NYT condemns Salazar and his acquiescence to delisting the wolf by legislative rider-
A Hole in the Endangered Species Act. New York Times.
A Hole in the Endangered Species Act. New York Times.
Today’s announcement that a number of plaintiffs in the wolf delisting case are seeking a settlement with the Department of Interior they hope Judge Molloy will approve does represent a difference in strategy how to proceed in the current political environment.
Three groups, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Western Watersheds and Friends of the Clearwater are standing firm.
Western Watershed’s Executive Director, Jon Marvel, today told me the reasons for the group’s firm stance.
Western Watersheds stresses that this settlement is only with the Department of Interior. No one, including Senator Jon Tester of Montana, has indicated that in response to the settlement they will withdraw or modify any legislation they have introduced to delist the wolves by law, nor do Secretary of Interior Salazar or President Obama make any promise or even say they oppose such legislation, much less veto it if it passes.
There is nothing in return from this settlement except the promise to keep the scant number of wolves in Utah, Oregon and Washington on the endangered species list.
Western Watersheds believes that having won the case in the first place, the groups should not then ask that the judge approve the violation of the law and his own decision (delisting the NRM wolf by state boundaries).
Ken Salazar met with the governors of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming yesterday and, while Wyoming remains intransigent on the wolf issue, he appears to have sent the message that he supports a legislative gutting of the ESA.
“If Interior officials can’t reach an agreement with Wyoming, Schweitzer said Salazar had pledged to back Idaho and Montana in their efforts before Congress.”
Governors seek ‘road map’ for N. Rockies wolves
Associated Press in the Washington Post
Michael J. Connor, Ph.D.
Western Watersheds Project
Secretary of the Interior Salazar is about to initial a series of major giveaways of public lands in California to industrial-scale solar power producers. These “fast-tracked” power plant projects have had truncated environmental reviews in the current administration’s rush to place huge chunks of public land in the hands of developers to build on them at public expense.
The Ivanpah Solar Power Plant project is a prime example. The project’s proponent, BrightSource Energy, will build an experimental “power tower” solar power plant on over five and a half square miles of high quality desert tortoise habitat in California’s Ivanpah Valley. The 1.7 billion dollar project will be primed with $1.3 billion in public “economic stimulus” funds provided by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
The project is the first of a number of power plants proposed for public lands in the Ivanpah Valley. A photovoltaic plant is planned right next door to the Ivanpah power plant. Just down the valley over the Nevada border is the proposed Silver State power plant. These and other projects will block off the Ivanpah Valley, turn the North Ivanpah Valley into an industrial zone, and will have major consequences for rare and endangered wildlife. Although the ESA-listed desert tortoise population is declining, the Ivanpah power plant will split the North Ivanpah Valley, eliminate desert tortoise habitat, require that resident tortoises be relocated placing them and any resident tortoises at the relocation site in danger, and will severely compromise connectivity and gene flow between important desert tortoise populations. It will also impact foraging for bighorn sheep and other wildlife, a number of rare plants, and an assemblage of barrel cactus unrivaled elsewhere in the Golden State. Native Americans cultural remains including unusual stone structures will be stranded in a sea of mirrors. The agencies don’t know what these structures are, so how can they be important? No matter that the local Chemehuevi Indians don’t share that view.
Finally some sanity ~ it’ll be interesting to see whether Obama has the integrity to follow through (not holding my breath):
Obama: Interior reforms too slow ~ By Dan Berman, Politico
White House insiders say Salazar has fallen out of favor and speculate that he will be gone after November’s midterms. Obama didn’t say directly whether Salazar would still have a job, but he acknowledged the overhaul of the former Minerals Management Service — long accused of being too cozy with the oil and gas companies it regulated — took too long.
It’s not just the MMS that’s been a disgrace under Salazar’s Interior, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management,and other agencies at Interior are all failing the American public, effectively liquidating America’s environmental heritage to appease the very industries that ran the Department under the Bush Administration.
Interior: same contractors doing their NEPA on behalf of the same industries … if it smells like Bush and tastes like Bush … we’re supposed to call it “Change” ?
Clean the Gulf, Clean House, Clean Their Clock. By Frank Rick. New York Times.
The President asked us to pray. So I ask God that the President fire Ken Salazar.
The President says he would have “fired Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive” (currently yachting in the Irish Sea). We all would fire Hayward, but we can’t. The President can fire the man who did not clean up MMS after calling it his number one priority.
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Related. A yachting trip? The 10 worst BP gaffes in Gulf oil spill. Christian Science Monitor. By Mark Sappenfield, Staff writer.
Related. BP oil disaster: How much oil is left?. Christian Science Monitor.
Unfortunately, it is well over 90%. Associated Press
A revealing article in Rolling Stone points out how Obama and Salazar did nothing to reform the well known corruption at MMS. It is expected that industry will try to cut as many corners as possible but the culture at the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service did nothing to curb the corruption of gas and oil companies and instead facilitated the current destruction of the Gulf of Mexico.
“Bush owns eight years of the mess,” says Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California. “But after more than a year on the job, Salazar owns it too.”
WildEarth Guardians initiated the drive to find signatories to the letter in which a number of conservation groups and scientists have called for the resignation of Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar. Many of the signatories had asked Obama to not appoint him in the first place.
I believe that Ken Salazar has been a disaster for the environment. He has not tackled the corruption in the Minerals Management Service, has done virtually nothing to reform public lands ranching, and has the worst record for protecting endangered species. This all comes on top of the BP Gulf Oil Spill which will forever change the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico and its coastal areas.
I have not seen who all has signed the letter but I have seen the letter floating around for about a week. I do know, however, that Western Watersheds Project (which I am an employee of) and Buffalo Field Campaign (which I am a member of the board) have signed it.
Greens call for Salazar’s resignation.
Juliet Eilperin -Washington Post
Colorado Group Urges Ken Salazar to Stay in Colorado
WildEarth Guardians – Press Release
The leak started 30 days ago, oil as thick as paint is washing up on the shores of Louisiana and there are plumes of oil deep underwater poisoning the ocean and threatening the Florida Keys and the east coast. There have been many attempts to stop the leak and it appears that it won’t be capped for a long time to come. This disaster is killing all kinds of wildlife and will change the whole ecology of the Gulf as well as its economy for many, many years if not longer. Knowing that the consequences of a spill like this are so disastrous why was the Deepwater Horizon given a categorical exclusion from environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)?
Under NEPA there are basically 3 levels of review a project can undergo. First, NEPA requires that an agency determine if the project is covered under NEPA, if it is not then the project is given a categorical exclusion. Second, if the project is covered under NEPA, the agency must determine whether it would have any significant environmental effects, if it doesn’t then the project is issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and an Environmental Assessment (EA) is prepared. Finally, if there are significant impacts then an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be prepared.
In my experience, I would say that the Interior Department under Obama and Salazar is as bad or worse than under Bush and Kempthorne. Substantial changes need to be made to protect the environment and imperiled species.
It seems that Obama appointed Salazar simply because a westerner is traditionally appointed due to the fact that the West has most of the public lands. Well, as we can see with the Gulf oil spill and endangered species, there is much more to it than that. A Secretary of Interior needs to have a greater understanding of science rather than a simple understanding of politics and cattle ranching.
I hope this new page will prove to be another site for good information on efforts to compell the Park Service and Forest Service to stop cooperating in the bison slaughter and eventually allow a significant number of bison to live on the open range outside Yellowstone Park in Montana.
See Yellowstone Bison. Western Watersheds Project.
White House to Nominate Colorado’s Harris Sherman to Head Forest Service. By Courtney Lowery, New West.
There might be some confusion because the Forest Service got a new Chief Forester about a month ago. It works this way. The Forest Service is directly managed by the Chief of the Forest Service. The Service itself is a classic example, almost the model of a bureaucracy (I am using the word “bureaucracy” in a neutral fashion here). In turn, within the Dept. of Agriculture (not Interior), the Forest Service and the lesser known Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), formerly named the Soil Conservation Service, is overseen by the Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment. Harris Sherman will be the new Undersecretary if confirmed. The power of this position relative to the Forest Service Chief has, in my opinion, grown in recent years. Under George W. Bush the Undersecretary was Mark Rey, a good friend of former Idaho Senator Larry Craig. Rey was greated disliked by conservation groups.
This is Obama’s second nomination to this office. His first was Homer Wilkes from Mississippi. Wilkes suddenly withdrew his name after being nominated.
This nomination would seem to really consolidate the power of the current Secretary of Interior over Obama’s public lands policy because the Forest Service is the only major public lands administrator not in the Dept. of Interior. Politics of the early 1900s put the then-newly created Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture which was regarded as more innovative and less corrupt than the Dept. of Interior.
Salazar’s legacy: historical first state-sanctioned hunt of Northern Rockies gray wolves. Seattle Environmental Policy Examiner. By Jean Williams
“The state’s [that is, Idaho] object is to reduce the current wolf population by half. This is a species that was removed prematurely from ESA protection, under authority by Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar. The Secretary is considered by many conservations, to have a personal bias, due to the fact that he is also a landowner, rancher, and member of the Cattlemen’s association.”
Another point is that Ken Salazar is still a U.S. Senator. It is smart not to resign your old job until you actually confirmed (witness Bill Richardson who is still New Mexico’s governor)
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Salazar is also pushing for 210,000 acres of protection on the Uncompahgre plateau of SW Colorado. It would be named the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. About 65,000 acres of this would be classified as the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Area. This is possibly more significant than the Rocky Mountain NP Wilderness because designating the backcountry of a national park as Wilderness can be a bit redundant.
Salazar’s actions will no doubt burnish his credentialsl as future secretary of Interior.
Industry likes Salazar at Obama Interior, not greens. Daniel’s News and Notes.
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So probably (I hope Buffaloed is right, another trial ballon) a bad Secretary of Interior, and an
EPA chief whose toxics record was so bad she was criticized by Bush’s EPA, and now
there is renewed talk of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, the agri-business lackey for Secretary of Agriculture. Just a few more like this and how are they different in philosophy than Bush’s people?
I guess I didn’t really need to write that.
On the other hand, he is far better than Bush’s secretaries Gale Norton and Dirk Kempthorne, both the absolute bottom of the barrel. We’ll now see if he gets a free hand to choose the assistant secretaries in DOI or whether conservation wildlife groups gets a few choice appointments.
Story in the LA Times. ” Obama picks Salazar as Interior secretary. The Colorado senator, an attorney with expertise in water law, has criticized the department for opening up his state’s Roan Plateau to drilling.” By Jim Tankersley and Julie Cart.
Obama’s Choice of Salazar Raises Progressive Concern. Beyond Chron.org. By Randy Shaw‚ Dec. 16‚ 2008
Obama punts public lands passion in choosing Salazar. By Billie Stanton. Tucson Citizen.com.
The recent rumors that rancher Ken Salazar is a shoe-in at Interior have flipped on its head many of Obama’s most fervent western supporters’ idea of what the President-elect’s campaign promise for big-‘C’ “Change” might mean. That campaign slogan’s broad-sweeping allegation had many hopeful that a new outlook, an outlook responsive to Obama’s supporters on the ground, might change for western public land and wildlife issues following the President-elect’s sweeping victory.
Industry reaction to reports indicating Salazar’s favor give some indication as to how much “change” conservationists might expect. Colo. senator reported as choice for Interior Arizona Daily Star :
“He’s lived off the land all his life. He understands the system that we have to deal with day in and day out and he would understand the most about how to streamline the system and better manage our public lands,” said Bray, [Arizona Cattlemen’s Association] deputy director for government affairs.
He is a pretty traditional Democratic Party kind of nomination (assuming it is him). He is a Democratic US Senator from Colorado, but Democrats won’t lose the seat because the Democratic governor has the power to appoint a replacement. Salazar is Hispanic, satisfying a category that was a plus for Grijalva.
Story in the Denver Post. Salazar poised to head Interior. Colorado’s senior senator is said to be a leading contender for a Cabinet post that is vital to Western issues. By Christopher N. Osher and Joey Bunch
NOTE: only the Denver Post has this story so far.