Over a period of twenty months, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy repeatedly concedes that the Agency’s sweeping climate-regulation of America’s fossil fuel-fired power plants will have no impact on the Earth’s climate. McCarthy openly admits that the Clean Power Plan “is not about end of pipe controls.” Instead, she says the rule is about “driving investment in renewables…, [and] advancing our ongoing clean energy revolution”. McCarthy says, “That’s what… reinventing a global economy looks like.”
EPA ADMINISTRATOR MCCARTHY:
“The value of this rule is not measured [by its climate impact]. It is measured by showing strong domestic action…”
-US House Science Committee
-July 9, 2015
“[T]here is absolutely no reason to” measure the climate impact of the Clean Power Plan “because we know it will take a lot of efforts to actually make those reductions”.
-Senate Appropriations Committee
-April 20, 2016
“We don’t have to prove that any reduction [in greenhouse gas emissions] will actually make a precipitous difference” in global warming.
-IHS Energy CERA Week
-February 24, 2016
The “benefit” of the Clean Power Plan is “in showing sort of domestic leadership as well as garnering support around the country for the agreement we reached in Paris.”
-House Energy and Commerce Committee
-March 22, 2016
“[The Clean Power Plan] is not about pollution control. […] This is an investment strategy…”
-Senate EPW Committee
-July 23, 2014
“[The Clean Power Plan] is about advancing our ongoing clean energy revolution […] That’s what… reinventing a global economy looks like.”
-Council on Foreign Relations
-March 11, 2015
“[The Clean Power Plan] is a fundamental way of relooking at where the United States is heading and how to maintain our competitive edge… That’s what this is all about.”
-Council on Foreign Relations
-March 11, 2015
You might remember that Andy Johnson, the rancher from Wyoming, just won his case this week against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
That battle concerned their environmentally friendly stock pond on their private property. The EPA demanded that he remove the pond and threatened him with fines of $37,500 per day if he did not comply. The case was settled this week and the Johnson Family are happy.
He is not the only citizen that the EPA has targeted. More cases are coming to light on the extreme overreach of this organization.
Disabled Navy veteran Joseph Robertson, 77, of Basin, Montana, and his wife, Carri, own about 200 acres of beautiful Montana mountain land. They homestead the White Pine Lode patented mining claim that he owns, and live “green” as Robertson is quick to explain. “I’ve worked over 30 years for mining corporations and I know what contamination is.”
They lease a portion of it to the Helena Veteran’s Support group. They offer camping, hiking and more to veterans and their families. “There is a great veteran support group here,” Robertson tells Redoubt News.
They, also, own a large Freight-liner water tender that they loan to the volunteer fire department, and share with their neighbors. Additionally, they have an outfitted fire truck, including foam, hose reels, etc. that they use with the volunteer fire department.
They love their community and are active in helping, and sharing with, their neighbors.
Due to multiple fires in the area over the past several years, Robertson has maintained and improved his property by building stock ponds for his animals and fire prevention for his and the neighbor properties.
But, he has also scrapped with the government, by way of the Forest Service and the EPA, for years. The harassment by the government began over a decade ago, complaining that he was not allowed to repair the road that leads to his private property. This came to a head in 2013 when they charged this disabled veteran for violation of the Clean Water Act.
The government contends that nine stock ponds affect approximately one-tenth (1/10) of an acre of discharged pollutants into the Jefferson River, nearly 60 miles away.
The first trial was held last year and ended in a hung jury. It would probably have concluded in favor of Mr. Robertson had the federal defender presented all of the evidence. Yet, the defense, Michael Donahoe, refused to call any expert witnesses.
The Director of Veterans Affairs for Senator Steve Daines, Denny Lenoir, was in the courtroom during the trial. Donahoe seemed upset when Robertson would consult with Lenoir. “Why are you making this political?” he complained.
Donahoe’s group had paid for, and received, an environmental impact report detailing how Robertson did NOT violate the law, yet he treated it as if it was not accurate. This report outlines the fact that there is no stream from the Robertson pond to any tributary. Donahoe’s response was that the EPA was the expert testimony, and he would rely on their report.
Donahoe has a good bio with criminal defense. Why would he choose not to use his own expert witness, and report? He chose instead to claim the EPA was the only expert testimony needed in this case.
There is a second, nearly identical report, completed by Kagel Environmental, LLC, included here. Documented by Ray Kagel, a former federal regulator, he shows that Robertson actually improved the land and could not have contaminated any US waters.
The report outlines that the alleged wetlands “is not waters of the U.S.” and it is virtually impossible for them have a “significant effect on the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of the Jefferson River.”
Kagel spoke with Robertson’s public defender, offering to testify on Robertson’s behalf. Donahoe declined the offer and stated he did not wish to use any expert testimony. Kagel completed the report, pro-bono, for the Robertson’s anyway. Thank you Ray Kagel!
Judge Donald W. Molloy retired in 2011. Molloy was the subject of a complaint letter by Robertson some years ago, so it is surprising that, knowing there is bad blood between them, he came out of retirement specifically to hear this case. However, seeing the way this case was handled, maybe it is not so surprising after all.
A week after the first trial ended in a hung jury, Donahoe asked the Robertsons to travel to his office in Helena. Upon the return to their home, they caught two EPA agents attempting to drain their pond, trying to make a stream flow a mile down the canyon to Cataract Creek. It was a blatant attempt to manufacture evidence to support the government case. The timing does seem suspect, as they do not travel off of their property often. It just so happened that they were called away, by their attorney, during this event.
When this information was brought to the attention of Judge Molloy, the Judge did not see a problem with this manufactured evidence. In fact, this ‘evidence’ was allowed at the second trial. Robertson tells me that even Judge Molloy questioned Donahoe as to why he was not objecting to this evidence being presented. Still, Donahoe did not object.
The second trial was completed last month. During the trial, Judge Molloy seemed upset that Robertson wanted his service dog with him. Robertson was required by his attorney to get documentation that authorized him to have the dog, Sasha, in the courtroom.
The second trial ended in a conviction for this 77 year old Navy veteran. He now faces prison and hundreds of thousands in fines. This will amount to life in prison and forfeiture of his property.
“This verdict sends a message that the United States will not stand by and allow streams and wetlands of the United States to be polluted, or National Forest lands to be injured,” said United States Attorney for the District of Montana Mike Cotter.
“Today’s guilty verdict demonstrates that polluters will be held accountable for their actions.” said Jeffrey Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Montana.
Mr. Robertson did not harm the environment, he actually improved it. However, the government did not control these actions, and therefore, seems intent on sending that message. Robertson, who served his country honorably, including tours in Vietnam, faces losing everything he built over his lifetime.
Robertson could now be sentenced up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. It would appear that their Federal Public Defender showed that he knows who he really works for, and it was not for Mr. Robertson. His oath to defend Robertson seemed not as strong as the oath to defend the government. In accordance with this stance, there currently is no appeal expected.
As the final months of the Obama presidency draw to a close, the Regulator in Chief has been keeping quite busy, particularly through the offices of his EPA chief, Gina McCarthy. Yet another jab in the regulation department was delivered this week when the now hilariously named Environmental Protection Agency announced new methane emission standards which will essentially accomplish zero, zilch and nada in terms of total greenhouse gases but will be cripplingly expensive for the energy industry. (Intelligencer)
Because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency believes methane – the main component of natural gas – can be 25 times worse for the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, officials Thursday mandated that drillers, processors and pipeliners curb emissions of it by 45 percent.
These methane standards are even stronger than EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy proposed in August. After reviewing more than 900,000 comments, the final plans call for cutting methane emissions by 510,000 tons by 2025. The August plan called for trimming pollution by 400,000 tons by that year.
American oil and gas industry companies are already in a tight corner these days because of sustained low oil prices, and this was one more unscientific, politically oriented blow to their bottom line which was expected but not at all welcome.
West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association Executive Director Corky DeMarco said the new regulation will force operators to shut down some wells that are only marginally productive.
“This is yet another attack by this administration on fossil fuels. We are so blessed in this country to have the resources we have, but they are not letting us reach our potential,” he said. “With the monitoring equipment they are going to require, it won’t make sense to run some of the wells. They will be shut in.”
This story has grown old and tired quickly because the EPA continues to try to blame rising methane levels (which are known to be a powerful greenhouse gas but only make up a tiny sliver of such components in the atmosphere compared to carbon dioxide) on fracking and other type of oil and natural gas drilling. They’re doing this in spite of the fact that their own government climate experts at NOAA have already said that methane emissions from drilling and other human activity are actually declining, not rising, and account for only a fraction of total methane in the atmosphere. We talked about this over the winter and none of the science behind the question has changed.
It all comes down to the difference between biogenic and thermogenic methane.
Thermogenic methane is released from industrial, energy extraction activity. Biogenic methane occurs naturally and is released due to agricultural activity and the melting of typically frozen ground, widely across eastern Europe and western Asia. Thermogenic methane emissions stopped going up in the 90s and haven’t resumed since. It’s the biogenic methane that’s been on the rise.
Naturally occurring biogenic methane makes up the lion’s share of all methane in the atmosphere now. It seeps out of frozen formations on the ocean floor and the permafrost in northern Europe and Asia, as well as many other sources untouched by man. The reason that the thermogenic methane is on the wane is because it’s the key component in natural gas and drillers don’t like to see their money literally evaporating before their eyes. The industry was already regulating methane leakage to the minimum possible levels without any help from the government. But now the EPA wants to step in and cost the industry vast sums of money to achieve a minuscule reduction.
Why? Are they unaware of the science behind this? That’s unlikely. The more probable explanation is that once again the motivations of the EPA have little or nothing to do with protecting the environment and everything to do with crippling the fossil fuel industry as part of Barack Obama’s legacy before he leaves office.
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary gives two definitions for “decoy,” the first being “a wooden or plastic bird (such as a duck) that is used by hunters to attract live birds,” and the second, more relevant to the discussion being offered here, is “a person or thing that attracts people’s attention so they will not notice someone or something else.” In either case, it involves a premeditated deception to accomplish an agenda that ends up victimizing whatever, or whomever, is lured into falling for—no offense to you hunters—a fraud.
What hunters should be offended by is an attempt to trick them into supporting “progressive” political goals, inevitably hostile to the right to keep and bear arms, by adopting the guise of being “sportsmen’s groups.” Responding to that, the Environmental Policy Alliance is out to expose what it calls “Green Decoys.”
“Funded by liberal foundations, these groups use sportsmen to camouflage their extreme anti-gun and anti-energy agenda,” the ironically (cleverly)-named EPA warns. “For example, the Joyce Foundation, major funders of the Izaak Walton League of America and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, has given millions to anti-Second Amendment groups like the Violence Policy Center.
“They have also given 6-figure grants to support Mayors Against Illegal Guns, anti-gun ‘messaging research,’ and efforts to increase regulation on firearm ownership,” the EPA advisory continues. “They even tried to make gun violence prevention a primary focus of the American Medical Association.”
To establish their case, EPA has produced a “Green Decoys” video (posted on the YouTube video-sharing website under that title, and also on the group’s website, GreenDecoys.com), and a report on financial backers, “How Radical Environmentalists are Using ‘Sportsmen’s’ Groups as Camouflage.” In it, they flesh out their claims about the recipient groups and the donors behind them, including background information like how the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation included Barack Obama on its board before he became president.
Employing a “divide and conquer” strategy against gun owners, often pitting sport shooters against those who own firearms for the primary purposes of protection and freedom, is hardly new. It’s been tried before with other well-funded shill groups established by those who can’t push citizen disarmament edicts through if they’re up front about their intentions, so they instead package them in a way to induce well-meaning but poorly informed gun owners to take the bait.
Some years back, this column talked about the American Hunters and Shooters Association (“Beware of Moles,” January, 2006), a group ostensibly “committed to supporting the right to keep and bear arms, protecting our homes, and preserving our liberties.” Along with those fine words, the group further pledged, “Hunting and sport shooting are American values AHSA will vigorously defend.”
How would they do that? Evidently by making disarming noises out of one side of their mouth, while asserting “an overwhelming majority of hunters support proposals like background checks to purchase guns, keeping military style assault weapons off our streets and the elimination of cop killer bullets,” out of the other. Just in case their anti-gun bent wasn’t clear, they advocated that “the FBI should be given reasonable access to National Instant Check System (NICS) purchase records” and promoted “legislative efforts to regulate .50 caliber BMG sniper rifles in the same manner as machine guns.”
Remember the line from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, “Who are these guys?” In the case of AHSA, “they” were essentially über-rich Boston developer John Rosenthal (who along with one of the Kennedys founded Stop Handgun Violence), and a handful of directors that included a couple of ex-ATF careerists, and a turncoat lawyer who found greener pastures abandoning NRA and going over to the dark side. The group itself shared an address with a Democrat political consulting firm that counted John Conyers and Nancy Pelosi among its clients.
Attempts at such “false front” operations did not stop there, as this column noted several months back (“‘Gun Control’ Messages ‘Evolve,’” July, 2014), recounting further such “decoys.” In addition to AHSA, the went-nowhere-fast American Rifle and Pistol Association was examined, and two better-financed (and still kicking) groups were pointed out: One, Mark and Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions, offers what it calls “commonsense solutions to protect our communities from gun violence” (which basically entails you and me obeying stupid infringements that the criminals doing all the damage will continue to disregard). The other, Evolve Together, Inc., represents itself as a “third voice … in the gun debate,” as if more than one voice that speaks the truth is needed, and as if debate with that advances anything but lies.
We’ve seen other attempts to lull gun owners into sleeping with the enemy, like a video produced by the “progressive” (and that’s putting it mildly) advocacy group Move On. In it, they feature some guy whose affiliation with gun rights is purposely obscure, but who nonetheless proclaims “I’m a gun owner and a proud defender of the Second Amendment, but for years I’ve watched Congress take money from the NRA and then oppose any kind of reform that helps keep us safe.”
For some reason I’m recalling a line from The Outlaw Josey Wales about telling someone it’s raining.
Another video that got significant media attention was produced by Michael Bloomberg’s money and featured someone we can only refer to as “Average Joe.” Cradling a shotgun in the back of a pickup truck, “Joe” was just the prop to convince some that a $12 million media campaign cooked up by a slick New York City ad agency represented predominant heartland sentiment.
“I believe in the Second Amendment and I’ll fight to protect it,” Joe declared, right before showing everyone a huge “but” that paid no mind to the pesky “shall not be infringed” part. To the dismay of the illusionists, many activist gun owners saw through the disingenuous spot, and that resulted in denials that “Joe” was an actor, and assertions that he was a real gun owner (Honest!), albeit one who just happened to remain conveniently anonymous.
Still, as long as we’re looking at people pretending to be one thing while working to undermine the group they’re trying to influence, it would be remiss not to acknowledge questions have been raised by critics of the Environmental Policy Alliance. Put more accurately, attempts to spread doubts about them have been made by media allies of those they expose.
Calling it “a front group for Washington, D.C.-based public relations firm Berman & Company,” The Huffington Post attempted an outing of sorts on EPA’s parent group, the Center for Consumer Freedom, and its top man, Rick Berman, dubbed “Dr. Evil” on 60 Minutes. The thing is, while both HuffPo and Morley Safer tried their best to convince their “progressive” followers that Berman is devoted only to profits, neither made that case with examples of documented unethical practices, or by refuting anything the man, who decries a government nanny state and endorses personal responsibility, claims.
“Look, once you get past the name-calling, tell me what’s wrong with our statistics,” Berman replied to Safer. “Tell me what’s wrong with our science.”
For any wishing to contest EPA’s claims about Green Decoys, try refuting them with facts that demonstrate where they’re wrong, instead of resorting to the old ad hominem (attacking the man instead of his arguments) standby of shooting the messenger.
by Phil TaylorAs federal prosecutors seek to convict Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy for his role in a near-violent standoff two years ago with the Bureau of Land Management, they’ll likely turn to a brawny special agent named Dan Love.With his Oakley shades, armored vest and ball cap turned backward, Love in 2014 stood feet from hundreds of protesters — many brandishing guns — who were poised to storm BLM’s cattle corrals about 7 miles from Bundy’s private ranch northeast of Las Vegas.Testimony from Love, with his eye-level view of the standoff, could be key to the government’s successful prosecution of Bundy; his sons Ammon, Ryan, Mel and Dave; and other alleged standoff leaders including Ryan Payne and Pete Santilli.
Cliven Bundy, 70, orchestrated the “massive armed assault” against Love and his fellow officers in 2014, prosecutors said, to threaten them into abandoning the roughly 400 cattle BLM had rounded up from public lands. The men face charges that could put them behind bars for decades.
Love, who has been described as muscular, tall and quick-witted, is both loved and reviled in Nevada and Utah, where he’s BLM’s top cop. He worked for the Federal Air Marshal Service from 2002 to 2006 and has been with BLM for roughly a decade, based in Salt Lake City.
Critics say Love has a massive ego and lacks the gravitas needed to navigate the red-hot politics of federal land management in those states.
Yet allies praise Love for keeping BLM employees, citizens and priceless natural resources safe. His composure and restraint during the April 12, 2014, standoff near Bunkerville may have saved lives, they said.
“He’s one of those people you either work well with or you don’t like his style,” said Pat Irwin, a two-term commissioner of Pershing County, Nev., who worked with Love on BLM’s law enforcement during the annual Burning Man festival.
Love has led some of BLM’s most challenging law enforcement operations in states where federal authority is often not welcomed.
Love was the lead agent in BLM’s two-year, undercover investigation with the FBI nearly a decade ago into illegal Native American artifact trafficking in the Four Corners region that resulted in the arrest of more than two dozen people and the suicide of a well-respected local doctor. In 2008, Love arrested and helped prosecute environmental activist Tim DeChristopher for disrupting a BLM oil and gas lease sale in Salt Lake City that critics said imperiled Arches National Park and the climate.
Love also prodded Burning Man to provide “VIP” accommodations for agency officials during the weeklong festival on public lands in the Black Rock Desert, a request that drew ridicule from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and national embarrassment for BLM.
Love’s credibility and reputation will be key if he’s called to the witness stand in the Bundy case. The Justice Department said it plans to call between 30 and 45 witnesses and present more than a terabyte of evidence.
BLM refused to allow Love, his law enforcement superiors or its state directors to comment for this article. Nor would BLM answer basic questions about Love’s professional resume — when he was hired, his age, where he previously worked and his law enforcement qualifications.
Many other former and current officials likewise declined to comment. They include Carlie Christensen and Brett Tolman, former U.S. attorneys for the District of Utah who worked directly with Love during the Blanding artifacts raid; Larry Shackelford, who was special agent in charge before Love and supervised him; former BLM Director Bob Abbey; and former BLM Nevada State Director Amy Lueders, who worked with Love during the Bunkerville incident and is now BLM’s New Mexico state director.
BLM’s silence in the face of Love’s critics is puzzling given the high stakes in the Bundy case and the desire of many BLM employees to see Bundy behind bars.
One former government official familiar with the issue said that Utah’s congressional delegation wants Love relocated from his post and that BLM leadership appears amenable to making that happen.
“It’s unfortunate that Dan has become something of a political pawn,” said the official, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation. “There are clearly elements in the agency who would prefer he simply fade away, in part to appease Hill critics.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in March introduced H.R. 4751, a bill to eliminate BLM and Forest Service law enforcement and transfer policing powers on federal lands to local sheriffs. Chaffetz said his constituents want to see a “little more Andy Griffith and a little less Rambo” from BLM law enforcement officers.
He’s not a fan of Love.
“There’s one common denominator where things have gone wrong: It’s Dan Love,” Chaffetz said in an interview. “The Department of Interior knows how to solve this problem; thus far, they’ve decided not to do that.”
A Chaffetz spokeswoman declined to elaborate on what that solution is.
Sheriffs in Utah don’t like Love, either. They see him as heavy-handed and dismissive of local authority.
Love oversaw BLM’s decision in 2012 to allow several contracts with local sheriffs to expire, according to BLM’s former Utah State Director Juan Palma. The contracts, which reimburse sheriffs for providing enhanced law enforcement patrols on federal lands, were a bad deal for taxpayers, BLM has said. Local sheriffs saw BLM’s decision as retaliation for the state’s bid to take over federal lands.
“Dan’s lost a lot of trust with the sheriffs, so he’s got some hills to climb,” Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins said.
Yet Love has taken steps to mend relations, Perkins said.
“He is making more of an effort — how genuine it is, I don’t know,” Perkins said. “I don’t hate Dan Love. In fact, he’s kind of comical to be around.”
‘Not real pleased’
BLM’s law enforcement division includes about 195 uniformed rangers who patrol federal lands and write citations for things like illegal off-road driving and target shooting. BLM also employs about 70 special agents, plainclothes officers who specialize in long-term investigations of crimes like theft of paleontological and archaeological resources or illegal marijuana grows. Love is among five special agents in charge who lead the special agents.
Love was a special agent when he joined BLM’s investigation of illegal artifacts trading in the Four Corners, which was known as Operation Cerberus Action. By June 2009, Love was the lead BLM case agent for the operation.
He enlisted the help of Ted Gardiner, a 50-year-old recovering alcoholic and dealer of Anasazi artifacts, as a confidential informant. Gardner wore a hidden camera to record deals with southeast Utah residents, spending $335,685 in government money to buy 256 artifacts. On the morning of June 10, 2009, the FBI and BLM simultaneously served search and arrest warrants at a dozen homes and more than two dozen people were arrested.
Two of the defendants later committed suicide, including James Redd, 60, a respected doctor from Blanding who connected a hose from his car’s exhaust pipe to asphyxiate himself. Redd’s family later sued Love in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, alleging he violated Redd’s Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force to “make an example” out of him. Judge Richard Shelby last December dismissed the case after finding Love’s conduct reasonable.
Love was named BLM’s “agent of the year” for the operation, according to the Los Angeles Times, and was promoted to special agent in charge for Utah and Nevada. Prosecutors and American Indians called Cerberus a success, arguing it recovered truckloads of illegally obtained antiquities, raised awareness of the artifacts trade and deterred future trafficking.
But the raid — in which 150 agents wearing bulletproof vests searched houses and hauled away suspects in handcuffs and shackles, according to the Deseret News — sowed deep distrust of BLM law enforcement and local resentment of Love.
“A lot of people in Utah are not real pleased with him,” said Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). “There are some problems that I think have to be ironed out.”
Love defended the operation in 2011, telling the Deseret News that “I would be hard-pressed to find any law enforcement officer across the country that when serving an arrest warrant or a search warrant isn’t properly geared.” The arrests were carried out in unison, officials said, to prevent defendants from fleeing or destroying evidence.
Pat Shea, who served as BLM director during the Clinton administration and is now a Salt Lake City defense attorney, is also among Love’s critics. Shea represented DeChristopher, the fraudulent oil and gas bidder whom Love arrested and helped prosecute.
“To be a federal law enforcement officer in 2016 requires the ultimate form of diplomacy,” Shea said. “Your first tool is persuasion. The last tool after careful planning is ordering or force.”
Critics said Love’s go-it-alone mentality failed BLM during the Bunkerville impoundment. They blame Love’s sour relationship with former Clark County, Nev., Sheriff Doug Gillespie, whose assistance could have lent the operation more legitimacy in the eyes of conservative protesters, many of whom refused to acknowledge BLM’s jurisdiction over the lands.
BLM had tried for months to secure a contract with Gillespie and his Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to assist in crowd control at Gold Butte, but the deal crumbled at the eleventh hour. Gillespie later told the Las Vegas Sun that BLM misled him about the circumstances of the impoundment, an allegation BLM denied.
Love’s allies said he was an honest broker with Gillespie but the sheriff betrayed him.
Gillespie declined to comment for this article.
As tensions escalated in Bunkerville — on April 12, hundreds of Bundy supporters amassed in front of Love and his fellow rangers, with more than 60 brandishing firearms, according to prosecutors — Love negotiated with Ammon Bundy at the corral gates for a peaceful end to the impoundment.
“In a highly volatile situation with heavily armed antagonists, Love negotiated a peaceful resolution,” said Celia Boddington, who was serving as BLM’s assistant director for communications at the time and is now retired. “When all is said and done, he was the person most responsible for ensuring that nobody got killed that day. While many are eager to play Monday morning quarterback, history will judge him kindly.”
Prosecutors say protesters targeted Love during and after the roundup.
In an indictment, prosecutors said Santilli approached Love on the morning of April 9 and threatened him by asking, “What are you guys going to do if 10,000 people show up? … Are you prepared for this?”
Santilli that day told Love that BLM law enforcement officers would be arrested and sent to jail, according to a recorded conversation between the two.
“I don’t know how you plan on arresting me, but good luck with that,” Love said in the recording. “That’s not going to end well for you.”
Santilli’s attorneys last week said that Santilli was acting as a mediator in that conversation and that the tone of the conversation remained “respectful.” There were no threats against Love, they said.
In November 2014, Santilli and an unnamed associate left Love a voice message threatening his family, prosecutors wrote in a legal filing last month in the Nevada federal district court.
“You are outnumbered,” Santilli said, according to the filing. “My listenership alone, OK, will respond to Bundy Ranch if you go anywhere near it. I need to tell you that … we don’t recognize the BLM. We don’t recognize your authority. We will have your guns taken away. We will have you incarcerated.”
Santilli was arrested by the FBI on Jan. 26 for his role in the 40-day Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation. He faces separate charges over that incident in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.
The leaders of the Bunkerville standoff face felony charges of threatening a federal law officer, conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, assault on a federal officer and other charges that could put them in prison for decades. A trial is set for next February in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
Love’s allies credit him with drawing a line in the sand against anti-federal-lands activists bent on toppling BLM’s control. Conservationists have hammered the Obama administration for backing down in the Bundy roundup and for failing to prosecute past incidents on public lands, which critics say enabled the Malheur takeover.
“He’s very passionate about what he does, and perhaps that causes ire with others,” said one former BLM law enforcement official who asked not to be named. “There’s ego. All cops have egos. If you’re going to be in this business, you have to have some.”
Burning Man officials can attest to Love’s bravado.
On Jan. 10, 2014, Love walked into a BLM meeting with top Burning Man officials at the festival’s San Francisco headquarters wearing mirrored sunglasses and a Glock pistol on his hip, according to multiple sources.
“Talk about a passive, peace-loving place,” said Mike Ford, a former BLM official who was at the meeting and was consulting for Burning Man organizers at the time. “That heavy, macho, armed attitude, that doesn’t serve the agency well.”
A year later, a Reno Gazette-Journal investigation revealed BLM — Love in particular — had demanded the festival provide enhanced accommodations for agency officials, including flush toilets and access to Choco Tacos, M&Ms, licorice and Chobani Greek yogurt, in exchange for receiving a permit to operate.
BLM later backpedaled on the request and has since removed Love from the role of negotiating Burning Man’s permit.
“It’s no great secret we’ve been frustrated with BLM law enforcement in the past,” said Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham. “BLM brought in a new management team just before the event in 2015, and we’ve seen a marked improvement in our working relationships.”
Irwin, the Pershing County commissioner, defended Love’s work at Burning Man. He called Love a “good interface” who has done “a really good job as an advocate of public safety in Pershing County.”
Burning Man annually draws upward of 70,000 revelers to a remote desert playa north of Reno for eccentric and fiery art installations. As festival attendance grows, the number of BLM personnel needed to oversee the event has doubled to 160 over the past five years, BLM told the Associated Press last year. The agency said it is running out of places to house them in nearby Gerlach, Nev.
“When I’ve got a law enforcement guy working out there on a 12- to 14-hour shift, I want him to have a place where he can relax, rest and rejuvenate,” Irwin said. “They need to get some good sleep to be sharp and on top of their game.”
BLM and county law enforcement don’t come to the event for fun but rather to ensure no one gets hurt, he said.
“I could see where he’s coming from,” Irwin said of Love. “I can see where taking care of my guys is important.”
So-called “welfare ranchers” are paying significantly more per animal for grazing than those on private lands.
Time For the truth about public land grazing
Where in our country today does an industry save the federal government $750 million in taxpayer dollars each year? The answer is public lands ranching.
For more than 100 years, thousands of ranchers across our nation’s 14 western states have grazed their animals on the 250 million acres of wide-open space our government owns and sets aside for multiple uses. Public land ranchers own their own private ranches, but pay the government significant fees each year to use the land to graze cattle and sheep. In most places, this public land is rough terrain unsuitable for farming, but the animals can eat the rough grasses that grow in these areas – turning an otherwise unusable natural resource into a free-range, grass fed, high-quality protein source that millions of consumers actively seek out today, while simultaneously serving as stewards of our public lands and providing the numerous environmental benefits of responsible grazing.
In addition to contributing to our nation’s food supply, public land ranchers are responsible for maintaining the government land they lease, requiring significant time and financial resources to ensure that the land is suitable for grazing, sustaining native wildlife and other uses. Their personal investment, in addition to the cost of grazing fees, can be difficult to quantify as it’s a combination of year-round man hours and money for equipment and supplies. Ranchers maintain fences, ensure access to clean water sources, remove invasive plant species, ensure safe recreational spaces, create firebreaks to reduce the spread of wildfires, serve as first responders for wildfires along with many other necessary land maintenance tasks. To get the job done, they also need to provide the needed fuel, equipment and man power.For example, ranchers ensure that all water sources on the government land they work are clean and usable. This could mean hauling heavy equipment, like backhoes, more than 100 miles to dig out a particular spring and then building a structure around it that provides animals the ability to access clean water. In the winter, the ranchers drive out to the water sources on the land and break up the ice so grazing animals and wildlife alike have water to drink.
If you compare the combination of grazing fees and land maintenance costs that ranchers invest to graze on public land to the single fee charged to lease private land for grazing – where the landowner does all the land maintenance for you – researchers find that ranching on public land is a more significant investment. A 2011 study conducted by University of Idaho Extension Agricultural Economists found that public land ranchers pay on average $1.20 per animal unit (AUM) more than those who graze on private land.
Taking land maintenance work into account, public land ranchers ultimately save the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) more than $750 million in taxpayer dollars each year. It costs the BLM $5 per acre to do the necessary land maintenance work on public lands. Conversely, it only costs the BLM $2 per acre for land that’s allotted for grazing since the rancher makes such a significant investment in maintaining the land for the government. In fact, if the BLM were to undertake the maintenance on public lands that’s currently provided by ranchers, the agency would require a 60 percent budget increase.
At the end of the day, public land ranchers are able to turn an otherwise unusable natural resource into healthy, free-range, high-quality protein while reducing the land management burden and budget demands of our federal government. It’s important that policy decision makers weighing in on the value of the industry have a real understanding of the numerous benefits of public lands ranching to our nation. This might require stepping away from their urban workplaces and visiting a ranching business, in one of the 14 western states where this work takes place, to inform the decisions they will ultimately be making on Capitol Hill. The experience would be well worth the effort.
Richards is president of the Public Lands Council and an Idaho rancher.
Here are some basic facts about energy and human well-being.
• There are 7 billion people in the world who need cheap, plentiful, reliable energy to flourish.
• Some three billion have virtually no energy by our standards. Over a billion have no electricity whatsoever.
• In the history of energy technology, only three methods of energy have proven able to produce cheap, plentiful, reliable energy on any significant scale. These are hydrocarbon (fossil fuel), nuclear and hydroelectric power—with hydrocarbon being the most scalable and versatile (e.g., it provides virtually all our liquid transportation fuel).
• Two of those methods—nuclear and hydro—are not carbon-based and therefore are the obvious choices to champion to the extent you are concerned with reducing CO2 emissions.
• The biggest opponent by far of both of these technologies is the green movement—the movement that claims to care the most deeply about reducing CO2 emissions.
• That movement keeps insisting, against all evidence, that their anti-fossil, anti-nuclear, anti-hydro stance is not a problem because solar and wind, unreliable, parasitical sources of energy that increase costs wherever they are significantly deployed, will somehow save the day.
Why does the green movement oppose every practical form of energy?
There is only one answer that can explain this. Greens oppose every practical form of energy not out of love for the non-existent virtues of solar and wind energy, but because they believe practical energy is inherently immoral.
It’s in their philosophical DNA.
To “be green” means to minimize our impact on nature. In the green philosophy, the standard of value, the metric by which we measure good and bad is human nonimpact—does an action make our environment more or less altered by humans?
If we take that idea seriously, then practical energy is not a good thing.
Energy is “the capacity to do work,” that is, the capacity to alter the placement of matter in nature from where it is to where we want it to be—to impact it. The fundamental use of energy is to power the machines that transform our environment to meet our needs.
If an unaltered, untransformed environment is our standard of value, then nothing could be worse than cheap, plentiful, reliable energy. A consistent advocate of green energy therefore would oppose fossil fuels under any circumstances—if they created no waste, including no CO2, if they were even cheaper, if they would last practically forever, if there were no resource-depletion concerns.
Could this really be true? Yes, in fact history proved it true in the late 1980s.
For many decades, the ultimate energy fantasy has been what’s called nuclear fusion. Conventional nuclear power is called nuclear fission, which unleashes power through the decay of heavy atoms such as uranium. Nuclear fusion unleashes far more power through fusion of two light atoms, hydrogen for example. Fusion is what the sun uses for energy. But all human attempts at fusion so far have been inefficient—they take in more energy than they produce. But if it could be made to work, it would be the cheapest, cleanest, most plentiful energy source ever created. It would be like the problem-free fossil fuels I said the Green leaders would oppose.
In the late 1980s, some reports that fusion was close to commercial reality got quite a bit of press. Reporters interviewed some of the world’s environmental thought leaders to ask them what they thought of fusion—testing how they felt not about energy’s human-harming risks and wastes, but its pure transformative power. What did they say?
Last week Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a bill designed to give the federal government something it has needed for a very long time — a shot across the bow. Federal attempts to own and control Colorado water have been a raspberry seed in our wisdom tooth for years, but when the Forest Service actually tried last year to confiscate ski areas’ water rights, they pushed too far. This time Colorado pushed back.
It isn’t often that legislation on subjects as complex as water pass both houses of the Legislature unanimously (actually never before). Until now. The Colorado Water Rights Protection Act, as you might imagine, was somewhat “watered down” in order to gain such unanimous bi-partisan support. Nevertheless, it sets a very important precedent in modern water law.
First, the measure re-asserts basic Colorado law, enshrined in our Constitution. Namely, that waters of Colorado belong to the people of Colorado, that they are adjudicated by state water courts, appropriated under state law, and administered by the state engineer. That may seem unimportant because it isn’t new, but it has been many years since the Legislature has said, in essence, we still have no intention of changing our system just because the federal government now considers itself all powerful.
That is more than symbolic. The restatement of principles reminds federal agency landlords that they, too, serve the public and must operate under the law. Moreover, it signals the state attorney general, and state agencies, that they are not only cleared, but encouraged, to take legal action when Colorado water rights are threatened by federal overreach.
The “watered down” part is a little disappointing to many of us who have fought these power plays from the Forest Service, BLM, and National Park Service. Specifically, the legislation acknowledges that there is such a thing as federal “reserved water rights,” something Colorado and other western states have never really officially agreed to. It just means that when Congress “reserved” federal lands for specific purposes (like national forests or parks), it implicitly reserved the appurtenant water, as much as needed for the purposes of the forest or park. That may seem innocuous, but the Forest Service has tried to use reserved water rights as a tool to take water from long-standing uses, so our history makes us skeptical of the idea. Worse, the bill disclaims any effect on something the feds call “bypass flow” requirements. That refers to national forest rules requiring water rights owners (like ditch companies) to leave some portion of their water in the stream for environmental purposes, which were not part of the original court decrees. That is a taking of private property for public purposes, without the “just compensation” required by the Bill of Rights.
That’s all water under the bridge, battles Westerners have fought with these federal agencies for 30 years. But when the Forest Service tried to extort actual ownership of the ski areas’ water rights, as a condition of allowing them to continue operating on the national forests, it was too much. The ski areas sued, the Forest Service lost, tried again, but backed down over the Christmas holiday last year (because the agency knew it would lose again). Now the state has officially said “no more of that.”
This new law makes clear that if any federal agency wants to own water rights in Colorado, it must apply and go through the same water court process as anyone else. It can certainly do so, but in line and with the priority system that applies to all water users. That can be a time-consuming and expensive process, so this is meant to be a financial incentive for the feds to work with us, not against us.
Some observers already say there are no teeth to this. After all, if the feds didn’t care what Colorado wanted last year, why would they care now? Why not just ignore state law, generally considered subordinate to federal law anyway? But in fact there are some teeth in the new law, symbolism aside.
Since the actual administration of water systems and enforcement of water court decrees is done by the state engineer, this bill requires that office to refuse enforcement of improper federal water claims. So the feds can no longer rely on the state to help subjugate its own citizens. Perhaps more to the point, such federal overreach in the future might find serious obstacles — not just political opposition from ditch companies and water districts, but legal opposition from the state itself.
Greg Walcher is president of the Natural Resources Group and author of “Smoking Them Out: The Theft of the Environment and How to Take it Back.” He is a Western Slope native.
In 1950, Congress passed a law carving out a portion of the desert within Joshua Tree National Monument for the newly opened iron mine at Eagle Mountain. More than three decades after the mine shut down in 1982, the National Park Service is now considering whether to expand Joshua Tree National Park to preserve a portion of those lands surrounding the old mine.
Park officials are weighing several alternatives that would add between 22,135 acres and 28,600 acres to Joshua Tree, an expansion of roughly 3 percent for the 790,636-acre park.
“This is an effort to say, ‘Wow, this is a special area surrounded by national park. Maybe we should manage that a little bit differently,’” said David Smith, the superintendent of the park.
The federal lands that would be added to the park now fall under the Bureau of Land Management. If the park is enlarged, the change would push the park boundary closer to the old mine — and near a proposed hydropower plant that park officials have warned could threaten water supplies and wildlife.
The proposed Eagle Mountain Pumped Storage Project would involve building reservoirs in the vacant mine’s open pits and filling them with water from the desert aquifer. Santa Monica-based Eagle Crest Energy Company plans to pump water from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir during times when electricity from nearby solar plants and wind farms exceeds demands, and then let the water run downhill to generate power during other times when electricity is needed.
A Uranium One sign that points to a 35,000-acre ranch owned by John Christensen, near the town of Gillette, Wyo. Uranium One has the mining rights to Mr. Christensen’s property. Credit Matthew Staver for The New York Times
The headline on the website Pravda trumpeted President Vladimir V. Putin’s latest coup, its nationalistic fervor recalling an era when its precursor served as the official mouthpiece of the Kremlin: “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.”
The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.
But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one.
At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.
Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.
And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.
Frank Giustra, right, a mining financier, has donated $31.3 million to the foundation run by former President Bill Clinton, left. Credit Joaquin Sarmiento/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.
The New York Times’s examination of the Uranium One deal is based on dozens of interviews, as well as a review of public records and securities filings in Canada, Russia and the United States. Some of the connections between Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation were unearthed by Peter Schweizer, a former fellow at the right-leaning Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book “Clinton Cash.” Mr. Schweizer provided a preview of material in the book to The Times, which scrutinized his information and built upon it with its own reporting.
Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.
In a statement, Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, said no one “has ever produced a shred of evidence supporting the theory that Hillary Clinton ever took action as secretary of state to support the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation.” He emphasized that multiple United States agencies, as well as the Canadian government, had signed off on the deal and that, in general, such matters were handled at a level below the secretary. “To suggest the State Department, under then-Secretary Clinton, exerted undue influence in the U.S. government’s review of the sale of Uranium One is utterly baseless,” he added.
American political campaigns are barred from accepting foreign donations. But foreigners may give to foundations in the United States. In the days since Mrs. Clinton announced her candidacy for president, the Clinton Foundation has announced changes meant to quell longstanding concerns about potential conflicts of interest in such donations; it has limited donations from foreign governments, with many, like Russia’s, barred from giving to all but its health care initiatives. That policy stops short of a more stringent agreement between Mrs. Clinton and the Obama administration that was in effect while she was secretary of state.
Either way, the Uranium One deal highlights the limits of such prohibitions. The foundation will continue to accept contributions from foreign sources whose interests, like Uranium One’s, may overlap with those of foreign governments, some of which may be at odds with the United States.
Donations to the Clinton Foundation, and a Russian Uranium Takeover Uranium investors gave millions to the Clinton Foundation while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s office was involved in approving a Russian bid for mining assets in Kazakhstan and the United States.
When the Uranium One deal was approved, the geopolitical backdrop was far different from today’s. The Obama administration was seeking to “reset” strained relations with Russia. The deal was strategically important to Mr. Putin, who shortly after the Americans gave their blessing sat down for a staged interview with Rosatom’s chief executive, Sergei Kiriyenko. “Few could have imagined in the past that we would own 20 percent of U.S. reserves,” Mr. Kiriyenko told Mr. Putin.
Now, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine, the Moscow-Washington relationship is devolving toward Cold War levels, a point several experts made in evaluating a deal so beneficial to Mr. Putin, a man known to use energy resources to project power around the world.
“Should we be concerned? Absolutely,” said Michael McFaul, who served under Mrs. Clinton as the American ambassador to Russia but said he had been unaware of the Uranium One deal until asked about it. “Do we want Putin to have a monopoly on this? Of course we don’t. We don’t want to be dependent on Putin for anything in this climate.”
A Seat at the Table
The path to a Russian acquisition of American uranium deposits began in 2005 in Kazakhstan, where the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra orchestrated his first big uranium deal, with Mr. Clinton at his side.
The two men had flown aboard Mr. Giustra’s private jet to Almaty, Kazakhstan, where they dined with the authoritarian president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev. Mr. Clinton handed the Kazakh president a propaganda coup when he expressed support for Mr. Nazarbayev’s bid to head an international elections monitoring group, undercutting American foreign policy and criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, his wife, then a senator.
Within days of the visit, Mr. Giustra’s fledgling company, UrAsia Energy Ltd., signed a preliminary deal giving it stakes in three uranium mines controlled by the state-run uranium agency Kazatomprom.
If the Kazakh deal was a major victory, UrAsia did not wait long before resuming the hunt. In 2007, it merged with Uranium One, a South African company with assets in Africa and Australia, in what was described as a $3.5 billion transaction. The new company, which kept the Uranium One name, was controlled by UrAsia investors including Ian Telfer, a Canadian who became chairman. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Giustra, whose personal stake in the deal was estimated at about $45 million, said he sold his stake in 2007.
Soon, Uranium One began to snap up companies with assets in the United States. In April 2007, it announced the purchase of a uranium mill in Utah and more than 38,000 acres of uranium exploration properties in four Western states, followed quickly by the acquisition of the Energy Metals Corporation and its uranium holdings in Wyoming, Texas and Utah. That deal made clear that Uranium One was intent on becoming “a powerhouse in the United States uranium sector with the potential to become the domestic supplier of choice for U.S. utilities,” the company declared.
Ian Telfer was chairman of Uranium One and made large donations to the Clinton Foundation. Credit Galit Rodan/Bloomberg, via Getty Images
Still, the company’s story was hardly front-page news in the United States — until early 2008, in the midst of Mrs. Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, when The Times published an article revealing the 2005 trip’s link to Mr. Giustra’s Kazakhstan mining deal. It also reported that several months later, Mr. Giustra had donated $31.3 million to Mr. Clinton’s foundation.
(In a statement issued after this article appeared online, Mr. Giustra said he was “extremely proud” of his charitable work with Mr. Clinton, and he urged the media to focus on poverty, health care and “the real challenges of the world.”)
Though the 2008 article quoted the former head of Kazatomprom, Moukhtar Dzhakishev, as saying that the deal required government approval and was discussed at a dinner with the president, Mr. Giustra insisted that it was a private transaction, with no need for Mr. Clinton’s influence with Kazakh officials. He described his relationship with Mr. Clinton as motivated solely by a shared interest in philanthropy.
As if to underscore the point, five months later Mr. Giustra held a fund-raiser for the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, a project aimed at fostering progressive environmental and labor practices in the natural resources industry, to which he had pledged $100 million. The star-studded gala, at a conference center in Toronto, featured performances by Elton John and Shakira and celebrities like Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Robin Williams encouraging contributions from the many so-called F.O.F.s — Friends of Frank — in attendance, among them Mr. Telfer. In all, the evening generated $16 million in pledges, according to an article in The Globe and Mail.
“None of this would have been possible if Frank Giustra didn’t have a remarkable combination of caring and modesty, of vision and energy and iron determination,” Mr. Clinton told those gathered, adding: “I love this guy, and you should, too.”
But what had been a string of successes was about to hit a speed bump.
Arrest and Progress
By June 2009, a little over a year after the star-studded evening in Toronto, Uranium One’s stock was in free-fall, down 40 percent. Mr. Dzhakishev, the head of Kazatomprom, had just been arrested on charges that he illegally sold uranium deposits to foreign companies, including at least some of those won by Mr. Giustra’s UrAsia and now owned by Uranium One.
Publicly, the company tried to reassure shareholders. Its chief executive, Jean Nortier, issued a confident statement calling the situation a “complete misunderstanding.” He also contradicted Mr. Giustra’s contention that the uranium deal had not required government blessing. “When you do a transaction in Kazakhstan, you need the government’s approval,” he said, adding that UrAsia had indeed received that approval.
Bill Clinton met with Vladimir V. Putin in Moscow in 2010. Credit Mikhail Metzel/Associated Press But privately, Uranium One officials were worried they could lose their joint mining ventures. American diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks also reflect concerns that Mr. Dzhakishev’s arrest was part of a Russian power play for control of Kazakh uranium assets.
At the time, Russia was already eying a stake in Uranium One, Rosatom company documents show. Rosatom officials say they were seeking to acquire mines around the world because Russia lacks sufficient domestic reserves to meet its own industry needs.
It was against this backdrop that the Vancouver-based Uranium One pressed the American Embassy in Kazakhstan, as well as Canadian diplomats, to take up its cause with Kazakh officials, according to the American cables.
“We want more than a statement to the press,” Paul Clarke, a Uranium One executive vice president, told the embassy’s energy officer on June 10, the officer reported in a cable. “That is simply chitchat.” What the company needed, Mr. Clarke said, was official written confirmation that the licenses were valid.
The American Embassy ultimately reported to the secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton. Though the Clarke cable was copied to her, it was given wide circulation, and it is unclear if she would have read it; the Clinton campaign did not address questions about the cable.
What is clear is that the embassy acted, with the cables showing that the energy officer met with Kazakh officials to discuss the issue on June 10 and 11.
Three days later, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rosatom completed a deal for 17 percent of Uranium One. And within a year, the Russian government substantially upped the ante, with a generous offer to shareholders that would give it a 51 percent controlling stake. But first, Uranium One had to get the American government to sign off on the deal.
Among the Donors to the Clinton Foundation Frank Giustra
$31.3 million and a pledge for $100 million more
He built a company that later merged with Uranium One. Ian Telfer
Mining investor who was chairman of Uranium One when an arm of the Russian government, Rosatom, acquired it. Paul Reynolds
$1 million to $5 million
Adviser on 2007 UrAsia-Uranium One merger. Later helped raise $260 million for the company. Frank Holmes
$250,000 to $500,000
Chief Executive of U.S. Global Investors Inc., which held $4.7 million in Uranium One shares in the first quarter of 2011. Neil Woodyer
$50,000 to $100,000
Adviser to Uranium One. Founded Endeavour Mining with Mr. Giustra. GMP Securities Ltd.
Donating portion of profits
Worked on debt issue that raised $260 million for Uranium One.
The Power to Say No
When a company controlled by the Chinese government sought a 51 percent stake in a tiny Nevada gold mining operation in 2009, it set off a secretive review process in Washington, where officials raised concerns primarily about the mine’s proximity to a military installation, but also about the potential for minerals at the site, including uranium, to come under Chinese control. The officials killed the deal.
Such is the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The committee comprises some of the most powerful members of the cabinet, including the attorney general, the secretaries of the Treasury, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce and Energy, and the secretary of state. They are charged with reviewing any deal that could result in foreign control of an American business or asset deemed important to national security.
The national security issue at stake in the Uranium One deal was not primarily about nuclear weapons proliferation; the United States and Russia had for years cooperated on that front, with Russia sending enriched fuel from decommissioned warheads to be used in American nuclear power plants in return for raw uranium.
Instead, it concerned American dependence on foreign uranium sources. While the United States gets one-fifth of its electrical power from nuclear plants, it produces only around 20 percent of the uranium it needs, and most plants have only 18 to 36 months of reserves, according to Marin Katusa, author of “The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped From America’s Grasp.”
“The Russians are easily winning the uranium war, and nobody’s talking about it,” said Mr. Katusa, who explores the implications of the Uranium One deal in his book. “It’s not just a domestic issue but a foreign policy issue, too.”
When ARMZ, an arm of Rosatom, took its first 17 percent stake in Uranium One in 2009, the two parties signed an agreement, found in securities filings, to seek the foreign investment committee’s review. But it was the 2010 deal, giving the Russians a controlling 51 percent stake, that set off alarm bells. Four members of the House of Representatives signed a letter expressing concern. Two more began pushing legislation to kill the deal.
Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, where Uranium One’s largest American operation was, wrote to President Obama, saying the deal “would give the Russian government control over a sizable portion of America’s uranium production capacity.”
President Putin during a meeting with Rosatom’s chief executive, Sergei Kiriyenko, in December 2007. Credit Dmitry Astakhov/Ria Novosti, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
“Equally alarming,” Mr. Barrasso added, “this sale gives ARMZ a significant stake in uranium mines in Kazakhstan.”
Uranium One’s shareholders were also alarmed, and were “afraid of Rosatom as a Russian state giant,” Sergei Novikov, a company spokesman, recalled in an interview. He said Rosatom’s chief, Mr. Kiriyenko, sought to reassure Uranium One investors, promising that Rosatom would not break up the company and would keep the same management, including Mr. Telfer, the chairman. Another Rosatom official said publicly that it did not intend to increase its investment beyond 51 percent, and that it envisioned keeping Uranium One a public company
American nuclear officials, too, seemed eager to assuage fears. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wrote to Mr. Barrasso assuring him that American uranium would be preserved for domestic use, regardless of who owned it.
“In order to export uranium from the United States, Uranium One Inc. or ARMZ would need to apply for and obtain a specific NRC license authorizing the export of uranium for use as reactor fuel,” the letter said.
Still, the ultimate authority to approve or reject the Russian acquisition rested with the cabinet officials on the foreign investment committee, including Mrs. Clinton — whose husband was collecting millions in donations from people associated with Uranium One.
Before Mrs. Clinton could assume her post as secretary of state, the White House demanded that she sign a memorandum of understanding placing limits on the activities of her husband’s foundation. To avoid the perception of conflicts of interest, beyond the ban on foreign government donations, the foundation was required to publicly disclose all contributors.
To judge from those disclosures — which list the contributions in ranges rather than precise amounts — the only Uranium One official to give to the Clinton Foundation was Mr. Telfer, the chairman, and the amount was relatively small: no more than $250,000, and that was in 2007, before talk of a Rosatom deal began percolating.
Uranium One’s Russian takeover was approved by the United States while Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
But a review of tax records in Canada, where Mr. Telfer has a family charity called the Fernwood Foundation, shows that he donated millions of dollars more, during and after the critical time when the foreign investment committee was reviewing his deal with the Russians. With the Russians offering a special dividend, shareholders like Mr. Telfer stood to profit.
His donations through the Fernwood Foundation included $1 million reported in 2009, the year his company appealed to the American Embassy to help it keep its mines in Kazakhstan; $250,000 in 2010, the year the Russians sought majority control; as well as $600,000 in 2011 and $500,000 in 2012. Mr. Telfer said that his donations had nothing to do with his business dealings, and that he had never discussed Uranium One with Mr. or Mrs. Clinton. He said he had given the money because he wanted to support Mr. Giustra’s charitable endeavors with Mr. Clinton. “Frank and I have been friends and business partners for almost 20 years,” he said.
The Clinton campaign left it to the foundation to reply to questions about the Fernwood donations; the foundation did not provide a response.
Mr. Telfer’s undisclosed donations came in addition to between $1.3 million and $5.6 million in contributions, which were reported, from a constellation of people with ties to Uranium One or UrAsia, the company that originally acquired Uranium One’s most valuable asset: the Kazakh mines. Without those assets, the Russians would have had no interest in the deal: “It wasn’t the goal to buy the Wyoming mines. The goal was to acquire the Kazakh assets, which are very good,” Mr. Novikov, the Rosatom spokesman, said in an interview.
Amid this influx of Uranium One-connected money, Mr. Clinton was invited to speak in Moscow in June 2010, the same month Rosatom struck its deal for a majority stake in Uranium One.
The $500,000 fee — among Mr. Clinton’s highest — was paid by Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank with ties to the Kremlin that has invited world leaders, including Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, to speak at its investor conferences.
Renaissance Capital analysts talked up Uranium One’s stock, assigning it a “buy” rating and saying in a July 2010 research report that it was “the best play” in the uranium markets. In addition, Renaissance Capital turned up that same year as a major donor, along with Mr. Giustra and several companies linked to Uranium One or UrAsia, to a small medical charity in Colorado run by a friend of Mr. Giustra’s. In a newsletter to supporters, the friend credited Mr. Giustra with helping get donations from “businesses around the world.”
John Christensen sold the mining rights on his ranch in Wyoming to Uranium One. Credit Matthew Staver for The New York Times Renaissance Capital would not comment on the genesis of Mr. Clinton’s speech to an audience that included leading Russian officials, or on whether it was connected to the Rosatom deal. According to a Russian government news service, Mr. Putin personally thanked Mr. Clinton for speaking.
A person with knowledge of the Clinton Foundation’s fund-raising operation, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about it, said that for many people, the hope is that money will in fact buy influence: “Why do you think they are doing it — because they love them?” But whether it actually does is another question. And in this case, there were broader geopolitical pressures that likely came into play as the United States considered whether to approve the Rosatom-Uranium One deal.
If doing business with Rosatom was good for those in the Uranium One deal, engaging with Russia was also a priority of the incoming Obama administration, which was hoping for a new era of cooperation as Mr. Putin relinquished the presidency — if only for a term — to Dmitri A. Medvedev.
“The assumption was we could engage Russia to further core U.S. national security interests,” said Mr. McFaul, the former ambassador.
It started out well. The two countries made progress on nuclear proliferation issues, and expanded use of Russian territory to resupply American forces in Afghanistan. Keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon was among the United States’ top priorities, and in June 2010 Russia signed off on a United Nations resolution imposing tough new sanctions on that country.
Two months later, the deal giving ARMZ a controlling stake in Uranium One was submitted to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States for review. Because of the secrecy surrounding the process, it is hard to know whether the participants weighed the desire to improve bilateral relations against the potential risks of allowing the Russian government control over the biggest uranium producer in the United States. The deal was ultimately approved in October, following what two people involved in securing the approval said had been a relatively smooth process.
Not all of the committee’s decisions are personally debated by the agency heads themselves; in less controversial cases, deputy or assistant secretaries may sign off. But experts and former committee members say Russia’s interest in Uranium One and its American uranium reserves seemed to warrant attention at the highest levels.
Moukhtar Dzhakishev was arrested in 2009 while the chief of Kazatomprom. Credit Daniel Acker/Bloomberg, via Getty Images
“This deal had generated press, it had captured the attention of Congress and it was strategically important,” said Richard Russell, who served on the committee during the George W. Bush administration. “When I was there invariably any one of those conditions would cause this to get pushed way up the chain, and here you had all three.”
And Mrs. Clinton brought a reputation for hawkishness to the process; as a senator, she was a vocal critic of the committee’s approval of a deal that would have transferred the management of major American seaports to a company based in the United Arab Emirates, and as a presidential candidate she had advocated legislation to strengthen the process.
The Clinton campaign spokesman, Mr. Fallon, said that in general, these matters did not rise to the secretary’s level. He would not comment on whether Mrs. Clinton had been briefed on the matter, but he gave The Times a statement from the former assistant secretary assigned to the foreign investment committee at the time, Jose Fernandez. While not addressing the specifics of the Uranium One deal, Mr. Fernandez said, “Mrs. Clinton never intervened with me on any C.F.I.U.S. matter.”
Mr. Fallon also noted that if any agency had raised national security concerns about the Uranium One deal, it could have taken them directly to the president.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, the State Department’s director of policy planning at the time, said she was unaware of the transaction — or the extent to which it made Russia a dominant uranium supplier. But speaking generally, she urged caution in evaluating its wisdom in hindsight.
“Russia was not a country we took lightly at the time or thought was cuddly,” she said. “But it wasn’t the adversary it is today.”
That renewed adversarial relationship has raised concerns about European dependency on Russian energy resources, including nuclear fuel. The unease reaches beyond diplomatic circles. In Wyoming, where Uranium One equipment is scattered across his 35,000-acre ranch, John Christensen is frustrated that repeated changes in corporate ownership over the years led to French, South African, Canadian and, finally, Russian control over mining rights on his property.
“I hate to see a foreign government own mining rights here in the United States,” he said. “I don’t think that should happen.”
Mr. Christensen, 65, noted that despite assurances by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that uranium could not leave the country without Uranium One or ARMZ obtaining an export license — which they do not have — yellowcake from his property was routinely packed into drums and trucked off to a processing plant in Canada.
Asked about that, the commission confirmed that Uranium One has, in fact, shipped yellowcake to Canada even though it does not have an export license. Instead, the transport company doing the shipping, RSB Logistic Services, has the license. A commission spokesman said that “to the best of our knowledge” most of the uranium sent to Canada for processing was returned for use in the United States. A Uranium One spokeswoman, Donna Wichers, said 25 percent had gone to Western Europe and Japan. At the moment, with the uranium market in a downturn, nothing is being shipped from the Wyoming mines.
The “no export” assurance given at the time of the Rosatom deal is not the only one that turned out to be less than it seemed. Despite pledges to the contrary, Uranium One was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange and taken private. As of 2013, Rosatom’s subsidiary, ARMZ, owned 100 percent of it.
Correction: April 23, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated, in one instance, the surname of a fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is Peter Schweizer, not Schweitzer.
An earlier version also incorrectly described the Clinton Foundation’s agreement with the Obama administration regarding foreign-government donations while Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state. Under the agreement, the foundation would not accept new donations from foreign governments, though it could seek State Department waivers in specific cases. It was not barred from accepting all foreign-government donations.
Correction: April 30, 2015
An article on Friday about contributions to the Clinton Foundation from people associated with a Canadian uranium-mining company described incorrectly the foundation’s agreement with the Obama administration regarding foreign-government donations while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. Under the agreement, the foundation would not accept new donations from foreign governments, though it could seek State Department waivers in specific cases. The foundation was not barred from accepting all foreign-government donations.