will impact ranchers, increasing the number of elk reaching private lands. And there are also diseases at play, particularly brucellosis and chronic wasting disease. Allowing chronic wasting disease to spread through elk herds will kill more elk over time than those that would die in the first few years of stopping feeding, researchers conclude in a new study. [For elk feedgrounds, a fatal tradeoff looms]
We all know this: unless the West embraces rewilding on portions of the Missouri River basin west of a north/south line from Oacoma, South Dakota through the CM Russell National Wildlife Refuge to Yellowstone National Park then to the Yukon water and carbon wars will clog the courts leaving violent armed vigilantism to settle disputes, especially in Wyoming.

Learn more at Wyoming Public Radio.

ip image: the Tetons rise above Jackson Lake.

12/4/23

Climate activists file brief to suspend permit for NWE plant on Yellowstone River

In 2021 South Dakota-based NorthWestern Energy withdrew its application at Montana’s Public Service Commission so without any regulatory approval it began construction of a natural gas fired generating station in Laurel. The company spends millions of dollars every year greasing Republican politicians and poisoning waterways including in Montana where the PRC is comprised of Earth haters.
Fresh off a legal victory earlier this year in a landmark climate change case, a group of young environmental activists is trying to persuade the Montana Supreme Court to stop a natural gas power plant that's being built on the banks of the Yellowstone River. Their attorney also asked that any constitutional climate and environmental issues should be addressed through the climate lawsuit, which was heard at trial, and not the power plant permit case. [Young activists who won Montana climate case want to stop power plant on Yellowstone River]
Recall that in 2009 NWE was responsible for a gas explosion in Bozeman, Montana that destroyed several businesses and killed one person. 

In 2015 the US Department of Transportation swatted ExxonMobil with a million dollar penalty after the Environmental Protection Agency released an overview of cleanup efforts in the aftermath of the 2011 breach of the Silvertip pipeline that spilled 63,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River upstream of Billings near Laurel. 

Also in 2021 NWE’s devastating decrease in the Madison River flow killed native trout because of its negligence at the Hebgen Dam then one of its power lines caused a wildfire that destroyed most of Denton, Montana.

NorthWestern Energy owns 23.4% of the Big Stone Power Plant in northeastern South Dakota — a monster that consumes 3,500 tons of filthy sub-bituminous coal every hour then spews heavy metal oxides over Minnesota.

12/3/23

Who's Haley's Veep?

Recall the Clinton campaign didn’t ask for any recounts or file any lawsuits. Why? She knew she’d be impeached and removed then Tim Kaine would have been assassinated so she threw the election believing it would destroy the Republican Party. 

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 the current and former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and his tormentor Matt Gaetz, will face Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment coming very soon.

It's the view of this interested party that after Trump is convicted on even some of his 91 felony counts the US Senate will disqualify him based on his two impeachments. 

Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t affect any presidential primary since they are party affairs but Donald Trump won’t be on any general election ballot in any state especially since a Colorado judge has ruled he did indeed engage in insurrection.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit court knocked down Trump’s sweeping claims that presidential immunity shields him from liability in the lawsuits brought by Democratic lawmakers and police officers. [Federal appeals court rules Trump can be sued for inciting violence on Jan. 6]
But, if by some miracle Trump is the Earth hater nominee Liz Cheney will take enough votes as an unaffiliated candidate to re-elect Joe and Kamala and the uniparty won’t abide that. The GOP Earth haters know Trump can’t beat Joe especially with Cheney in the race but Nikki Haley poses a real threat to the Biden/Harris ticket without Cheney in it. 

Haley needs a Veep from a swing state. Who is it?

12/2/23

NE Wyoming, war machine enjoying socialist rare earth development

In January of 2016, the US Forest Service suspended the Draft Environmental Impact Study for a Wyoming Black Hills mountaintop-removal mine that would extract more minerals containing lanthanides like neodymium and praseodymium from the Belle Fourche watershed.

In 2017 Rare Element Resources said its mine just upstream of the South Dakota border in the headwaters of the Redwater River, a tributary of the Belle Fourche/Cheyenne, announced financial backing from General Atomics and applied for enough water for the mineral separation process despite widespread contamination in Crook County wells.

A demonstration-scale separation and processing plant is expected to cost $35-40 million and a site in Upton, Wyoming near the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) was confirmed in 2021 as the location for the facility. Now, the EIS is complete and the US Department of Energy is pouring some $22 million more into northeast Wyoming.
The demo plant represents the next step of RER’s journey towards operating a rare earth mine and processing plant, with the mine itself in the Bear Lodge Mountains just outside Sundance. It will further test the company’s proprietary extraction technology, and the data from this test will be used to design and complete an economic evaluation for a full-size commercial plant, as well as the Bear Lodge Project mine site. [Reviews complete for RER demo plant]
General Atomics gives generously to Republicans including former US Representative from New Mexico's First District and South Dakota School of Mines President Heather Wilson.

12/1/23

Interior, USDA continue to battle over grazing in Jemez

Indigenous history in the Valles Caldera goes back at least 8,000 years and obsidian quarried there for knives and projectile points is found throughout the region. The ancestors of Jemez Pueblo or Walatowa migrated into the area in the late 13th Century after Mesa Verde was laid bare. Pre-European Indigenous cultures in the Jemez Mountains and around the caldera raised turkeys, beans, squash and maize. 

That cattle have been allowed into national forests and other public ground is a crime that needs to end.
More than a year after conservation groups announced plans to take legal action regarding cattle illegally trespassing into the Valles Caldera National Preserve, those same groups say the federal agencies have not made significant changes to prevent the damage caused by the livestock. Cyndi Tuell, the Arizona and New Mexico director at Western Watersheds Project, said that after the groups filed a notice of intent to sue, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service approached them and expressed an interest in working to solve the issue. The boundary fence is between land managed by two federal agencies and, because of that, the Forest Service and the Park Service share the responsibility to maintain the fence and work together to do so. Tuell said the Forest Service or the Park Service should make the ranchers pay for the forage cattle are illegally consuming outside of the allotments, but the Forest Service says that is not within its authority. Additionally, the cattle pollute the water in part by causing more erosion, which leads to more sediment in the streams. “There’s a whole host of problems in addition to the cow pies themselves contaminating the water,” she said. [Illegal cattle grazing remains a problem in Valles Caldera National Preserve]
Cattle manure contaminated with bovine growth hormones and antibiotics introduced into critical watersheds is epidemic even on public lands.
The National Park Service plans to implement prescribed burn projects in Valles Caldera National Preserve beginning December 2023 through the end of the 2023-24 winter season as conditions allow. The prescribed burns will occur in previously thinned areas where materials have been piled for burning. [NM Fire Info]
Since old growth forests and native grasslands are not agriculture the National Forest System should be moved from the US Department of Agriculture and into the Department of Interior.

ip image.