There is nothing more harmful to the arid lands of the American West today than public land grazing. It is ironic that the Cato Institute, the leading libertarian, conservative think tank calls the results of over a century of grazing on public lands, ” . . . a testimony to the failure of land-use socialism.” Ouch. 70% of the over 300 million acres of public land in the West is grazed, producing less than 3% of the nation’s beef. Agriculture is less than 1% of the western economies but uses nearly 80% of the water, much of that used to grow hay for to feed livestock. Ranching is a tiny little special interest. A rancher pays $1.35 per month to graze a cow and its calf. How much do you suppose it costs to feed a gerbil for a month? Yet the BLM, with $40 million of taxpayer stimulus money, wants to ignore the impact of grazing in their Rapid Ecoregional Assessments project to map ecological trends throughout the West. See more here . . . >>
Mary O’Brien of the Grand Canyon Trust says it is like doing a study on obesity and not considering what people eat. The BLM is spending $40 million of taxpayer stimulus funds to do a “ecoregional assessment study” but ruling out ahead of time the impact of grazing. The regulators are afraid of upsetting the regulated. Regulatory capture at it’s worst. Are we Alice at the Mad Hatter’s table? Here’s Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman with more.
The Salt Lake Tribune weighs in. This kind of economic nonsense of allowing an open pit coal mine on the doorstep of a favorite national park in order to create a couple hundred jobs is just what ticks off Tom Wharton in the previous post. . . . more>>
Speaking of externalities, which I did implicitly in the previous blog, here’s an update on the Alton Coal mine expansion next door to Bryce Canyon National Park. Public hearings coming up. . . . more>>
Today Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s issued a rule proposing to protect the Grand Canyon from new uranium claims. In 2009 Secretary Salazar placed a two-year moratorium on new uranium mining claims on a million acres of public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon, overturning a Bush administration policy that encouraged thousands of new claims when the price of uranium soared in 2006 and 2007. Many of those making claims are foreign interests, including Russia’s state atomic energy corporation. Does it weird anybody out but me that the anti-environment conservatives ,the heirs of the McCarthy era of communist hunters, thought that having Russia own an atomic energy mine in the Grand Canyon was a good idea? . . . more>>
The ever increasing extent of industrial/political cronyism in the U.S. economy is a serious concern. Seeking Alpha is a website from my old investment world which looks for trends and places to earn increased returns. Hazel Henderson reviews Jeremy Rifkin’s new book there, The Third Industrial Revolution. In an alarming statement Henderson says, “My colleague Dr. James Fletcher on the Technology Assessment Advisory Board to the US Congress told us at a meeting in the 1970s that if the US had subsidized solar-based energies to the same extent it subsidized oil, coal, gas and nuclear energy, that our country would already be run on solar and renewables. Fletcher went on to become Administrator of NASA, the US space program. . . . However, as I found in the 1980s, the barriers were the incumbent fossil and nuclear industries whose influence over Congress kept their huge subsidies and forced renewables to climb a steeply-tilted playing field.” Rifkin has solutions. Let me know if you read the book. . . . more>>
Yesterday on AlterNet, Naomi Klein was interviewed by Rebecca Tarbotton about taking on powerful, connected special-interests. She recommends to environmentalists:
Expanding the movement beyond traditional environmentalists, and tapping into the broader public outrage at corporate greed and economic recklessness. If you are targeting Bank of America because it’s lending money to coal companies, you need to be in coalition with all the other groups out there that are pissed at Bank of America for other reasons, first and foremost home foreclosures. The same logic that has trashed the economy is trashing the planet and we need to make those connections incessantly . . .
The right-wing notion that the environment is the enemy has come around blindingly fast. The notion doesn’t make enough sense to stand on its own. Rather, it is being PR packaged by big industry special interest in a form of pernicious cronyism. Here, the Grand Canyon Trust reports that a group of Republican lawmakers, including Senator McCain, is introducing legislation to stop the Obama administration from blocking new mining claims around the Grand Canyon. There won’t be many Americans who think that the Grand Canyon is a good place to mine. What are these cowboys thinking? . . . more>>
From the Adventure Journal today, The National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, sponsored by Utah’s Congressman Rob Bishop and approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources 26 to 17, waives the power of 36 environmental and other laws within 100 miles of U.S. borders nationwide (angering environmentalists, since that territory includes Olympic National Park, Big Bend National Park, Allegheny National Forest, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Glacier National Park), and cuts the knees out from under the Department of Agriculture as well, which means all rights to timber claims, grazing, and farming would go by the wayside. Continue reading
Just like the Colorado River does not make it to the Colorado River Delta and on to the sea, Australia’s largest river, the Murray-Darling is dry in the mouth. A 10 year drought there has made for necessary changes. Brad Udall, director of the Western Water Assessment in Colorado, spent four months in Australia working with its Department of Water. Cally Carswell of High Country News explores with Udall what happens when the door is opened and more than special interests and lawyers are allowed in the room to talk about solutions. Udall says, “For 150 years, we’ve had three kinds of people in the room talking about water: we’ve had water users, we’ve had attorneys and we’ve had engineers. And for the most part, the public, economists and scientists have not been a part of this dialogue. In Australia, they don’t even let attorneys in the room — at least according to one gentlemen down there — when it comes to water. And they talk in these very holistic (terms): what’s good for our economy, what’s good for our social systems, what’s good for the environment — they have those three perspectives. It’s not just driven by the legal system, which is usually almost always the case here in Colorado.” . . . more>>