People for the West -Tucson
PO Box 86868, Tucson, AZ 85754-6868 email@example.com
Newsletter, February, 2016
Property Rights & Federal Lands
In view of recent conflicts between ranchers and the federal government over use of federal lands, let us review the issue of federal land stewardship that greatly affects the western states.
From the Heritage Foundation:
Many Americans are unaware that the federal estate constitutes a majority of the land area in Western states. Over 90 percent of all federally controlled land is located in the West, with roughly one out of every two acres managed by federal bureaucrats. We are told that this is to preserve the environment, benefit local economies, and protect public recreation. Instead, the result has been polluted air, decimated wildlife and water supplies, depressed economies, unsafe communities, and blocked recreational opportunities. Utah’s Legislature commissioned a landmark legal study on the transfer of public lands to the state that concludes there is no constitutional authority for the federal government to permanently retain these lands. A recent study by the Property & Environment Research Center discloses that the federal government loses $0.27 per dollar spent managing public lands while states gain a positive $14.51 per dollar spent managing public lands.
On January 19, the Heritage Foundation held a conference entitled “Federal Mismanagement of Western Lands: Bringing Solutions to Washington.” You can view the proceedings (1 hour, 12 minutes) at http://www.heritage.org/events/2016/01/western-lands .
An article by William Perry Pendley puts the problem in perspective: The Federal Government Should Follow the Constitution and Sell Its Western Lands. Read full article. Here are some excerpts:
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which controls nearly 250 million acres, and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service, which manages more than 190 million acres, together control land greater than the total size of Alaska; the acreage also exceeds the acreage of the next three largest states (Texas, California, and Montana) and Colorado combined. These lands are managed in accordance with “multiple-use” principles, which means they are to host a variety of activities, including energy and mineral development, logging, grazing, and recreation, to name a few.
Multiple-use was introduced in 1960 in the management of national forests and then extended to BLM lands in 1976. But something happened during the intervening years: the arrival of the environmental movement. Beginning with the National Environmental Policy Act (1969) and continuing through a plethora of other federal laws, Congress dramatically enhanced the power of the “public” to intervene in land-use decision making. For decades the only people interested in such parochial issues as grazing on barren expanses of western land were affected westerners. Now scores of environmental groups that are not affected by federal decisions but are interested anyway have stepped forward as the hyper-engaged public. (There is a difference. As we say out west, a chicken is interested in what you have for breakfast, but a pig is affected.) These groups have their own view of multiple-use, which lean heavily toward limited use, occasionally permitting recreation but usually favoring preservation or non-use. Environmental groups have intervened in land-management decision making, lobbied assiduously for congressional oversight and more restrictive federal laws, and litigated aggressively in federal court.
The federal government owns one-third of the country’s landmass, most of it in the West: nearly a third of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Washington; roughly half of Arizona, California, Oregon, and Wyoming; and almost two-thirds or even more of Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah — the three non-western states with the most federal land are New Hampshire (14 percent), Florida (13 percent), and Michigan (10 percent). Worse, federal ownership nears or exceeds 90 percent in many vast rural counties; for example, 85 percent of Kane County, Utah; 92 percent of Inyo County, Calif.; and 97 percent of Teton County, Wyo.
Something about this seems unfair. After all, in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the Court declared: “Not only do States retain sovereignty under the Constitution, there is also a ‘fundamental principle of equal sovereignty’ among the States. . . . Over a hundred years ago, this Court explained that our Nation ‘was and is a union of States, equal in power, dignity and authority.’”
The Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold. After all, jurisdiction over real property, that is, property law, was given to the states. Moreover, when Gouverneur Morris proposed that the Constitution’s Property Clause provided that all land in Louisiana and Canada — the latter of which he thought would soon join the Union — be made a perpetual federal province, he was all but shouted down. Instead the universal assumption was the federal government would dispose of its land holdings; as James Madison put it, the new government would “promote the sale of the public lands.” Article I, which relates to Congress, does recognize the need for the federal government to own land that it “purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards and other needful Buildings” — through this “Enclave Clause,” the Founders recognized that the national government must not be at the mercy of a state in the performance of its federal functions.
The Constitution provides additional authority for Congress over “the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States,” but it is set forth, not in Article I, which concerns Congress, but in Article IV, which concerns the states, including admission of new states, the Full Faith and Credit Clause, and the Privileges and Immunities Clause. Placement of the Property Clause in Article IV demonstrates the Founder’s intention to not provide Congress with absolute power over federal lands; otherwise, the provision would have been in Article I. Furthermore, the clause gives Congress unlimited power “to dispose of” its property, but sharply limits its rulemaking authority to “needful Rules and Regulations.” The Supreme Court correctly and narrowly interpreted the Property Clause in 1845, holding that the clause gave rise to a constitutional duty to dispose of its land holdings. Unfortunately, the Court made a mess of the Property Clause in 1976, holding that its power was “without limitation” in a case involving the theft of burros from federal land. Properly read, that ruling is limited to the holding that while the federal government owns land, states may not interfere with that land; it says nothing about the federal government’s continuing duty to dispose of its lands.
Moreover, westerners who seek authority over BLM and Forest Service land, not including designated wilderness areas or parks and wildlife refuges (after all they are held by the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service) argue that yet another provision mandates a federal duty to dispose of federally managed land: that is, the enforceability of the Enabling Acts under which the states were admitted. Although opponents point to the “forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public land lying within” the new state’s boundary language in those Acts, the fact is, the provision was included to protect the clean title of the United States so that the United States could dispose of or sell the public lands.
Today that is a western issue, but in 1829, “the West” was Illinois — where 99.9 percent of the land was federally owned; residents called that “oppressive” and unconstitutional, not unlike what is heard from the American West today. Within a few years, the United States performed its constitutional duty in Illinois where now it owns less than 2 percent of the Land of Lincoln. It is hardly surprising that westerners think they should be treated likewise.
The Economic Effects of Unlocking Federal Lands
The Institute for Energy Research released a study titled, “The Economic Effects of Immediately Opening Federal Lands to Oil, Gas, and Coal Leasing,” by Dr. Joseph Mason, a professor at Louisiana State University and a Senior Fellow at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In the study, Dr. Mason assesses the economic benefits of expanding development of oil, gas, and coal resources on federal lands.
Specifically, the study aimed to estimate the fiscal benefits of opening areas that are statutorily or as a matter of administration policy prohibited from leasing.
Key findings from the study include:
GDP would increase by $127 billion annually in the next seven years, and $663 billion annually in the next thirty years.
$20.7 trillion cumulative increase in economic activity over the next thirty-seven years, simply by allowing Americans to go to work producing energy.
552,000 jobs would be created annually over the next seven years, with 2.7 million jobs annually over the next thirty years.
$32 billion increase in annual wages over the next seven years, with a cumulative increase of $5.1 trillion over thirty-seven years.
The federal government would receive an additional $3.9 trillion in federal tax revenues over thirty-seven years, while state and local tax revenues would rise by $1.9 trillion over the same time period.
Click here to read the full report.
Click here for the executive summary.
“The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all citizens.” —Thomas Jefferson, 1816
Comparison of Arizona Nuclear and Solar Energy
by Tom Moriarty
Bottom Line: Solar produced electricity costs three times that of nuclear. (This is a good reason to get the Arizona Corporation Commission to rescind their Renewable Energy Mandate and Tariff.)
Let’s compare and contrast solar energy and nuclear energy in Arizona. There is only one nuclear power plant in the state, the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Tonopah. There are several solar energy sites, so we will pick the Aqua Caliente Solar Project (near Yuma) because it won the Renewable Energy World Solar Project of the Year category in their 2012 Excellence in Renewable Energy Awards.
Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station
This nuclear plant consists of three reactors with with a total nameplate capacity of 3,937 MW. If these reactors ran for 24 hours day for 365 days a year they would yield 34,500 GWh (gigawatt hours) per year. The actual output is about 31,300 GWh per year (2010). This means they have a capacity factor of about 90%. Averaged over time Palo Verde yields 3,543 MW.
Palo Verde became operational in 1988 and is currently approved to operate until 2047, giving a lifetime of nearly 60 years.
Palo Verde’s construction cost was $5.9 billion in 1988 ($11.86 billion in 2015 dollars). Its operating costs for fuel and maintenance were about 1.33 cents per kWh in 2004 (1.67 cents in 2015 dollars.)
Based on an average power yield of 3,543 W and a cost of $11.86 billion (in 2015 dollars), the construction cost per watt for Palo Verde was $3.34 per Watt (in 2015 dollars). Based on a life of 40 years, construction and operating costs are $0.026 per Kwh.
Agua Caliente Solar Project
This 9.7 square kilometer solar energy farm has a nameplate capacity of 290 MW peak. Its first year of full operation was 2014. If it were able to produce its nameplate capacity of 290 MW continuously for one year the energy output would be 2540 GWh. The energy output was 741 GWh in 2014, which means a capacity factor of 29%, an excellent result for solar energy. Averaged over time, this solar farm yields 84.6 MW.
Construction cost for Aqua Caliente was $1.8 billion.
Based on an average yield of 84 MW and a construction cost of $1.8 billion, the construction cost per watt for Aqua Caliente was $21.43 per Watt. Based on a 40 year life, construction and operating costs are $0.060 per Kwh, nearly three times the cost of a nuclear plant.
Read more (Tom Moriarty is a Senior Scientist at the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.)
Europe’s Energy and Electricity Policies are a Bad Model
by Jude Clemente, Forbes
Europe is a “green energy” basket case with surging prices, fleeing industry, falling economic and population growth, growing dependence on Russian energy, and rising “fuel poverty,” where even the Middle Class often can’t afford the most basic energy services. “Soaring energy costs make Europeans poor.”
To illustrate, Denmark and Germany are the proud wind capitals of Europe, but they also have the highest home electricity prices on Earth, 42 and 40 cents per kWh, respectively, against just 12.5 cents in the U.S. Germany has embarked on a $1.4 trillion energy transition (“Energiewende”) that has resulted in recent Der Spiegel headlines like: “Germany’s Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good.”
Naturally intermittent and more expensive, wind and solar power have surged under Germany’s very expensive energy plan, and the goal remains to get as much as 60% of power from renewables in 2035, versus 28% today. Undeniably non-sensically, Germany has been paying over $26 billion per year for electricity that has a wholesale market value of just $5 billion. Read more
Increased atmospheric Carbon Dioxide has increased U.S. forest health in recent decades
by Craig Loehle, Craig Idso, T. Bently Wigley
Abstract: The health of United States forests is of concern for biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, forest commercial values, and other reasons. Climate change, rising concentrations of CO2 and some pollutants could plausibly have affected forest health and growth rates over the past 150 years and may affect forests in the future. Multiple factors must be considered when assessing present and future forest health. Factors undergoing change include temperature, precipitation (including flood and drought), CO 2 concentration, N deposition, and air pollutants. Secondary effects include alteration of pest and pathogen dynamics by climate change. We provide a review of these factors as they relate to forest health and climate change. We find that plants can shift their optimum temperature for photosynthesis, especially in the presence of elevated CO2 , which also increases plant productivity. No clear national trend to date has been reported for flood or drought or their effects on forests except for a current drought in the US Southwest. Additionally, elevated CO2 increases water use efficiency and protects plants from drought. Pollutants can reduce plant growth but concentrations of major pollutants such as ozone have declined modestly. Ozone damage in particular is lessened by rising CO2 . No clear trend has been reported for pathogen or insect damage but experiments suggest that in many cases rising CO2 enhances plant resistance to both agents. There is strong evidence from the United States and globally that forest growth has been increasing over recent decades to the past 100+ years. Future prospects for forests are not clearbecause different models produce divergent forecasts. However, forest growth models that incorporate more realistic physiological responses to rising CO2 are more likely to show future enhanced growth. Overall, our review suggests that United States forest health has improved over recent decades and is not likely to be impaired in at least the next few decades. Source
Utah officials: Mexican wolf is ‘bullet’ that could destroy West
By Brian Maffly | The Salt Lake Tribune
As federal wildlife officials begin another effort to revise a recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf after three failed attempts over the past two decades, Utah Wildlife Board Chairman John Bair says that no evidence will ever convince him that Mexican wolves should be allowed in Utah.
“People want to use the wolf as the silver bullet to kill the culture of the West,” said Bair, a gifted auctioneer and self-proclaimed “Mormon redneck” from Springville. “There is no need to have them here other than those political reasons.”
Leaders in Utah, as well as Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, are attacking the credibility of FWS’s science, alleging it is rigged to improperly include the Four Corners region in the recovery zone for this critically imperiled wolf subspecies.
Bair argued sportsmen like him learned a bitter lesson from the successful northern wolf re-introduction, which has led to the decimation of elk and deer herds in Idaho and Montana, he said.
“We know how wolf recovery turns out. You reach a goal and it moves a little further and a little further,” he said. His letter to Jewell suggests that the “introduction” of Mexican wolves in Utah would impact big-game herds, which support $34.5 million in hunting license revenue. Read more
Saving frogs, killing farms one lawsuit at a time
by Rik Dalvit, Capital Press
Central Oregon farmers and ranchers are endangered by a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Oregon spotted frog.
Environmentalists have filed a lawsuit to save the Oregon spotted frog, and it could cost 4,600 farm families their livelihoods.
The Center for Biological Diversity is suing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Crane Prairie and Wickiup reservoirs. The reservoirs are an important water source for the 3,650 farmers and ranchers of the Central Oregon Irrigation District and nearly 1,000 more belonging to the North Unit Irrigation District.
The dams are nearly 100 years old, and have not wiped the frogs from that stretch of the river. Plaintiffs say that the frogs are only surviving on the margins of their natural habitat, and that they are further threatened by the current operations.
The lawsuit alleges the reservoirs have altered natural water flows in the Deschutes River to the point of interfering with the frog’s life cycle.
It alleges that the frog’s egg masses are flushed out when the water levels in the reservoirs rise rapidly. When water is later released from the reservoirs for irrigation, other egg masses along their margins are dried up.
River flows are reduced as water accumulates in the reservoirs, stranding adult and juvenile frogs on dry land. Their populations are isolated, resulting in in-breeding, the group claims.
Plaintiffs maintain that the bureau has violated the Endangered Species Act by operating the reservoirs in a harmful manner before it completes a required consultation about the effects on the frog.
Plaintiffs say that the government can deliver water to the irrigators, it just has to manage the operation of the reservoirs in a way that doesn’t harm the frogs.
And there’s the rub. If you accept the plaintiffs’ argument, more water would have to be stored in the reservoir during irrigation season, reducing the amount available for agriculture, and more water would need to pass through dams during the winter, decreasing storage levels. Read more
End America’s 42-Year War On Wildlife
by Brian Seasholes, Reason Foundation
Today (12/28/15) marks the 42nd anniversary of America’s war on wildlife, otherwise known as the Endangered Species Act. It is high time to end the war. Beneath the Act’s feel-good image of protecting magnificent species like the bald eagle lies an ugly reality. The Endangered Species Act actually does enormous harm to the very species it is supposed to help, and it’s not hard to understand why.
Instead of rewarding landowners for harboring endangered species, the Endangered Species Act punishes them — to the tune of up to $100,000 fine and/or one year in jail for harming a species or even its habitat — by locking-up property harboring species and making otherwise legal forms of land use, such as farming, homebuilding and logging, illegal.
The results of the Endangered Species Act, as landowners seek to avoid the Act’s penalties, are sad but predictable. One need only visit endangered species country, especially “hot spots” — such as much of the Southeast, Pacific Northwest, and large parts of Texas and California — to witness the Endangered Species Act’s bitter harvest. Agricultural fields are not allowed to lie fallow, trees are cut on faster rotations, and brush is cleared in efforts to deny habitat to wildlife. Not only does endangered wildlife lose but so, too, do many other common species that depend on the same habitats. More species are constantly being listed under the Endangered Species Act, which means these problems are getting worse.
But the Endangered Species Act-caused war on wildlife is a quiet war, largely hidden and unknown to the urban majority of this country. They support helping endangered species but have no idea the Act is doing enormous harm by unfairly burdening rural Americans with the costs of protecting these species. The Endangered Species Act’s penalty-based approach is especially unfortunate because most landowners are sound stewards and take great pride conserving their land and natural resources.
The Endangered Species Act’s penalty-based approach is so fundamentally flawed the law cannot be reformed if the goal is successful species conservation. An entirely new approach is necessary. Read more
2015, the hottest year?
On January 20, 2016, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and NASA announced that 2015 was by far the hottest year in 136 years of record keeping. NOAA said 2015’s global temperature average was 58.62 degrees Fahrenheit. Apparently, NOAA did not check its own temperature record, because their report on 1997 (another El Nino year) said that the global average temperature was 62.45 degrees Fahrenheit. The NOAA claim is based solely on surface temperature measurements and completely ignores satellite data. See the rest of the story on my Wryheat blog.
Notice in the above article that NOAA is reporting temperatures to two decimal places but Only 7.9% of NOAA temperature stations are accurate to less than 1C. Yet NOAA claims precision of global temperature estimate to 0.01C. Source
Dr. Roy Spencer comments on problems with the hottest year claim:
– Land measurements …that thermometers over land appear to have serious spurious warming issues from urbanization effects. Anthony Watts is to be credited for spearheading the effort to demonstrate this over the U.S. where recent warming has been exaggerated by about 60%, and I suspect the problem in other regions of the global will be at least as bad. Apparently, the NOAA homogenization procedure forces good data to match bad data. That the raw data has serious spurious warming effects is easy to demonstrate…and has been for the last 50 years in the peer-reviewed literature….why is it not yet explicitly estimated and removed?
– Ocean Measurements …that even some NOAA scientists don’t like the new Karlized ocean surface temperature dataset that made the global warming pause disappear; many feel it also forces good data to agree with bad data. (I see a common theme here.)
– El Nino …that a goodly portion of the record warmth in 2015 was naturally induced, just as it was in previous record warm years.
– Thermometers Still Disagree with Models …that even if 2015 is the warmest on record, and NOAA has exactly the right answer, it is still well below the average forecast of the IPCC’s climate models, and something very close to that average forms the basis for global warming policy. In other words, even if every successive year is a new record, it matters quite a lot just how much warming we are talking about.
“By now it has become a truism that government agencies will prefer whichever dataset supports the governments desired policies. You might think that government agencies are only out to report the truth, but if that’s the case, why are these agencies run by political appointees?
I can say this as a former government employee who used to help NASA sell its programs to congress: We weren’t funded to investigate non-problems, and if global warming were ever to become a non-problem, funding would go away. I was told what I could and couldn’t say to Congress…Jim Hansen got to say whatever he wanted. I grew tired of it, and resigned. Let me be clear: I’m not saying climate change is a non-problem; only that government programs that fund almost 100% of the research into climate change cannot be viewed as unbiased. Agencies can only maintain (or, preferable, grow) their budgets if the problem they want to study persists. Since at least the 1980s, an institutional bias exists which has encouraged the climate research community to view virtually all climate change as human-caused.”
Media hype about forest fires and global warming
The (formerly) Scientific American magazine has a January 8 story proclaiming “Global Warming Helped Exacerbate Biggest Year Ever for U.S. Wildfires.”
That story claims: “More than 10.1 million acres of U.S. forests—private, state and federal—were scorched last year, marking 2015 as the most extensive and expensive fire season on record.”
However, from about 1926 through 1940, is was common to have annual burns of 20 million to 30 million (and even 50 million) acres. Also, a 2001 paper authored by agencies of the federal government which states “Historically, fire has been a frequent and major ecological factor in North America. In the conterminous United States during the pre-industrial period (1500-1800), an average of 145 million acres burned annually.” See the rest of the story on my Wryheat blog.
History and the Limits of the Climate Consensus
Excellent essay on consensus and climate change by historian Phillip Jenkins, Read full article, he begins:
“Climate scientists are usually clear in their definitions, but that precision tends to get lost in popular discourse. To say that global warming is a fact does not, standing alone, mean that we have to accept a particular causation of that trend. Following from that, we must acknowledge that the climate has changed quite radically through the millennia, and that equally is beyond dispute. Climate change of some scale has happened, is happening, and will happen, regardless of any human activity. The issue today is identifying and assessing the human role in accelerating that process.”
Giant icebergs play key role in removing CO2 from the atmosphere
Warmists claim that global warming will cause more calving of icebergs, but they didn’t know about some inconvenient results:
Research from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Geography discovered melting water from giant icebergs, which contains iron and other nutrients, supports hitherto unexpectedly high levels of phytoplankton growth.
This activity, known as carbon sequestration, contributes to the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide, therefore helping to slow global warming. Read more
Paleoclimate + genetic study confirms: Arctic species adapted to sea ice changes
by Dr. Susan Crockford
A new paper that combines paleoclimatology data for the last 56 million years with molecular genetic evidence concludes there were no biological extinctions over the last 1.5M years despite profound Arctic sea ice changes that included ice-free summers: polar bears, seals, walrus and other species successfully adapted to habitat changes that exceeded those predicted by USGS and US Fish and Wildlife polar bear biologists over the next 100 years. Read more
Scientists Still Can’t Explain The ‘Grand Hiatus’ In Global Warming
by Michael Bastasch
Scientists are not only having trouble explaining why global surface temperatures did not warm for 15 years in the 21st century, they still have not adequately explained why there was an even longer 30-year “grand hiatus” in global warming during the mid-20th century.
“The climate models making dire predictions of warming in the 21st century are the same models that predicted too much warming in the early 21st century, and can’t explain the warming from 1910-1945 or the mid-century grand hiatus,”
The so-called “grand hiatus” was a period from 1945 to 1975 where the world stopped warming, and even cooled slightly, despite carbon dioxide emissions rapidly rising. Scientists have thus far been unable to explain why there was no warming even though global warming theory predicts there would have been warming. Read more There is a simple explanation: The carbon dioxide-driven hypothesis of global warming is wrong.
“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” —Justice Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941)
“When any nation mistrusts its citizens with guns, it is sending a clear message. It no longer trusts its citizens because such a government has evil plans.” – George Washington
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People for the West – Tucson, Inc.
PO Box 86868
Tucson, AZ 85754-6868
Jonathan DuHamel, President & Editor
Dr. John Forrester, Vice President
Lonni Lees, Associate Editor
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