Wolves will be removed from the Endangered Species List in Idaho, Montana, and parts of Oregon, Washington, and Utah within 60 days.
Wolves to come off endangered list within 60 days
Wolves to come off endangered list within 60 days
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.”
With a huge natural disaster there is political danger, but also political opportunity. For the people living on the Gulf, and the fish and wildlife, it is all downside. For the President there is a mighty political opportunity, but so far he has baubled the basketball while standing right next to the basket. He’d better recover and slam dunk it or the other team will soon have the ball. They are already calling it “Obama’s Katrina” now that it looks like the oil will gush until August, well into the hurricane season.
Let me explain.
In politics and government, there is what is actually happening, but for the average American who does not follow politics or current events much, it is what they think is happening.
What the public thinks is happening is the most important thing.
Most now understand the “oil spill” is a big disaster. They want it stopped and cleaned up, but they also want it explained. How could this happen after all the oil company ads saying how careful they are and all the political support for drilling. The average person wants reassurance, and when angry they want justice. For there to be justice, there needs to be blame placed. A convincing story (a “narrative”) explaining all these things is what the public craves. Obama needs one quickly, a narrative before an alternative one about his aloofness is put firmly in place. Maureen Dowd’s latest column in the NYT certainly understands this. “Once More, With Feeling.” NYT. May 29, 2010. The President has got to get angry and point the finger of blame. . . none of that “no drama, Obama.” He needs drama, and a good melodrama requires a hero going after the villains.
Well, here is another example of how the Obama Administration has followed the lead of the Bush Administration on environmental issues. As we can see from the Gulf Oil Spill those policies are literally a disaster. While salmon returns have been good the last few years and numbers are high for returning Chinook this year, it should be pointed out that the bulk of these fish are hatchery fish and not those protected under the ESA. It should also be noted that the return of jacks, or male Chinook that spend only one year in the ocean as compared to two or three, is about 72% of the 10-year average which is an indication that next year’s run will likely be lower.
This is clearly something the President could do quickly to rehabilitate his tarnished image on wildlife. Ironically, it was President Richard Nixon who in 1972 issued Executive Order 11643 banning the use of poisons to control predators on Federal land. Reagan later weakened this. In addition, there is plenty of poison available. Much of it is left over from the 1970s.
While in the Senate, now Interior Secretary Salazar was one of those who opposed efforts to ban the use of compound 1080, an extremely poisonous, colorless, tasteless, odorless, substance that creates an agonizing death, and which would be an ideal poison for use by terrorists to put in a municipal water supply.
Meanwhile, as far as aerial gunning goes, USFA’s Wildlife Services killed off a famous Idaho wolf pack this week (more on this later). They used one or more of their aerial gunships.
Update 11-28.2009. A lot of newspapers picked up the AP story by John Miller on the petition.
WildEarth Guardians Seeks End of Aerial Gunning & Poisoning of Wildlife on Public Lands
Denver, CO. The U.S. Department of Agriculture should stop sending its agents up in aircraft to shoot coyotes and planting lethal cyanide booby traps on the nation’s forests and other federal lands, according to a formal request filed today by WildEarth Guardians with the Obama administration.
“Federal wildlife-killing programs are unsafe, illegal, and reckless,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring, Director of Carnivore Protection for WildEarth Guardians. “We call upon the Obama administration to protect our native carnivores on the Nation’s public lands.” Read the rest of this entry »
He even criticized Michelle Obama’s organic garden, but still got the nod. And the Republicans say Obama is some kind of anti-corporate socialist!
Islam Siddiqui, Obama Nominee, Under Fire From Environmentalists. The Huffington Post. Jenna Staul
Questions for a Trade Official. New York Times editorial saying this is a bad nomination.
Obama represents big business first and foremost. Orange County Populist Examiner. By Joe Sabet
Obama’s environmental policies reflect Bush’s. By John H. Weis. Op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune
My opinion. Ralph Maughan. Obama is interesting in abating climate change and some high profile issues, but as we have complained many times he doesn’t seem to have any feeling for the public lands of the West, except maybe for the national parks. In that, he is a typical American who doesn’t live in the West. He might not even understand what the BLM is. I think he’s a smart man, but with a big hole in his knowledge.
A lot of people I know worked hard to get Barack Obama elected President; not just conservationists, but independents and Democrats who had sat on their hands for years.
As Barker points out, after the election the traditional Western resource users (who are often irritatingly called “The West”) expected the worst and were ready to fight against another “war on the West.” This is something they claim — a “war on the West” — whenever some President doesn’t give them the deference and subsidies they think they are entitled to.
Now they are grinning. He has done nothing to disturb them. “Democrat” Walt Minnick, Idaho’s soon-to-be-defeated congressman in the state’s first district reportedly said “The Obama people have learned from Clinton’s first 90 days.”
I think they’ve learned the wrong lesson. Read the rest of this entry »
“The administration’s passing reference to dam breaching as a ‘contingency of last resort’ defers all necessary economic, infrastructure and other studies, making this ‘contingency’ an illusion,” said Samuel N. Penney, the chairman of the Nez Perce American Indian Tribe, which has traditionally fished the Columbia.
New Federal Plan for Fish-Dam Harmony
New York Times
Obama administration backs Columbia salmon and dam plan
Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman
The Climate Bill has passed the House. It still must clear the Senate where the coal, gas and oil lobbyists hope to make still better for them. There are those who blame Obama for not spending more of his still considerable political capital on this. This permitted enough of the House Democrats to cave to the lobbyists to make the opening for the traditional polluters possible. As usual, the Republicans were with coal, oil, gas and nuclear from the start.
Getting the bill through the Senate is very tough because 60 votes are needed to beat the inevitable filibuster. The Democrats don’t really have 60 votes although they now have 60 seats. Due to illness, Democratic Senators Edward Kennedy and Robert Byrd are almost never there to vote.
One idea is that getting a bill on the books is a start. It can be strengthened later. Perhaps. This has happened with many other bills, but often as not Congress just moves on figuring they have dealt with that issue. There are so many more on their plate.
Story in the New York Times. Disillusioned Environmentalists Turn on Obama as Compromiser. By Leslie Kaufman.
Additional. Senate Democrats Begin Drawing Road Map to 60 Votes on Climate Bill. By Darren Samuelsohn of ClimateWire in the New York Times.
Passing new laws is hard, and it is controversial. Issuing executive orders is less so, but still difficult. Settling suits against laws and regulations you don’t really support anyway is below the radar screen.
It hard for conservationists to understand.
Environmentalists baffled by Obama’s strategy. By Jim Tankersley. LA Times.
These projects were near a load center and built on degraded land. I wonder if he thinks this is the way most Nevada projects will be, or whether he simply did a cynical PR ploy?
Obama said. “We’ll invest in the development and deployment of solar technology wherever it can thrive, and we’ll find the best ways to integrate solar power into our electric grid.”
I guess this means it our patriotic duty to make sure solar technology cannot thrive in the wrong kind of places — remote, scenic and biologically important areas, far from load centers.
Obama Touts Energy Progress. He Calls Projects In Nevada, Models. By William Branigin. Washington Post Staff Writer
We ran this news earlier, but now David Frey at New West has a comprehensive article on the nomination.
HOMER WHO? Obama Stuns with Forest Service Nominee. “With little forest credentials, is Wilkes the right man to oversee the Forest Service?” By David Frey. New West.
Free Fall’s Over, but Where Are We Landing? By Peter S. Goodman. New York Times.
This article is a bit unusual for this blog, but a continuing theme here is that Idaho politics and its economic policy is dominated by a landed (almost feudal) elite with beliefs that were out of date 50 years ago. Idaho’s political system contains an incredible amount of inertia, and it shows up not just in wildlife policy and politics.
The recession in Idaho’s effect and efforts to fight have depended almost entirely on what the Administration does or doesn’t do. That’s my take.
Presidents have to follow up on executive orders like the one Obama made, and entrenched agency people know that most Presidents will lack the time or interest to do it.
Story from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
Ironically, “States Strengthen Whistleblower Protection Laws . States Moving Past Federal Government in Safeguarding Civil Servant Disclosures.” PEER.
Of course, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are not among these states.
Bogus bidder: BLM auction monkey-wrencher faces two felonies. Drilling . U. student hoped for mercy from Obama’s team, but no luck. By Patty Henetz. The Salt Lake Tribune.
Added 4/4/2009. Did DeChristopher’s outspokenness seal his fate? By Patty Henetz. The Salt Lake Tribune.
Is prosecution Salazar’s way of telling critics, “don’t mess with us?”
Obama Administration: Constitution Does Not Protect Cell-Site Records. By David Kravets. Wired Magazine.
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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 9, 2009
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Scientific Integrity
Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health, protection of the environment, increased efficiency in the use of energy and other resources, mitigation of the threat of climate change, and protection of national security.
The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions. If scientific and technological information is developed and used by the Federal Government, it should ordinarily be made available to the public. To the extent permitted by law, there should be transparency in the preparation, identification, and use of scientific and technological information in policymaking. The selection of scientists and technology professionals for positions in the executive branch should be based on their scientific and technological knowledge, credentials, experience, and integrity.
By this memorandum, I assign to the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (Director) the responsibility for ensuring the highest level of integrity in all aspects of the executive branch’s involvement with scientific and technological processes. The Director shall confer, as appropriate, with the heads of executive departments and agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget and offices and agencies within the Executive Office of the President (collectively, the “agencies”), and recommend a plan to achieve that goal throughout the executive branch.
Specifically, I direct the following:
1. Within 120 days from the date of this memorandum, the Director shall develop recommendations for Presidential action designed to guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch, based on the following principles: Read the rest of this entry »
What part of meltdown don’t these people get? They live in a dreamworld not unlike George W. Bush. Then too they are living off a government bailout, and yet they want to build gas guzzlers to make a profit. The price of gas will stay low only as long as the recession remains deep. Tell them “no,” and outlaw the production of gas guzzlers unless the buyers demonstrate a need or pay a heavy tax.
Detroit Calls Emissions Proposals Too Strict. New York Times.
In a related matter, Citibank wanted to buy a luxurious $50-million corporate jet after getting a $45-billion bailout from the government. The President stopped it.
Obama Officials Tell Citibank To Ditch Plans For $50 Million Private Jet. Huffington Post
For 2008, Wall Street gave out 18.4 billion dollars in bonuses, rewarding the worst performance in about 70 years.
Study Says 80% Of Wall Street Got 2008 Bonus. Maurna Desmond. Forbes.
The stimulus package passed the House today without a single Republican vote despite President Obama’s wining and dining the GOP and its stable of MSM columnists. I think there is going to be growing pressure for the President to move to left. That’s what FDR did after first trying to cooperate with basically the same group of interests.
Note that Idaho’s new Democratic Republican congressman, Walt Minnick, was one of 12 nominal Democrats voting against the stimulus.
Despite Obama’s seeming lack of interest in mining reform (probably due to prompting from Harry Reid), the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee is not detered.
Story in the Salt Lake Tribune. Report: Time for hard-rock mining companies to pay up. Bill’s sponsor says no free ride during economic crisis. By Thomas Burr.
Gold mines are doing well in the bad economy, and that is bad news for both the economy and the environment because they are terrible polluters. Moreover, the production of gold has no clear net economic benefit because it is mostly used as an alternative way of storing wealth (and a completely unproductive one at that).
Obama’s EPA Raises Objections to South Dakota Coal Power Plant. By Catherine Dodge. Bloomberg.com
Obama Rule Halts Wolf Delisting. Center for Biological Diversity. News Release
This is very happy news because we just learned that Idaho has some very nasty plans for the wolves if they are delisted — a quick kill off before a lawsuit can be filed.
Update: now the slower MS media are picking up the story.
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For Immediate Release, January 21, 2009
Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017
Obama Rule Halts Wolf Delisting
SILVER CITY, N.M.– President Barack Obama has issued a freeze on publication of federal regulations planned under the previous administration but not yet published in the Federal Register. This action, which will give the new administration a chance to review Bush-era policy decisions, will delay and possibly prevent the premature removal of gray wolves from the endangered species list in Montana, Idaho, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, and portions of Washington, Oregon, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
According to Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, the pause will afford President Obama and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar the opportunity to rethink the previous administration’s efforts to remove wolves from the endangered species list. “Rather than remove protections from wolves in a piecemeal fashion, in the isolated locations where they have finally begun to recover from past persecution,” Robinson said, ” the Obama administration should develop and implement a national gray-wolf recovery plan that will ensure the survival of these magnificent animals.”
Obama halts all regulations pending review. Order goes out Tuesday afternoon, shortly after inauguration. AP in MSNBC.
This is what folks hoped for. Of course, this will only stop Bush regulations which are at a certain stage. How far back the order is able to cut them is not known yet.
This is a happy day for Americans in many types of work and service.
Update. This might have halted the wolf delisting. Unsure for now.
Update 1-21-2009. Regulators Ordered to Leave Work Unfinished. By Amy Goldstein. Washington Post.
The headline above is very misleading, as though the agencies were doing some important work and had to stop, rather than that their “work ” was to carry out Bush directives to favor his political allies and cronies.
Ken Salazar promises reform at Interior Department. LA Times. By Jim Tankersley
Barack Obama criticized — again — over pick of Ken Salazar as Interior secretary. By Pete Thomas. LA Times.
I should add that there are those who say many of Obama’s cabinet choices will not have a lot of freedom of action because the big decisions will be made by advisors at higher levels closer to the President. This can be good or bad, depending on the advisors, the President and the issue.
Story. Gray wolves to lose endangered status. Story in the LA Times by By Jim Tankersley
Story. State left out of wolf move. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.
Update story. Last word on wolves is yet to come. Bush removes protections in most of the Rockies, but the Obama administration could reverse the decision. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.
Update story. Last year the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) was widely criticized by other conservation groups for their view on delisting. Here is what they said this time. Green groups will like it more. I got this copy from a TV news story.
Agribusiness as usual. Obama’s campaign ag adviser mounts a weak defense of industrial food. Grist Magazine. Posted by Tom Philpott
Western wish list for Obama. The hopes and worries of 11 key Westerners. High Country News. By Ray Ring.
Here is a pile of good and bad ideas to discuss.
I see the “radical” Jon Marvel argues for putting ombudsmen in all federal agencies, putting information on the Internet, and transparency in government policy-making.
“Genius” professor Patricia Limerick tells environmentalists not to go too far in repealing Bush’s anti-environmental rules changes lest anti-green rage be stirred up in rural communities.
My view is, how about stirring up some rage among the large majority of Westerners who have always been second class citizens subjects in the system of Western feudal oligarchy?
During the primary election season when Obama first came out against significant reform of this land destroying, trillion* dollar give-away, I thought he had merely received bad advice. Raúl Grijalva’s fervent desire to end this law probably weighed heavily against him in consideration for the job as Secretary of Interior.
Interior nominee Salazar likely to push update, not overhaul, of mining law. By Lisa Mascaro. Las Vegas Sun.
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*That’s a trillion dollars over time, not an annual loss to the treasury
Obama’s cabinet is complete. There are few real reformers. The cabinet will be different than Bush’s because the occupants are pragmatists rather than right-wing ideologues. There will not be a philosophical dislike of science. On the other hand, no guiding principles are apparent other than faith in Obama’s leadership.
The lower level nominations still offer some hope to those who want more than minor reform and an end to the outright criminality. Middle-of the-roaders dream cabinet. By Carrie B. Brown and Nia-Malika Henderson. Politico
Obama to name Vilsack for Agriculture. By Philip Rucker and Dan Morgan. Washington Post Staff Writers.
Vilsack was a popular governor of Iowa. He has been a major politician. His expertise in agriculture seems to come more from being a governor than from intimate knowledge of policy. He has been an ethanol supporter, which many think has been a disaster when made from corn (the source of all U.S. ethanol), but Obama has supported ethanol too.
USDA does more than deal with farming. The Forest Service is a bureau in the agency. Most Secretaries of Ag leave the administration of that Forest Service to the assistant secretary over that area. Sometimes this assistant secretary come from a conservation viewpoint, such as Mike Dombeck under Clinton, or industry such as timber lobbyists Mark Rey under George W. Bush.
The Forest Service itself is formally managed by the Chief Forester which is not a political appointment requiring a nomination followed by a confirmation in the Senate.
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Reaction to Vilsack.
Environmental groups, scientists cheer Obama appointments. LA Times. By Jim Tankersley and Tom Hamburger
This would be incredible! Dems eye midnight regulations reversal. By Eria Lovely and Ryan Gram. Politico.
Story in Salon.com (Salon Magazine). By Katharine Mieszkowski
The article doesn’t just speak of Bush sin, but how Obama can redeem on the environment.
We have been talking a lot about the new government, and today the government transition web site appeared.
Maybe your ideas and objections can be sent there. APPLY FOR A JOB IN THE NEW ADMINISTRATION !
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Updated (11-7). Transition Site Echoes Campaign Pledge of Open Government. Personal Democracy Forum
Feds Rush To Ease Endangered Species Rules. 15 reviewers, 200,000 comments, 32 hours to go through all of them. by Dina Cappiello. Common Dreams.
Some folks will like to hear this . . . “[Obama’s] favorite piece of public land is Yellowstone.”
All in all, too much talk about guns. This should be a minor issue for hunters now that the Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment to mean, correctly I think, that yes Americans do have a right to own guns.
The NRA now keeps the issue going because their payroll depends on it. The gun issue also serves to keep hunters on the development and industry side of conservation, which the right-wing NRA supports.
They say the West is going to be in play for once and and maybe decide the 2008 presidential race. However, the candidates are not really talking about Western issues. Yes, Obama came out against the Cline coal pit mine that would pollute the Flathead River as its runs into the United States. He also seemed to take a regressive stance on the 1872 general mining act when he was contenting with Clinton in the Nevada presidential caucus.
For me, most important are questions about the management of the federal public lands.
Aside from that, I can’t think of much they have said directly about real Western issues. Ed Quillen says much the same in this Writers on the Range piece. What Westerners would love to ask the candidates
Yesterday, we discussed this massive burden Mark Rey has just dropped on Montana counties in the form of access to remote second home sites. This is an indication that Obama may be good on land use issues.
Earlier he blasted the Cline Mine and related proposals in British Columbia that threaten Montana’s Flathead River and Glacier National Park.
Obama lambastes closed-door Plum Creek land talks. By Jennifer McKee. Missoulian State Bureau
July 10 more . . . Plum Creek — a low-hanging fruit. Obama Chimes In on Plum Creek, Forest Service Agreement. By Matthew Frank. New West.
Rescue may be on the way to the threatened wild country just north of the U.S. border in British Columbia. It depends on the outcome of the U.S. election.
Some folks on this forum, including myself, have complained about the failure by the candidates to talk about specific conservation issues. Obama’s positiion was announced when he was campaining in the Montana primary election.
These open pit coal mine/coalbed methane plans in the North Fork of the Flathead River don’t seem to have support anywhere in Montana because all of the costs flow into Montana and none of the benefits. Many, of course, are concerned about the inherent value of this wonderful wild country.
Story in Canada.com. Obama opposes B.C. coal mine. Canwest News Service