House GOP budget bill aims to slash environmental regulation

It’s not really about cutting federal expenditures by $60-billion-

The argument over these particular budget cuts is not about reigning in big costs. It is almost entirely about eliminating or gutting entire programs, many of them very popular, without a hearing or even a separate vote on each (most of which they would lose).

House GOP budget bill aims to slash environmental regulation. By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times. This is undemocratic process at its worst. The method used allows members to avoid any responsibility for the cuts made. In my opinion, it is certainly worth shutting the government down so that people will put required to pay attention.

Montana wilderness, jobs bill added to Senate appropriations bill

Senator Tester’s massive forest bill has been added to Senate omnibus appropriations bill-

Every year the U.S. Congress’ procedure becomes more and more unglued. The reason for this is mostly partisan gridlock. So few freestanding bills (called regular order) are allowed by the opposition to pass or fail on a straight vote that extraordinary measures are now being taken if there is to be any action at all, even on necessary bills.

This year is ending up worse than ever.  This is no comment on the merits of Senators Tester’s wilderness/jobs bill.  We have discussed that earlier. That bill, however, largely thought to be dead, has been added to the Senate’s omnibus appropriations bill, and could become law with no direct vote ever having been taken on it.

The way the process is emerging is that almost all legislation for a year will come up in one giant bill that contains every other bill that has somehow found its way through the new, arcane process. The only votes that can be said to count will mostly be those on the giant measure.  What is in the giant bill will be for everyone to discover after the Congress is over, not before the legislation is passed!

Montana wilderness, jobs bill added to Senate appropriations bill. By Rob Chaney Missoulian.

Baucus, Tester introduce bill to return wolf management to Montana [and Idaho]

Rancher senators move to amend Endangered Species Act-

Although most of the grass roots activity against wolves has come from elk and deer hunters, it has always been the ranchers at the core of wolf hatred.  The reason is that the large ranchers have always believed it is their right to govern the rest of us. The were very insulted when something like wolf reintroduction happened over their objections . . . makes them think they are losing their grip.

We certainly see it in Montana. Max Baucus has always been a prime example of man born to ranch privilege and power. Jon Tester is a rancher/farmer.  The state’s lone Republican, House member Denny Rehberg is a rancher, and so is his Democratic opponent in the upcoming election.

This issue has always been about the privilege and power of a tiny elite in the West. That’s what wolves are so controversial in the Northern Rockies, but not in Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan where social and economic justice has always been more important.

I don’t know if this legislation will move or not, but I do know what it is not about. It’s not about wildlife or wolves.  It’s clear now Congress won’t take this up before the elections.  They want to go campaign.
Temporary Spending Bill Passed: Congress Punts On Budget, Controversial Issues. Huffington Post.

Baucus, Tester introduce bill to return wolf management to Montana. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian. Note that the bill doesn’t do anything regarding wolves in Wyoming. It is kind of a “damn you Wyoming” bill.


Looks like Bush/Kempthorne gutting of ESA will be reversed

Lawsuits and congressional action are likely to void the gutting of section 7 of ESA-

This has already been reported in the comments on one of the threads here;  but for everyone this is what has happened.

California filed suit to overturn the Bush/Kempthorne diminishment of section 7 consultation.

Congress is right now moving to directly overturn this new regulation. Story

Now Oregon has sued as well. Oregon joins lawsuit against feds on endangered species. By Michael Milstein. Oregonian.

Section 7 requires that an agency with a project has to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to see if the project will affect endangered species. Any experience with government agencies tell you that you can’t expect an agency to be honest about the side effects of a project they want to build, carryout or whatever. So you need a neutral party of experts to give an independent judgment. Agencies almost always just hate to get an opinion from the USFWS that their prize project “may jeopardize” an species.

The Bush/Kempthone rule would, among other things, make it so that agencies don’t have to consult.