Friday, October 26, 2007

Michael Chertoff's abuse of power

Sigh. Zadig was right: my pleas were hopeless. The bulldozers are reportedly already back to work on the San Pedro River's border wall.

Look folks, we've got a serious imbalance of power in the Department of Homeland Security, with Michael Chertoff invoking waivers that undo all kinds of important laws (and not just environmental, we might add):
Hard to say which is worse: that an appointed official would make such an outrageous power grab or that he did it to advance a monumentally foolish and wasteful project that cries out to be stopped.
That bit is from a great editorial in the Baltimore Sun , calling out the top-down order of the current Administration. It's frightening, really. But, really, if this is Administration will torture people in secret prisons and break the Geneva Conventions, why did we bother hoping they would care about the San Pedro River? The border is just a new front in the "war on terror."

Blackwater has already set it sites on the border. We can expect a rise in immigrant deaths in the deserts as a result, and not from the heat.

- Lozen

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

ABQ Tribune quotes Ed Abbey

Great editorial about the border fence and Michael Chertoff's reckless impatience, here. Yes, New Mexico, you ought to start thinking hard about your resistance to the border wall. It's only a matter of time.

In fact, we heard yesterday that the SBINet will eventually expand across the entire border and then up the coastlines, and then around the country. Is anyone else creeped out by this?

- Lozen

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Goddamnning him was too kind

I'm choking on the name "Chertoff" as I write this- we need to name him "Jerkoff" or "Buzzoff" or "Bastard" or something "Betray-us"-esque. He really screwed us on the San Pedro wall this week.

A couple of links:
Chertoff-”!*$@ Off” to Environmentalists (Environmental Graffiti)
Fence on U.S.-Mexican border paves over environmental regulations (SPI)

And two great quotes from the AZ Daily Star piece on the story:
"I'm hoping that people will start opening their eyes to exactly what is going on here," Sullivan said. "This is a national issue concerning our entire border and many different ecosystems that are being cut in half. I don't know if I can convey how disappointing this is for this area."

Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., who has sponsored a bill that would, among other things, repeal the waiver, called the decision a mistake and a chilling commentary on the state of border affairs.

"That power in the hands of this administration is a very dangerous thing," Grijalva said. "It's always heavy-handed. There is no consultation, and there is no working toward consensus or compromise; it's my way or no way."
And one from the WTF department in the Sierra Vista Daily Herald:
Carmen Mercer, vice president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, said she was happy to hear the news.

“Our ultimate goal is to secure the border with a fence,” she said. “I think it is awesome that Michael Chertoff has made that decision to keep on building it.”

She added the group would like to see the government build a “more stable” and “stronger” fence, but she noted “at least it’s a start.”

Mercer, who lives in Tombstone, said “the fence is an absolute must” because it will help “protect endangered alien women who are being raped in the desert and are being abused in the desert because they are used for trafficking and for sex and pornography.”
OK, Carmen, we know about the sad state of affairs for migrant women, we're with you on that, but explain to me how this wall will stop that? As if the smugglers won't just go around the wall? As if there aren't a thousand ways to get into this country that don't involve the most precious places such as the San Pedro River?

Nobody likes you, Mikey, except right-wing-lunatics.

The fence is an absolute disaster, plain and simple.

-Lozen

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cautionary Tales: an Update on a Recent Nasty Post

I recently wrote a nasty post about the Wilderness Society teaming up with industry to plan timber sales in Western Montana. Not all that unusual a thing as it turns out in the public/private post-high-capitalist patronage-based non-profit/for-profit smarmy, toadying, obsequious, eternally-suppliant environmental industry.

I checked out the Website the coalition had up at the time I wrote the post but could not, at that time, find a list of the organizations involved, so I went with what the Missoulian reported.

It seems I missed the link on the Website. Turns out a long-time critic of timber sales and one of Montana's (and the West's) most tenacious forest activists is on the coalition too! I'll be danged. Obviously there is more to the story than nasty jump-to-conclusions ideologue Zadig reported.

So anyway I also said some nasty things about Michael Moore, a long-time reporter for that disgusting, awful, timber-pimping newspaper. Moore has been around a long time and his articles in my limited experience were always pretty good. Thorough stuff that makes you think he's doing what maybe Chuck Bowden should have stuck to. But that's another story.

Anyway, Moore wrote the following to us and I think he deserves a hearing and anyway, we here at DL can take our licks when we deserve them:

Dear whoever you are,

Just so you know, that story was longer when I wrote it, and included several paragraphs about how Juel had attended meetings. Ekey talked a bit about why they felt it was important to include WildWest and others in the discussion. For the record, I was the one who asked those questions on the conference call -- specifically I asked about Matthew Koehler -- although Ed O'Brien of KUFM also asked a followup.

So that stuff was in the story when I turned it in. But sometimes stories get cut for length. I guarantee you the publisher had nothing to do with editing the paper. He never does. Finally, we included the link so people like you all could see exactly who took part.

I think it's fine for you to criticize the paper and whatever else you feel like criticizing, but before you criticize me personally, why not give me a call?

Thanks,

Michael


There you have it folks. Thanks for writing, Michael.

--Zadig

Goddamn You, Michael Chertoff

That sonofabitch Secretary of Homeland Security... invoked the Real ID waivers and set the bulldozers rolling again... into my beloved San Pedro River... against the jaguar, the ocelot, the black bear, the myriad critters and creatures who need this place to survive. Including me. My heart is just broken.

I've included the entire text of Grijalva's press release, below, since it basically sums up everything I'm feeling, minus the profanity and the weeping:
Rep. Grijalva Statement on Waiver of All Laws for San Pedro Border Fence Construction

"The Secretary's decision to invoke a waiver for fence construction in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area is short sighted and, combined with other wall construction along the border, will devastate the region and the river. It is an insult to those of us who live on the border.

"The Secretary's responsibility is to protect the homeland, not selectively destroy our environment for political gain.

"The REAL ID Act, which allows the Secretary of Homeland Security, a political appointee, to waive all laws for fence and road construction along the border, was never intended to be used along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. Instead, the waiver was intended only for use on a small section of fencing in San Diego.

"This is the second time the Secretary has utilized the waiver in Arizona, clearly because he is aware that the environmental analysis created to justify the San Pedro wall project was weak and unsupportable under current law.

"The waiver is unnecessary; unfortunately the Secretary feels that he cannot work towards a measure that could include protecting the river as we secure the border. Nor does he believe in his fundamental responsibility to consult with local communities on the best approach to border protection for our specific region.

"Once again this Secretary and this Administration has given into fear-mongering and shown that they cannot be stewards of the land, let alone promoters of security. Just as in many other contexts, this Administration believes that it is above the laws that protect the environment, health and human safety of border communities. The unfortunate losers in this are the American people.

"Instead of issuing blanket waivers of all laws, the Secretary should begin a full scale, regional, environmental impact statement that analyzes in depth the impacts of fence and wall construction in Arizona, just as they are doing in Texas. The local community deserves the respect to have an open and transparent process with full environmental analysis where local voices who understand the implication of border polices are included in the dialogue. Our local communities are open to working on behalf of security - not a selective security, but rather one that includes habitat, national, border, and regional security.

"It is easy for political appointees in Washington, D.C. to implement a policy that affects communities and the environment several thousand miles away, ignoring the residents, culture, and landscape. But, this wall does not protect our communities; it separates our history, culture, wildlife and natural habitats.

"I have introduced legislation that among other things would repeal the REAL ID waiver, taking back the power from this administration to overturn established laws that protect the environment and the public's right to know what federal officials are doing. I plan to continue to push for consideration of my legislation in order to rein in these continued abuses of power.

- Lozen

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Week in Review

My apologies for the long absence. Your humble contributor Zadig has been reduced to a state of speechless stupefaction of late owing to a potent infusion of the zeitgeist, but I offer now a brief intermission from Lozen the Apache Warrior Princess's desperate and hopeless pleas to keep the last free-flowing river in Arizona alive.

My vacation all started with Senator Larry Craig's perfect-ten interview with Matt Lauer (analysis by Andrew Sullivan here) followed quick on its nervously tapping heels by Bush's ominous mention of World War III; the cocktail was further enhanced with unrecommended ruminations over the recent revelations of the Nature Conservancy's seemingly joyful poisoning of prairie dogs and the subsequent depressing announcement that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals would grant en banc review of their recent panel decision to reverse a mercenary and pointless Forest Service project that would expand the Snowbowl ski area near Flagstaff onto the Navajo people's most sacred peak (made possible with man-made "snow" made from reclaimed sewage) along with that agency's simultaneous new rule to absolve it from the need to conduct public review or environmental analysis of a host of actions like logging (if done to "enhance wildlife habitat"), remote natural spring "development" for livestock watering, and oil and gas drilling. It all concluded with a piece denying the import of global warming from my former hero Daniel Botkin, in the Wall Street Journal (fairly poor Realclimate.org rebuttal here). Tip back that that particular cocktail and your head will spin too, dear reader, assuming you are not yet a robot.

My admittedly unorthodox reaction to these past few weeks has been to attempt to write an illustrated children's book that incorporates the fascinating Larry Craig affair with the World War III reference (oh this reminds me -- what kind of bemused response do people from South America have to the label "World War" for the great and the second world wars? Anyone know? I mean, they weren't really involved, right?-- but that's an aside), the biography of the military genius Red Cloud (a real-life Cassandra, who after winning his war against all odds was summoned on a peace mission to Washington D.C., and returned a broken man, newly aware that his people could never prevail over the superior numbers and technology of the whites, and he died--in an irony of ironies that haunts me every single day--spurned by his people for his perceived cowardice and in terrible pain and nearly blinded from eye cataracts--just think about that a second), and Hunter S. Thompson's staggeringly perceptive essay on Jean-Claude Killy. For some reason though I can't quite get the children's book to work right. It's a great idea and it all makes perfect sense until you try to do the illustrations.

I did however along the way discover a new diet some of you may be interested in, and I think I can guarantee favorable results. First, although not strictly necessary, if you can, try to create some kind of fundamentally inexplicable personal incident that results in ostracism from your entire social network (for enlightening but somewhat hard-going background, see pp. 63-172 in this troublesome book) and then spend a few weeks, while mourning and attempting to grasp and explain your new pariah status, striving to write aforesaid fruitless, and probably insane, children's book. During that period consume the following:

Breakfast: 4-10 cups coffee, plus cigarettes. Tap water to taste. Don't touch that dial--your state is far too fragile for those sanctimonious imbeciles on NPR. Instead, listen to this.
Lunch: coffee (as needed), 1/2 bagel with cream cheese, and any chapter from this book.
Dinner: coffee, cigarettes, 6-10 beers. Re-read pages 3-28 and 119-127 of this great but deeply flawed book. Try to complete this task before beer no. 5.
Late snack: bowl of something you find in the refrigerator, plus 2-4 double nightcaps. Note: never smoke in bed, at least not while drinking and reading.

Stick to this regimen with any degree of fidelity and I am confident you will see a dramatic alteration of your waistline (you'll need it for your trip to white person's Disneyland over the holidays), but even better you will achieve a zen state of clarity--rare these days--that is both empirically provable as true and demonstrably insane. Take it from me.

See you next week!

--Zadig

Friday, October 19, 2007

Chertoff v. Macho B

The bad news is that you have to subscribe to High Country News to read it, the good news is that HCN published a front-page story about the jaguar and the suck-o impacts of the border infrastructure. (Check out the free 30-day web-trial if you can't cough up $37 a year for HCN.)

The story capture nicely the effects the border infrastructure is having on the jaguar- yes, even the vehicle barriers are messing with its migration. (Did you catch that, conservation groups?) The photogenic Emil McCain is doing good on-the-ground work to understand the species. All the better if he uses it for border advocacy.

- Lozen

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Real wilderness is possible!

So states an alert from the Western Lands Project, regarding the Congressional hearing today for the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), a bold, multi-state proposal for wilderness and ecosystem recovery in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, and a tad bit of Washington.

Lately, wilderness bills have included all sorts of bad provisions--but NREPA, which has been around since the early 1990's (and shelved by the Republicans since 1994)is a real, old-fashioned land protection bill that simply...um...protects land.

According to WLP's alert:

NREPA will protect as wilderness nearly 7 million acres of wilderness in Montana, 9.5 million acres of wilderness in Idaho, 5 million acres of wilderness in Wyoming, 750,000 acres in eastern Oregon, and 500,000 acres in eastern Washington on YOUR PUBLIC LAND. No federal land will be put up for sale; no water pipelines will be built; no transmission corridors will be created in wilderness. There is no quid pro quo.

A hearing was held in the House today, but testimony in support of NREPA can still be sent in through October 28. See the above-linked NREPA home page for more info on how and to whom you can express your support.

-Eskarne

Grant us this small bit of humor...

While not directly a public lands issue, we were kind of amused by this: BORDER FENCE: MADE IN CHINA?
Leading members of the Congressional Steel Caucus have revealed that Chinese-made pipe and tube are being used to construct the congressionally mandated fence along the border with Mexico. They are demanding that something be done to ensure that American made products are used instead.....

It's not a matter of price, they say, but of national and economic security -- and also of quality. "They don't make safe toys," says Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN). "We ought to have a quality fence."
Yes. Quality. Built by hard-working American citizens, by golly!

Ahem...

- Lozen

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Grist

Grist has run border pieces two days in a row- thank goodness!- and we were delighted to read today's title: South Texas: The new environmental heartland? Yesirree... Bush's homeland is rising up, righteously, to oppose the border wall.

Who really thinks that this wall business is a good idea? Ecologically, economically, or otherwise? Does anyone really think this will work? Does anyone think that the symbol is worth the cost? Do you? And if not, what are you doing about it?

How about lobbying your Congressperson to immediately endorse Grijalva's bill?

- Lozen

And thanks, Grijlava, for your letter to Chertoff. You were so polite.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

We couldn't have said it better ourselves

This great piece in today's Grist about why environmental groups have been slow to fight the border wall really sums it up: "It's the Controversy, Stupid."

Truly, environmental activists tackling the tough border issues are few and far between, even in the southwest where the issue is THE major public lands issue that we face. ATVs, cows, and weeds are a distant second to the permanent border wall that is being built, especially in light of the probable northerly migrations of species under the pressure of climate change. Places like Cabeza Prieta NWR and Organ Pipe Cactus NM are free of impacts from ATVs and cows, and yet are continuously abused by border enforcement.

- Lozen

Monday, October 15, 2007

Keeping our (middle) fingers raised

Hooray for Ellen Huvelle, who recognized that the Department of Paranoid Xenophobes (oops, we mean, Homeland Security) erred in proceeding with the border wall in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area! While issuing a restraining order against the construction of the wall in this fragile place, Judge Huvelle also recognized some of the darker sides of the wall building issue:
She questioned whether federal agencies were deliberately rushing the process and the construction to get it done before anyone had a chance to object.
No doubt they did. This Administration has demonstrated time and time again it's utter disregard for public process, environmental laws, and, indeed, human life.

But will Chertoff stoop so low again and invoke the Real ID waivers? (Be sure to vote "NO" in the poll on the page.)

- Lozen

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Keeping our fingers crossed

Defenders of Wildlife and Sierra Club filed last week for a restraining order to stop the construction of the border fence. Today, we're waiting anxiously to see if this will work. Please, God, Goddess, Iitoi, and Judge Ellen Huvelle- show us the love!

The federal attorneys are full of it when they say halting the fence may cause greater harm.
"Enjoining the project now would increase the risk of an adverse erosion problem because it would prevent Customs and Border Protection from ensuring that the new road is properly contoured and some sort of aggregate base is put down," Page wrote. And he said a restraining order halting work would prevent the agency from filling and modifying a trench created by the construction, creating "a safety hazard for both wildlife and anyone who is walking in the area."
That couldn't possibly be what they intended by starting the project in advance of the end of the appeal period, could it?

- Lozen

Friday, October 05, 2007

Excuse me?

In an article about the outrageousness of El Paso's mayor receiving a death threat over opposition to the border fence, his spokesperson reveals this belief:
It's sad (Cook has) gotten death threats. That is not appropriate behavior. The mayor has said he is for true security on the border.
Reading between the lines, one can therefore understand that, for those of us who are for true security via economic and trade reform and against the bullshit border wall that is dissecting our deserts, death threats are entirely appropriate.

Hence the pseudonym.

- Lozen

Go get 'em, Tiger! (um..Jaguar)

Now here's a headline we can get behind:
Conservation Groups Call for an Immediate Halt to Construction of Border Fence in San Pedro National Conservation Area

Sean Sullivan of the Sierra Club had this to say about the need for the restraining order:
The government has willingly continued construction of the border fence in the San Pedro National Conservation Area despite having received our appeal on Monday. If we don't ask for this temporary restraining order now, our arguments will never be heard and it will be too late for the San Pedro and the wildlife that rely on it.
Chertoff is presumeably fuming, trying to figure out how to get his printer to work are he furiously drafts Real ID waivers.

By the way, it's too late for the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. You'll have to take our word for it that that wall is a done deal. And absurdly so... you can see the end of the wall on either end of the valley from the port of entry. So, uh, you wouldn't think that maybe folks might sort of, uh, go around it? At $31.5 million, this 7-mile stretch of wall is a monument to short-sighted and irreversible stupidity.

- Lozen

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ah, Larry Craig. The gift that keeps on giving.

Turns out the Honorable Senator from Idaho has left his mark in Minnesota, too. The famous airport has since decided to renovate the stalls, with walls that reach the floor.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Better late than never: Office of Surface Management finally admits they have a controversial rule change available for public comment

The Office of Surface Management finally put its DEIS and fact sheet concerning new mountaintop removal rules up on its Website. The comment period began on August 24, six weeks ago, and ends on October 23. We check the site every day and today is the first day we've seen the DEIS there.

But don't expect to find the October 23 due-date on the "fact sheet" that OSM has on its Website, or on the link called "How to Provide Comment," either. They don't offer advice into such matters as deadlines. Nowhere does the Website, the fact sheet, the news release, or the FAQ give a due date. One the other hand, given the abundance of lies and misinformation those documents do provide, perhaps that's a blessing.

The whole thing is so pathetic and embarrassing and disgusting I don't even quite know what to say.

--Zadig

Nature Conservancy's President Abruptly Resigns

So says the Washington Post.

I am confident he resigned because we here at DL broadcast to the world The Nature Conservancy's abundant willingness to kill prairie dogs and lots of other things in order to satisfy their and the neighboring ranchers' deranged and irrational attachment to the cowboy myth. A featured component of which is: kill everything that is present on the land except grass and then boast about how much you love nature.

--Zadig

Monday, October 01, 2007

Ho-hum- wait- now hey there!

A few of our avid readers may have noticed that we pulled a rather discouraging post yesterday about Green Groups Want(ing) to Stop Border Wall Construction. We expressed our disappointment that said Green Groups only wanted BLM to conduct more comprehensive environmental impact studies on the impact of the border fences before actually building them.

We pulled the post because we felt we were being a little too hard on Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club, which, in all fairness, were simply responding to the opportunity at hand. Submitting an Administrative Appeal is, by nature, a ho-hum endeavor, and even if asking for complete NEPA and threatening to sue without it is "so old news," we are deeply grateful to these groups for taking a stand on the San Pedro River. Other regional groups were noticeably asleep at the wheel on this one, so we tip our hats to Defenders and SC for a well-written and thoughtful appeal. We hope we didn't hurt anybody's feelings when we said to wake us up when you develop a new strategy for real opposition.

And lookee here: Border cities block access to border-fence land! A ten-gallon hat tip to the mayors of Brownsville, Del Rio and El Paso who have "denied access to some parts of their city property to Department of Homeland Security workers assigned to begin surveys or other preliminary work on the fence Congress has authorized to keep out illegal immigrants."

Meanwhile, Chertoff touts the new border wall as being better for the environment:
Illegal migrants really degrade the environment. I've seen pictures of human waste, garbage, discarded bottles and other human artifact in pristine areas," Chertoff said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "And believe me, that is the worst thing you can do to the environment."
Not to mention those troublesome piles of bones they are leaving behind. Ick.

- Lozen