Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wallowa Wildflowers Part 1 & Hells Canyon/Payette N. F. Sheep Decision

In This Edition:

- Wallowa Mountains Wildflowers, Part 1
- Hells Canyon/Payette N F Sheep Decision


Wallowa Mountains Wildflowers, Part 1

The closure of the Forest Service 39 Road, due to spring flooding, has left the 66 road via the 6625 road as the only “convenient” way for Baker County residents to get into the upper Hells Canyon country. This month I found some time to visit portions of that route to Fish Lake, Twin Lakes, and beyond. Along the way there were opportunities for photographing some of the common wildflowers along the route, and this is the first part of a long chronicle of common wildflowers that are easily found.
Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

As you travel along Highway 86, both east and west of Richland, patches of both light, and dark pink flowered “showy milkweed” (Asclepias speciosa) begin to crop up along the highway. As the name indicates, this particular milkweed flower is one of the prettiest and noticeable, with a strong, perfume-like fragrance.. It is also structured quite differently, as are the other milkweeds, than most of the flowers one encounters. As the second part of the common name indicates, it exudes a sticky milk-white sap from injured portions of the plant where the epidermis has been cracked or cut.
Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

One downside to this plant, from the perspective of stock raisers, is that all parts of the plant are poisonous, even when dry. It can cause sickness or death in cattle, sheep, and horses (and Humans) when ingested in large enough quantities.

At least one family of animals, the milkweed butterflies, of which the Monarch butterfly is one, depends upon milkweeds for their survival (bees nd other flying insects also utilize this plant). The larvae (caterpillars) feed on the milkweed plant and concentrate the various poisons in their bodies, thus becoming very distasteful to birds and other predators. This quality causes avoidance behavior in the would-be consumers, and allows the milkweed butterflies to go about their business un-harassed. Given the monarch’s long and difficult migration between Central Mexico or the coast of California and other areas in the U.S. and Canada, their adaptation to and relationship with milkweeds provides them with certain needed advantages unknown to many other butterflies. Some butterflies, like the Viceroy, mimic the color and pattern of the milkweed butterflies which helps to cause birds to leave them alone as well.
Close-up of Showy Milkweed flower

Further east past Richland, around the crest of Halfway Hill (about 3500’), both “Lewis' mock orange” (Philadelphus lewisii), and “Venus Penstemon” (Penstemon venustus) can be found blooming from mid to late June and on into July. Mock orange is commonly used in residential planting throughout the North West, including Baker City. Venus Penstemon is seeing increasing use locally by native plant gardeners.

Lewis' Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii)

The scientific name for Mock Orange, lewisii, is for its first documented American discoverer (of European origins that is), Meriwether Lewis. It is one of many plants "discovered" during the Lewis and Clark expedition. The common name is in reference to its white flowers and sweet fragrance, which to some resemble the blossoms of the orange citrus tree.

Lewis' Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii)

Venus Penstemon (Penstemon venustus) belongs to a large, primarily North American genus of over 250 species, all of whom are very attractive, with many being useful to moths, bees and hummingbirds. Several are also useful horticulturally, although some can be short-lived (about 2-3 years, longer in suitable conditions, and some of the shrubby penstemons apparently live quite a long while.). Penstemons (apparently a reference to the five stamens), or beardtongues as they are also known (due to the presence of a fifth stamen, the staminode, which is hairy or bearded in many species, and the “bearded” lower lips of many Penstemons. They resemble the common garden snapdragon, and are just as easy to look at.

Venus Penstemon (Penstemon venustus)

Many more Venus Penstemons can be found in the canyon along North Pine Creek adjacent to the 39 Road, and on up the road to the Hells Canyon Rim. They are fairly common in the Wallowa Mountains.

Beginning in the ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forests not far out of Halfway, and continuing sporadically on up into the sub-alpine forest, are yet three more eye-catching wildflowers.

Tapertip or Hooker’s onion (Allium acuminatum)

The first to be encountered will likely be the Tapertip or Hooker’s onion (Allium acuminatum). This onion, with the characteristic odor of the genus, is fairly easy to distinguish from other local alliums due to its fuchia (rose-purple?) colored “petals” (tepals) with rather abruptly narrowed (acuminate) tips. Occasionally they are pink and rarely, white. Under the magnifying glass or dissecting scope, one can see the tiny teeth like projections which line the edges of the smaller inner tepals. The small onion bulbs were cooked and eaten by the Native Americans and no doubt by early settlers, as well as a few curious botanists and campers.

Tapertip or Hooker’s onion (Allium acuminatum)

The second wildflower might likely be one of the west’s all-star wildflowers, Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata). This tough and spectacular little biennial, graces much of the west, from the arid foothills of the Great Basin and North East Oregon to the more moist sub-alpine zones throughout the area. I have found this plant blooming even on dry exposed hillsides in conditions of drought, so it does well in the semi-dry garden situation.

Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata)

Beginning near the transition to primarily sub-alpine vegetation, the third plant, a beautiful and seemingly delicate Penstemon appears; Wilcox’s Penstemon (Penstemon wilcoxii).

Wilcox’s Penstemon (Penstemon wilcoxii)

To my knowledge, Wilcox’s Penstemon is only found in Oregon in the eastern Wallowa Mountains and along the Hells Canyon Rim, where it is quite common. It is closely related to Penstmon albertinus of central and eastern Idaho (for example, around the Sawtooth Mountains), and western Montana where the two species intergrade. It also appears to be related to Penstemon ovatus of western Washington and extreme north western Oregon.

Wilcox’s Penstemon

At about the same elevation, on southerly looking exposed slopes, will be found an early successional forest shrub that colonizes areas after forest fires and other major disturbances called Snowbrush Ceanothus (Ceanothus velutinus). After conifers, such as ponderosa pine, reestablish themselves, and shade out the Ceanothus, they pretty much disappear, but their seeds remain in the soil for long periods, to sprout again after the next disturbance. They are especially adapted to take advantage of fire.

Snowbrush Ceanothus (Ceanothus velutinus)

Further up on the 66 road to Fish Lake, at about 6300 feet, there is another common perennial wildflower that was in bloom on July 7th, Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata).

Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)

Arrowleaf Balsamroot is one of the commonly viewed spring and early summer flowering perennials in Baker County. It can be found blooming earlier in the foothills over most of the County, including the Snake river Canyon, and the bloom persists into the summer in the higher elevations. Some still remain on the high ridges beyond Twin Lakes, but the lack of moisture after a wet spring is causing an early end to the bloom of this and other flowering species. Hopefully the recent summer thunderstorms will prolong the blooming period.

For more information on this common wildflower and others, see:

USDA Forest Service “Celebrating Wildflowers

Another common perennial found here and on up into the sub-alpine zone is Sitka Valerian (Valeriana sitchensis)

Sitka Valerian (Valeriana sitchensis)

Valerian has been used to calm the nervous system. I am going to prescribe it for myself, Councilor Milo Pope, and others who are easily agitated. ;-)

For more information on Sitka valerian, please see this link:

Sitka Valerian

About a mile or so below Fish Lake, another most pleasing Penstemon appears; Globe Penstemon (Penstemon globosus).

Globe Penstemon (Penstemon globosus)

They begin along the 66 road at around 6300 feet and extend their range well up into the sub-alpine zone.

One of my favorite small to medium sized flowering Penstemons, they are quite adaptable to gardens where adequate sunshine, space (from weeds) and moisture is provided. They are primarily an Idaho species, but extend into Baker County and the south eastern reaches of Wallowa County from north of Halfway and east to the Hells Canyon Rim.

Globe Penstemon (Penstemon globosus)

That’s about all the time and space for Wallowa Mountains wildflowers I have for part one of this series. Hope to continue it in future blogs.

Hells Canyon/Payette N F Sheep Decision

The Payette National Forest has issued a decision, a four year transitional plan to cut back domestic sheep grazing in areas near Hells Canyon and the Salmon River of Idaho. There is no reduction the first year, and then three years of reductions beginning with the next grazing season. The Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep populations there and on the Oregon side of the Snake River have been decimated due to the transmission of disease from domestic sheep. The disease organisms involved—there are several—such as Mannheimia haemolytica, can cause chronic respiratory problems leading to fatal pneumonia in bighorn. The full plan will be implemented by the 2013 grazing season.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game)

Here is one announcement, from Western Watersheds Project, the Hailey, Idaho based environmental watchdog, led by Jon Marvel, who has been so instrumental in educating people about, and organizing effective legal resistance to, the environmental devastation wrought by livestock grazing on our western public lands.

From Western Watersheds:

Western Watersheds Project Pressure Pays Off: The Payette National Forest Cuts Domestic Sheep Grazing By 65% to Protect Bighorn Sheep


Western Watersheds Project has worked for several years now to protect bighorn sheep across the west. With excellent legal assistance from attorney Laurie Rule at the Boise office of
Advocates for the West (, Western Watersheds Project’s efforts are now showing success through an unprecedented Payette National Forest decision released on July 26, 2010.

The decision is a direct consequence of litigation brought by WWP and our conservation partners at the Hells Canyon Preservation Council .

The Payette Forest decision closes hundreds of thousands of acres of public land to grazing by domestic sheep to protect Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep from fatal diseases transmitted to bighorns by domestic sheep. The total reduction in domestic sheep use on the Payette National Forest will be about 65% of currently permitted domestic sheep grazing, and the remaining use will probably become uneconomic for ranching.

This change in Forest Service management is a huge step in the right direction, and it will cause changes in domestic sheep grazing offices across the west as it becomes the gold-standard for protecting bighorn sheep.

Western Watersheds Project predicts that within five years all domestic sheep grazing taking place within 50 miles of bighorn sheep on public lands will be stopped!"

Record of Decision.

See Also: Payette aims to cut sheep grazing by 70%

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some Views on Wolves in NE Oregon, Obama, Threats to Social Security

In This Issue:

- News & Views on Wolves in NE Oregon (4 Pups Out and About)

---- ODFW: Four pups for Imnaha wolf pack
---- Oregonian Editorial: Wolves in Oregon: Don't be so quick on the trigger (Comments)
---- Herald Editorial: Wolves and trust (Comments)
---- Oregon Natural Desert Association: Wolves in Oregon – More Bark Than Bite?

- What's With Obama's Top Political & Economic Advisor"s? (Simon Johnson at Baseline Scenario)

---- David Axelrod’s Talking Points
---- Wall Street Prostitute & Financial/Intellectual Scammer, Tim Geithner Fights Regualtory Reform From Within

- Social Security Threats

[In process-editing]

News & Views on Wolves in NE Oregon

Four pups for Imnaha wolf pack

Four pups from the Imnaha wolf pack. (ODFW Photo)

For immediate release
July 14, 2010

Four pups for Imnaha wolf pack

The Imnaha wolf pack has at least four new pups this year, images captured on a motion-triggered trail camera show.

An image taken July 3 (attached) marks the first visual observation of new pups this year. The pack may have more pups than these four.

Wolf pups are born in mid-April and litters average four to six pups. Pups generally become active outside their pack’s den in June.

Six adult wolves were also seen in the images captured by the trail camera, including the alpha female. Past evidence, including a video taken November 2009, indicate at least 10 wolves made up the Imnaha pack before the pups were born this year. The alpha male, whose GPS collar has not been detected since May 31, was not seen in the images.

For more images of the Imnaha pack taken by a trail camera set up by ODFW in an area of pack activity, visit the website below (see first five photos). Note the alpha female is not pictured in these images.

Michelle Dennehy
Wildlife Programs Communications Coordinator
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
3406 Cherry Avenue NE
Salem, OR 97303
tel. 503 947 6022
cell 503 931 2748

Adult wolf from the Imnaha pack (ODFW Photo)

Four adults from Imnaha wolf pack (ODFW Photo)

The two in the foreground of the photo are similar to the two I saw near Sheep Creek on the 39 rd, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, back in August (9 I think) of '07. It all happened so quickly that I couldn't get a photo. If I'd had my wits about me I would have stopped and looked to take photographs of the tracks. Also photographed what appear to be wolf tracks (4 inches or so) on the East Eagle Creek bridge at the wilderness boundary maybe the following spring (That one may not be with us any more.). - Chris

Wolves in Oregon: Don't be so quick on the trigger

Published: Sunday, July 11, 2010, 10:36 AM Updated: Sunday, July 11, 2010, 5:30 PM
The Oregonian Editorial Board

Throughout Western history, it has always been easier to shoot wolves than to live with them. Now, just as the first small packs of gray wolves are getting a toehold in Oregon, it is vital that this state not go back to the old way, the easy way, every time there is a conflict with wolves.

There's just such a conflict now. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife responded to several documented cases of wolf depredation on Wallowa County livestock by ordering the killing of two suspected wolves in early June. Conservation groups filed a federal suit in Portland challenging the kill permits, and a judge blocked the shooting of the wolves at least until July 31.

We understand that Oregon cattle and sheep ranchers operate on terribly thin margins and face a long list of threats to their stock, including harsh weather, disease, coyotes, mountain lions and domestic dogs. It's too much to expect them to welcome another predator. Furthermore, it isn't fair that a small number of ranchers must shoulder virtually all of the costs, all of the burden, of returning wolves to Oregon's wild country.

We are not against killing wolves that develop a taste for cattle, sheep and other livestock. Two such wolves, identified by their radio collars, were tracked down and killed not long ago, reducing Oregon's wolf population from 16 to 14. Those killings were justified.

Moreover, we strongly believe that Oregon ought to have a tax-supported compensation fund so that all the Oregonians -- more than 70 percent by one poll -- who support the recovery of wolves in this state do their own small part to pay for the costs of bringing them back.

But in the current case, Oregon seems too quick on the trigger and too willing to sidestep the sensible rules in its own recovery plan for gray wolves. Those rules generally require wildlife officials to document several wolf incidents on one or more adjacent ranches and clearly identify the targeted animals before issuing kill permits. That wasn't done in this case; about all that's known of the suspected wolves is that both are gray in color and neither one is wearing a radio collar. There are, of course, a lot of wolves that meet that description.

While Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have spent years grappling with wolf issues, this is still relatively new territory for Oregon. Our state had the advantage of watching wolves re-establish themselves and saw how they have affected elk and deer herds and domestic livestock. Ranchers have learned in most cases to live with wolves and take common-sense precautions, such as burying animals that die of disease and other causes to avoid inadvertently baiting wolves onto their lands. Problem wolves have been killed by wildlife authorities. Ranchers elsewhere generally have been compensated for losses.

After the first gray wolves swam the Snake River into Oregon beginning in 1999, a panel of ranchers, wildlife experts, hunters, Native Americans and others wrote a plan for how Oregon would respond to the arrival of wolves. It's not a perfect plan -- as we noted, it lacks a compensation fund for ranchers -- but it's a reasonably good one. And wherever and whenever one of Oregon's precious few wolves creates a problem, Oregon wildlife officials should adhere to that plan, rather than take the old way, the easy way, out.

© 2010 All rights reserved.

Click on title link above to find comments, including my own, but here is my recent version:

I guess my job is to make the mainstream environmental movement and Editorial Board look reasonable. ;-)

I agree on some points and disagree on others. I agree that shooting more wolves should have been blocked, and that they should not change the plan in a way that expands the area from that which documents "several wolf incidents on one or more adjacent ranches" and requires clear identification of "the targeted animals before issuing kill permits."

I find some of the Editorial Board's conclusions more problematic. They say that "Those killings were justified" in reference to the Baker County wolves. Maybe so. But they should have also indicated that in that case, the ranch or ranches had also buried a carcass or carcasses too close to home ranch operations, and that besides poorly designed and pitifully inadequate protective fencing at the sheep operation in question, the state had removed usually effective defensive measures many weeks prior to the final attacks that initiated the kill order. Given the poor defensive measures (pathetic in some instances, and lack of actual onsite herding, care taking, or proper carcass burial practice in the more recent Wallowa County instances), it was preordained that serious attacks would occur. The wolves were "baited," inadvertently, or otherwise. It is, after all, in the rancher's interest to create hysteria about another predator that threatens their economic interest.

As pointed out by the Hells Canyon Preservation Council, and the other groups, "In May and early June, six cattle deaths were confirmed as wolf depredations. For comparison, in 2005 — the year the wolf plan was created — domestic dogs killed 700 sheep and cows in Oregon, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. No new wolf depredations on livestock have occurred since June 4."

The "tax-supported compensation fund" is just another subsidy to already highly subsidized ranchers (subsidies paid for by federal and state tax dollars that should be going to a higher public benefit, i.e., that which benefits more, hopefully the majority, of citizens.) Ranchers and others ventured into wolf country and shot all the wolves [see:Wolves Again. . . .] so they could utilize (and ultimately seriously damage) public ecosystems for private profit with their private enterprise grazing and browsing. The people have changed the priorities towards the health of their public ecosystems and the retrieval and restoration of native species. Just as I have to non-lethally protect my chickens, pets and plants from native and non-native predators (foxes, coyotes, domestic dogs, etc) and herbivores (deer) here in Baker City, so should ranchers in a restored wolf country be required to do the same.

The plan, at a minimum, needs to maintain current protections, while requiring increased non-lethal protective measures by ranchers. There shouldn't be a double standard as to the burden for protection of one's property and animals from wild, and not so wild, life; i.e., one standard for ranchers, and one for the rest of us.

Chris (in Baker City)


Wolves and trust

Written by Baker City Herald Editorial Board July 09, 2010 10:56 am

Despite evidence to the contrary, in the form of dead sheep in Baker County last year and dead cattle this year in Wallowa County, we believe wolves and livestock can both thrive in Northeastern Oregon.

But achieving that goal will require compromise.

And not between wolves and their domestic prey.

We’re talking about the relationship between the state and federal agencies responsible for managing wolves, and the coalition of groups that celebrate the return of wolves to Oregon after an absence of more than half a century.

What happened last year in Baker County, when a pair of wolves killed more than two dozen livestock in Keating Valley, proves that that relationship can work.

Although we’ll concede that that situation was more straightforward than what’s taken place this year in Wallowa County.

In Baker County there was ample evidence, including photographs, linking the two wolves to the livestock kills.

When those wolves, after being gone for most of the summer, returned to a ranch in Keating Valley and resumed their attacks on livestock, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) authorized officials from the federal Wildlife Services to kill the two wolves.

Federal workers did so in early September.

None of the pro-wolf groups filed a lawsuit to block the federal hunters.

This year in Wallowa County, wolves killed at least six cattle (some ranchers contend the tally is higher) in May and early June.

There hasn’t been a confirmed wolf attack on livestock there since June 4.

ODFW issued permits to Wildlife Services to kill two wolves. The permits are effective through Aug. 31.

Although no wolves have been killed, a quartet of conservation groups on July 1 sued Wildlife Services, accusing the agency of not fully studying the effects of killing two wolves.

Wildlife Services responded the next day by voluntarily agreeing to not kill any wolves until Aug. 1 at the soonest.

And that’s where the tenuous ceasefire stands.

The plaintiffs posed a valid question: Would killing two wolves now, this month, save any livestock in Wallowa County?

It makes no sense to kill wolves if doing so is not necessary to protect domestic animals. However, absent permission from ODFW, federal hunters can’t deal with the Wallowa wolves should they suddenly regain their taste for beef. That, too, is unacceptable.

The key issue in this situation, ultimately, is trust.

Specifically, whether wolf advocates trust that ODFW, even accounting for its decision to issue wolf-kill permits, is committed to enabling wolves to re-establish a healthy, sustainable population in Oregon.

Based on the recent lawsuit, it seems that trust is lacking.

But what we’ve seen leads us to believe that ODFW truly intends to seek a balance not only between wolves and livestock, but also between wolves and game animals such as elk.

The return of wolves to Oregon was never going to be harmonious. But consensus is possible, as last year’s events in Baker County proved.

Such consensus will prove elusive, though, if wolf advocates file lawsuits when the only animals that have been killed are livestock.


As to the conclusions of the Baker City Herald Editorial Board, I offer the following:

The Herald says that they think "wolves and livestock can both thrive in Northeastern Oregon."

Let's hope so. But then they say:

But achieving that goal will require compromise.
And not between wolves and their domestic prey.

OK. Their are several interested parties from whence compromise might come if warranted. These include, the ranchers, the enviros and wolf supporters like myself (In another article below, Bruce Fenty, ONDA Exec. Director, points out that Oregon polls show "70% of people are in favor of wolves returning to Oregon" and I might add, millions of others across the nation.), hunting interests (mostly within the state of Oregon), as well as the federal and state agencies that manage wolves and their suitable habitat.

But the Herald says:

"We’re talking about the relationship between the state and federal agencies responsible for managing wolves, and the coalition of groups that celebrate the return of wolves to Oregon after an absence of more than half a century."
(Emphasis added)

Notably absent from the Herald's "compromise" are the ranchers, who absent any interest in increasing their own investment in non-lethally protecting their own livestock, stand to suffer personal losses and increased expense if wolves are successfully reintroduced. Is this realistic? How can the Herald reach the conclusion that such a major player and obstacle to successful reintroduction should be excused from any "compromise?" They, after all, were the motivation and major players in the original extirpation of wolves from Oregon.

Getting rid of the wolves helped them create an environment where they could turn their livestock (except for sheep, who are normally herded) out in the spring, sans supervision, and collect them in the fall, without losses due to wolves. Something will obviously have to change with the reintroduction of wolves to their rightful place and their necessary ecological role as an apex predator. That something is that ranchers are going to have to start looking after their livestock with active herding and the implementation of non-lethal controls and other non-lethal measures. That is the the part of the compromise that is mysteriously missing from the Herald's equation.

The Herald continues:

"In Baker County there was ample evidence, including photographs, linking the two wolves to the livestock kills.

When those wolves, after being gone for most of the summer, returned to a ranch in Keating Valley and resumed their attacks on livestock, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) authorized officials from the federal Wildlife Services to kill the two wolves."

What the Herald leaves out is that they returned to the pitifully unprotected sheep operation several weeks after the quite often effective non-lethal measures had been removed. Why would the Herald leave that fact out?

They also state, much to my chagrin:

"None of the pro-wolf groups filed a lawsuit to block the federal hunters."

So . . .(bleep) what? Are we supposed to conclude that because regional "pro-wolf" groups didn't file suit concerning the first two killings of young wolves in Baker County, that the killings of set-up young wolves by the Feds were OK or that the "pro-wolf" groups don't care? One could easily conclude something quite different, but due to the lack of other relevant information or logic, it would be just as meaningless. Any conclusion based on that the single fact that they didn't file suit, such as they didn't file suit because they are chronic compromisers, or politically weak, or inept strategists, or underfunded, underpaid, overwhelmed, and otherwise broke, would be just as baseless without additional information.

They also state:

"It makes no sense to kill wolves if doing so is not necessary to protect domestic animals. However, absent permission from ODFW, federal hunters can’t deal with the Wallowa wolves should they suddenly regain their taste for beef. That, too, is unacceptable.

The key issue in this situation, ultimately, is trust.

Specifically, whether wolf advocates trust that ODFW, even accounting for its decision to issue wolf-kill permits, is committed to enabling wolves to re-establish a healthy, sustainable population in Oregon.

Based on the recent lawsuit, it seems that trust is lacking."

Trust? Well . . ., of course it's lacking--that's why the groups filed suit. When the agencies quit working for the ranchers with taxpayer money so as to help the ranchers evade responsibility, there will be a chance to develop trust. As for the part about killing wolves to protect domestic animals, that just ignores a core portion of the problem. The reason they want taxpayer funded agencies to kill wolves, is because they refuse to shoulder the responsibility and expense of protecting their livestock with non-lethal measures (as the rest of us are required to do).

If I had the time I would respond to some of the other interesting opinions in the piece, but the last portion of the editorial must get a response. The Herald says:

". . . consensus will prove elusive, though, if wolf advocates file lawsuits when the only animals that have been killed are livestock."

Here the Herald misrepresents the purpose of the lawsuit and ignores the fact that two young wolves were needlessly killed in the area north of Keating in Baker County after they did what they naturally do when finding inadequately protected livestock where no effective non-lethal measures were in place. Two more had been placed under imminent threat of death. Again, the purpose of the lawsuit as stated by the environmental groups:

"Four conservation groups sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s predator control branch, Wildlife Services, today for its role in killing wolves at the behest of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). The state has issued, and now extended to Aug. 31, a permit to the federal agency to hunt, track and kill two wolves across a 70-square-mile area in eastern Oregon. According to the conservation groups’ lawsuit, Wildlife Services never conducted the environmental analysis required to disclose the impacts of killing a substantial portion of Oregon’s wolves. Cascadia Wildlands, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Oregon Wild and the national Center for Biological Diversity brought the suit, and are also strongly considering suing the state for its role in authorizing the kill permits."

While the Herald's editorial seem like a case of fuzzy thinking, what is clear to me is that they can't go wrong in Baker County sheep & cow country when they excuse ranchers from compromise and place the blame on environmentalists and the agencies for problems in achieving so-called 'compromise" & "consensus."

Wolves in Oregon – More Bark Than Bite?

By Brent Fenty
ONDA Executive Director

"Oregon’s Wolf Management Plan is currently under a 5-year review to determine the future of wolf populations. Over the past century, the gray wolf (Canis lupus) has borne the brunt of man’s attempt to dominate the wild west. For example, wolves were extirpated in Oregon in 1946 after decades of over-hunting fueled by State-paid bounties for every wolf hide.

Over the past several decades, Americans have grown to understand that the recovery of wolves is essential to ecosystem health and to restoring our wildlands. As Aldo Leopold once commented, “Harmony with the land is like harmony with a friend. You cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say you cannot have game and hate predators. The land is one organism.” As such, the gray wolf was put on the federal Endangered Species List in 1974, and since then efforts to re-establish wolf populations have led to wolves now being found in Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho and, recently, Oregon.

As you may recall, the first known gray wolf to return to Oregon was a female that migrated from Idaho in 1999 but she was quickly returned to Idaho by the Oregon Department of Wildlife (ODFW). In 2002, ONDA successfully petitioned the ODFW to comply with State law and create a state Wolf Management Plan. This plan was completed in 2005, and set a goal of 5– 7 breeding pairs in the State before the has only two documented breeding pairs which are located in the northeast corner of the State.

While polls in Oregon have shown that 70% of people are in favor of wolves returning to Oregon, there is a vocal minority objecting to the re-establishment of viable wolf populations. The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association has all but declared war on wolves in Oregon, recently stating that “wolves are terrorizing eastern Oregon.” The underlying argument is that wolf populations will threaten livestock. However, Oregon produces 1.5 million head of cattle annually and so far there have been only six cattle deaths from wolf predation. In response to these conflicts, ODFW recently issued kill permits for an area spanning nearly 40 square miles; such action bears an unfortunate and uncanny resemblance to Oregon’s unsavory past efforts which led to the extermination of wolves.

Some conflicts between livestock grazing and native wildlife such as wolves are unavoidable particularly given the fact that the vast majority of our public lands are grazed by livestock. Conservation groups have worked to find ways to address such conflicts with wolves. For example, Defenders of Wildlife set up a fund to reimburse ranchers for livestock lost to wolf depredation, and since the establishment of this fund it has paid out $3,900 to Oregon ranchers. Another option would be to permanently or temporarily retire grazing permits on public lands where conflicts between wolves and livestock exist.
Regardless, ranchers, as outlined in the Wolf Management Plan, must take responsibility for the safety of their livestock by improving inventory, fencing and employing fladry lines or other non-lethal hazing tactics to scare wolves away from livestock. Ultimately, wolves need to be treated as native wildlife – not as unwanted predators.

A draft of the revised plan should be available by September and we have joined Hells Canyon Preservation Council in commenting on proposed revisions. A public meeting will be held in Bend on October 1st and ODFW will be making its recommendations for the Wolf Management Plan. I encourage you to attend this meeting and become involved in the protection of wolf populations in Oregon. In the meanwhile, keep an eye on your inbox for email updates on the Wolf Management Plan and please don’t hesitate to contact staff for more details on how to support wolf recovery


See Also (The last post listed is perhaps instructive):

Max Simpson's Advice & Oregon Wolves

Wolves and Other Predators

SATURDAY, MAY 29, 2010
ODFW's Double Standards: Wolves, Ranchers, and Non-lethal Measures

MONDAY, MAY 31, 2010
Native Wolves in Wallowa--Human variety in the Middle East

MONDAY, MAY 11, 2009
Wolves Again. . . .
This is a in part a re-post of a blog from December 6, 2007 about wolves and the persecution of predators.


What's With Obama's Top Political & Economic Advisor's?

The Baseline Scenario
David Axelrod’s Talking Points

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 09:47 AM PDT
By Simon Johnson

David Axelrod was on the Diane Rehm show this morning – a great opportunity to connect with listeners who will actually stop what they are going and pay attention, at least for a short while. He was awful.

He had even the most basic facts wrong – it’s not “8 million people have lost their jobs” but rather “more than 8 million jobs have been lost” since December 2007. He rambled – it was hard to see his point, particularly in the introduction. But most of all, there was no narrative – why exactly did we have a recession, why has it been so bad, and why aren’t the jobs coming back?

Without a narrative, how can anyone make sense of the past 18 months?

Axelrod can choose his narrative – and obviously doesn’t need to agree, for example, with the view that the financial system became dangerous and now needs to be reined in - but he has to say something coherent. You can’t just make isolated points like “the fiscal stimulus helped” or (even more confusing) “we’ll now address the budget deficit.”

There was really no explanation for why the economy has become such a difficult place for so many people. How did we go from apparent prosperity in 2007 to the deepest recession of the past 50 years? And how are we going to get the jobs back?

Blaming things on the Republicans in some vague sense (e.g., tax cuts) also doesn’t make sense to people. If you want to get partisan, you have to connect the dots in a convincing manner – otherwise people will (rightly) tune out.

Does the problem here lie with the economic briefing that Axelrod received before going on air? If so, changing those responsible would be an obvious first step.

But the issue may be deeper – or higher up the administration. It is entirely possible, based on what we are seeing and hearing now, that even Axelrod and other members of the political wing of the White House don’t really understand what happened (the big banks blew themselves up) – and why they are now so powerless to do anything about it (after being rescued, the banks fought hard to block effective change). The credit system remains fundamentally damaged and unfixed; this undermines expectations for the future in many ways and slows the recovery of jobs. [Emphasis added]


Wall Street Prostitute & Financial/Intellectual Scammer, Tim Geithner Fights Regualtory Reform From Within

Tim Geithner’s Ninth Political Life

Posted: 15 Jul 2010 05:59 PM PDT
By Simon Johnson

In modern American life, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner stands out as amazingly resilient and remarkably lucky – despite presiding over or being deeply involved in a series of political debacles, he has gone from strength to strength. After at least eight improbably bounce backs, he might seem unassailable. But his latest mistake – blocking Elizabeth Warren from the heading the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – may well prove politically fatal.

Geithner was a junior but key member of the US Treasury team that badly mishandled the early days of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and received widespread criticism (Life #1). He was promoted as a result and thereafter enjoyed a meteoric rise.

As President of the New York Federal Reserve from 2003, and de facto head of the government’s financial intelligence service, he completely failed to spot the problems developing in and around the country’s financial markets; nothing about this embarrassing track record has since stood in his way (Life #2). He subsequently became Hank Paulson’s Wall Street point person for one of the most comprehensively bungled bailouts of all time – the Troubled Asset Relief Program, TARP, which in fall 2008 first appalled Congress with its intentions and then wasn’t used at all as advertized (Life #3).

TARP and related Bush-Paulson-Geithner efforts were so completely and clearly unsuccessful in October/November 2009 that the crisis worsened and Geithner was offered the job of Treasury Secretary by President-elect Obama; the incoming team felt there was no substitute for “experience”. Nevertheless, he almost failed in the confirmation process due to issues related to his taxes (Life #4) and then stumbled badly with his initial public repositioning of the TARP (Life #5), which was going to buy toxic assets again but in a more complicated way (perhaps his most complete and obviously personal political disaster to date).

His next Great Escape was the stress tests in spring 2009 – it turned out, supposedly, that there was really no financial crisis. Most of the big banks really did have enough capital; all that had been missing was the government’s endorsement of this fact (this is the story, honest). If this seems too good to be true, look at the mass unemployment still around you and tell me if the financial sector really looks healthy (Life #6).

Life #7 was expended concurrent with the forceful arrival on the financial reform scene of Paul Volcker. The Geithner-Summers “financial reform” package from summer 2009 was weak to start with and weakened further as it was discussed in the House; the entire effort was rudderless. Volcker’s new proposals helped rescue the reform and restore momentum – but instead of (appropriately) discrediting the Geithner approach in the eyes of the White House, it actually helped the Treasury Secretary climb new pinnacles of influence. Go figure.

Life #8 is the blatant failure of the Geithner strategy to “just raise capital requirements” as the way to deal with distorted incentives and the tendency to take irresponsible risks at the heart of our financial system. Treasury insisted on “capital first and foremost” throughout the Senate debate this year – combined with their argument that these requirements must be set by regulators through international negotiation, i.e., not by legislation. But the big banks are chipping away at this entire philosophy daily through their effective lobbying within the opaque Basel process – as one would expect. The latest indications are that capital requirements will barely be raised in any meaningful sense.

Secretary Geithner likes to say, “Plan beats no plan” and in some positive interpretations this is the secret of his success. But it turns out that he had no plan really – the stress tests were a grand improvisation (ultimately implying scary sized government implicit guarantees), the initial financial reform proposals fizzled (the Volcker rescue was against Geithner’s wishes), and the much vaunted tightening of capital standards is completely illusory (doesn’t anyone in the White House read the newspapers?).

On top of all this, it now appears that Secretary Geithner will oppose Elizabeth Warren becoming the new chief regulator responsible for protecting consumers from defective financial products – despite the fact that she has led the way for this issue, on both intellectual and political fronts, over the past decade. The financial sector has abused many of its customers badly over the past decades. This simply needs to stop.

Throughout the Senate debate on financial reform, Treasury insisted that complex details regarding consumer protected need to be left to regulators – and thus the Geithner team pushed back against many sensible legislative proposals that would have tightened the rules. Treasury also promised – although in a nonbinding way – that the new generation of regulators would be an order of magnitude more effective that those who eviscerated whatever was left of our oversight system during the Bush years.

With his track record of survival, Geithner and his team apparently feel they can push hard against Elizabeth Warren and give the new consumer protection job to someone closer to their philosophy – which is much more sympathetic to the banking industry.

This would be a bad mistake – trying the patience of already exasperated Congressional Democrats. If the Obama administration can’t even complete the deal they implicitly agreed with Senators over the past months, this will set of a firestorm of protest within the party (and with anyone else who is paying attention).

Financial “reform” is already very weak. If Secretary Geithner gets his way on consumers protection, pretty much all of the Democrats efforts vis-à-vis the financial sector’s treatment of customers have been for naught.

Tim Geithner is sometimes compared to Talleyrand, the French statesman who served the Revolution, Napoleon, and the restored Bourbons – opportunistic and distrusted, but often useful and a great survivor with a brilliant personal career. In the end, of course, no one – including Talleyrand – proves indispensible. And everyone of this sort eventually pushes their luck too far.

If the Democratic leadership really wants to win in the November elections, they should think very hard about the further consequences of Mr. Geithner.

Social Security Threats

The Impact of Social Security Cuts on Retiree Income

July 2010, Dean Baker and David Rosnick

There has been a serious push in policy circles to cut Social Security benefits for near- and/or current retirees. The argument for such cuts has been based on the deficits in the federal budget; the finances of the Social Security program have been at most a secondary consideration. However, the finances of the current or near-retirees who would be affected by these cuts have also largely been ignored in this discussion. This is striking because this group has been hardest hit by the collapse of the housing bubble and the resulting plunge in stock prices. These workers had accumulated some wealth – mostly in the form of home equity – which they stood to lose as a result of the crisis. Since they are at or near retirement age, they will have little opportunity to replace their lost wealth.

This paper assesses the cuts implied by three common proposals for reducing Social Security benefits:

- Adopting a “progressive price” indexation (PPI) formula for the basic benefit structure,
- Accelerating and extending the increase in the normal retirement age, and
- Reducing the annual cost-of-living adjustment. It calculates the implied cut in benefits and projected income for various age groups and income quintiles of retirees and near-retirees.

From the Executive Summary:

"Since the vast majority of near-retirees will rely on Social Security for the vast majority of their income in retirement, cuts in Social Security imply large cuts in income for a population that is already not especially wealthy. (Median household income for people over age 65 is less than $30,000.) Ironically, the drive for these cuts is being driven by budget problems resulting from the collapse of the housing bubble. This is a disaster for which older workers were the primary victims, since they lost the most equity in their homes."

CEPR Paper can be found here:

The Impact of Social Security Cuts on Retiree Income


Collecting Social Security At 70?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Gulf Oil Disaster--Who's Responsible? [last edit 7/23/10]

In This Edition:

- Gulf Oil Disaster Commentary
- Ralph Nader On BP, Regulation, and the Obma Administration
- Pictures Of The BP Disaster
- John Hiatt: "Have a little Faith In Me" Music Video

It is a given that when a major disaster or crime occurs, that folks will be looking for a culprit, an entity, in most cases either an individual, a corporation, or an institution, to take full blame and the wrath of those who feel harmed or threatened.

In the case of British Petroleum's (aka, Beyond Petroleum or BP) catastrophic error while drilling for one of our addictive substances, oil, to serve our and the world's consumption, the current focus of culprit-seeking attention is the company ultimately in charge of the drilling operation--British Petroleum. It seems to me though, that the responsibility for creating the craving and the frantic risk-taking quest for finding the precious oil to fuel a society based on extravagant waste, goes well beyond BP.

BP was, and still is, working in a world environment of not just rampant corporate profiteering and corrupt government oversight, but one that recklessly demands oil to feed its addiction--an environment that was apparently willing to demand that oil at any cost. This addiction is most conspicuous right here at home in America.

While some of us were heeding the warnings of the first Earth Day (what supreme irony that the Gulf BP blowout occurred on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day), just over 40 years ago, along with the Club of Rome report's charts of increasing population and pollution in the face of declining resources such as oil (not to mention several decades of World Watch reports), corporations (including automobile manufacturers and the corporate mainstream media), most politicians (except, notably, President Carter), and many Americans, ignored them in favor of their own self-centered desires. Many were sucked into the illusion of limitless oil reserves to nourish ideas of inconsequential extravagance. Conservation of energy and increased fuel efficiency, even though already achievable in the '70's and 80's of the last century, were laughed at, and many folks decided, as promoted by automobile manufacturers, to purchase inefficient, status giving, and allegedly safety providing SUV's and tank-like trucks for basic transportation. For the price of two or three Honda Civic hatchbacks or, three or more Geo Metros, they opted for the oversized gas guzzlers to get them to the store and back. My, they do look impressive behind the wheel of the glittering monstrosities and symbols of conspicuous consumption.

I guess the point is that as we abdicated our responsibility to understand readily knowable resource constraints and our responsibility to restrain corporate greed while we pursued the "good life" without resource limits. We also aided, abetted, and enabled politicians and corporations to do what we see happening to our planet today.

Returning to the most recent glaring example, the BP/Gulf of Mexico oil leak disaster, it is worth remembering a popular animosity towards the dreaded "environmental impact statement" (EIS). People who have backed themselves into a corner when it comes to the consumption of declining resources, whether it be oil, timber, water, steelhead habitat, or what ever, have an economically motivated need to eliminate obstacles to their demand for the dwindling (often publicly held) resource they seek. The Environmental Impact Statement is such an obstacle.

One of our greatest environmental Presidents (please sit yourself down)--yes, forgive me once again, can't give conservatives any credit now, can we?-- Richard Nixon, (known for some other serious lapses in ethical judgement) passed what may be the most sweeping set of laws to protect our environment of any of our Presidents. The laws he signed have presented many of the obstacles to the demand for our dwindling resource base and which also protected us to some extent from pollution and from the decimation of our biotic heritage. In his term in office, he signed off on the National Environmental Pollicy Act (NEPA) and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Ocean Dumping Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Federal Insecticide, Fungide, Rodenticide Act; the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

One of the acts in question, the National Environmental Pollicy Act (NEPA), required government agencies to address potential environmental impacts to any agency or governmentally proposed action (often submitted by users or extractors of resources on public or publicly controlled lands), such as drilling into the ocean floor a mile or so below the ocean surface.

The government is supposed to determine whether the potential impacts fall into one of four categories, each involving increasing risk to the environment. These include (see Wiki):

- CE (Categorical Exclusion): "The agency . . . found no significant impact on the environment based on the analyses"

- EA (Environmental Assessment): "An EA is a screening document used to determine if an agency will need to prepare either an EIS or construct a FONSI."

- FONSI (Finding Of No Significant Impact): "A FONSI presents the reasons why an action will not have a significant effect on the human environment. It must include the EA or summary of the EA that supports the FONSI determination."

- EIS (Environmental Impact Statement): An EIS is required when it is determined that a federal action may have a significant effect on the environment.
"An EIS is required to describe:
• The environmental impacts of the proposed action
• Any adverse environmental impacts that cannot be avoided should the proposal be implemented
• The reasonable alternatives to the proposed action
• The relationship between local short-term uses of man’s environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity
• Any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources that would be involved in the proposed action should it be implemented."

These provisions are for the purpose of protecting our environment from the consequences of inadequately thought-out proposals (Like: Hey! What the hell are we going to do if this happens?!) and depend on government agency personnel or the courts (in the event of legal challenges) to make appropriate decisions in that regard.

Richard Nixon, at least a partially true conservative in the environmental sense of the word, chose to sign into law all of the bills previously mentioned, including NEPA. Those economically dependent on the extraction of dwindling resources, for several decades now, have fought environmentalists tooth and nail at every opportunity to evade the requirements of NEPA, whether it be approved grazing or predator control, industrial and residential development, timber extraction, control over road building and use, or whatever.

As they did in this case, the environmentalists have quite often sought redress in the courts to protect the environment through NEPA requirements. The point is that the battle between environmentalists and those seeking to trash what is left of the planet, and its biotic heritage, for personal gain, has often centered on the question of the environmental impacts associated with the approval of proposed agency actions, such as drilling for oil in dangerous deep water circumstances.

So, given the risks inherent in drilling a mile or so below the surface of the ocean, which category did the Obama administration choose in their evaluation of impacts? Well, much like the previous Bush administration (who allowed the leases in the first place) would have done, they chose the alternative that asked no questions--the Categorical Exclusion.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity:

"Within days of the 2009 approval, the Center and our allies won a court order vacating the Bush Five-Year Offshore Drilling Plan. Rather than use the court order as a timeout on new offshore oil drilling to develop a new plan, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar filed a special motion with the court to exempt approved oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. He specifically identified BP’s operation as one that should be released from the vacature.

In July 2009, the court agreed to Salazar’s request, releasing all approved offshore oil drilling — including the BP operation — from the vacature."

Here is the original press release about the situation by the Center for Biological Diversity:

For Immediate Release, May 5, 2010

Contact: Kierán Suckling, (520) 275-5960

Interior Department Exempted BP Drilling From Environmental Review:

In Rush to Expand Offshore Oil Drilling, Interior Secretary Salazar Abandoned Pledge to Reform
Industry-dominated Mineral Management Service

TUCSON, Ariz.— Ken Salazar’s first pledge as secretary of the interior was to reform the scandal plagued Mineral Management Service (MMS), which had been found by the U.S. inspector general to have traded sex, drugs, and financial favors with oil-company executives. In a January 29, 2009 press release on the scandal, Salazar stated:

“President Obama's and my goal is to restore the public's trust, to enact meaningful reform…to uphold the law, and to ensure that all of us -- career public servants and political appointees -- do our jobs with the highest level of integrity."

Yet just three months later, Secretary Salazar allowed the MMS to approve — with no environmental review — the BP drilling operation that exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and pouring millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The disaster will soon be, if it is not already, the worst oil spill in American history.

BP submitted its drilling plan to the MMS on March 10, 2009. Rather than subject the plan to a detailed environmental review before approving it as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, the agency declared the plan to be “categorically excluded” from environmental analysis because it posed virtually no chance of harming the environment. As BP itself pointed out in its April 9, 2010, letter to the Council on Environmental Quality, categorical exclusions are only to be used when a project will have “minimal or nonexistent” environmental impacts.

MMS issued its one-page approval letter to BP on April 6, 2009.

“Secretary Salazar has utterly failed to reform the Mineral Management Service,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Instead of protecting the public interest by conducting environmental reviews, his agency rubber stamped BP’s drilling plan, just as it does hundreds of others every year in the Gulf of Mexico. The Minerals Management Service has gotten worse, not better, under Salazar’s watch.”

As a senator, Salazar sponsored the “Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006,” which opened up large swaths of the Gulf of Mexico to offshore oil drilling and criticized the MMS for not issuing enough offshore oil leases. As interior secretary, he has pushed the agency to speed offshore oil drilling and was the architect of the White House’s March, 2010, proposal to expand offshore oil drilling in Alaska, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Coast from Maryland to Florida.

After meeting with Gulf oil executives early this week, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) told the Washington Post: “I’m of the opinion that boosterism breeds complacency and complacency breeds disaster. That, in my opinion, is what happened.” The boosterism started at the top, with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Excerpts from the BP drilling plan that was categorically excluded from environmental review by the Department of the Interior:

“2.7 Blowout Scenario - A scenario for a potential blowout of the well from which BP would expect to have the highest volume of liquid hydrocarbons is not required for the operations proposed in this EP.”

“14.5 Alternatives - No alternatives to the proposed activities were considered to reduce environmental impacts.”

“14.6 Mitigation Measures - No mitigation measures other than those required by regulation and BP policy will be employed to avoid, diminish or eliminate potential impacts on environmental resources.”

“14.7 Consultation - No agencies or persons were consulted regarding potential impacts associated with the proposed activities.”

“14.3 Impacts on Proposed Activities - The site-specific environmental conditions have been taken into account for the proposed activities and no impacts are expected as a result of these conditions.”

“ Wetlands - An accidental oil spill from the proposed activities could cause impacts to wetlands. However, due to the distance to shore (48 miles) and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected.” (p. 45)

“ Essential Fish Habitat - …In the event of an unanticipated blowout resulting in an oil spill, it is unlikely to have an impact based on the industry wide standards for using proven equipment and technology for such responses, implementation of BP's Regional Oil Spill Response Plan which address available equipment and removal of the oil spill.”

Visit the Center’s new Gulf Disaster website for more details:

Many people in the environmental community opposed Obama's appointment of Salazar due to his past record, and raised questions about Obama's faithfulness to environmental values. Their view has been substantiated by several actions emanating from political appointees to federal agencies, including, most notably, Ken Salazar.

If the Gulf Oil Disaster requires anything from us, it requires that we see and appreciate the wisdom of the requirements set forth in the National Environmental Policy Act and other acts, which were signed by perhaps the last true conservative to grace the "Oval Office." We also need to address our infatuation with ever increasing population growth and our addiction to consumption, most importantly, our addiction to abundant energy supplies in an era of "peak oil."

Of course, we need to consider renewable energy. Renewables alone will not save us, but they may be able to produce 50% of our future energy needs.

From "Renewable Energy: Current and Potential Issues:"
“This assessment of renewable energy technologies confirms that these techniques have the potential to provide the nation with alternatives to meet approximately half of future US energy needs. To develop this potential, the United States would have to commit to the development and implementation of non–fossil fuel technologies and energy conservation. The implementation of renewable energy technologies would reduce many of the current environmental problems associated with fossil fuel production and use.” [the article was written in 2002, so some figures cited have increased. For example, the US now has 308 million plus people and it is climbing without restraint, primarily due to immigration. Chris]

[See: Renewable Energy: Current and Potential Issues ]

We also need to heed the words of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote:

"Who will govern the governors?" There is only one force in the nation that can be depended upon to keep the government pure and the governors honest, and that is the people themselves. They alone, if well informed, are capable of preventing the corruption of power, and of restoring the nation to its rightful course if it should go astray. They alone are the safest depository of the ultimate powers of government. "

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." (as cited in Padover, 1939, p. 89)

". . . whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right." (as cited in Padover, 1939, p. 88)


Ralph Nader On BP, Regulation, and the Obma Administration

See Also:

Public Citizen

Planning for Disaster
When the Executive Branch does not have worst case scenario planning for each kind of energy source—oil, gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar and efficiency—the people are not protected.

Enter the 24/7 oil gusher-leak by BP and Transocean – the rig operator – and the impotence of the federal government to do anything but wait and see if BP can find ways to close off the biggest and growing oil leak in American history. Where is the emergency planning or industry knowhow?

Of course, we all saw Barack Obama’s first full press conference in ten months where he said, “In case you were wondering who’s responsible? I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure everything is done to shut this down…The federal government is fully engaged, and I’m fully engaged. Personally, I’m briefed every day. And I probably had more meetings on this issue than just about any issue since we did our Afghan review.”

Sure, so he’s being kept informed. Those are not the words of leadership five weeks after the preventable blowout on the Deepwater Horizon 40 miles off the Louisiana coast. His problem is how long it took for the White House to see this as a national disaster not just a corporate disaster for BP to contain.

That default was not just failing to determine the size of the spill (over ten times greater than BP originally estimated) or the farcical non-regulation, under Republicans and Democrats, by the Minerals Management Service of the Interior Department. It was a failure to realize that our government has no capability, no technology to take control of such disasters or even to find out whether solutions exist elsewhere in the oil and geologic industries. It’s like a spreading fire where the perpetrator of the fire has the primary responsibility to put the fire out because there Is no properly equipped public fire department.

James Carville, an Obama loyalist and defender, called out his champion from new Orleans, where he now lives, and told him: “Man, you got to get down here and take control of this!” With what? Obama has a 16 month long record of turning his back on advice from the Cajuns of Louisiana to environmental groups in Washington, DC. He shook off warnings about the pathetic federal regulators, so called, cushy with the oil industry. During his campaigns, he allowed McCain’s “drill, baby, drill” to turn him more overtly toward favoring offshore drilling, instead of turning onto offshore windpower.

As the multi-directional and multi-depth oil swarm keeps encircling the Gulf of Mexico, strangling the livelihood of its people, the life of its flora and fauna, with its implacably deadly effect, Obama and his supposedly street smart advisors, led by Rahm Emanuel, started out with a political blunder.

Presidential specialist, Professor Paul Light at New York University put his finger on it when he said: “The White House made a deliberate political calculation to stand off…to sort of distance themselves from BP, and they’ve been hammered on that.”

Early on, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told him that the federal government does not possess superior technology to BP. And BP CEO Tony Hayward admitted that BP was not prepared for such a blowout. He said “What is undoubtedly true is that we did not have the tools you would want in your tool kit.” Gates really meant that Uncle Sam had nothing superior to nothing or, in less charitable words, was completely out to lunch with the chronic deregulators who still infect our national government.

Obama’s cool is turning cold. He is not reacting fast enough to the public rage that is building up and over-riding his vacuous statements about taking responsibility and being briefed daily. Much of this public rage, incidentally, is coming from the southern Gulf rim, whose elected politicians consistently opposed any regulation of their campaign contributing oil companies in order to avert just these kinds of disasters. Only Florida’s Congressional delegation said—stay out of Florida’s waters.

Politico reported that “Obama skipped the memorial service for the 11 workers killed on the rig earlier this week, instead flying to California, where he collected $1.7 million for Democrats and toured a solar panel plant. On the day that the significant clots of oil started appearing on the Louisiana coast, Obama was sitting down for an interview to talk hoops with TNT’s Marv Albert.”

He must move to properly sequester all the assets of BP and Transocean to fully pay for their damage, thus assuring Americans that BP will not be able to concoct another Exxon/Valdez escape strategy. He must scour the world of knowledge and experience regarding capping underseas oil blowouts, and not just wait week after week for BP to come up with something.

Nobody says that being president is an easy job, even in the best of times. But a President, who can go all out spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan in ways that bleed the taxpayers and breed more anti-American fighters, in part to protect Big Oil in the Middle East, better come back home and stop Big Oil’s war here in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s how he’d better start defining “homeland security.” (See for more on BP.)

See Also: Pictures Of The Devastating Consequences Of The BP Disaster


Should it be a Felony to Cover the Oil Spill?

Unrelated Music Video

John Hiatt--"Have a Little Faith in Me"

Watch on YouTube: "Have a Little Faith in Me"

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Max Simpson's Advice & Oregon Wolves

In This Edition:

- Max Simpson—Crusty Eastern Oregon Rancher Gives Sage Advice

- Environmental Groups File Suit Against Federal Wolf Management Actions in Oregon

- The War is Making You Poor Act


[This article came by way of Jason Bland.]

Max Simpson—Crusty Eastern Oregon Rancher Gives Sage Advice
[A True Baker County Conservative Counsels Accommodation of Differing Views]

Special Moments enliven this Special Session

Eugene Register Guard
June19, 1977
By Henny Willis

From article:

“Rep. Max Simpson, D-Baker, is a crusty Eastern Oregon Rancher. He is as conservative as they come, but his easy, folksy manner and his native wit and intelligence have earned him the respect—if not the votes—of all ideological factions.

Max Simpson didn’t like Frohnmayer’s legislative reform proposal. No surprise there. But, in opposing the measure, Simpson spoke in uncommonly eloquent terms of what he believes the [Oregon] House of representatives is and should remain. No matter his position on HJR 54, for the purpose here is to repeat Simpson’s comments as a soliloquy on his vision of the “House of Commons.” Said Max Simpson:

“I know most of you wouldn’t expect me to say what I’m going to say, but it has to do with the melting pot that this House represents. The people of this individualistic, evergreen state need the environmentalist, who feels that your rights end at the point of my nose. And it needs those who say your rights end at my property line. We need the preservationist and the coyote trapper.”

“We need those who see utilities and business per say as a lurking rapist. We need those who see these as something good and basic to our free enterprise system. We need the women and the humanist and those who want to protect people from themselves, even though the protection is rejected. We need the educator, the theorist, the anarchist, the farmer, the fisherman, the legal minds and writers. And we need those who have learned what will work, the hard way, through experience. We need this noisy, diverse, squabbling, and intense House of Representatives . . . because each of the viewpoints represents some degree of truth, and although the pendulum swings, it creates political balance.”

Nicely said, Max, Nicely said.

. . . .

Environmental Groups File Suit Against Federal Wolf Management Actions in Oregon

For Immediate Release, July 1, 2010

[Note: All text in bold print is my emphasis.]

Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495
Greg Dyson, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, (541) 963-3950 x 22
Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild, (503) 283-6343 x 210

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Federal, State-sanctioned Killing of Endangered Wolves

PORTLAND, Ore.— Four conservation groups sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s predator control branch, Wildlife Services, today for its role in killing wolves at the behest of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). The state has issued, and now extended to Aug. 31, a permit to the federal agency to hunt, track and kill two wolves across a 70-square-mile area in eastern Oregon. According to the conservation groups’ lawsuit, Wildlife Services never conducted the environmental analysis required to disclose the impacts of killing a substantial portion of Oregon’s wolves. Cascadia Wildlands, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Oregon Wild and the national Center for Biological Diversity brought the suit, and are also strongly considering suing the state for its role in authorizing the kill permits.

“Oregon is big enough for people and wolves,” commented Greg Dyson with the La Grande-based group Hells Canyon Preservation Council. “ODFW is acting too hastily in giving Wildlife Services authority to shoot these wolves before exhausting other management options. We were left with no choice but to protect wolves in court.”

The kill order stems from recent livestock depredations by wolves in Wallowa County. In May and early June, six cattle deaths were confirmed as wolf depredations. For comparison, in 2005 — the year the wolf plan was created — domestic dogs killed 700 sheep and cows in Oregon, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. No new wolf depredations on livestock have occurred since June 4.

“Sixty years ago, we completed a sad chapter in our history by killing the last wolf in Oregon,” added Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands. “Today, we’re fighting in court to ensure that we do not repeat that history.”

According to the groups, Oregon’s wildlife agency is violating the wolf-management plan by issuing the kill permits when damage is not presently occurring, the wolves are not on the land where damage is occurring, and multiple carcass dump piles were left on ranch lands resulting in “unreasonable circumstances” that attract wolves to the area. Had Wildlife Services conducted the proper environmental analysis, the agency would have realized that wolves pose no current depredation threat and hunting them is inappropriate. The state’s wildlife department has also failed to document how efforts by ranchers to avoid depredations through nonlethal means were “deemed ineffective” or to document unsuccessful attempts to solve the situation through nonlethal means — both of which are requirements of the plan.

“Oregon’s struggling wolf population cannot sustain these killings,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Issuance of permits to kill these two wolves by the state of Oregon is exactly why wolves continue to need protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.”

A decision is expected soon in a separate lawsuit brought by a large coalition of conservation groups — including all the groups involved in today’s suit — seeking to restore federal protections to wolves under the Endangered Species Act. If protections are restored, the permits may be invalidated.

To date, Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s office has had little to say about the actions of his state’s wildlife agency. The governor’s Natural Resources Policy Director, Mike Carrier, stated publicly that the governor cannot respond to requests to remove the kill order.

“Is this what Governor Kulongoski wants his wildlife legacy to be?” asked Rob Klavins with Oregon Wild. “The governor who signed off on the first state-sanctioned illegal wolf kills in the state’s history?” [Rumor has it that Governor Kulongoski wants to retire to Baker County. A friend of the family owns the Geiser Grand Hotel. - Chris]

Oregon is currently home to a confirmed population of 14 wolves in two packs, both in northeast Oregon. The Imnaha pack of 10 is led by wolf B-300. Another pack of four wolves located in the Wenaha wildlife unit was caught on film for the first time earlier this spring. The Oregon wolf plan is currently undergoing a mandated five-year review process. Because the current population numbers fewer than 14 confirmed wolves, conservationists are working to fully fund the wolf plan and empower biologists to make decisions regarding the state-listed endangered species.

Please find HCPC Complaint Here.

Some Background:

Wolves and Other Predators

SATURDAY, MAY 29, 2010
ODFW's Double Standards: Wolves, Ranchers, and Non-lethal Measures

MONDAY, MAY 31, 2010
Native Wolves in Wallowa--Human variety in the Middle East

ODFW authorizes lethal removal of wolves

Breeding pair to be protected May 31, 2010

Michelle Dennehy Mon, May 31, 2010 at 10:10 AM
To: Michelle Dennehy
Just distributed to news media

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Contact: Michelle Dennehy (503) 947-6022 / (503) 931-2748

Fax: (503) 947-6009

For Immediate Release May 31, 2010

ODFW authorizes lethal removal of wolves

Breeding pair to be protected

ENTERPRISE, Ore.—ODFW is authorizing USDA Wildlife Services to kill two wolves from the Imnaha pack, which are responsible for five confirmed livestock losses in the past few weeks.

Wildlife Services has been authorized to kill only two uncollared wolves. This selective removal is meant to protect the alpha male and alpha female, Oregon’s only known breeding pair of wolves at this time. Protecting the collared wolves will also help ODFW, USDA Wildlife Services and ranchers continue to monitor wolf activity. (The alpha female was collared in July 2009 and the alpha male was collared in February 2010.)

ODFW confirmed two additional wolf-caused livestock kills in the upper Wallowa Valley area on Saturday, May 29. (The other three confirmations occurred May 6, May 21 and May 28.)

The lethal action is aimed at killing wolves that are showing an interest in livestock, not wolves simply in the area, and will be limited to an area where three of the confirmed livestock kills are clustered. Under the terms of the authorization, the wolves can be killed a) only within three miles of three clustered locations with confirmed livestock losses by wolves and b) only on privately-owned pasture currently inhabited by livestock. ODFW’s authorization will be valid until June 11, 2010.

Through these specific terms, ODFW aims to protect the breeding pair and the Imnaha pack’s den site, where the alpha female may be caring for new pups. (Wolf pups are typically born in mid-April, though ODFW has not visually observed any new pups this year.)

The authorization for lethal removal is consistent with the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and associated Oregon Administrative Rules, which guide ODFW responses to livestock losses by wolves. After non-lethal measures have been used and there are two or more losses on adjacent properties, the department may authorize its own personnel or Wildlife Services to kill wolves.

The non-lethal measures tried include removal of livestock carcasses and bone piles that can attract wolves; radio telemetry monitoring of wolves; use of radio activated guard box; aerial hazing of wolves; the hiring of a wolf technician to haze wolves and monitor wolf activity nightly; and increased presence around livestock.

ODFW has also issued two additional “caught in the act” permits to the landowners with losses confirmed on Saturday, May 29. The permits give landowners the legal authority to shoot wolves “caught in the act” of biting, wounding or killing livestock. Last week, ODFW issued five of these permits.

The Wolf Plan, first adopted in 2005, is currently undergoing a five-year review. Ranchers, conservationists and others with comments about the process for responding to livestock losses or other issues may provide public comment.

To comment, please send an email to Comments received by June 30, 2010 will be considered for the draft evaluation, which will include any recommended changes to the plan. The draft evaluation should be available for preliminary review by the public in August. ODFW will present the results of the evaluation and any recommendations to amend the plan to the Fish and Wildlife Commission (the state’s policy making body for fish and wildlife issues) at their Oct. 1 meeting in Bend.

For more information on wolves in Oregon, visit

update on wolves
3 messages
Michelle Dennehy Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 6:00 PM
To: Michelle Dennehy

June 29, 2010 - ODFW filed a temporary rule change with the Secretary of State’s office today that changes the OAR language guiding lethal responses to wolf-livestock depredation. The rule changes are as follows (old or deleted language is strike-thru text, new language is bold and underlined). The new rule is available on ODFW’s website at the link below:

(6) Lethal take to deal with chronic depredation.

(a) ODFW may authorize its personnel, authorized agents, or Wildlife Services, to use lethal force on wolves [anywhere] at a property owner or permittee’s request if:

(A) ODFW confirms [that the property or an adjacent property has had] either:

(i) two confirmed depredations by wolves on livestock in the area; or

(ii) one confirmed depredation followed by [up to three] an attempted depredation[s] (testing or stalking) in the area ;

Wolves are territorial animals that can range over hundreds of square miles. Recognizing that wolves do not observe property boundaries, the new rules clarify that ODFW can authorize lethal force against wolves when they are repeatedly attacking livestock within an area. (Lethal measures can still only be taken after non-lethal measures have been unsuccessful and where no unreasonable conditions exist to cause wolf-livestock conflict.)

Adding the term “in the area” to i and ii clarifies that the rules are to be used for a situation in a particular area, not throughout the state. Replacing “up to three” with “an” does not change the intent of the rule but accounts for situations where there are more than three attempted depredations.

Under state law, ODFW may adopt a temporary rule which the Fish and Wildlife Commission needs to ratify at its next meeting (July 16, 2010 in Salem). Temporary rules are in effect for 180 days from the time they are filed with the Secretary of State.

Michelle Dennehy
Wildlife Programs Communications Coordinator
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
3406 Cherry Avenue NE
Salem, OR 97303
tel. 503 947 6022
cell 503 931 2748


Christopher Christie Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 10:13 AM
To: Michelle Dennehy

I don't understand the rule change as your press release does.

It says:

"Adding the term “in the area” to i and ii clarifies that the rules are to be used for a situation in a particular area, not throughout the state. Replacing “up to three” with “an” does not change the intent of the rule but accounts for situations where there are more than three attempted depredations."

But the temporary rule says:

"(a) ODFW may authorize its personnel, authorized agents, or Wildlife Services, to use lethal force on wolves [anywhere] at a property owner or permittee’s request if:

(A) ODFW confirms [that the property or an adjacent property has had] either:

(i) two confirmed depredations by wolves on livestock in the area; or

(ii) one confirmed depredation followed by [up to three] an attempted depredation[s] (testing or stalking) in the area ;"

It seems to me that ODFW has expanded the area to be considered for depredations from on "the property or an adjacent property" to an undefined area beyond "the property or an adjacent property"--there was never any language that I can find in the press release about "throughout the state." The current rule is about depredations/attempted depredations on "the property or an adjacent property," not about depredations hundreds of mile away, say in Jackson County.

Granted, "up to three" is not specific, in my mind at least, as to the number of " attempted depredation[s] (testing or stalking)" necessary to trigger lethal force as the explicit "an," which I read as one, but I see no wording in the new language that justifies the press release statement that “an” does not change the intent of the rule but accounts for situations where there are more than three attempted depredations." It looks like ODFW would like to say "at least one" instead of [up to three]

My main point is that the statement

"Adding the term “in the area” to i and ii clarifies that the rules are to be used for a situation in a particular area, not throughout the state."

seems to misrepresent what is actually being achieved with the rule change, i.e., expanding the area to be considered for depredations or attempted depredations, which will no-doubt trigger increased killing of wolves. Given the new language that both expands the area to be considered for depredations or attempted depredations from the property and adjacent property to "the area," along with the replacement of "up to three" with "an," i.e., just one, I would like an explanation as to why I and others should not consider the press release to be both deceptive and a threat to wolf reintroduction.

Also, could you clarify on this point;

"Under state law, ODFW may adopt a temporary rule which the Fish and Wildlife Commission needs to ratify at its next meeting (July 16, 2010 in Salem). Temporary rules are in effect for 180 days from the time they are filed with the Secretary of State."

Are you saying that the temporary rule will go into effect before or after the Commission ratifies the change? Are the temporary rules in effect after ratification or when ODFW suggests the change?

While I realize you do not routinely respond to my questions, I truly would like to understand the situation and would be grateful for a response on this one.

Thank you.

Christopher Christie

Baker City

[Quoted text hidden]
. . . .
Michelle Dennehy Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 1:14 PM
To: Christopher Christie
“In the area” means in the area of the depredating wolves – e.g. their territory. The purpose is to be able to deal with the problem wolves where they are as opposed to some arbitrary line.

Say we have 40 to 50 depredations and we know it’s the same wolves but the losses are never adjacent. The rule change is so we can address the problem regardless of distance as long as we have information that it is these particular wolves. So it’s not a particular distance or an arbitrary property boundary. To use another example, say we have several depredations miles apart, and we are certain it’s the same wolves; this gives us ability to be in the area where the problem wolves are.

While people might want definable distances and boundaries for wolf situations, it’s not practical in this situation. The Imnaha pack are using a very large area – 327 square miles based on the data we have.

ODFW needs to be proactive and responsive in chronic livestock depredations situation and we determined that the rule did not allow us to be responsive on such as wide ranging pack. It is our responsibility to deal proactively with chronic livestock depredations where they occur (and to be prepared to deal with future situations, too).

We made the rule changes for the reasons described above and to make the language more clear. The Wolf Plan and our other wildlife management plans talk about the concept of adaptive management – when you perform actions based on a certain plan and there are problems, wildlife managers have a responsibility to make it workable, and that is why we did the rule change.

Temporary rules go into effect immediately once they are filed with the Secretary of State office. If the Commission chooses not to ratify the rule change at their July 16 meeting, it is no longer in effect.

Public Comment Period:

Wolf Plan - public process
1 message
Michelle Dennehy Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 11:48 AM
To: Michelle Dennehy
The public comment period for the initial five year review of the Wolf Plan closed yesterday, but we will continue to accept public comment up through the Oct. 1 Commission meeting in Bend when formal rule making could occur. See below for the rundown of the public process; note there will be a briefing on the evaluation at the Sept. 2 Commission meeting in Hillsboro. This information will be on our wolf web page later today. - Michelle

Wolf Plan Evaluation: The Wolf Plan is due for its five-year review this year (2010). ODFW staff are currently working on the draft evaluation, which should be available for public review in August. Staff will present the draft evaluation to the Fish and Wildlife Commission during an informational briefing at the Sept. 2 meeting in Hillsboro. At the Oct. 1 meeting in Bend, the Commission will be asked to adopt the final amended plan, which could include rule changes.

ODFW will continue to accept public comments on the Wolf Plan up through Oct. 1, including in-person at the Sept. 2 and Oct. 1 Commission meetings. To comment, email

The War is Making You Poor Act

On Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN:Congressman Conyers, what is the War is Making You Poor Act?

REP: JOHN CONYERS: The War is Making You Poor is a brilliant device by Grayson [Congressman, Florida, 8th District], my colleague Alan Grayson, in which we’re doing just three things. One, we limit the amount of funding of the wars in both countries. We eliminate the federal tax on all Americans that make less than $35,000 a year. And as a result, and this has been confirmed by the Joint Committee on taxation, we reduce the debt by almost $16 billion. Our debt. So it’s a combination of things that are happening now, Amy, that make it clear to more and more members of Congress that you can’t keep a straight face on all of this incredible indebtedness, talk about all of the money that we have shovelled out to Wall Street and credit isn’t loosening up, unemployment is still at all-time highs. We’re projected in Detroit to have more foreclosures on homes than last year. So we’ve got to turn with especially all of the shouts about being fiscally conservative, the way to climb out of this is to reduce the obligations of our government. Here we are in hundreds of billions of dollars of war debt and our President is saying we now have to have an emergency funding which is merely another way of saying we’re going to specially fund the Afghanistan surge. It makes no sense and I think militarily it is not logical and of course morally, I can’t remember anything like this since Korea and Vietnam, to be honest with you.


The War Is Making You Poor Act

Grayson introduces ‘War Is Making You Poor Act’ to highlight cost of ongoing wars.