Bureau of Land Management looks to limit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests

If the BLM would raise the livestock grazing fees, even just a little bit, they’d have plenty of money to be transparent.  Also, there is little that can possibly “slow down the agency’s decision-making process” since it remains in the dark ages.

Source:  muckrock.com

“Media requests only make up a fraction of the total requests agencies receive, but the new policy setting an organizational “cap” on requests could severely hamper the work of journalists – and concerned citizens – trying to use FOIA for its intended purpose.”

Bureau of Land Management looks to limit the number of FOIA requests organizations can file with the agency

Recommendations appear to target media requests, and raise the cost of already prohibitive processing fees

Written by JPat Brown
Edited by Michael Morisy

According to records obtained by the Washington Post, the Bureau of Land Management is recommending new legislation that would limit the number of FOIA requests individuals and agencies could file with the agency, create stricter criteria for fee waivers, as well as increased fees for “search and redaction.”

For justification, BLM cites the agency’s limited resources, which in turn causes requests to “slow down the agency’s decision-making process.” In Financial Year 2016, the report states, the agency’s FOIA work cost $2.8 million, which was approximately .2 percent of the agency’s total budget of $1.3 billion that year.

As has been written about before, the vast majority of FOIA requests are by commercial entities. For some agencies, the percentage of commercial requests are as high as 95 percent.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Lissa Lucas Dragged Out of West Virginia House Judiciary Hearing For Listing Oil and Gas Contributions

Source: Counterpunch.org

Lissa Lucas traveled the 100 miles from her home in Cairo, West Virginia to the state capitol in Charleston yesterday to testify against an oil and gas industry sponsored bill (HB 4268) that would allow companies to drill on minority mineral owners’ land without their consent.

Lucas began to testify to the House Judiciary Committee, but a few minutes in, her microphone was turned off.

And Lucas was dragged out of the room.

Lucas is running for the House of Delegates from Ritchie County, which has been overrun by the fracking industry.

“As I tried to give my remarks at the public hearing this morning on HB 4268 in defense of our constitutional property rights, I got dragged out of House chambers,” Lucas said. “Why? Because I was listing out who has been donating to Delegates on the Judiciary Committee.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Interior Secretary Zinke wants to defund a vital land conservation program he supposedly supports

by Greg Zimmerman as published on Westwise

The secretary proposes draconian cuts to the Land & Water Conservation Fund

Whitefish Lake, Montana. LWCF funds helped secure the water supply in Ryan Zinke’s adopted hometown. Photo: Trust for Public Land via Land & Water Conservation Fund Coalition

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has turned his back on Montana, a state he represented in Congress until last year. The latest example is his proposed 2019 Interior Department budget, where the secretary proposes eliminating virtually all funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The premise of LWCF is simple: the United States invests a small portion (up to $900 million annually) of the revenue generated from offshore oil drilling into land conservation, outdoor recreation, and public lands access.

For any good politician from Montana, LWCF is like motherhood and apple pie. It’s one of those rare bipartisan programs that works because its impacts are widely felt by anyone who values protecting and enhancing access for hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping on America’s public lands. And in Montana, that’s virtually everyone.

Sen. Steve Daines, (R-MT):

“LWCF was created in the spirit of reinvesting the revenues from the sale of our national resources into future resources for all Americans — asset for asset.”

Sen. Jon Tester, (D-MT):

“I applaud every effort to increase recreational opportunities for Montanans and this money will go a long way towards doing that. LWCF is a critical boost to Montana’s economy, our western way of life, and our outdoor heritage.”

Rep. Greg Gianforte, (R-MT):

“I will also fight for the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to help preserve and expand access for Montanans to hunt, fish, and recreate on public lands.”

Gov. Steve Bullock, (D-MT):

“[LWCF] has ensured that generations of Montanans had access to public lands and waterways that otherwise would be locked up. Montanans demand more from Washington.”

In today’s overheated political environment, you’d be hard-pressed to find a program with stronger and more intense bipartisan support than LWCF. But Interior Secretary Zinke — who is known to harbor future political aspirations in Montana — apparently missed the memo. He’s put forward a budget proposal that effectively zeroes out LWCF.

If Congress was to implement Secretary Zinke’s proposal — an improbability given the broad, bipartisan support for LWCF — important conservation projects would go unfunded, recreation areas could be lost to subdivisions, trophy homes could be built inside national parks like Zion and Glacier, and funds won’t be available to open up new hunting and fishing access on public lands. What’s more, Secretary Zinke’s proposal would leave states and local communities in the lurch, taking away a critical source of money for local recreation facilities, state parks, working forests, and wildlife protection programs…(CONTINUED)

View story at Medium.com

Sec. of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, withholds info from lawmakers while launching massive overhaul of the Department of the Interior

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz and Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., “sent Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke a letter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, accusing Zinke of withholding key information from lawmakers while launching a massive overhaul of his department. The letter demanded that Zinke freeze the reorganization until he provides more information to Congress, which has the final say over the plan.”

FILE–In this Feb. 9, 2018, file photo,U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaks during an conservation announcement at the Western Conservation and Hunting Expo Friday in Salt Lake City. On Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, the Interior Department released budget documents showing Zinke plans to press ahead with a massive overhaul of his department, including a plan to relocate some officials from Washington to the West and creating a new organizational map that mostly ignores state boundaries. Rick Bowmer, file AP Photo
Interior to implement massive overhaul despite criticism
READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Doesn’t Want Plant-Based or Clean Meat to be Called ‘Beef’ … Because We’re Winning

by as posted on OneGreenPlanet

Awwww, are these guys Pioneer Woman’s (Ree Drummond) buddies, too?”

Major eye roll! The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) recently filed a 15-page petition (you can view it in its entirety here) with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the silliest of reasons. USCA is asking the USDA to make a distinction between conventional meat and lab-grown meat (also known as “clean meat“) and plant-based meat by having a formal definition. In other words, the USCA doesn’t believe lab-grown or plant-based meat should be called “beef.” Yeah, um, good luck with that.

“[The government] should require that any product labeled as ‘beef’ come from cattle that have been born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner, rather than coming from alternative sources such as a synthetic product from plant, insects, or other non-animal components and any product grown in labs from animal cells,” reads the petition.

The USCA went on to ask the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to make the definition of “meat” to include the flesh of animals that have been “harvested in the traditional way.” We’re assuming “traditional” here means animals that have been cruelly slaughtered and filled with nasty antibiotics and hormones.

Hey … come to think of it, if the USCA wants to change the definition of beef because they feel threatened by plant-based proteins, perhaps the lab-grown meat industry should ask that “traditional” beef be labeled as “filled with gross antibiotics of a once tortured living, breathing animal.” Seems only fair, right?

USCA also said that not only are they petitioning to limit the definition of “beef,” but the group also announced that keeping consumers away from “fake meat and misleading labels on products that do not contain real beef” would be a major part of their 2018 policy agenda. Sounds like this outdated industry is desperate to win a losing battle…

The days of factory farming are numbered and you know it, USCA, otherwise, you wouldn’t pull such a meaningless stunt. If you don’t get with the times quickly, you might be left out of the cool kids’ table. After all, a lot of major meat corporations are hedging their bets and investing more into plant-based as well as clean meat companies.

Cargill, the world’s largest privately held food and agriculture company in the world, has made many moves into the plant-based industry. The company recently teamed up with plant-based company PURIS to help build a second pea protein plant in the U.S. Not only that, but food giant Nestlé recently bought plant-based company Sweet Earth Foods, and Tyson Foods, the world’s largest meat processor, just invested in the world’s first lab-grown meat company, Memphis Foods. Oh, and then there is the immense popularity of plant-based burgers, the Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger, which have both been met with eager demand.

Thankfully, consumers are becoming more and more aware of what’s in their food and are actively seeking out plant-based options. With increasing concern for animal welfare, health, and environmental reasons, clean meat and plant-based meats have taken center stage in the fight to save our planet. As the rising trends toward plant-based proteins show, lab-grown meat will easily replace factory farming within the next decade, with the plant-based meat market projected to rise to $6.43 billion by 2023. In other words, give it up, USCA!

To learn more about the environmental impact of our food choices as well as trends and developments in the plant-based food space, check out our podcast #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias.

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/u-s-cattlemens-association-doesnt-want-plant-based-clean-meat-called-beef/

Environmental Impact Statements a Key Tool for Reporters, But for How Long?

Source:  Society for Environmental Journalists

An Oakdale, Calif., resident examines a map during a public meeting in June 2016 showing plans for Sacramento District parks and projects along the Lower Stanislaus River. The National Environmental Policy Act requires such projects prepare environmental impact statements, which are invaluable resources for reporters. Photo: U.S. Army/Paul Bruton

TipSheet: Environmental Impact Statements a Key Tool for Reporters, But for How Long?

For more than four decades, the environmental impact statement has been among the best friends of journalists covering environment and energy.  Now they are under attack.

The National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, requires any federal agency contemplating a major action to prepare a study of what its impacts on the environment would be — and to compare the impacts to those of possible alternative actions.  The result is an often-long document chock-full of facts you don’t have to discover on your own the hard way.

NEPA became law on Jan. 1, 1970, marking the dawn of a key era of environmental concern and major legislation in the U.S. It covers major federal actions — which can certainly mean the construction of a dam or highway or sewage treatment plant.

But it can also mean the issuance of a federal permit, and since those permits may be required of local governments or private companies, NEPA’s reach stretches well beyond federal projects.

Not every project is “major” enough, though, to require a full EIS.  Sometimes only the less rigorous environmental assessment is needed, or nothing at all.

Long court struggles over the adequacy of EISs are common.  Sometimes, when a local group opposes a project for non-environmental reasons (e.g., “not in my backyard’), they will use NEPA as a tool to obstruct or delay the project.  But not always.

Whatever the bona fides of the objectors, however, courts usually make fair and factual decisions, and any valid environmental concerns are considered.  Those court fights are conflict, and conflict is news.

So the mere fact that an EIS is being prepared should signal you that news may be in the offing.

A key reporting tool and resource

Even just as a reporting tool, EISs are priceless.  They are generally prepared by professional environmental analysts who know what they are talking about and are trying to write a document objective enough to stand up in court.

In a typical action, a “draft” EIS is prepared by the lead agency contemplating an action.  The draft is then put out for public comment, sometimes at public meetings.  Sometimes the meetings are boring; sometimes they are overcrowded with angry people who want to be on TV.  Sometimes those people are concerned about environmental impacts that should have been considered, but haven’t been.

Environmental reporters are advised that this great resource is endangered and may not be around in current form forever.

The draft EIS also goes to other agencies with their own viewpoints on the project — more potential conflict.  When an EIS goes “final,” it usually means the lead agency is ready to move ahead with the project.

Keep in mind that EISs often have decent graphics, which (because they are in a government document) are public domain.  You can use these directly (remembering to credit the agency) or have your art department make them better.  Editors like this.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Ladd Drummond, BLM wild horse holding facility contractor, and wife Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) interviewed at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association convention

Here is a youtube video of an interview with Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) and her husband Ladd Drummond, a BLM contractor who has been paid over $20 million by taxpayers to warehouse wild horses on his private property, at the recent annual convention of the wild horse hating, horse slaughter pushing, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association:

Ree Drummond was a keynote speaker at this event.

Wild Horses Found Shot in South-Central Wyoming

as published in the Casper Star Tribune

BLM Investigating

photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation and Living Images

The Bureau of Land Management is investigating the shooting of five wild horses in south-central Wyoming’s Red Desert, the agency said in a statement last week.

Three horses were found shot in early November and two more in mid-January in a similar location.

“Preliminary findings suggest all five horses were shot,” the statement said.

The horse were found both on Green Mountain and near the Three Forks/Atlantic City Road in the Pickett Lake area. The BLM is working with the Fremont County Sheriff’s Department and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to investigate the incident.

The livestock industry and the state government have argued that allowing the horses unfettered access to public lands where sheep graze is unreasonable while wild horse advocates have claimed that federal law mandates such access. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals found last year that the BLM was illegally managing wild horses along the Interstate 80 corridor in southern Wyoming by treating public land as if it were private.

Anyone with information about the shootings is asked to contact BLM officer Thomas Howell at 307-332-8469.

TEMPORARY INTERIOR DEPARTMENT DIRECTORS ILLEGAL

Brian Steed, Bureau of Land Management’s Acting Director

“Federal agencies are not supposed to be run like a temp service.” – PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch

Source: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

For Immediate Release: Feb 12, 2018
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

TEMPORARY INTERIOR DEPARTMENT DIRECTORS ILLEGAL

All Decisions by Acting Park Service, BLM, and Fish & Wildlife Heads Legally Void


Washington, DC — President Trump’s record tardiness in nominating agency leaders may undo months of work inside the Department of Interior, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  The way the Trump administration has filled agency leadership slots with temporary or acting directors violates a law enacted to prevent a president from circumventing the U.S. Senate’s constitutional advice and consent power.

The PEER complaint filed with Interior’s Office of Inspector General charges that the acting directors of the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) are in blatant violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.  Under that act, any action taken by a noncompliant official “shall have no force or effect” nor may it be later “ratified.”

“The law prevents a president from installing acting directors for long periods and completely bypassing Senate confirmation,” argued PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that President Trump has not nominated or even announced an intention to nominate, persons to fil the NPS, BLM, or FWS vacancies.  “Federal agencies are not supposed to be run like a temp service.”

The complaint recounts Vacancies Reform Act violations invalidating the appointments of –

  • NPS Acting Director P. Daniel Smith, who did not serve in a senior position for 90 days during the prior year, as the Act requires. Nor did Trump appoint him, another requirement of the act;
  • BLM Acting Director Brian Steed, who also did not serve in a senior position for 90 days and Interior Secretary Zinke, not Trump, appointed him.
  • FWS Acting Director Greg Sheehan, who not only suffers from these same deficiencies but also now exceeds the 210-day limit the act imposes.

Read the rest of this press release HERE.

 

 

 

Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman), wife of Ladd Drummond, a BLM wild horse holding facility contractor, was keynote speaker at the 2018 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association convention

Ree Drummond on the stage at the 2018 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association convention

by Debbie Coffey

On Ree Drummond’s blog (The Pioneer Woman), under a photo of the fancy boots she wore to speak at the 2018 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association convention, Ree states:

“Finally, I shared this on Facebook but wanted to share it here too: I did not grow up in the country.  I can’t saddle a horse.  For years I thought heifer and Hereford were the same word.  And last week I delivered the keynote address to the big, annual gathering of the National Cattlemen’s Association.  I don’t do many speaking gigs these days because it takes precious time away from my teenagers, but this was one that Ladd and I could attend together, and we enjoyed the quick trip to Phoenix and back.  The irony of me speaking to 3,500 cattlemen and cattlewomen was not lost on me, and it was an honor to speak about how much I’ve enjoyed sharing glimpses of ranch life on my blog, TV show, and social media for the past twelve (!) years.  And at the very least, I was banking on these boots making up for all my agricultural shortcomings.”

In a classic example of irony, Ree stands in front of the sign “Cattle First.”

Ree Drummond uses the images of wild horses in promoting her cooking show, The Pioneer Woman, on packaging for her Pioneer Woman cookware products, in her Pioneer Woman cookbooks and on her Pioneer Woman blog.

All the while, Drummond Land & Cattle Co., co-owned by Ree’s husband, Ladd Drummond, has been paid over $20 million in taxpayer dollars to warehouse captured wild horses on his private property as a Bureau of Land Management off-range pasture contractor.  (Talk about buttering your bread on both sides.)

Yet, it’s not likely that Ree said a word about saving America’s wild horses during her keynote speech to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

For many years, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has been pushing for the slaughter of America’s wild horses & burros, and their organization was listed on the Steering Committee of the secretive “Slaughter Summit” held in Utah in 2017.  The NCBA also “applauded” the recent Stewart Amendment that would allow all wild horses & burros in BLM holding facilities, and tens of thousands more on public lands, to be killed.

Ree uses wild horses to promote her business interests, and yet at this time of crisis for America’s wild horses & burros, she seems to support the organization that is pushing for their mass killing.

Ree received a Distinguished Service Award from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association