tagged w/ BLM
BLM ‘Auctions’ 720-Million-Ton North Porcupine Coal Tract To Single Bidder For $1.10 A Ton
The Obama administration’s Bureau of Land Management auctioned a major tract of Wyoming coal to Peabody Energy at a bargain-basement price of $1.10 per ton yesterday.
The North Porcupine coal tract in the Powder River Basin went to the single bidder, Peabody subsidiary BPU Western Resources, for $793,270,310.80 for 721 million tons, BLM representative Beverly Gorny stated in a telephone interview.
This sale, made under the provisions of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, represents a massive fossil-fuel subsidy based on the assumption that the use of coal benefits the American public. However, it is likely this coal is intended for the Asian market, where sub-bituminous coal fetches a much higher price. The non-competitive leasing program is under federal investigation.
Moreover, the costs of the carbon pollution from mining and burning this coal were not taken into consideration. The 721 million short tons of sub-bituminous coal in the lease sale will generate approximately 1.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide when burned.
With a modest estimated social cost of carbon at $65 per ton of CO2, the global-warming impacts to society of this lease sale exceed $70 billion — 90 times the price paid for the lease. More than 27,000 people signed a Credo Action petition opposing the fire sale of Wyoming’s sub-prime carbon reserves.
The lease sale still has to be approved by the BLM post-sale panel, which recently rejected a low-ball bid for an adjoining tract.
By Brad Johnson, campaign manager of Forecast the FactsBLM ‘Auctions’ 720-Million-Ton North Porcupine Coal Tract To Single Bidder... more
During a stop in Elko, Nevada last week, presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said that he opposes the federal ownership of any public lands. After stating that he wanted to disband the U.S. Department of Interior (which manages 500 million acres of surface land including nearly 400 national parks), he responded to a question about a travel management plan in a national forest by stating:
Paul: I want as much federal land to be turned over to the state as possible—the regulatory approach to tell people how to do and what to say. So I was essentially other than the other members of Congress from this state — I very early on opposed the dumping of nuclear waste in Nevada, so I want the state to make a decision—
Questioner: This plan pertains to using ATVs and things like that on federal land.
Paul: Well, I’d be opposed to that. I don’t want the federal government dictating to Nevada, period. I’d rather see the land owned and controlled by the states.
This is not the first time Paul has called for public lands to be turned over to states or private entities. In October he told the Western Republican Leadership Conference that public lands “should be returned to the states and then for the best parts sold off to private owners.”
The existence of public lands managed by the federal government is actually provided for in the Property Clause of the Constitution which states: “Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States, and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.”
Our federal public lands are important assets for many reasons. Interior Department lands alone provided $363 billion in economic activity in 2010, some of which goes to states and counties. Indeed federal lands in Nevada pumped $1 billion into the state’s economy in 2010.
Additionally, public lands are managed for the public good. They are owned by every single American, and are places we all can go to picnic, hike, fish, and get outside with our families. They also provide important benefits like clean air and clean water.
Perhaps most importantly, public lands are protected so they can be enjoyed for future generations. Just imagine what the Grand Canyon would have been like if mining interests and the Arizona Territory had had their way in 1903 and mined it rather than preserved it.
By Jessica Goad, Manager of Research and Outreach, Center for American Progress Action Fund.During a stop in Elko, Nevada last week, presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)... more
Please read his article, and write your elected official and tell them to stop rounding up wild horses and burros.
Or better yet, give over the management to people who do this for a living, like the Fish and Wildlife Service. They have people trained to understand wildlife management, and are not wild horses and burros, wild?
"Those who hoped that Obama would be more sympathetic than his rootin'-tootin' predecessor have been greatly disappointed. As with so many other issues, Obama has been completely absent."
Will we still have wild horses on public lands 40 years from now? Guess we should ask the cattle barons. Because in today's America, might makes right. All hail the "free market."Please read his article, and write your elected official and tell them to stop... more
The Washington Post | Associated Press (AP)...
Animal rights groups allege panel evaluating wild horse management is stacked against them
By Associated Press, Published: October 23
RENO, Nev. — A panel of experts chosen to spend two years generating the definitive study on wild horse management in the West is kicking up controversy before it even gets out of the chute.
Mustang protection advocates contend the committee charged with solving a conundrum that has eluded consensus for decades is stacked with allies of the livestock industry who won’t give the horses a fair shake.
The panel’s 14 members were picked by the National Academy of Sciences, an independent organization chartered by Congress to advise the government on science. Their first meeting is set for Thursday in Reno.
The American Wild Horse Protection Campaign, Cloud Foundation and others say several of the appointees are outspoken defenders of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s current management strategy that relies on “mass wild horse roundups and removals at the expense of on-the-range management strategies.’”
“The heart of the controversy surrounding the wild horse issue is the conflict between private livestock and wild horses on the 11 percent of BLM land that is designated as wild horse habitat,” said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Protection Campaign, a coalition of environmental, public interest and animal rights organizations.
The public’s need for an accurate, objective review of the government’s controversial wild-horse management program will not be served unless the National Academy of Sciences corrects the panel’s “imbalances,” Roy said.
Academy spokesman Bill Kearney said the organization’s staff and legal counsel will investigate any concerns about conflicts and consider disqualifying members or adding new ones to provide additional expertise.
The BLM asked the academy earlier this year to assemble the panel of wildlife biologists, rangeland ecologists and others to review the program at an estimated cost of $1.2 million, after prodding from members of Congress critical of the roundups. The agency, which plans to round up another 6,000 horses in the coming months, argues the gathers are necessary to ease ecological damage on the range.
Opponents maintain the horse numbers are much lower than historical highs and that the roundups are intended to appease ranchers who don’t want the mustangs competing with their cattle and sheep for limited forage on arid rangeland.
The committee is tasked with producing a comprehensive study that addresses, among other things, total herd populations, genetic diversity, appropriate management levels, and population control options including immunocontraception and “managing a portion of a population as non-reproducing,” according to the academy’s website.
Committee members under fire include Dr. David Thain, former Nevada state veterinarian who is an assistant professor in the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Nevada Reno.
Thain is a member of the Nevada Livestock Association — a “clear conflict of interest,” said Ginger Kathrens, executive director of the Colorado-based Cloud Foundation.
.The Washington Post | Associated Press (AP)... . Animal rights groups allege... more
HELP US SAVE WHAT IS LEFT OF AMERICA'S WILD HORSES. WITHOUT YOUR HELP, THE AMERICAN WILD HORSE WILL DISAPPEAROn Sunday, August 21, the BLM began the White Mountain/Little Colorado roundup in Wyoming. As of Tuesday, the BLM reports that 355 horses have been removed from their families and homes on the range and three horses have been killed during the roundup. The BLM daily reports are available here.
Approximately 500 miles away, the Triple B roundup is taking place outside of Ely, Nevada. This is the fifth week of this roundup, the largest roundup of the summer, and as of Tuesday, August 23, the BLM reports that 1,182 horses have been captured and 10 horses have been killed in the roundup, the majority of them young foals. The BLM plans to remove 1,726 horses from the nearly 1.7-million-acre Triple B Complex. The BLM daily reports are available here. Also see AWHPC eyewitness reports from Triple B
The Triple B Complex wild horse roundup is the largest roundup scheduled for the summer of 2011. During this six to seven week roundup, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to remove 1,726 horses (according to the agency’s Decision Record). According to the BLM, this will supposedly leave 432 horses on the nearly 1.7 million-acre Complex (see Complex breakdown below). That means there will only be 1 horse for more than 3,900 acres (or every six square miles). AWHPC representatives have looked for horses in this vast area prior to the roundup – it was difficult to find horses. After the roundup, it will be nearly impossible for American citizens to visit the Triple B Complex and view wild horses.
Despite the BLM’s claims of reform, the agency is pushing full steam ahead with removal of nearly 4,000 horses in the three-month period from July through September 2011 – the Triple B roundup is just one of the summer roundups scheduled. These removals are taking place because Congress increased the agency’s budget by $12 million for fiscal year 2011. Without that budget increase, the BLM would not have been able to proceed with these costly, unnecessary and inhumane roundups.
The Triple B Complex is comprised of the Triple B, Maverick-Medicine HMAs, and portion of Antelope Valley HMA west of U.S. Highway 93 are located in northwestern White Pine and southern Elko Counties approximately 30 miles northwest of Ely, Nevada, and 70 miles southeast of Elko, Nevada.
Triple B HMA: ~1,225,000 acres; AML 250-518 wild horses
Maverick-Medicine HMA: ~337,134 acres; AML 166-276 wild horses
Antelope Valley HMA (west of U.S. Highway 93): ~97,070 acres; AML 16-27 wild horsesOn Sunday, August 21, the BLM began the White Mountain/Little Colorado roundup in... more
How can a state promote its wild horses as a tourist attraction while it seeks to decimate herds?
Listen for the sound of hooves pounding. Look for manes flying in the wind. Feel the rush of awe at the sight of these creatures. The Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop Tour is something you and your family will never forget because Sweetwater County's cherished wild horses are living examples of a wide-open landscape and untamed frontier spirit.
--Wyoming Tourism Board
The Wyoming Tourism Board wants you and your family to come see the wild horses in Sweetwater County, but you better go quick. Beginning next month, federal officials and local contractors will roundup and remove approximately 700 of those horses (about 70 percent of the herd) to satisfy the complaints of the cattle and sheep ranchers in the area who don't want to share land with federally-protected horses. The "cherished," "living examples" of Wyoming's western heritage will be penned in and then given up for adoption or sold at auction. Many will soon die. Some may even be slaughtered for meat. All will likely be gone from view in Sweetwater County. You and your family, having traveled to southwestern Wyoming, may be plum out of luck.
This is my third take on these Wyoming horses in just the past few weeks, and I again beg your indulgence. First, I wrote about a failed federal plan to round up the horses, geld the stallions, and return some back to the herds to decrease natural procreation cycles. When the government was sued in federal court in Washington to stop the removal and castration, the feds backed off and came forward with a new pitch. The horses would leave, but none of the stallions would be castrated. This plan appears to be going forward. I wrote about that, too. The number of horses in two vast "herd management areas," located in a desolate part of the state, would again dip below 300, making it much less likely that a tourist family would see a wild horse in Sweetwater County.
The reason for my persistence isn't difficult to explain. Each time I write something about these horses, I learn something more about the politics of their plight that is worth sharing to a broader audience. This time, the story is not just about the hypocrisy evident in Wyoming's attitude toward these horses -- the state is both marketing them as tourist attractions and actively conspiring to get rid of them. It's also about the curious conduct of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which, again, has done the bidding of an industry that it is supposed to regulate. With friends like the BLM and Wyoming state officials, the horses and their human supporters don't need any enemies.
The cattle and sheep industries want the horses gone from the rangeland -- even though the ranchers reap the benefits of having their herds graze upon public land at low cost. To support their position, the ranchers cite a 1981 consent decree, overseen by a local federal judge, which limits the number of wild horses that are to be left in the Little Colorado and White Mountain herd areas to approximately 300. To the ranchers, the horses are a nuisance, not an asset, a point Wyoming doesn't happen to mention in its breathless tourism campaigns, which feature television ads of thundering herds.
"That our government is unwilling to find these horses room -- or even consider doing so -- contradicts the spirit, if not the letter, of federal law"Meanwhile, the BLM and Wyoming seem more intent on justifying ways to get rid of the horses rather than upon figuring out how to preserve and protect them. Wyoming cites a 2003 agreement between state officials and the Bush-era Department of the Interior, which places legal pressure on the BLM to rid Wyoming of excess wild horses -- and the BLM itself gets to determine what constitutes "excess." These officials say they have history and the law on their side. But the facts seem to support those who support the horses. When you have the law going one way and the facts going another, it's typically time to go to court. And that's not the worst thing that could happen here.
Earlier this week, I asked Chuck Coon, Media Relations Manager at the Wyoming Office of Tourism, how he squared the evident contradiction of Wyoming's policies. How can you be advertising to tourists to come see the wild horses of Sweetwater Country while Wyoming's lawyers are in federal court endorsing the BLM policy to rid the area of most of its horses? Here is Coon's response:
As you know, management of wild horse herd sizes in Wyoming is under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. No matter what decision is rendered in terms of herd reductions there will remain ample opportunities for visitors to see wild horses in several parts of this state. And we'll continue to help local tourism entities in the open landscapes where those horses still roam in Sweetwater County, Park County, Carbon County and Big Horn County as part of our overall marketing of the state as a tourism destination.
More than that, now there are now allegations -- made by the ranchers themselves -- that the Bureau of Land Management actually advised them on how best to maximize their position vis-a-vis the horse groups. The solution? The BLM told the ranchers to sue the federal government (advice, I am sure, that is simply appalling to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Justice Department has to defend those lawsuits). Here are the specific allegations contained in a complaint filed on July 27th by the Rock Springs Grazing Association (the RSGA) which acts on behalf of ranching interests in the area:
The BLM is part of the Interior Department. The Secretary of the Interior is a man named Ken Salazar and, although his Wikipedia entry strangely is silent on the matter, he is part of a long-time ranching family from Colorado. Salazar's brother, John, who recently represented Colorado's 3rd Congressional District (it's Western Slope), also is a rancher.
If Wyoming were the size of Delaware, a battle over what to do with federal land might make more sense. But Wyoming contains vast tracts of land owned by the federal government and, to a lesser extent, by the state. If we were talking about a huge number of wild horses and a relatively small number of sheep and cattle then the dynamic of the argument might differ as well. But the number of sheep and livestock in Wyoming now grazing on public land is far greater, orders of magnitude greater, than the number of wild horses who cross over between public and private land. And if the horses were, indeed, as destructive to the rangelands as the ranchers assert, perhaps the mass expulsions might be justified. But the horses aren't nearly as destructive as the cattle and sheep who roam the range.
If you don't believe me, just ask the BLM. The Bureau's own statistics tell the story of the "imbalance" the government and the ranchers want to maintain. Livestock grazing in the United States is authorized on 157 million acres of BLM land. For wild horses, it is restricted to 26.9 million acres of that land (and, as we have seen, there are limits within the limits). There may be over one million cattle and sheep now grazing public land in many western states. At the same time, there are approximately 38,000 wild horses and burros stuffed into only 11 percent of all BLM land. And even this relatively small figure is too high for the BLM; the feds say only about 26,000 wild horses should remain on public land.How can a state promote its wild horses as a tourist attraction while it seeks to... more
Tim DeChristopher made so called illegal bids for oil and gas leases on BLM, some near the Arches National Canyon Lands. In an attempt to stop or forestall a fire sale of leases being conducted by the Bush administration in a mad dash in 2008. He was sentenced to 2 years and fined 10,000.00. An appeal is being prepared. See his words at court from Alternet and a report from Huffington Post.
Keith; how about some worst persons in Mr. Huber and this court..........?Tim DeChristopher made so called illegal bids for oil and gas leases on BLM, some near... more
Breaking News: Federal Judge Rules Against Wild Horses and American Public
July 15, 2011
Unedited Press Release from BLM Propaganda Central
Judge McKibben Rules in Favor of BLM Triple B Wild Horse Stampede
The Horses Lose AGAIN!!!
Reno, Nev. — Today U.S. District Court Judge Howard McKibben issued a decision in favor of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which allows the BLM to proceed with the Triple B gather to remove excess wild horses on Saturday, July 16.
“The BLM is pleased with the decision of the court that allows us to move forward with the Triple B gather, where the wild horse population is five times over the minimum appropriate management level,” said Amy Lueders, BLM Nevada Acting State Director.
The BLM will gather and remove approximately 1,726 excess wild horses from in and around the Triple B, Maverick-Medicine and Antelope Valley herd management areas (HMA) and the Cherry Springs Wild Horse Territory located approximately 30 miles northwest of Ely and 70 miles southeast of Elko, Nev. Removal of the excess wild horses is necessary to prevent degradation of rangeland resources and to ensure sufficient forage and water is available for the wild horse population.
The estimated population for the entire gather area is 2,198. The appropriate management level (AML) for the entire area is 472-889 animals. Any horses gathered above targeted removal numbers will be released back to the range so that the remaining population is within AML.
Any gathered mares released back to the range will be vaccinated with the PZP-22 (Porcine Zona Pellucida) fertility control vaccine. Additionally, sex ratios of gathered animals to be returned to the HMAs may be adjusted to achieve an approximately 60 percent male/40 percent female ratio.
The gathered animals will be transported to the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley (PVC), in Reno, Nev., Gunnison Correctional Facility in Gunnison, Utah, and the Delta Wild Horse Corrals in Delta City, Utah. The animals will be prepared for the BLM adoption program or for long-term holding.
The Cloud Foundation, Craig Downer and Lorna Moffat filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, June 29, 2011, and moved to enjoin the Triple B gather. Judge McKibben held a hearing Thursday morning and denied the motion to enjoin the gather.
.. Breaking News: Federal Judge Rules Against Wild Horses and American Public... more
Los Angeles Times...
Are wild horses native to the U.S.? A federal court seeks the answer
June 5, 2011 | 4:24 pm
Horse liz margerum AP
Animal rights groups are pressing a case in federal court maintaining that wild horses roamed the West about 1.5 million years ago and didn't disappear until as recently as 7,600 years ago. More important, they say, a growing stockpile of DNA evidence shows conclusively that today's horses are genetically linked to those ancient ancestors.
The new way of thinking, if accepted, could affect hundreds millions of acres in the West where the U.S. Bureau of Land Management divides livestock grazing allotments based partly on the belief that the horses are no more native to those lands than are the cattle brought to North America centuries ago.
American history textbooks teach that the wild horses roaming Western plains were first brought by European explorers and settlers. But that theory is being challenged at archaeological digs and university labs as horse protection advocates battle the U.S. government over roundups of thousands of mustangs they say have not only a legal right but a native claim to the rangeland.
Rachel Fazio, a lawyer for Defense of Animals and other plaintiffs, told a 9th Circuit appellate panel in San Francisco earlier this year that the horses are “an integral part of the environment," adding, "as much as the BLM would like to see them as not, they are actually a native species. They are tied to this land. There would not be a horse but for North America. Every single evolutionary iteration of the horse is found here and only here.”
The lawsuit cites researchers who say that the concept is widely accepted by most of the scientific community, although not by the BLM. “It's significant because BLM treats the wild horses like they are an invasive species that is not supposed to be out there,” Fazio said in a recent interview.
A reversal of that long-held belief could have the effect of moving the native horses to the front of the line when divvying up precious water and forage in the arid West.
BLM maintains that the horse advocates are perpetuating a myth. And many ranchers claim it's part of a ploy to push livestock off public lands. “There are plenty of horses out in the Nevada desert,” said Tom Collins, a Clark County commissioner who has a ranch outside Las Vegas. “Most of these folks, maybe their father slapped them or their mother didn't love them, so now they are in love with these wild horses that aren't really wild,” he said.
BLM devotes “Myth No. 11” on its website to the “false claim” that wild horses are native to the United States. “American wild horses are descended from domestic horses, some of some of which were brought over by European explorers in the late 15th and 16th centuries, plus others that were imported from Europe and were released or escaped captivity in modern times,” it says.
“The disappearance of the horse from the Western Hemisphere for 10,000 years supports the position that today's wild horses cannot be considered 'native' in any meaningful historical sense,” BLM explains. It acknowledges that the horses have adapted successfully to the Western range, but says that biologically they did not evolve on the North American continent.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management manages more than 245 million acres of federal land in 12 western states with about 30 million acres currently designated as horse management areas in 10 of those states. Of the roughly 33,000 horses that currently roam BLM land, roughly half are in Nevada, with the remainder in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.
The BLM maintains that's about 12,000 more than the rangeland can sustain and plans to roundup most of those. The agency removed 9,715 horse and 540 burros from the range in the 2010 fiscal year. In addition to animals on the range, the BLM currently has 41,700 wild horses and burros in short-term corrals in the West (about 13,100) and long-term pastures in the Midwest (about 28,600).Los Angeles Times... Are wild horses native to the U.S.? A federal court seeks... more
It is one of the most ecologically rich places on Earth. It harbors the highest diversity of mammals in the United States and the second highest in the world. In southern Arizona, the San Pedro river flows north from Mexico across the U.S. border. And with it flows a stunning variety of life.
“The San Pedro riparian corridor is such a huge influence on migratory patterns for all kinds of animals but especially birds,” said Randy Serraglio of Center for biological Diversity. “For the entire continental United States it’s a very precious place.”
But like many desert rivers the San Pedro has lost a good deal of its flow because the ground water pumping in the area has drawn down the water table. Expanding industry and development in nearby Sierra Vista and the Fort Huachuca Army installation are the biggest users of water in the region. As more water is pumped from underground, less water makes it to the river itself. As a result the river is shrinking.
Along with a diminishing water supply laws designed to protect the river’s many threatened and endangered species, and by extension the San Pedro itself were recently relaxed for the sake of local industry.
The Renzi Rider as the legislation was called exempts Fort Huachuca and the surrounding community of Sierra Vista from the requirements of the endangered species act. Activist hope to reverse the exemption but for now, without laws that would ensure adequate water flow, community members are doing what they can to preserve this disappearing natural resource.It is one of the most ecologically rich places on Earth. It harbors the highest... more
by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
SALT LAKE CITY, UT USA
Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher was convicted yesterday of two felony counts. DeChristopher was on trial for bidding on more than 22,000 acres of public land that he could not pay for: his two crimes are making false representations to the government and interfering with the land auction.
DeChristopher made the $1.79 million bid in order to “do something to try to resist the climate crisis,” he told Tina Gerhardt, in an interview published by AlterNet. But, as Kate Sheppard explains at Mother Jones, the judge threw out “the defense that his actions were necessary to prevent environmental damage on this land and, more broadly, the exacerbataion of climate change.”
“They’re hoping to make an example out of me.”
DeChristoper now faces the possibility of a $75,000 fine and 10 years in prison. In an interview with YES! Magazine’s Brooke Jarvis, before the trial started, DeChristopher said he had faced the possibility that he would be found guilty.
“There is still the possibility of acquittal, but I think the most likely scenario is probably that I will be convicted,” he told Jarvis. “The prosecution has been very clear that they’re hoping to make an example out of me, to convince other people not to fight the status quo.”
What is the status quo? Bureau of Land Management land, like the parcel DeChristopher bid on, is owned by the government, which often leases out the rights to develop the natural resources, like gas and oil, to private companies.
Up until 2003, the Department of the Interior had the option of setting aside some of its lands for preservation, pending final Congressional approval. But during the Bush administration, the DOI gave up that option and only considered uses like recreation or development for its holdings.
Back in December, the current Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, reversed that policy, again putting on the table the option of using public lands for conservation purposes. But as I write at TAPPED, Republicans are throwing a hissy fit about the change.
Truth or consequence?
The Republicans’ argument goes something like: Using public lands for conservation will deprive Americans of jobs and hurt the bottom lines of states with large tracts of public lands. What they don’t discuss is the potential damage that drilling for, say, natural gas could cause. The Mulch has been writing about the dangers of hydrofracking for awhile now, but over the past week The New York Times began weighing in on the issue with a long series on the dangers of hydrofracking.
The Times‘ series brings even more evidence of hydrofracking’s dangers to light—in particular, about the radioactive waste materials being dumped into rivers where water quality is rarely monitored. As Christopher Mims reports at Grist, the series has already prompted calls for new testing from people like John Hanger, the former head of Pennsylvania’s environmental protection department, which has not been among the staunchest opponents of new drilling protects. According to Mims, Hanger has written that:
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection should order today all public water systems in Pennsylvania to test immediately for radium or radioactive pollutants and report as soon as good testing allows the results to the public. Only testing of the drinking water for these pollutants can resolve the issue raised by the NYT.
Or, as Mims puts it, “No one has any idea if the radioactive material in the wastewater from fracking is appearing downstream, in drinking water supplies, in quantities in excess of EPA recommendations.”
Tar and feather ‘em
Fracking is not the only environmentally destructive practice that the energy industry is increasingly relying on. Earth Island Journal has two pieces looking into the tar sands industry in Canada. Jason Mark’s piece is a great introduction to the history of the tar sands and takes a sharp look into the impact development has had on the community and the environment.
And Ron Johnson details the U.S.’s connection to the destruction: The federal government is considering approving a pipeline that would allow the oil from the tar sands to travel to Texas refineries. Johnson writes:
Green groups warn that the pipelines will keep North America and emerging economies hooked on oil from the Alberta tar sands for years to come. By greasing the crude’s path to market, the projects will encourage further reckless expansion of the tar sands. That would delay the transition to a renewable energy economy, while further degrading Canada’s boreal forests and spewing even more CO2 into the atmosphere.
A new regime
The decision to approve the pipeline lies with the executive branch. But all of Washington isn’t a particularly friendly place to green groups and their causes these days.
For example, as Care2’s Beth Buczynski reports, the newly empowered House Republicans have done away with one of the smallest green programs the Democrats put into place, an initiative to compost waste from House cafeterias. They’ve justified the cut by saying it was “too expensive,” but as Buczynski writes, “Spending must be dramatically reduced, yes, but also strategically. It’s interesting (and disheartening) to see which programs the new GOP House has targeted first.”
It’s a small thing, but it shows how committed Republicans are to the status quo: They’re not even willing to mulch their leftover salad.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger SALT LAKE CITY, UT USA Environmental... more
Photo: Wild stallions spar in a holding pen during a roundup by the Bureau of Land Management east of Carson City, Nev. Federal land managers say tens of thousands of wild horses and burros roaming parts of 10 Western states are too numerous for the range to sustain. Credit: Debra Reid/AP
Nevada's wild mustangs: Officials reject philanthropist's sanctuary
January 21, 2011 | 8:55 pm
A proposal from the wife of Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens to create a sanctuary in Nevada for wild horses removed from public rangeland around the West has been rejected, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said Friday.
Madeleine Pickens' plan wouldn't save taxpayers' money and doesn't include enough water and forage for the mustangs, agency Director Bob Abbey told The Associated Press. He said the BLM spent considerable time with Pickens on her proposal, and is committed to pursuing public-private partnerships to improve its management of the symbols of the West.
“However, despite numerous requests from the BLM, (her) foundation has not provided a formal and detailed proposal so that the BLM can properly analyze and determine its feasibility,” Abbey said.
Pickens said the BLM failed to clarify what details it wanted, but she was not giving up. She bought two ranches in northeastern Nevada last year to serve as a sanctuary for mustangs captured from the range, instead of in government-funded holding facilities.
“I'm going to keep working with the BLM,” she told the AP. “It's like your children. You just have to keep working with them until they get it right. To me, it's sad we don't have the leadership to fix the issue of these poor American mustangs.”
Pickens first proposed establishing the sanctuary in 2008 after the BLM said it was considering euthanasia as a way to stem escalating costs of keeping animals gathered from the open range.The BLM rejected her initial proposal, saying it involved the use of public land where wild horses did not exist when the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was enacted in 1971.
While Pickens' latest proposal addresses that issue, Abbey said it would require an environmental analysis to transfer title of wild horses to her and change the class of livestock authorized on several Nevada grazing allotments from cattle to horses.
Among other reasons, existing law also would need to be changed to give the BLM the authority to reimburse a private party for grazing wild horses, he said.
Under Pickens' latest proposal, a nonprofit foundation would care for the animals with a government stipend of $500 a head,per year. Abbey said that exceeds the BLM's existing long-term holding cost of $475 a head, per year, in Midwest pastures. “Her prospectus, as presented, does not demonstrate an obvious cost savings to the American taxpayer,” he said.
But Pickens said her proposal would result in “huge savings” because it would involve the government initially turning over 1,000 wild horses in short-term holding facilities where costs run $2,500 a head, per year.
Eventually, Pickens wants to return all horses in government-funded holding facilities to natural habitat elsewhere after purchasing more property. “I don't think the BLM quite grasps that our country is in a financial emergency,” she said. “You can't keep spending the money they do to put horses in holding. They have a program that doesn't work, and they're trying to save face.”
Last year, Pickens purchased the 14,000-acre Spruce Ranch and the adjoining 4,000-acre Warm Creek Ranch to serve as a horse sanctuary. The Elko County ranches, which she renamed the Mustang Monument preserve, come with grazing rights on roughly 564,000 acres of public land.
Abbey also criticized Pickens' media campaign supporting the sanctuary, saying some of the information requires clarification and context, and that other information is “just plain false.” Pickens defended her statements.
The BLM rounds up wild horses to limit their numbers, saying it is done to protect the herds, rangelands and wildlife. Activists maintain they are being conducted to appease ranchers and make room for cows.
About 33,700 wild horses roam freely in 10 Western states, about half in Nevada. The BLM set a target level of 26,600 horses and burros in the wild, and removed 10,637 of the animals from the range in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
Of the $63.9 million designated for the BLM's wild horse and burro program in the last fiscal year, holding costs totaled about $37 million.More than 40,000 horses are in government-funded holding facilities, BLM spokesman Tom Gorey said.
-- Martin Griffith/Associated Press
Photo: Wild stallions spar in a holding pen during a roundup by the Bureau of Land Management east of Carson City, Nev. Federal land managers say tens of thousands of wild horses and burros roaming parts of 10 Western states are too numerous for the range to sustain. Credit: Debra Reid/APPhoto: Wild stallions spar in a holding pen during a roundup by the Bureau of Land... more
If you are new to the slaughter issue, let me just give you a quick rundown. Horses are routinely bought and sold at livestock auctions by the pound. Once purchased they are loaded onto crowded livestock trailers and shipped to either Canada or Mexico, a long distance without food or water.
Many of the horses will suffer terrible injuries along the way but will not be treated. Some will fall down in the trailers and be trampled by the others. Some will die before they arrive at the slaughter yard.
IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE - DO NOT READ THE NEXT PARAGRAPH
When they arrive they are unloaded and herded single file through a slippery chute system. The floor is slippery from urine, feces and blood. The terrified horses, one at a time, are pushed into the "kill" chute. This is where a man with a hydraulic retracting gun will try to shoot the horse in a very small spot between the ears stunning the horse and causing it to fall down incapacitated. Because horses have a high fear factor and thrash around trying to escape, it often takes the shooter several applications before the 4 inch spike hits the right spot. The gun is not meant to kill the horse, only stun it so it won't fight when they hoist it up by one leg and dismember it while its beating heart bleeds out from it's sliced open neck still very much alive.
I'm sorry that I have to share the gruesome details with you...but if I don't how will you know how evil horse slaughter is, and how necessary it is to fight against it.
And how we must try to save as many horses as we can from suffering that cruel fate. http://www.wildmustangcoalition.org/id15.htmlIf you are new to the slaughter issue, let me just give you a quick rundown. Horses... more
Helicopters vs. mustangs: A roundup 'racket'?
Animal rights advocates say the methods are cruel, expensive and unnecessary
Helicopters vs. Mustangs: Cruel, expensive and unnecessary, animal activists say
More than 1,200 wild horses have been captured in the current roundup
Jim Wilson/The New York Times
The aim of roundups is to reduce the horse population to more sustainable levels.
OUTSIDE RAVENDALE, Calif. — It is horse versus helicopter here in the high desert. On one side are nearly 40,000 horses spread over 10 states, whose presence on the range is a last vestige of the Old West.
On the other is a group of crusty cowboys whose chosen method of roundup involves rotors more than wrangling, using high-tech helicopters to drive galloping mustangs into low-tech traps.
“When they get in here, they know something’s going on,” said Dave Cattoor, 68, a straight-talking roundup expert who has been herding horses since he was 12. “The chips are down.”
Over the last month, Mr. Cattoor and his feral quarry have been doing battle under the dry, horizon-to-horizon skies of northeastern California and a neighboring Nevada county, with humans the inevitable victor.
More than 1,200 horses have been captured during the current roundup, much to the chagrin of people like Simone Netherlands, an animal rights advocate who says that the roundups — part of a nationwide push to take some 12,000 horses off public lands — are cruel, expensive and unnecessary.
“They’re running at full speed for miles and miles for hours, with babies, little babies, and they don’t let up on them,” Ms. Netherlands said. “They’re stressing them out to the max.”
The Bureau of Land Management, which is overseeing the roundup, disputes that, saying that the roundups are humane and that it must reduce the wild horse population to more sustainable levels, both for their health and for that of the other animals that live in this harsh terrain.
“Some advocate groups would like us to leave the horses out there and let nature take its course,” said Bob Abbey, director of the bureau. “We don’t believe that’s a sound option.”
Dollars and dead horses
The debate over roundups dates back decades, to the passage of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, a federal law that protected what was then a faltering wild horse population and made it illegal for cowboys like Mr. Cattoor to round up horses on their own for sport or profit.
“A cowboy really wasn’t a cowboy if you didn’t rope a wild horse,” Mr. Cattoor said. “But they stopped that. They stopped the maintenance, which costs nothing, and turned it into a multimillion-dollar deal. It’s crazy.”
Questions about the roundups have intensified in recent years as costs have mounted, both in dollars and in dead horses.
Seven horses have died in the current operation, and last winter, a roundup in Nevada resulted in over 100 horse deaths, prompting more than 50 members of Congress to ask Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to look for independent analysis of the bureau’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.
Late last month, the bureau did just that, asking the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a technical review of the program.
Horses that are captured are offered for adoption, but with demand for horses low and the cost of feed high, the government often ends up quartering them on large private ranches, primarily in Kansas and Oklahoma.
In 2009, about 70 percent of the entire program’s $40.6 million budget was spent holding 34,500 horses and burros, a system that the Government Accountability Office has concluded will “overwhelm the program” if not controlled.
“They are a symbol of the American West,” said Nathaniel Messer, a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Missouri and a former member of the federal Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Committee. “But do we need 35,000 symbols of the American West?”
'What you call a racket'
For critics like Deniz Bolbol, the pattern of roundup, removal and stockpiling is an example of the bureau’s catering to private interests on public lands, namely by favoring livestock ranchers — who pay the government for the right to graze and who can sell their animals — over wild horses, which cannot be sold for slaughter.
“We remove wild horses from the public lands so private livestock can graze, and then we ship the wild horses to private ranchers in the Midwest where we stockpile them and pay private ranchers,” said Ms. Bolbol, a spokeswoman for the group In Defense of Animals, which has sued to stop the roundups. “This is what you call a racket.”
And while Mr. Cattoor calls Ms. Bolbol and other protesters “fanatics,” he does not think the government’s reliance on big, periodic roundups makes much sense either, saying the bureau needs more steady maintenance of the wild herds, which can double in size every four years.
Perhaps the only other thing the two sides can agree on is that the horses — whose estimated populations range from about 120 in New Mexico to more than 17,000 in Nevada — are magnificent.
Art DiGrazia, the operations chief for one of the bureau’s wild horse and burro offices in California, said that some of the mustangs on the range were descended from Army cavalry horses, which were bred for size, speed and strength and left here or given to ranchers.
“They have the intelligence and endurance to work out in this country,” said Mr. DiGrazia, a bearded New Jersey native who speaks in a hoarse whisper. “They’ll know before you know that there’s something out there going on.”
The method of capture is simple: horses are located from helicopters, which have been used in roundups since the mid-1970s, and pushed toward the trap site, essentially a funnel shaped by two netted walls that lead into a temporary corral.
Once the herd runs into the funnel, Mr. Cattoor lets loose a so-called Judas horse, which is trained to lead the rest into the trap, where — uncombed, unshod and often stomping and biting — they slowly settle into their new lives as kept animals.
All of which is more humane than the old days, said Mr. Cattoor, who recalls cowboys using rope and brawn to bring in a herd, often injuring horses and horsemen alike.
“You have to really put the pound on them,” he said. “You’d have to get them sore footed and tired, and there’s a lot of problems with getting them really tired. Today, at this point, this is the best we can do.”
One recent morning, Mr. Cattoor and his team conducted several successful runs — 10 horses in one, a handful in another — before a small herd of four horses, their black manes and wild tails flying, came running full-tilt across the desert. The helicopter was close on their heels, whipping up curlicues of dust in the horses’ wake.
They were headed straight for the trap, when suddenly the herd broke, with three horses escaping across a field, while a single stallion — the leader — galloped in another direction.
The pilot, perhaps 50 feet up, chose to follow the larger group, but horse sense had its way; the three headed into a patch of trees, where helicopters cannot pursue. The stallion, meanwhile, disappeared up a ridge and back into the wild.
Mr. Cattoor watched it all, standing near his Judas horse with a resigned smile, as roundup opponents watched happily from a public viewing station several hundred feet away.
“These wild horse advocates love it when the horse beats the helicopter,” Mr. Cattoor said. “And they do sometimes win.”
This story, headlined " Horse Advocates Pull for Underdog in Roundups," first appeared in The New York Times.
http://msnbcmedia1.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/100906_NYThorseschopper.grid-6x2.jpgHelicopters vs. mustangs: A roundup 'racket'? Animal rights advocates... more
Arizona Now Has ‘Whopping 30’ National Guard Troops and 15 Billboard Signs Warning Citizens About Drug Cartels Operating on Public LandsPinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said requests by Arizona law enforcement personnel and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) for 3,000 National Guard troops along the state’s border with Mexico have been answered so far with 1 percent of that number deployed there this week.
“We have a whopping 30 [National Guard troops] this week that are showing up,” Babeu told CNSNews.com. “It’s less than a half-hearted measure designed to fail.”
But the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has placed 15 signs along a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 8 that links San Diego with Phoenix and Tucson warning travelers of drug cartels and human trafficking operations.
“DANGER – PUBLIC WARNING, TRAVEL NOT RECOMMENDED,” read the signs placed along Interstate 8. “Visitors May Encounter Armed Criminals and Smuggling Vehicles Traveling at High Rates of Speed. Stay Away From Trash, Clothing, Backpacks, and Abandoned Vehicles.”
“BLM Encourages Visitors To Use Public Land North of Interstate 8,” the signs say.
“I think the American people are outraged that we can fight wars half-way around the world, send our nation’s treasury and our most precious resources – our American heroes that serve in the military -- and yet here in our own country somehow they believe it’s okay for us not to have a secure border,” Said Sheriff Babeu.
“And that it’s okay to put up signs in my county and parts of America to surrender parts of our country to foreign born criminals,” Babeu added, “warning our own American citizens to stay out.”
In May, President Barack Obama said he would deploy 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to help quell the violence there, which is less than half of the 3,000 troops requested by Babeu, Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever, Sen. McCain and Sen. Kyl for Arizona’s border during a press conference on Capitol Hill in April.
The Obama administration has said it will deploy National Guard troops to the southern border incrementally to eventually have 1,500 troops in place. In addition, $600 million in “emergency border protection funding” was approved in legislation the president signed into law in August.
Babeu said the warning signs are 70 to 80 miles from the border and just 30 miles from Phoenix, the fifth largest city in the United States.Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said requests by Arizona law enforcement personnel... more
by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
Washington has a blind spot when it comes to the environment. BP and the oil spill brought the government’s failures into the spotlight, but the same problems crop up across industries: Corporations pollute water, blast through mountains, and pour carbon into the atmosphere with insufficient oversight. But no one—Congress, the environmental community, or the president—seems to have the power to address these issues.
The Senate says it will take up energy legislation soon, but staffers are saying the body won’t pass a strong climate bill without more public pressure. Energy companies are ripping resources from the land and leaving destruction in their wake, while clean energy technology, though popular, has yet to form a new platform to fill the country’s needs.
And where’s presidential leadership on this issue? “The president had a good meeting a couple days ago with senators from both parties that have led on this issue,” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told the press this week, according to Mother Jones. “We have not made any final determinations about the size and scope of the legislation except to say that the president believes, and continues to believe, that putting a price on carbon has to be part of our comprehensive energy reform.”
President Barack Obama has taken his time to reveal definitive policy stances on issues like health care and the war in Afghanistan; in those cases, it was clear a decision was coming. On climate, it’s less clear that the president is moving towards a decision that will push Congress to act.
The problem is not a lack of policy ideas. The Senate has already produced two decent bills that put a price on carbon, an effort that would over time decrease the country’s contributions to the world’s emissions. The second of those bills—the American Power Act, also known as the Kerry-Lieberman bill—would reduce the deficit by $19 billion, as the Congressional Budget Office announced this week.
Plenty of Senators have trumpeted about the need to reduce to the deficit. But in Washington, even a $19 billion reduction won’t help push forward legislation that Senators have decided to shirk. As Aaron Wiener writes for the Washington Independent:
“Will that be enough to get the bill passed? Of course not. The very same centrist senators who frequently raise deficit concerns are wary of legislation that could raise energy prices, and so the APA appears all but dead.”
Clean energy technology
At Grist, Jesse Jenkins suggests that enviros needs to reframe the issue altogether. “If you look at what Americans support in poll after poll, it is clean energy technology,” he says. “Put investment in clean technology front and center—and oh, by the way, we’re going to pay for this with a modest fee on carbon.”
Part of the problem could be that the country’s waiting for big corporations to lead the energy revolution. At Chelsea Green, however, Greg Pahl argues that smaller projects should play a bigger role, too. “Given the choice between a large, corporate-owned coal-fired power plant or a large, corporate-owned wind farm, the obvious choice is the wind farm, regardless of who owns it,” he writes. “But that’s no reason to exclude smaller…community projects that are far more effective in promoting distributed-generation strategies.”
Yes, your Majesty
It should be embarrassing for the Senate that, as a body, it’s more conservative than the Queen of England. This week, Queen Elizabeth told the United Nations that climate change was a front-line issue. Care2 reports that the Queen’s “brief statement was largely unremarkable but for the fact that she called out climate change, placing it on a par with terrorism in terms of today’s challenges.”
On environmental issues in general, though, the American government isn’t living up to its potential. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), for example, could be working to minimize the impacts of oil and gas drilling on public lands, but “the agency is reluctant to wiled that power after a drilling lease is granted,” Public News Service reports.
National Marine Fisheries Service
BLM is just one of a tangle of agencies that could, in theory, push back against the interests of big energy companies. They haven’t done so. In the case of the BP oil spill, for instance, TPMMuckraker reports that the National Marine Fisheries Service missed an opportunity to push back against BP’s lease, but, using bad information from the Minerals Management Service, rubber-stamped the operation. Rachel Slajda writes:
“In 2007, the National Marine Fisheries Service, which enforces the Endangered Species Act, was asked to give its ‘biological opinion’ on the impact of new oil drilling leases—including the lease of the now-leaking Macondo prospect—on endangered species, including turtles, sperm whales and sturgeon. … In the report (PDF), NMFS estimated the impact of a major spill on endangered species and concluded that the new drilling ‘is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of these species.’”
Energy companies are not the only ones tipping the balance against the environment, either. At the American Prospect, Monica Potts delves into Dawn detergent’s less than pristine environmental record. The detergent has benefited lately from a spate of good press because wildlife groups are using Dawn to clean oiled birds in the Gulf. But Potts writes that Dawn’s parent company, Procter & Gamble spent more than $4 million last year on lobbying and opposed measures that would, for instance, regulate household chemicals.
“Procter & Gamble lobbied against a 2009 effort to disclose ingredients in household cleaning products, instead supporting an industry-led voluntary-disclosure effort. It also lobbied against bans in various states on dishwashing detergent containing high levels of phosphorus and fought to delay the bans’ implementation,” Potts explains. “The company opposed stricter household chemical regulations in the European Union in 2003 and is rated poorly by Greenpeace for the chemical content of its household products. Those chemicals, including ones banned in the EU because they can be harmful to fish and humans, end up in the environment.”
The list of such offenses goes on, and touches legions of companies. However limited, a climate bill would be a good start to addressing the country’s environmental woes. The Senate says it needs to hear this from more people before taking real steps to combat climate change; anyone who’s concerned about the planet’s future might want to start speaking up.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger Washington has a blind spot when it comes... more
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
BP oil has been spilling into the Gulf of Mexico for more than two months, and while attention has focused there, deepwater oil drilling is just one of many risky methods of energy extraction that industry is pursuing. Gasland, Josh Fox’s documentary about the effects of hydrofracking, a new technique for extracting natural gas, was broadcast this week on HBO. In the film, Fox travels across the country visiting families whose water has turned toxic since gas companies began drilling in their area.
“So many people were quick to respond to our requests to be interviewed about fracking that I could tell instantly that this was a national problem—and nobody had really talked enough about it,” Fox told The Nation this week.
In Washington, even green groups like the Sierra Club have been pushing natural gas as a clean alternative to fuels like coal; reports like Fox’s suggest that the environmental costs of obtaining that gas are not yet clear. Besides water contamination, natural gas opponents are also documenting environmental damage to air quality. Like the problems with deepwater oil drilling, which became apparent after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, the dangers of hydrofracking could go unchecked until disaster strikes.
And both deepwater drilling and hydrofracking are symptoms of the greater crisis threatening the country: as energy resources become harder to extract, energy companies are taking greater risks to get at the valuable fuels.
Drilling on government land
As Fox documents, new gas wells are popping up like gopher holes all over the country, on private and public lands. Just this week, Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy law group, challenged the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to allow drilling in a southwestern Colorado mountain range, the Colorado Independent reports.
“The HD Mountains are the last tiny, little corner of the San Juan Basin not yet drilled for natural gas development,” Jim Fitzgerald, a farmer, told Earthjustice. “This whole area depends on the HD Mountains watersheds. Drilling could have disastrous effects upon them.”
From coast to coast
Coloradans are not the only ones pushing back against drilling. In The Nation, Kara Cusolito writes about the problems Dimock, PA, has faced:
After a stray drill bit banged four wells in 2008…weird things started happening to people’s water: some flushed black, some orange, some turned bubbly. One well exploded, the result of methane migration, and residents say elevated metal and toluene levels have ruined twelve others. Then, in September 2009, about 8,000 gallons of hazardous drilling fluids spilled into nearby fields and creeks.
After that second incident, fifteen families began a lawsuit against Cabot Oil and Gas, the gas company that’s dominating that area. In The American Prospect, Alex Halperin wrote a couple of months back about efforts to fight back against natural gas drilling in Ithaca, NY.
One of the problems with hydrofracking is that it’s poorly regulated right now. No one except the natural gas companies know what goes into the “fracking fluid” that they pour into wells to help bubble the gas up to the surface. A loophole in the Safe Water Drinking Act also exempted the practice from regulation.
That situation could be changing, however. As Amy Westervelt writes at Earth Island Journal:
“Thanks in large part to the work done by a handful of journalists and angry residents over the past couple of years, the EPA is finally looking into fracking more seriously. In fact, they’re looking into it so comprehensively the energy companies are getting worried. It’s worth noting here that all the big oil guys have a big stake in natural gas drilling, and many of them have contractual loopholes with the smaller companies that own the gas drilling leases that if fracking is taken off the table as a legitimate drilling process, they’re out.”
Like deepwater oil drilling, fracking is a relatively new endeavor, the risks of which are not fully understood. Unlike that type of drilling, though, the opportunity still exists to create a framework in which the companies will have some accountability to the environments and communities that they threaten.
Besides regulating the industries who are providing energy now, the environmental community needs to keep pressing towards a future where the country does not depend on fossil fuels like oil and gas to run our world. This week, at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, thousands of people are considering how to fight against problems like these.
Ahmina Maxey, for instance, is a member of the Zero Waste Detroit Coalition. “We are planning, next Saturday, the Clean Air, Good Jobs, Justice march to the incinerator to demand that the city of Detroit clean up its air,” she told Democracy Now!
As Elizabeth DiNovella writes for The Progressive, Detroit is working towards green solutions to some of its problems. DiNovella reports:
“Detroit’s population has shrunk to about a quarter of what it was forty or fifty years ago, leaving lots of open green space. But neighborhood groups are transforming these vacant lots into community gardens. Seven years ago there were 8o community gardens, consisting of neighborhood gardens, backyard patches, and school gardens. By 2009, there were 800 community gardens. This year there are 1200, including some urban farms.”
“As far as I’m concerned, Detroit is ground zero for the sustainability movement,” writes Ron Williams for Free Speech TV. He explains:
“What we need now is a collaborative effort that could echo around the world. An Urban Green Lab. What possible better stage than the 11th largest city in the United States which is experiencing Depression-level economic conditions? Let’s take sustainability home. Collectively we have everything the people of Detroit need to build their city anew. Their solutions are likely to be the very same solutions every community will need in some form in the years ahead.”
Here’s hoping ideas like this take root.By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger BP oil has been spilling into the Gulf of... more
A two-pronged war against wild horses is under way and at this moment the country’s great icon of freedom is losing.
One front in this war involves agencies tasked with wild horse management, primarily the Bureau of Land Management. It recently carried out a mandated although deadly mustang roundup in Nevada during which foals were harried by helicopter over rough terrain until their hooves apparently fell off and other horses later died of stress and exhaustion.
The other front involves lone operators who venture into the wilderness and kill wild horses—which is illegal, although arrests are rarely made and when they are, the cases often fall apart
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_war_against_the_horse_20100504/A two-pronged war against wild horses is under way and at this moment the... more
The Calico Hills wild horse roundup has been characterized by the Bureau of Land Management as a "huge success". But, wild horse advocates say it was a disaster, and one that grows worse every day.
The roundup ended months ago, but the horses are still paying the price -- many with their lives.
The case for the Calico wild horse roundup continues to deteriorate months after the government spent nearly $2 million to capture every mustang it could find in the rugged and remote terrain adjacent to Nevada's Black Rock Desert.
From the beginning, the BLM claimed the gather was for the good of the horses and the good of the range, but it doesn't appear either of those justifications were on the up and up.
First, there weren't nearly as many mustangs on the range as BLM predicted. The roundup of about 1,900 mustangs fell short of the target by about 700. Second, the vast majority of the horses gathered were in good shape -- not starving or emaciated.
BLM manager Gene Seidlitz said his agency was trying to avert a disaster down the road when food might be more scarce. As it turned out, the roundup itself was a disaster for the herds.
Horse advocates tried to stop the operation by arguing in court that chasing horses across miles of rocky terrain in the dead of winter was dangerous. BLM replied that it was safer than normal since snow on the rocks would cushion the damage to hoofs.
As of April 15, 2010, a total of 79 of the horses captured from Calico have died -- some as a result of injuries suffered during the capture, such as a foal which literally ran its hoofs off. The rest because they could not adjust to eating the rich hay fed to them at a new holding facility in Fallon. In addition, at least 40 mares suffered miscarriages during or after the roundup.
The total number of horses that have died is more than four times what BLM projected, ranking as one of the deadliest operations in the history of the program.
"That's unfortunate, but the percentage that died due to the gather itself is still a low percentage," said Seidlitz.
Wild horse advocates don't see it that way. They are outraged over the deaths, even more so now that an outbreak of a disease known as pigeon fever has been noticed among the horses penned up in Fallon.
Another recent development puts the Calico roundup in a different light. Horse advocates were suspicious of the reasons for the roundup, as if 2,000 horses could not live on half a million acres. The suspicions were heightened when BLM memos showed the horses were not having a major impact on the range just a year before the gather was approved, which is when BLM quadrupled the amount of cattle grazing allowed on the same range.
A massive pipeline project, the Ruby Pipeline slated for the same range, was suspected as a possible reason for the roundup. On its website, BLM states categorically that the pipeline has nothing to do with the horses. Now horse advocates have obtained documents from February 2009 which show pipeline backers intended to work with BLM to "minimize wild horses and burros along the pipeline right of way," adding that BLM horse experts were consulted about this plan.
Two weeks ago, a Washington D.C. law firm filed a suit in federal court on behalf of the group In Defense of Animal, asking that the remaining 1,800 horses being held in Fallon be returned to the open range on the grounds that warehousing the mustangs for the rest of their lives is not only costly, but illegal. We will keep you updated as that suit works its way through the courts.
VIDEO: http://www.8newsnow.com/global/story.asp?s=12326485#The Calico Hills wild horse roundup has been characterized by the Bureau of Land... more