Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pave It Over and Put a Panel On It

(image via)

Oh, well, we suppose we knew this was coming. Concerns about paving over the western deserts be damned, today, Cowboy Ken was proud to announce Department of Interior's plans to expedite solar development in the west.
"Today's announcement is a roadmap for solar development for decades to come and will help create an enduring and sustainable energy future for America," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
Not to be confused with an enduring and sustainable future for America. Emphasis most certainly on energy.

Sigh. 

Mojave Desert Blog lays it out quite nicely. Head over there for a heartbreaking analysis.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

EAJA transparency: fine with us

Mike Simpson, heckuva guy, tacked a rider on the rider on the FY2013 Appropriations Bill that "addresses" the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) with the claim of making EAJA payouts more transparent. (This among his many grand plans for undermining environmental protections.) 
The bill also addresses the growing, and unaccountable, costs to taxpayers of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). Simpson is concerned that while EAJA was intended to provide a mechanism for lower and middle income individuals to challenge the actions of an onerous federal government, it has become a slush fund for wealthy extremists in search of taxpayer funding of their unending, and oftentimes frivolous, lawsuits.
To which we say, "Bring it."

All these lies about environmental attorneys getting rich on the EAJA fee recovery would be swiftly undercut by the overwhelming evidence that industry attorneys are the real hogs at the trough. The real story is this
A 2009 income survey by the State Bar of Texas, the most recent available, found that full-time attorneys in private practice earned $120,324 a year. For-profit corporate attorneys earned $156,839 a year. And nonprofit attorneys, like those working for environmental groups, earned $83,000 annually.
"Are these lawyers out to get rich?" said Pat Parenteau, a Vermont Law School professor who specializes in endangered species law and has represented environmental groups and businesses in listing cases. "If they are, they probably should switch."
Parenteau said the focus on attorney fees by lawmakers is "way out of whack." If Fish and Wildlife doesn't have the money to follow the law and meet its deadlines, then Congress should address that, he said. "If you don't want lawsuits, but you want agencies to follow the law, then fund them."
Indeed. Fund the agencies and make sure the agencies are in legal compliance. Most of the environmental attorneys we know would be delighted to work themselves out of a job, forcing the agency to self-regulate and be accountable to the myriad species that depend on proper management.

At which point, all us greenies will retire. to our ski chalets in Aspen. 


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/07/15/3705770/who-pays-environmental-lawyers.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nothing Wrong With Welfare FOR THE NEEDY



It's so great to see the issue of welfare ranching gaining traction in political circles, and hopefully it will provoke some action on amendments to increase the federal lands grazing fee.

Because, really, $1.35 a month per cow/calf pair? Way not enough.

But here's one thing to consider: using the adjective "Welfare" as a derogatory plays right into the hands of the haters. "Welfare Ranchers," "Welfare Queens." "Welfare Moms" too? By stigmatizing government assistance without somehow qualifying that ranchers are abusing the system by taking something they don't deserve, we risk entrenching the idea that welfare on the whole is bad. It isn't. It's absolutely necessary for millions of folks who live close to the bone, have trouble making ends meet, or can't feed their families. It's a critical function of government to provide services for those in need.

But public lands ranchers don't count. These folks get money if it's too wet, too dry, if they need new fences, new wells, new boots. (Ok, kidding about the boots.) The ranchers are already extremely privileged to have grazing leases and businesses in the first place; lots of ranchers also have huge tracts of private land and valuable water rights at their disposal. That's REALLY different from the folks who need food stamps. It just is.

 So let's figure out a way to distinguish good welfare from bad welfare when we talk about it in the context of public lands ranching.