November 25, 2015
The U.S. Department of Land-Hogging
Nearly half of the West is owned—and badly managed—by the feds. States want to step in.
By SHAWN REGAN
Few east of the Mississippi realize it, but nearly half of the West is owned by the federal government. By far the majority of these lands are not national parks or wilderness areas. They are forests and rangelands managed by the federal government and open to many uses, including logging, grazing, energy development and recreation. But many Western residents are beginning to think these lands would be better off under state control.
The showdown began in Utah, where two-thirds of the land is controlled by the feds. In 2012 Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill demanding that 30 million acres be transferred to the state, arguing that restrictions on natural-resource development were harming local communities. Nine other states have considered similar resolutions. Last week lawmakers in Arizona and Idaho advanced bills to take control of federal lands within their borders, and the U.S. Senate approved a budget amendment sponsored byLisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) supporting the transfer idea.
As states consider taking over federal lands, politicians in Washington should recognize that it is time for reform. In a new report, published by the Property and Environment Research Center, my co-authorHolly Fretwell and I contrast how state lands in the West fare compared with federal lands. Our conclusion: The feds could learn from the states about responsible land management.
Consider: The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management lose $2 billion each year managing federal lands. For example, the feds are notorious for conducting “below-cost” timber sales, in which they spend more selling the timber than they get in return.
States consistently generate positive financial returns. The four states we examined—Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico and Montana—earn an average of $14.51 for every dollar they spend on land management; the feds lose 27 cents.
These states earn on average seven times more for every dollar spent than the federal agencies on timber and energy development, 35 times more on grazing, and 25 times more on recreation. In New Mexico this amounted to nearly $817 million in 2014, enough to pay the salaries of 17,000 teachers, according to the state land office.
States are making this money without causing greater harm to forest health or water quality. Like the federal government, states conduct environmental assessments, create timber plans and allow for public input. But states do that work at much lower cost—and with far less litigation—than the feds.
The reasons are straightforward: States have a fiduciary responsibility to generate revenue for certain beneficiaries such as public schools. States also cannot run deficits year after year like the Treasury Department. This keeps state land managers accountable and encourages fiscal responsibility.
Federal land agencies also lack a clear purpose. Overlapping regulations and conflicting mandates create “analysis paralysis,” which increases costs and often prevents agencies from carrying out routine practices such as forest restoration and thinning.
As the Forest Service noted in a 2002 report, the agency is “so busy meeting procedural requirements, such as preparing voluminous plans, studies, and associated documentation, that it has trouble fulfilling its historic mission: to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.”
States offer several lessons on how to reform federal land management. To start, Congress should streamline the regulations that now preoccupy these agencies. A single Forest Service project can take years to move forward and cost more than $1 million in planning.
The federal government should also ensure that those who benefit from federal lands pay their way. For instance, the feds regularly set fees for mineral development and grazing at below-market values. States encourage competitive bidding, allow environmental groups to bid for leases, and even charge modest fees for recreation.
Federal lands should provide a rich source of revenues to benefit the public, but they are instead a fiscal burden on taxpayers. Congress should take note, or states may decide it is time to bring a new sheriff to town.
Mr. Regan is a research fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) in Bozeman, Mont.
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 11/25/15
November 24, 2015
Local control is better management for federal lands
As originally published in Washington Examiner
By 2/12/14 12:00 AM
In his recent State of the Union speech, President Obama promised to use presidential authority to “protect more of our pristine federal lands.” Similar to most political statements, many people find this idea appealing but few investigate it further.
A thorough examination of the federal estate shows those resources are squandered at a high cost.
While taxpayers across the nation share the cost of federal land management expenses and lost revenue potential, citizens in the West have little say on how more than half their land is managed. This has created a great divide between east and west as it runs along the eastern border of Colorado — while 47 percent of the acreage in the contiguous West is federal, a mere 4 percent is federal in the east.
Some western states are beginning to fight for custody.
As an avid outdoor enthusiast from Montana, the public lands debate is more than an academic interest. My family and I hike, bike, fish, and ski on Montana’s federal lands, but access is being reduced as new set-asides are created and there are increasing use restrictions. I think that is the pristine part of federal land protection.
A recent update on a travel-planning document in a nearby Wilderness Study Area, for example, reduced mountain bike trail access from more than 100 miles to 20. Motorbikes also lost considerable trail access. Yellowstone National Park now restricts snowmobile use almost exclusively to guided tours. Other trails in our area have eliminated horses. In addition, the federal lands designated as multiple use are providing fewer commodities and little return in terms of financial resources.
Americans on the east of this divide may see the federal lands as distant places to vacation or areas to preserve. But in the West, our relationship with federal lands is much different. It is our backyard, and poor resource management inflicts repercussions. Forests left unmanaged that grow overly dense, for example, are at increased risk of wildfire that not only destroys homes, but erodes soils and reduces water quality. As active management has declined on the federal lands, wildfire acres burned and suppression costs have increased.
Despite this, budgets for federal land management are set by politicians in Washington, where special interests have more influence over agency budgets than do westerners or federal land managers. Consider that appropriations to manage Montana’s nearly 27 million acres of federal lands are determined by 535 politicians, only three of which directly represent the citizens of the state and live in proximity to those federal lands. As a result, new parks and marquee facilities take precedence over important resource management and upkeep. Visitors and adjacent resource owners that are most greatly impacted by the decisions are a very small part of the decision-making equation.
Though created under an impetus for scientific decision-making, management of the federal estate is a political determination. In fact, science cannot determine the value tradeoffs that must be made. Science cannot determine whether hiking, biking or timber harvest is a higher-valued use. Instead, management decisions — regarding recreation use, commodity production or restoration activities — depend on budget appropriations and special interest battles.
Take the issue of timber management. When a federal manager suggests harvesting timber on federal land, even if undertaken to prevent or remediate wildfires, they submit themselves to a long tug-of-war between the agency, environmental groups and industry officials that often ends up in the courts. This process sucks up limited resources that could otherwise be put to work on the ground.
Today there is little connection between the groups that fight for favored policies and those that pay the costs. For instance, groups fighting for hands-off land management are not burdened by the repercussions of overly dense forests, which include billions of dollars a year in damage to homes and businesses from wildfires. Neither do logging interests realize the costs of habitat lost or restoration that is not built into harvest contracts.
Federal land management has become so politicized that every decision is subject to second-guessing by courts or Congress. Unless taxpayers are content to watch our birthright continue to deteriorate and become increasingly inaccessible to the public, land management policies must change, which means improving incentives.
Devolution of some federal lands — or at least their management — can help improve these incentives by better connecting decisions with outcomes.
reposted by Reagangirl.com 11/24/15
November 23, 2015
Below are summaries of testimonies presented last year in a hearing on federal lands management in Western states, and instances of “threats, bullying and intimidation” by agencies and the bureaucrats who work for them. Stories similar to these have only increased in frequency since this hearing. With a growing list of injustices, incompetence, and devastating personal losses to citizens in the West, the transfer of public lands management from federal tyrants to state agencies accountable to the people is more important now than ever.
|Federal Land Managers Intimidation, Bullying Threaten Citizens Rights, Create a Hostile Environment
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 24, 2014 – Today, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations held an oversight hearing on “Threats, Intimidation and Bullying by Federal Land Managing Agencies.” This hearing continued Committee oversight into bullying by federal land management agencies and federal law enforcement agencies on private, state, and federal lands.State and local governments, ranchers, business owners, and private citizens have been subject to threats, lack of cooperation, and numerous unfair or heavy-handed tactics which threaten public safety, the environment, endangered species, and the livelihoods of communities. Congressional oversight is necessary to provide an effective check on federal officials who abuse their regulatory powers.
“Today we took a second look at threats, intimidation and bullying by Federal Land Managing Agencies. During a hearing the Committee held last year and again today, we heard first-hand accounts of mistreatment at the hands of federal officials seeking to extort the witnesses into relinquishing their property rights,” said Representative Doug LaMalfa (CA-01). “These firsthand accounts give the victims of abusive conduct by a federal land managing official a chance to tell their story to Congress. Status quo agency oversight, policies and procedures are inadequate for addressing or deterring employee abuses and may instead embolden overreaching or malicious employee behavior with little risk of retribution for their actions.”
Witnesses highlighted examples of flagrant intimidation met by citizens who refuse to surrender their constitutional rights, land and water rights, grazing permits and other multiple-use benefits.
Sheriff James Perkins, Garfield County, UT, highlighted his perspective from 27 years of law enforcement and experience working with various federal law enforcement agencies.
“BLM’s attitude towards coordinating with local law enforcement is summed up best by a conversation I had with a BLM law enforcement officer while we were attending a drug task force meeting in Cedar City, Utah. He told me point blank that he didn’t care about any authority that I thought I had as the Garfield County Sheriff, and that he did not feel like he had to coordinate anything through my office… This refusal to coordinate, coupled with a lack of any meaningful oversight, has created a perfect environment where the abuse of federal law enforcement powers can occur.”
Leland Pollock, Garfield County Commissioner, Garfield County Utah, testified on how BLM law enforcement has moved away from a public service philosophy due to polarization of personnel and bullying and cancellation of cooperative agreements.
“Our concerns/ complaints are not just a matter of hurt feelings, bullying, intimidation, lack of integrity, and a host of social issues. BLM’s Chief of Law Enforcement has cost Garfield County real dollars… We are befuddled how one individual can override a State Director and negatively impact an entire county with impunity.”
A. Grant Gerber, Elko County Commissioner, Elko Nevada, discussed specific examples of wrongdoings, threats, intimidation, and bullying by both BLM law enforcement and a district manager.
“When I was a boy and as I grew up the few Federal Agents were mainly local or from rural areas and fit in well with the local area. They knew the people and worked cooperatively. Now the Federal agents are predominantly from outside the area and do not develop connections with the locals as was done previously. Many start off with a belligerent attitude, even a commanding presence. They are especially offended if anyone opposes any Federal Government actions. The worst are the Federal Law Enforcement Agents that arrogantly announce that they are not governed by Nevada law, but can enforce it if they choose. Now we have been informed, that without notice of hearings, the BLM has determined that two more BLM Law Enforcement Agents are necessary to control the people in the Elko area. All of this is resulting in less use of Federal Lands by citizens as the citizens become afraid of being accosted and berated.”
Jose Valera Lopez, President of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, Rancher, Santa Fe New Mexico, testified on current justifications Federal Land Managers use to intimidate and bully including Endangered Species protection and resource protection.
“Endangered species ‘protection’ is the biggest culprit. At the moment the Fish and Wildlife Service is considering critical habitat for the lesser prairie chicken, the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, and two varieties of garter snakes. Expansion of the Mexican wolf habitat is expected as early as tomorrow. We have had 764,000 acres in New Mexico and Arizona recently designated critical habitat for the jaguar although only a few male jaguar have been sighted in the U.S. over the last 60 years… In my own case, the BLM has been buying up private lands near my family ranch within the boundaries of an Area of Critical Environmental Concern that they designated part of their Resource Management Plan. They not refer to our ranch as an in-holding. What this designation has done is de-valued our land and effectively prohibits any type of future development on the ranch.”
Posted by Reagangirl.com 11/23/15
November 20, 2015
Following Monday’s announcement by Governor John Hickenlooper that he would permit the Obama Administration to settle Syrian refugees in Colorado, Republican lawmakers penned a letter to him strongly opposing the plan. The letter was delivered to the Governor’s desk on Thursday afternoon. Senator Laura Woods (CD-19) initiated the letter which bears the signatures of 13 Republican state senators and 24 Republican house members.
The Islamic terror attacks in Paris were cited in the letter as a basis for Governor Hickenlooper to join Republican and Democrat governors from 29 other states who are calling for a suspension of Syrian refugee resettlement and refusing to support refugee relocation within their states. The letter states:
In your statement on Monday, you rightly voiced concern regarding adequate vetting of refugees. We ask you stand behind that statement and call for bipartisan congressional review and approval of the vetting process, To protect our citizens, we must identity and reject terrorists hiding their true identities, motives and plans.
This statement from lawmakers is just one response among many to Hickenlooper’s pledge to bring Syrian refugees to Colorado. Immediately following his announcement, a “Recall Hickenlooper 2015” Facebook group was formed which quickly gained over 4,000 followers, and a number of online petitions were created. The first petition directed to the governor, “Colorado says NO to Syrian Refugees,” has received the support of over 37,000 signers in three days.
Hickenlooper’s endorsement of Obama’s Syrian resettlement plan on the heels of news that at least one refugee from Syria was among the ISIS attackers in Paris, and despite warnings from the President’s own intelligence officers that refugees will be infiltrated by terrorists, seems to illustrate the growing divide between the Governor and the people of Colorado.
The letter details what is probably foremost in the minds of those opposing Syrian relocation to the state; the safety and security of Coloradans.
We elected officials must protect the safety and security of our neighbors, our friends, our senios and our children. We must do all we can to protect our citizens and we call on you to join with us in this vital effort.
Letter from the General Assembly of Colorado to Governor Hickenlooper below:
Posted by Marjorie Haun 11/20/15
Feds: Two held in 1-ton pot raid | As published by GJSentinel.com
Feds: Two held in 1-ton pot raid
Two men were indicted by a federal grand jury this week after approximately 1,860 pounds — or nearly a full ton — of harvested and drying marijuana was seized Friday by agents executing a search warrant at a property near Cedaredge, according to court records.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration alleges the same two suspects were responsible for two other illegal marijuana grows discovered near the Dolores River in September — among a wave of illicit cultivation operations that have turned up in Colorado over recent months.
Luis Adolfo Garcia, 33, 200 Colorado Ave., Apt. 2103, in Parachute, was indicted Tuesday on one count of conspiracy to manufacture with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, as well as one count of manufacturing and possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.
Luis Rios-Cortes, 23, who had a Mexican identification card when contacted by authorities, was indicted on identical charges and faces a separate charge of being an alien illegally in the United States in possession of a firearm.
Rios-Cortes allegedly had a holstered .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol with hollow-point ammunition when approached by officers Friday at an alleged illegal marijuana grow off San Juan Vista Road near Cedaredge, according to a criminal complaint by DEA agent Jason Greenfield.
According to the complaint, the 1.5-acre parcel identified in court records as the “San Juan Vista Property” where Friday’s raid happened was purchased on May 15 in the name of Luis Garcia’s sister, Esther Garcia, for $125,000. She told the DEA her brother made a down payment of $20,000, which he gave to her in a cashier’s check for the transaction. Esther Garcia insisted she didn’t know what her brother was doing at the property, but he gave her money to help her family pay the bills.
While executing another search warrant on Friday at Esther Garcia’s apartment in Parachute, they found documents with the names of five men who were arrested Sept. 30 in connection with a large marijuana grow located at milepost 95 on Highway 141, near the Montrose-Mesa county line.
“Agents also recovered paperwork that indicated on 11/9/2015, $100 had been deposited into the inmate account of Angel Guzman-Gutierrez and $100 had been deposited into the inmate account of Eduardo Aries-Torres,” the complaint reads.
The men who got money from the Garcias are being held in the Mesa County Jail in connection with the Sept. 30 pot grow raid.
Friday’s raid near Cedaredge followed seven months of investigation, according to the DEA complaint.
On April 20, BLM rangers working along the Dolores River between Gateway and Naturita reported seeing a pair of suspicious trucks, including one with gardening supplies in the back. One truck, a Chevy Silverado, was registered to Esther Garcia in Parachute.
The second truck, a maroon-colored Ford series truck, was not associated with a valid license plate.
A BLM ranger “continued to see the vehicles throughout the summer, but was not able to report activity in a timely manner because the area does not have any cellular photo or radio coverage,” the complaint reads.
Luis Garcia allegedly had an open container of marijuana and alcohol when he was arrested April 21 and charged with impaired driving, behind the wheel of the Chevy Silverado observed by the BLM ranger.
Authorities, meanwhile, observed similarities in the two pot grow operations targeted near the Dolores River on Sept. 15 and Sept. 30 — both separated by four miles — which resulted in 10 arrests.
“The marijuana was grown and plotted in similar ways; 2) similar cisterns were used watering the plants and 3) both grows used the same type of irrigation piping to provide water for the marijuana plants,” the complaint said.
The grows were in the same area where the Chevy Silverado and the maroon Ford were observed by the BLM ranger, the complaint noted.
One arrestee from Sept. 30, Eduardo Aries-Torres, told the DEA he was hired, caught a train in Salt Lake City and was picked up at the Grand Junction train station by a man he didn’t know in a maroon Ford truck.
“Aries-Torres informed agents that he was hired to trim the marijuana down and help harvest the marijuana,” the complaint said.
Authorities conducting surveillance confirmed the Chevy Silverado, and a maroon Ford F-150, associated with Esther Garcia’s apartment.
The Ford truck was believed to be the same one observed by BLM employees and suspected to be a “re-supply vehicle for the marijuana grow operations … located on federal land,” the complaint reads.
Read the full article HERE!
‘Transfer of public lands’ movement earning credibility out West
“Transfer of Public Lands,” or TPL, is a term that is starting to resonate with many Americans, including some Republican presidential hopefuls, like U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and even former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Supporters of the TPL movement are growing in number as a news cycle peppered with accounts of federal incompetence is reinforcing the message that public lands and resources are best managed by the states.
The concept of TPL is simple: the 60+ percent of western lands tied up by federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and others, will be transferred to state governments to be managed by equivalent state agencies accountable to state legislators and citizens. The map below, produced by the BLM, contrasts federal ownership of land between states east and west of the Continental Divide.
The “transfer of public lands” movement started a few years ago is gaining ground in states out West where state records on land management are shining.
Watchdog Arena reported in October on record wildfires this year, amounting to over 9.4 million acres burned across the country with the highest concentration occurring out West. Greg Walcher, the former Colorado Secretary of Natural Resources told Watchdog Arena that, to a degree, federal management policies such as “no-logging” regulations are to blame for overgrown forests, dead and dying vegetation, and beetle-killed trees that have contributed to recent massive forest fires on federally managed lands.
Walcher is not alone in his assessment.
A recent article by Rebecca Beitsch in the PEW Charitable Trusts’ Stateline questions the effectiveness of D.C.-based management, citing frustrations with federal agencies which now control immense regions of public lands in the West. “In particular,” Beitsch writes, “many question the federal government’s commitment to preventing natural disasters like forest fires.”
As bungling and conflicts between federal agencies and states escalate, the idea that management of lands and resources should be left up to the states is growing in popularity with politicians and citizens alike.
With humble beginnings in Utah just a few years ago, the TPL movement is gaining traction. Utah, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and a number of other states have considered or passed legislation demanding the federal government dispose public lands back to the states under “enabling acts.”
The Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office explains that historically, each new state added to the union has an enabling act which is a compact with the federal government to dispose of its land holdings in those states in order to pay off federal debt and encourage settlement and prosperity through giving access to the natural resources in those states.
TPL legislation excludes those treasures which are considered to belong, collectively, to the people of the United States such as national parks, national monuments, tribal lands, Department of Defense properties, and specifically designated wilderness areas.
The processes for wrestling control of public lands away from federal agencies vary from state to state. Stateline contrasts the effort in Utah, which requires the outright transfer of public lands and management authority to the state, with Colorado, where counties are given a place at the federal table in planning and decision making. ThePEW report details:
Colorado is one of the states at the forefront of this new approach. This year, state lawmakers there approved $1 million in grants for counties that want to influence federal land use decisions. County leaders can use the money to hire consultants to evaluate data, provide scientific research or attend BLM coordination meetings. The law authorizing the grants also requires state agencies to provide additional expertise and assistance to counties when they ask for it.
Despite the progress being made in the TPL movement, detractors cite practical, fiscal, and constitutional issues with exclusive state management of public lands where, for the last 60 years, the federal government has reigned supreme.
RELATED: Horror in the forest: Wildfires leave their mark on 9.4 million acres
One legal analysis produced by the University of Utah claims TPL is unconstitutional, too expensive for states, and would lead to damaging development of public lands.
But not all legal experts share in academia’s opinion.
“I believe it is clear that the Founding Fathers did not intend for the federal government to own one-third of the nation’s landmass,” said William Perry Pendley, an attorney with the Mountain States Legal Foundation and an expert in federal public lands law, in an interview with Watchdog Arena. “Instead, they intended that all the land within each new state would be disposed to the state government, or sold.”
“Illinois provides a perfect example; a little less than two centuries ago, 99 percent of Illinois was owned by the federal government; today less than 1.4 percent of the state is federally owned,” said Pendley.
“States would manage these lands more prudently, cost-effectively, and successfully,” Pendley told Watchdog Arena when asked about the cost and practicality of transferring management of public lands to the states, which have fewer fiscal resources than the federal government.
A chart from a March 2015 report published by the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), a Montana-based non-profit dedicated to preserving the environment through property rights and free markets, compares revenues vs. expenses on state and federally managed lands:
“States cannot afford to manage State-owned lands the way the federal government manages federal lands,” explained Pendley.
“No sane land manager would allow his timber to burn up, or rich natural resources to remain in the ground, or roads to be closed that provide access to his property. But that is what the federal government does to the detriment of taxpayers and the citizens of the West.”
November 16, 2015
This is the text of an email sent by administrators of Minnesota State University in response to the Islamic terror attacks in France.
Dear students, faculty and staff,
Recent events on campuses across the country remind us of the ugliness of racism and intolerance and its painful impact on the lives of our students, faculty, and staff. Because we are not immune to racism here in Minnesota, today we stand together – as leaders of Minnesota’s state colleges and universities – to condemn racism and intolerance and reaffirm our commitment to our core value: our colleges and universities are places of hope and opportunity where everyone can create a better future for themselves, for their families, and for their communities. And when we say everyone, we really do mean everyone.
The challenge for our nation and for our colleges and universities is how we, as a community, turn our core value into action and how we make absolutely certain that, on our campuses, hope defeats hate so that all Minnesotans fulfill their dreams for a better future.
We cannot deny the existence of racism and intolerance or pretend we do not hear racist and hateful language. And we cannot stand indifferent in the face of this historical challenge to eliminate racism and intolerance in our communities. Although we have taken deliberate steps to better understand the subtle and not so subtle ways that racism is practiced and experienced so our campuses can be more diverse and welcoming and so all students can succeed, there is much more work to be done.
When it comes to racism and intolerance, the way forward begins with a willingness to engage with each other with empathy and concern in what are sometimes difficult conversations. But, talking is not enough. We must listen – truly listen – to each other in a sincere effort to better understand our different perspectives and experiences. We must learn to build bridges across these differences. And, we absolutely must stand against racism and intolerance and work together with an abiding commitment to deliver solutions.
We must use the events of the past few weeks to rededicate ourselves to listening better than ever before; acting with a greater sense of urgency than ever before; and working together better than ever before in a spirit of trust and generosity.
Steven Rosenstone, Chancellor, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
Laura Urban, President, Alexandria Technical and Community College
Kent Hanson, President, Anoka-Ramsey Community College and Anoka Technical College
Richard Hanson, President Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College
Larry Lundblad, President, Central Lakes College
Pat Opatz, Interim President, Century College
Tim Wynes, President Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College
Larry Anderson, President, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
Merrill Irving, Jr., President, Hennepin Technical College
Patrick Johns, President, Lake Superior College
Devinder Malhotra, Interim President, Metropolitan State University
Avelino Mills-Novoa, Interim President, Minneapolis Community and Technical College
Dorothy Duran, President, Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical
Peggy Kennedy, President, Minnesota State Community and Technical College
Richard Davenport, President, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Anne Blackhurst, President, Minnesota State University Moorhead
Terry Gaalswyk, President, Minnesota West Community and Technical College
Joyce Ester, President, Normandale Community College
Bill Maki, President, Northeast Higher Education District
Barbara McDonald, President, North Hennepin Community College
Dennis Bona, President, Northland Community and Technical College
Joe Mulford, President, Pine Technical and Community College
Douglas Allen, President, Ridgewater College
Adenuga Atewologun, President, Riverland Community College
Leslie McClellon, President, Rochester Community and Technical College
Rassoul Dastmozd, President, Saint Paul College
Joyce Helens, President, St. Cloud Technical and Community College
Earl Potter, President, St. Cloud State University
Annette Parker, President, South Central College
Connie Gores, President, Southwest Minnesota State University
Scott Olson, President, Winona State University
Posted by Reagangirl.com 11/17/15
The Idaho Statesman’s Rocky Barker penned an article lamenting the smoky Treasure Valley air and the longer wildfire season. The piece meandered quite a bit, but the gist of it was captured in one sentence, “The U.S. could spend the entire firefighting budget on logging and it wouldn’t be enough alone to address the fuel issue in the face of climate change.”
That statement makes absolutely no sense. On the very same day Barker’s article was published, another article appeared in the Idaho Statesman describing the “shrunken” wood and paper industry in Idaho. The article contained a bar chart that demonstrates what many of us who have studied this issue know: logging on federal lands in Idaho has declined from nearly one billion board feet, annually, at the peak in the 1970s to well under 100 million board feet today.
The same article on the wood industry describes an industry that pays better wages than the state average of $37,957 per year in 2014. Logging jobs paid an average of $51,000, wood products manufacturing nearly $50,000, and paper manufacturing $83,000. I fail to see how an industry that pays good wages and salaries would consume the U. S. Forest Service firefighting budget, by using a resource whose use would result in fewer fires in the first place.
According to data from the National Interagency Fire Center, for the period 1946 to 1979 (33 years in a row), not one fire season in the 11 Western States — excluding Alaska — resulted in more than 1 million acres being burned in a single season.
Why? It is not complicated: logging and thinning were the chief tools of fire suppression.
Global warming alarmists like Barker want to smokescreen the issue by conflating the effects of reduced logging with a lack of prescribed burning and “fire-prevention treatment.” They want to hoodwink the public into believing that decades of improper fire suppression techniques and “climate change” are causing fire seasons like 2015’s, a catastrophic one with over 9 million acres scorched in the U.S.
Sadly, these fires serve as a reminder of the public policy shift that began after the Federal Land Policy and Management Act passed in 1976. This act, along with lawsuits and other tactics, opened the door for environmentalists to dramatically reduce logging on federal lands.
We all want clean air, water and a healthy environment for wildlife. For several decades we have been led to believe that a museum management strategy — a passive approach to public lands management — was the proper policy. That solution is a demonstrated failure. Idaho and other states must reverse course and revive the wood products industry and employ other validated management practices.
Those of us who advocate transferring federal lands to the states do so with the full knowledge of the back-story. Our treasured lands cannot endure 40 more years of reckless federal management by those who don’t believe in significant logging on federal lands. This policy failure manifests itself today in the vastly larger wildfires, damaged habitats and the smoky air we are all forced to endure. This is why we advocate for local management.
Fred Birnbaum is vice president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.
Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/opinion/readers-opinion/article43019325.html#storylink=cpy
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 11/15/15
November 14, 2015
The National Security Case For Free-Market Energy
As originally published on Forbes
The House has passed legislation calling for liberalizing energy exports. Two Senate committees have approved similar bills. Whether the legislation becomes law this year remains unknown. But even if the bill doesn’t make it, pressure on Washington will continue to build.
At the height of the “energy crisis” in the 1970s, the U.S. government imposed restrictions on the export of oil and natural gas. Those rules are still around, even though virtually no other country has similar self-imposed restrictions. Nobody much cared about knee-jerk legislation passed decades ago until the U.S. demonstrated the capacity to start exporting energy.
The momentum for free-market energy reform has been building for a while. (Congress hasn’t delivered a big energy bill since 2007). Still, it might not happen this term. The White House has threatened a veto claiming that the bill “is not needed at this time.” Critics note that the administration seems dead set against any initiative that promotes the expanded use of fossil fuels.
The bill has also gathered detractors from the right. Spending hawks lament that, as the bill works its way through Congress, it keeps picking up “sweeteners.” For example, it now contains a provision to throw more money at the questionable Maritime Security Fleet administered by the federal Maritime Security Program.
Nevertheless, whether it happens now or later, the U.S. is all but sure to resume crude oil exports—and not just for economic reasons. There is a strong national security rationale for America to adopt a more free market energy strategy.
On balance, U.S. interests would be better served in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America if global consumers had less restrictive access to U.S. energy.
This is not to say that energy policy should be considered a “national security issue.” Washington is already far prone to claim everything—from climate change, to the national debt, to obesity—as a national security problem. Expanding of the reach of the term “national security” so broadly is dangerous, because it facilitates diverting resources from dealing with very real security problems. Further, turning any old policy challenge into a national security crisis promotes statist solutions which could well undermine the freedom and liberties of Americans.
“National security is not something that merely affects the well-being of Americans,” writes foreign policy scholar Kim Holmes. A national security matter is an intentional, human, malicious act threatening the American nation. Proportionality, scope, and intent are all factored into determining what constitutes a real threat.
“Energy security thus becomes more a policy task of keeping the global energy market as free and open as possible than a programmatic objective of national security or even foreign policy,” concludes Holmes.
If the goal of government is to advance policies that keep America free, safe and prosperous, then in energy export reform, Washington has an opportunity to check all three blocks at once.
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 11/14/15
November 12, 2015
Four Fallacies That Fracktivists Use To Scare You
Alex Epstein , CONTRIBUTOR
As originally published by Forbes
To make intelligent decisions about the future of energy, we need to think big-picture—to look carefully at the benefits and costs to human life of every course of action. Unfortunately, in today’s energy debate we are taught, with politically incorrect forms of energy such as fossil fuels, to only look at the negative picture—often highly exaggerated or taken out of context.
There are at least four common fallacies used to discourage big-picture thinking and breed opposition to fossil fuels. These are things to be on the lookout for when you follow the cultural debate; they are everywhere, and all four are used to attack what might be the most important technology of our generation: shale energy aka “fracking.”
1. The Abuse-Use Fallacy
The largest fossil fuel controversy today, besides the broader climate change issue, is fracking—shorthand for hydraulic fracturing—one of several key technologies for getting oil and gas out of dense shale rock, resources that exist in enormous quantities but had previously been inaccessible at low cost.
Fracking has gotten attention, not primarily because of the productivity revolution it has created, but because of concerns about groundwater contamination. The leading source of this view is celebrity filmmaker Josh Fox’s Gasland (so-called) documentaries on HBO. Looking at how these movies have affected public opinion is an instructive exercise. Both Gasland movies follow a similar three-part formula. First, Fox tells a sad story about a family undergoing a problem, usually with their drinking water. “When we turn on the tap, the water reeks of hydrocarbons and chemicals,” says John Fenton of Pavillion, Wyoming. Then Fox blames it on the oil and gas industry’s use of fracking—without exploring any alternative explanations, such as the fact that methane and other substances often naturally seep into groundwater. This is the false-attribution fallacy, which I’ll discuss in a minute.
Even if Fox’s examples were true, it would be illegitimate of him to conclude what he concludes today and what “fracktivists” demand—that fracking, and really all oil and gas drilling, should be illegal, as if any technology that can be misused should be outlawed.
Any technology can be abused. As we have seen, people are dying right now because of bad practices in the wind turbine production chain. It is irrational to say that because a technology or practice can be abused, it ought not be used.
I call this the abuse-use fallacy. It is a blueprint for opposing any technology. For example, Fox could make Carland, which could show car crashes and then blame all of them on “Big Auto.” Then he could argue that because car crashes are possible, we don’t need cars. In fact, Fox could make a far more alarming movie than Gasland based on supposedly risk-free solar and wind technology. Imagine a scene at a rare-earth mine in a movie called Wasteland.
Defenders of fracking often point out that the “abusers” Fox cites are false attributions—the next fallacy we’ll discuss. But the pattern of argument would be wrong even if Fox wasn’t fabricating particular abuses; individual abuses do not prove that an entire technology should not be used—they prove it should not be abused.
The abuse-use fallacy is deadly because it can be used to attack anything a group opposes. As citizens, we hate to see even one coal mine accident, one spill of hazardous liquids, or one example of industry corruption, but we must use that feeling to advocate for proper laws and best practices, not to drive us to outlaw crucial technologies.
Read the full Alex Epstein article HERE!
reposted by Reagangirl.com 11/12/15