Monday Mayhem: But be sure to look behind the curtain!

Thomas Moran’s The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, 1872

Good Day Sky Dancers!

The Trumpist regime is sneaking a lot of bad policy in while all of us are focusing on the things the media wants to put on TV,  Trump is definitely feeding our Treasury, our people, and our Country’s gifts of nature to his cronies.  Here’s some links on what the Bureau of Land Management is doing to roll back land and animal protection and  to ensure every bit of nature in the country is turned into oil, gas, and a dust bowl.

From The New Republic: The Trump Official Who Could Obliterate Public Lands.  Bureau of Land Management Director William Perry Pendley believes the oil and gas industry should be allowed to plunder the country’s natural resources.”

Pendley, a 74-year-old former Marine who ran the MSLF from 1981 until his appointment last year at the BLM, pursued Watt’s vision with admirable tenacity and has continued to pursue it in his new office. This month, he greenlighted rampant expansion of oil and gas drilling on previously off-limits areas, including on one million acres in central California. On January 17, he announced the loosening of regulations for the public lands cattle industry, making it easier for livestock operators to violate federal environmental laws and not face consequences. He has sowed chaos at BLM by uprooting long-standing Washington D.C. staff with a forced move of the agency’s headquarters to Grand Junction, Colorado, where energy companies rule the roost. The goal, his critics say, is to bring BLM regulators into closer quarters with the oil and gas industry to be more easily captured. In response, staffers in the D.C. quarters have attempted to unionize: The National Treasury Employees Union filed a petition to represent BLM employees with the Federal Labor Relations Authority in December.

Pendley’s actions are accompanied by extremist and inflammatory rhetoric supporting lawlessness on the public lands. Pendley has praised the criminal Cliven Bundy clan, whose infamous armed standoffs against federal land regulators amounted to acts of domestic terrorism. When Bundyite militiamen pointed sniper rifles at BLM law officers in Nevada, in 2014, and took over at gunpoint the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016—in both instances announcing their willingness to kill federal law officers if need be—Pendley cheered in the pages of National Review, reiterating the Bundy family’s crackpot theory that the Constitution forbids federal ownership of land.

In an op-ed published last November in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Pendley stated it is now policy that BLM law officers will defer to self-proclaimed “constitutionalist” county sheriffs who have vowed not to enforce federal environmental laws on public lands. Pendley’s Review-Journal piece was “a dog whistle to the extremists of the anti-public-lands movement,” wrote Erik Molvar, executive director of the Western Watersheds Project, an environmental nonprofit in Idaho. That’s in part because of the belief system of the “constitutionalist” sheriffs, not mentioned in Pendley’s piece. The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which Pendley has long claimed as an ally, declares on its website that “federal agencies now claiming control of land within a state should be drastically downsized and/or dismantled. County sheriffs in these states should take their rightful position and use their authority to assist in the transfer of control of the land.”

Dennis McLane, who was deputy chief of law enforcement at BLM from 1996 to 2003, explained to me how this would shape out on the ground. County sheriffs allied in the CSPOA, he said, would serve as the local vanguard for the evisceration of federal public lands regulations. “In many western counties,” McLane told me, “the sheriffs would use their newfound authority to just ignore the enforcement of federal resource laws.” In other words, it would be a free-for-all of extractive interests engaging in lawless behavior for maximum profits—the vision of James Watt and the MSLF.

Canvas print

O’Neill Butte, Grand Canyon, Thomas Moran 1884

The New York Times Reports that”U.S. Moves Ahead on Development Plans for Utah Monuments Trump Shrank” via Reuters.

The U.S. Interior Department on Thursday finalized land use plans for two Utah national monuments that President Donald Trump shrank soon after taking office, a move environmental groups said would leave cultural sites vulnerable to destruction and boost development in pristine wilderness.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proceeded with the plans despite pending litigation challenging the 2017 proclamation by Trump that slashed the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

BLM officials told reporters in a call that the land use plans for the Grand Staircase-Esclalante monument, as well as 860,000 acres (348,030 hectares) that were excluded from the monument by Trump, were necessary because the existing plan had not been updated in 20 years and that the number of visitors to the area had exploded in that time.

“Implementing these plans means that the BLM can improve visitor services and support local businesses and permitees and help them thrive, help the economy here, all while protecting this great American landscape,” Harry Barber, manager of BLM Utah’s Paria River District, said on the call.

Albert Bierstadt Scenery in the Tetons MABI

Scenery in the Grand Tetons by Albert Bierstadt (MABI 2843) circa 1865 -1870

Nothing is literally sacred.  Not only are lands being pillaged for greedy extraction profiteers but the wall threatens native burials as well as the land.  I’ve seen this park and the ones in Utah as a kid.

The grandeur of the land in the American West is simply unimaginable until you stand on it and look around!  Seeing these natural wonders and parts of our history is the single most humbling experience you can imagine.  You just stand there breathless.  And then, you see your first herd of buffalo, or your first family of mountain goats, or a mother bear and her young! Ever scaled a cliff dwelling or crawled through a Kentucky cave with just an oil lamp?  Seen a geyser erupt, ventured to peer over the deepest part of a canyon cut from water?  Seen water weep over a huge cliff?  I have and I want that experience to be available to every one!

It is so worth keeping for generations ahead and I am so glad that the generations behind me felt the same. This goal to monetize everything is just surreal to me.  From CBS:

A national monument in Arizona, home to rare species and sacred Native American burial sites, is being blown up this week as part of construction for President Trump’s border wall, Customs and Border Protection confirmed to CBS News. “Controlled blasting” inside Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument began this week without consultation from the Native American nation whose ancestral land it affects, according to the congressman whose district includes the reservation.

“There has been no consultation with the nation,” said Congressman Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, who is the chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources and whose district contains the reservation and shares 400 miles of border with Mexico.  “This administration is basically trampling on the tribe’s history — and to put it poignantly, it’s ancestry.”

Customs and Border Protection told CBS News that the blasts are in preparation for “new border wall system construction, within the Roosevelt Reservation at Monument Mountain in the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector.”

Image result for Georgia Okeeffe paintings of the desert

Georgia O’Keeffe, My Front Yard, Summer, 1941

But there is more.  Here’s more form the desert areas and again, it’s big energy related.  This is from the LA TImes.

In step with President Trump’s push for more energy development in California’s deserts, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday it wants to transform 22,000 acres of public land in the southern Owens Valley into one of the largest geothermal leasing sites in the state.

The agency has determined that the aquifer deep beneath the surface of the vintage Old West landscape of Rose Valley, about 120 miles north of Los Angeles, is a storehouse of enough volcanically heated water to spur $1 billion in investments and provide 117,000 homes with electricity.

Yet the decision is sure to set off a new water war in an arid part of the eastern Sierra Nevada that is sprinkled with dormant volcanoes, spiky lava beds and rare species, such as desert tortoises.

MABI 6194 "Half Dome" by Carlton Watkins 1861

MABI 6194, “Half Dome” by Carleton Watkins, 1861

Conservation groups are suing the Trumpist Regime.  This is especially true for California.  This is from the NRDC:

Conservation groups sued the Trump administration today challenging the last step in the administration’s plan to allow oil drilling and fracking on more than 1 million acres of public lands and minerals in Central California.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, says the Bureau of Land Management violated federal law by failing to consider fracking’s potential harm to public health and recreation in the region, as well as harm to the climate and possible groundwater and air pollution. The suit also notes the potential for oil-industry-induced earthquakes.

The BLM plan would allow drilling and fracking on public lands across eight counties in California’s Central Valley and Central Coast: Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura.

“Trump’s illegal, deeply unjust fracking plan would be a disaster for Central Valley communities, as well as our climate, wildlife and water,” said Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We need to phase out fracking and oil drilling, not throw open our public lands to polluters. The future of our beautiful state and our children depends on it.”

The Trump administration also plans to allow fracking on an additional 725,500 acres across 11 counties in California’s Central Coast and Bay Area. In October conservation groups filed suit to challenge that decision.

“BLM’s ill-considered plan to fling wide the door to fracking on public lands is yet another assault on California’s efforts to protect its environment and move away from dirty fossil fuels,” said Ann Alexander, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Gov. Newsom just announced curbs on oil drilling, but BLM is charging full speed ahead with it. California is trying to find a way to rationally address its limited water supply, and now BLM is greenlighting activities that can contaminate it with toxic chemicals. This federal war on California really needs to stop.” In an expert blog, Alexander further explains the implications of this rash move by the administration.

Animals, historical sites, and our lands are not the only things subject to decimation. Politico reports: “Trump hits Medicaid, food stamps in push to slash domestic spending. He will also ask Congress for a slight spending increase for the Pentagon as he releases his $4.8 trillion budget blueprint for the upcoming fiscal year.”  Again, the border wall is set to destroy a lot.

Under Trump’s plan, theadministration predicts the federal deficit would shrink to $966 billion next fiscal year and to $261 billion by 2030.That gap between government spending and revenue is forecast to exceed $1 trillion this year.

As with his previous budget proposals, Trump is once again seeking deep and unrealistic cuts to most federal agency budgets, according to the budget summary tables. The cuts are unlikely to be embraced by Congress.

For example, the administration is seeking an 8 percent cut to USDA’s budget over current funding levels. Trump’s plan would cut the Commerce Department by 37 percent, the Education Department by 8 percent, the Energy Department by 8 percent, the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 15 percent, and the Department of Health and Human Services by 9 percent.

The administration is also seeking a 13 percent cut to the Interior Department, a 2 percent cut to the Justice Department, an 11 percent cut to the Labor Department, a nearly 21 percent cut to the State Department and a 13 percent cut to the Department of Transportation. The EPA’s budget would see a nearly 27 percent chop, the Army Corps of Engineers would see a 22 percent reduction and the Small Business Administration would see an 11 percent decrease.

On immigration, health care, infrastructure and the deficit, the final budget pitch of Trump’s first term will look much different from the campaign platform he offered four years ago.

The border wall that he promised would be paid for by Mexico is instead being financed by billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars, and the administration’s budget request to Congress is expected to seek even more.

The president’s 2015 promise to protect Medicaid from cuts has been repeatedly ignored, as he has sought to slash some $800 billion over a decade from the health program for low-income Americans. The latest evidence of this came on Saturday, when he wrote on Twitter that the budget proposal “will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare.” He made no mention of protecting Medicaid, even though he had vowed to guard it during his first presidential campaign.

He is also seeking to gut the Affordable Care Act through the courts despite pledging to safeguard one of its key tenets: insurance coverage for people with preexisting conditions.

While it is important to focus on things that remove this abomination from the White House. We cannot ignore what is being pushed through by the white nationalist, radical rightist republican party. Please watch for these actions and write and call your congress critters as required!

New Hampshire votes Tomorrow and CBS Boston has a new poll up putting Amy Klobucher in third.  How far back can these places knock Joe before it’s a TKO?

What’s you reading and blogging list today?