Scandal at the BLM

waterflow

(photo: Cadizinc.com)

SOURCE:  weeklystandard.com

Scandal at the BLM

Inside information, investors, and a pipeline plugged by politics.

by Jim Swift

Strange things are afoot at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency housed within the Department of the Interior tasked with managing the nation’s vast swaths of publicly held land.

The main character in this mystery is a not a person, but a proposed pipeline intended to bring water from remote aquifers in the Mojave desert to drought-stricken southern California. Named the Cadiz project, it’s a privately owned venture that has been in regulatory limbo for over a decade—the work of the buzzsaw that is Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has pulled out all the stops to kill it. (You can read my earlier story on that here.)

Feinstein has used her clout on the Appropriations Committee to successfully insert a policy rider into law each and every year to specifically delay or deny the ability of the Cadiz project to move forward, running roughshod over her state’s House delegation (including Democrats), many of whom want the project to go forward.

The debate is over whether or not a proposed water pipeline within the right-of-way of a railroad that crosses over public lands “furthers a railroad purpose” and whether it has to get BLM approval. In the past, BLM pre-approval was not needed. Because of Feinstein’s urging, BLM withdrew a longstanding regulatory opinion and replaced it with one that “requires a fact specific case-by-case inquiry” for right-of-way use on BLM lands.

Despite this setback, Cadiz pushed forward and sought determination from BLM under the revised regulatory opinion.

And here’s where it gets fishy.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, a BLM employee routinely shared inside information about the Cadiz project’s future prospects with an investor at Whetstone Capital, a Kansas City firm that often short-sells publicly traded entities as part of its investment portfolio. That investor, Thomas McGannon, runs Whetstone’s investment research efforts. He exchanged a number of emails and phone calls with Erik Pignata, a realty specialist for BLM in California.

McGannon had a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) pending with BLM, but repeatedly and persistently fished for more information from Pignata while it was being processed. Pignata is not a FOIA officer.

If you read the recent reports on reelchase.com, it appears, per WSJ’s reporting, that McGannon’s fishing expidition was successful:

“Does the green line go through BLM lands?” Mr. McGannon asked in a Sept. 9, 2014 email, referring to a map of the Cadiz project. “I was mostly just curious if an alternate route along the green line would require BLM approval.” Mr. Pignata responded later that day that the alternative route “almost certainly” does.

On Feb. 19, 2015, Mr. McGannon inquired if there has been “any movement on the project discussions since we last spoke?” Mr. Pignata replied: “No, we are formulating our evaluation with DOI legal staff.” The emails suggest the two chatted repeatedly over the phone.

On June 4 Mr. McGannon emailed “great to catch up” along with a link to a blog post “Strong Sell On Project Failure, Insider Enrichment, And Bankruptcy, Price Target $0” that eviscerated Cadiz. On September 23 Mr. McGannon asked if there was “any news likely this week?” Mr. Pignata replied: “I have a briefing w/ the almost-highest people in my agency tomorrow . . . No pressure or anything.” Mr. McGannon cheered him on: “You got it man!”

A week later, Mr. McGannon inquired into when an adverse ruling would be finalized: “Wont [sic] it be great when I don’t bother you anymore.” Mr. Pignata replied: “I have a feeling Cadiz, Inc. isn’t going anywhere . . . so you’ll get to keep bugging me.” Several of Mr. Pignata’s emails suggest an animus toward the Cadiz project.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

 

10 comments on “Scandal at the BLM

  1. This Cadiz project has been subject to myriad debates over the evidence that it would severely impair the water table and aquifers it is designed to drain. Watering golf courses in the desert—NOT just going to “drought stricken” So Cal—is part of the recipient group eager to suck on the water. This story is not deep enough into the many expected beneficiaries that drool over the prospects. Certainly, Feinstein, coming from the Big Money that she does, is monitoring the heartbeat of these financial shenanigans, but I know the WSJ is also the biggest money grubbing rag out there, so they are not a trust worthy source for full investigation.

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    • After reading the comments on the WSJ article – apparently these people have absolutely no worries about pulling water from anywhere – just so they get theirs! This project sounds very hinky – to put it mildly. A private corporation can just go down & suck out water for their own profit?????????????? Maybe – just possibly these drought ridden states should look into ways to manage – rather than just taking water from someplace else & continuing the lifestyle they are accustomed to. Actually that applies to all of us at this point.
      Although I just saw on the news that the water company that has been piping water down for their own profit for many years is allowed to continue even though the 28 year time limit is well-past! How is that right?

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  2. Do we have a country with a “government”? Or do we have a “government” with a
    country? The latter is the case, as our government has clearly long since become
    nothing more than an unimaginably massive criminal cabal.

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  3. So they APPROVE DESTROYING OUR NATIONS LANDS one way or ANOTHER.KILLINN OFF OUR HORSES.THEIR 800,000+DEATHS/ BLOOD IS ON BLM/GOV’s HANDS! Paid2B EVIL& WE CAN’T STOP THEM! DON’T U NOTICE ALL THIS BAD B.S. GOIN ON LEADS BACK TO THESE BAD CORRUPT AGENCY’S!? THEY AREN’T HELPING OUR HORSES OR THEY WOULD STOP ROUND UPS in ALL USA. THEY JUST KEEP LYING& OUR HORSES KEEP DYING.DISMANTLE THE BLM NOW.REPLACE W/ PEOPLE THAT CARE& NOT LIE2KILL

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  4. I know I read a comment on a blog a few years ago that said the BLM is a Corporation that sounds like what is going on here. I have always said they are one of the most corrupt segments of this corrupt government. All of the BLM employee’s cover each other’s azz no matter what is going on. I doubt there is an honest one in the lot of them but they always get their paychecks on time via our taxes.

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  5. The “people” in politcs for the WRONG REASONS NEED 2B IMPEACHED ASAP! WHEN WE PAY THEM TO JUST IGNORE U.S.??WE HAVE A HUGE PROBLEM & IF THIS DOESN’T END HORSE SLAUGHTER TNEN THEY ARE IN ON IT! And HAVE2B REPLACED W/SOMEONE THAT CARES ABOUT WHAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE CARE ABOUT & THAT’S ENDING THIS DESPICABLE BEHAVIOR FOREVR! NOT buying ANY OF THE BLM’s LIES!!!!WHY NO MEDIA COVERAGE???? Cuz it’s a HUGE COVER-UP!!!& UNTIL WE STOP THEM THEY WILL KEEP KILLING OUR “WILD” AMERICAN HORSES!!& it’s NOT OK IN USA

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  6. Why is it that our military and cruise ships are SELF CONTAINED TO MAKE FRESH WATER FOR THEIR CREW, yet California can’t???? If they would make the plants rather than STEALING THE WATER FROM THE AREAS THAT ALSO NEED IT, THEY WOULD HAVE ALL THEY NEED. My god, they have the whole damn ocean at their front door!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yet they insist that all of the other states take care of their needs!!! WRONG!!!! Let them figure out their own methods of survival for a change. When they needed power, they were BUYING it from other states, yet when I drove truck out to the docks with my containers to ship, there were two hills that the highway cut through LOADED with wind turbines and NONE WERE IN USE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOW STUPID ARE THESE PEOPLE???????

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