Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tick. Tick. Tick.

The courts have decided that the big bad Bush Administration has 16 days to decide how to subvert the meaning of "endangered." OK, really, that's not what the article says. Instead, it says this:
The Bush administration has 16 days to decide whether polar bears are now an endangered species because of climate change, a California judge ruled today.

The US court handed a victory to three environmental groups that sued to protect polar bears threatened by melting sea ice, rejecting a plea by the government to postpone its decision until June 30.

An agency of the US interior department was supposed to have ruled by January 9 on whether to designate the polar bear an endangered species. But the agency failed to act, angering green activists who attributed the delay to the Bush administration's sale of oil and gas drilling leases near polar bear habitats in Alaska.

The California judge handling the case, Claudia Wilken, ruled that the administration presented "no specific facts that would justify the existing delay, much less further delay".
I can't wait to see the listing rule.

Meanwhile, Bush is yammering away about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge again pandering to the folks going broke filling their fuel inefficient vehicles. "Cheap oil! Cheap oil! Cheap oil!"

It doesn't matter what gets paid at the pump. Oil is incalculably expensive.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"We're going to unglue the Sonoran Desert"

- says Sue Rutman, botanist at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, in this piece on global warming's effects in southern Arizona.
Just how much is it heating up? Here are some numbers that might draw a sweat:

● The average temperature in Arizona for the five-year period from 2003 to 2007 was 2.2 degrees hotter than the historical average for the 20th century, according to a report last month by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

● That rise was more than twice the global average increase of 1 degree for the same period.

● Average annual temperatures in the Southwest, including Arizona, are projected to increase 4.5 to 7 degrees or more during this century, according to a comprehensive report last year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The sidebars of the article are really informative and cite studies pertinent to different ecological attributes of the desert.

What is also really informative are the comments that the story is logging.
#1. Manmade Global Warming is an invention of the liberal media. Natural warming of the planet is real, but it has been happening for millions of years. I will not believe your lies and half-truths.
Wow. The Intelligent Designer must have given him an extra dose of brainpower. I sure hope the Intelligent Designer has some plans for massive air conditioning units, or southern AZ is going to be mighty unpleasant mighty soon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blame

I heard a comment recently about the posts on DL that I've been too hard on Michael Chertoff. Yep, some folks are feeling bad that he's just a mouthpiece for a crappy Administration and that I should stop with my public ravings about his despicable irresponsibility. True enough that he's a mouthpiece, but what kind of sleazebag would take such a crappy job and do it so well (relatively speaking, of course)?

Nah, I'm too sick of blaming Bush for everything else. Chertoff stays in play.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A call to arms

"This [border] wall is so asinine, and so wrong, I am one of a dozen scientists ready to lay our bodies down in front of tractors," Healy Hamilton, who directs the Center for Biodiversity Research and Information at the California Academy of Sciences, told colleagues at a recent scientific retreat [in Tucson]. "This is one thing we might be able to stop."

"Make it 13!" said Allison Jones, a conservation biologist at the Wild Utah Project, an advocacy group.
It shouldn't be too hard to boost these numbers, given that anyone with a brain in their head and a heart in their chest knows the border wall will totally screw wildlife, and that this is fundamentally wrong. But thanks, Washington Post, for this great article on the border wall debacle. And thanks, Healy Hamilton, for your boost of optimism and enthusiasm.

What is really amazing is the DHS spokesperson.
"Just because we're using this waiver authority doesn't mean we've not been mindful of our obligation to be stewards of the environment," she said in an interview. "For a number of miles, we've determined that it would have only insignificant impact."
No, in fact, DHS's "stewardship" will have a terribly significant impact on many, many miles.

But, Gee whiz! Lookee here: The DHS is going to mitigate.
Kudwa could not specify which areas would feel the greatest effects from the barrier, but she said Homeland Security is negotiating to give the Fish and Wildlife Service $800,000 to mitigate the wall's impact on the Sonoran pronghorn and the long-nose bat in the Cabeza Prieta refuge, even though DHS has waived its obligation to comply with Endangered Species Act requirements there.
$800,000! WOW! That's like, less money than it costs to build a mile of wall! Such a deal! Thanks, DHS!

Here's a better plan: Keep your stinkin' wall. And your bloodmoney.

Citizen Consumers

This piece on opening trade agreements with Colombia and G.W. Bush's denial that NAFTA needs reconsideration really underscores how the president sees the world.
"I'm obviously concerned for our consumers," the president said.
Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Every tool in the toolbox

Nicole Rosmarino at WildEarth Guardians had this to say about her organization's lawsuit to get critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog:
The frog is just so imperiled... It really needs to be provided with every tool in the toolbox and a very important tool is critical habitat.
Well, what about this one?
In an effort to bolster the frog's numbers, biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in New Mexico have reared 15 frogs in a special tank and will release them next week at a warm spring on private land in central New Mexico.
Sure! The USFWS will just take the non-controversial route and put more back into private land somewhere in New Mexico and then everything will be hunky-dory, right?
"It's a Band-Aid solution," Rosmarino said of next week's release of frogs. "If they don't fix the habitat and protect the habitat, these reintroductions are going to be for nothing."
She's right, of course. Unless we deal with global warming, the spread of chytrid fungus, and the hammering that frog habitat is taking from public lands livestock grazing, reintroductions are an expensive way of spinning our wheels. Recovery is something so much bigger than that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The War against the Wall

Now here's a war we want, Bushies: the war against your ill-conceived, ineffective, and outrageously expensive border wall. I'm so happy to see folks joining forces to fight Chertoff's sweeping powers.

Here's a few good media pieces on the battle:

1. The U.S. Supreme Court may get a chance to join the fractious debate over building fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. Go Team!

2. Texas border cities and counties will join the lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to halt construction of the border fence. (Not the same lawsuit as item 1, mind you.)

3. And an opinion from Syracuse New York newspaper condemning Chertoff and the wall. Syracuse! Refreshingly far from Mexico (which is only to say that at least other states are catching on that this whole waiver business is a problem).

Friday, April 11, 2008

News Round-Up (read: ready to be trucked to the slaughterhouse)

This week's news has held plenty of grease for my crank:

1. The USDA Forest Service effectively strips the heart and soul out of the National Forest Management Act this week by passing a new set of rules for forest planning that basically read like there won't be any anymore. Don't despair: the are usual going to sue, tie the rules up in court, and hopefully stall it long enough to put the planners out of business until 2009. Unless, of course, Congress suddenly gives the Secretary of Ag ultimate authority to override all laws in order to, "Git 'er done." Which leads me to the next news item...

2. Though I posted about this particular doozy last week, it's worth repeating: Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff gave democracy a big "F*ck you!" when he applied the REAL ID waivers to the entirety of existing border infrastructure projects. Defenders and Sierra Club got a boost when 14 members of Congress announced their intent to file an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on the waiver case. Have we told you lately that we love you, Grijalva?

3. And while we still love Grijalva for his leadership on steering America's newest conservation system through the House this week, we hate New Mexico's Representative Pearce for tacking on a bullshit amendment to the NLCS legislation.

4. And speaking of livestock, bighorn in Montana have suffered a massive die-off from livestock-induced diseases after contact with sheep and goats. The rancher is reportedly free of responsibility for this because he was there first. Huh?

The beauty of this sequence of news stories is it basically sums up the Bush Administration: weakened public participation, industry hand-outs, and an abject failure to acknowledge the inherent rights of living creatures.

Capitalismo, baby. Love it or leave it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

One more doozy from the NY Times

"Michael Chertoff's Insult"
To the long list of things the Bush administration is willing to trash in its rush to appease immigration hard-liners, you can now add dozens of important environmental laws and hundreds of thousands of acres of fragile habitat on the southern border.
Read it.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wanted: Responsible ORV user

We've decided that we want to form some "non-traditional alliances" here at DL, and as such, we're seeking a responsible off-roader who hates cows to help us deliver our message. You know, some "good guy" ATVer who just loves the land and is sick and tired of livestock wrecking it, breaking through fences, hammering private lands, and generally disturbing his "custom and culture" of weekend warriorship.

Someone who has ridden his motorbike with his family for five generations and whose grandson is just learning to ride a three-wheeler. (Photogenic grandson a plus.) Somebody for whom the whir of the engine is his way of life, not just a hobby, whether or not he has to work five days in town to support it.

We need this person to show up in the full ORV regalia- helmet, body suit, gloves- to every forest service planning meeting, claiming that "Every Day is Earth Day." He must be willing to chum up with local enviro groups who will then not speak out about the multitude of crappy off-roaders for fear of insulting their new friend. Instead, they'll take up arms against the cows, sheep, and horses that are devastating public lands across the west.

We'd prefer someone with a lot of money, if possible, who can also line our coffers in exchange for our non-opposition to his "lifestyle." This is a perfect way to protect millions of acres from livestock abuse- use the recreational angle, heavy industry support, and "partnership" model of conservation. If he (or she, we're EOE) is charming enough to make the public forget all the science explaining the degradation his lifestyle induces, all the better.

If enviros could start teaming up with off-roaders, we'd have a powerful hold on the western landscape. Just think of it!

Please send CV, full-sized photo, list of favorite trails, and sample of grant-writing abilities.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Out-freaking-rageous

Michael M.F. Chertoff invoked the waivers for 470 miles of border fence from California to Texas. That son of a bitch.

The New York Times:
In a sweeping use of its authority, the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that it would bypass environmental reviews to speed construction of fencing along the Mexican border.

Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, issued two waivers covering 470 miles of the border from California to Texas well as a separate 22-mile stretch in Hidalgo County, Tex., where the department plans to build fencing up to 18 feet high into a flood-control levee in a wildlife refuge.

“Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation,” Mr. Chertoff said in a statement.
Yeah, yours! This move by DHS is so patently illegal- down to the fundamental core of constitutional law of the separation of powers- that we should demand his job. Tell your Congressperson today to revoke his authority.
“Clearly, this is out of control,” said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife.
No fooling.

Despot of Homeland Security

While I couldn't find anything to confirm this officially, I had heard rumors that Michael Chertoff was at it again, this time planning a sweeping waiver from sea to shining sea on our southern border. Now this from NarcoNews:
It has come to the attention of the Border Ambassadors network that Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff is once again planning to exercise his dictatorial powers under the Real ID Act. Such a waiver, if filed, would encompass the Continental U.S., specifically from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. That would encompass the entire US-Mexico border.

If such a waiver were filed this week and published in the Federal Registry, the waiver would immediately go into effect for already funded activities. Chertoff & Company would then be set to build the border wall any where along the US-Mexico border they choose.
Good morning!

Friends and I are disputing the significance of such a maneuver. Would Grijalva's Borderlands Conservation and Security Act become moot in light of such a blow? Would there be any chance to post hoc challenge each action as unconstitutional if the Supreme Court finds in favor of justice in the Defenders/Sierra Club case? How much wall can they build between now and next January?

Is there any way to get a restraining order against Chertoff?