Thursday, July 31, 2014

News: Public Lands: DHS reports BLM's Bundy Ranch retreat will 'embolden' extremist militia

DHS Sec. Johnson with Pres. Obama & VP Biden.
Phil Taylor, E&E reporter
Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014
 
The Bureau of Land Management's retreat from an armed confrontation with protesters during its roundup of cows in Bunkerville, Nev., will inspire more anti-government violence in the coming year, according to a new intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security.

The July 22 assessment from DHS's Office of Intelligence and Analysis also found the United States has experienced a spike in anti-government violence or plots over the past several months compared with previous years, fueled, in part, by the perception that armed militia were victorious at Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch, the assessment warned.

The assessment highlighted three incidents since April that appear to be connected to the events in Bunkerville, including the gunning down of two Las Vegas police officers, a threat that Texas militiamen will "exterminate" federal officials who attempt a "land grab," and discussions by a Missouri-based militia movement about attacking federal convoys or helicopters it believed could be used to raid Bundy's ranch.

Information in the unclassified assessment was deemed “law enforcement sensitive” and “not to be released” to the public or media. A spokesperson for DHS did not immediately verify its authenticity this morning.

"The belief among militia extremists that their threats and show of force against the BLM during the April Bunkerville standoff was a defining victory over government oppression is galvanizing some individuals -- particularly militia extremists and violent lone offenders -- to actively confront law enforcement officials, increasing the likelihood of violence," the assessment states. "This perceived success will likely embolden other militia extremists and like-minded lone offenders to attempt to replicate these confrontational tactics and force future armed standoffs with law enforcement and government officials in 2014."

The assessment was released this morning by the government watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER.

It comes weeks after the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that monitors hate groups, came to a similar conclusion that the Bundy standoff could inspire more violence against the government (E&ENews PM, July 11).

According to the DHS report, the spike in anti-government violence and plots since last November is a "departure" from previous years and is driven by perceived government restrictions on gun use, land and property, the assessment said.

Some violent incidents appear to be inspiring future attacks, it said. For example, the husband and wife accused of shooting the two Las Vegas police officers in June left a note explaining that the attack was the start of a "revolution" and a "new day."

"Though the initial tipping point or cause of this spike in violence remains unclear ... some of these incidents are likely intended to inspire additional violent attacks, resulting in a greater rate of attacks than in the prior four years," the assessment found.

The office has recorded five such incidents of anti-government violence or arrests for violent plotting since last November, compared with just three incidents in the prior 46 months.

PEER blasted BLM's retreat at Bunkerville.

"Like pumping [bellows] onto a smoldering ember, Interior's retreat in Nevada this spring, abetted by related reckless political rhetoric, appears to be encouraging and empowering dangerous right-wing extremists," said a statement by PEER Southwest Director Daniel Patterson, who formerly worked for BLM. "This is a form of domestic terrorism which demands a swift, clear and definitive response."

BLM said it stood down in the Bundy standoff to protect its employees and the public and that it still intends to bring Bundy to justice for illegally grazing his cows.

But its decision to cancel the roundup triggered criticism, particularly among environmentalists, over the signal it sent to other states' rights advocates who disagree with the agency's land-management policies.

In May, a Utah county commissioner openly flouted BLM's closure of Recapture Canyon to motorized vehicles by leading an all-terrain vehicle protest ride. Though the ride had been planned before the Bundy incident, it was seen as another illustration of BLM's limitations in enforcing federal land laws.

No arrests were made or citations issued in the Recapture ride.

- from Greenwire

Extremist militias on rise in US. DHS assessment uncovered by PEER finds inaction on Bundy stand-off likely to spur more violence

Militia man on I-15 aims at US officers in Nevada, April 2014
LAS VEGAS — The failure to effectively address anti-government extremists is making matters more dangerous, according to a new federal law enforcement assessment released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The assessment predicts that the “perceived victory” by renegade rancher Cliven Bundy in his stand-off with the government is “likely to prompt more violence.”

An Intelligence Assessment from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security dated July 22, 2014, titled “Domestic Violent Extremists Pose Increased Threat to Government Officials and Law Enforcement,” notes that, “After years of only sporadic violence from violent domestic extremists motivated by anti-government ideologies, I&A (Office of Intelligence and Analysis) has seen a spike within the past year in violence. Based upon reports from state and federal law enforcement reports, this Assessment finds:

  • “I&A assesses that perceived victory by militia extremists in a show of force against the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Nevada in April will likely inspire additional anti-government violence over the next year.”
  • “I&A also assesses that the recent murders of two Las Vegas police officers is the latest and most severe in a growing trend of anti-government violence…” and
  • The “perceived victory” from the Bundy stand-off “is galvanizing some individuals – particularly militia extremists and violent lone offenders – to actively confront law enforcement officials, increasing the likelihood of violence.” 

“Like pumping billows onto a smoldering ember, Interior's retreat in Nevada this spring, abetted by related reckless political rhetoric, appears to be encouraging and empowering dangerous right-wing extremists,” said PEER Southwest Director Daniel Patterson, who formerly worked with BLM. “This is a form of domestic terrorism which demands a swift, clear and definitive response.”

The Assessment stressed that law enforcement officers will be primary targets of militia attacks since they are perceived “as an extension of state control.” As with the 1996 Oklahoma City bombing of the federal building, government facilities are also at enhanced risk.

“The law enforcement assessment suggests that timidity in the face of threats only breeds more threats,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Without a cogent enforcement strategy, we can expect more armed confrontations putting both public servants and civilians at greater risk.”

BLM has taken no further action since it backed down this past April from an armed confrontation with militias seeking to prevent seizure of Bundy’s cattle illegally grazing on federal lands. PEER has been pushing for criminal charges against Bundy and militia snipers who targeted law enforcement officers. In addition, PEER is suing BLM to force release of information explaining its actions and why the situation was allowed to fester for years, as well as statistics on assaults against its employees.

- adapted from PEER.org

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lawsuit seeks Bundy Ranch documents and attack stats on BLM staff. BLM stonewalls on Nevada standoff, post-incident precautions and lessons learned

Will Obama & AG Holder move strongly against right-wing terrorism?
LAS VEGAS — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is wrongfully withholding all documents about a recent standoff with a Nevada rancher as well as statistics on assaults against its employees, according to a federal lawsuit filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). BLM has taken no further action since it backed down from a recent armed confrontation between self-styled “militias” seeking to prevent seizure of Cliven Bundy’s cattle illegally grazing for 20 years on national lands at Gold Butte, Nevada.

Representing BLM rangers and other resource agency staff, PEER is seeking documents about what led up to and what followed the cattle seizure and subsequent standoff on the Bundy ranch, including –

  • Whether the U.S. Attorney declined to criminally prosecute Bundy, making seizure of his cattle the only avenue left to BLM for proceeding against Bundy--whose cattle had been illegally grazing on 160,000 BLM and National Park Service acres for more than a decade;
  • Any BLM advisories for handling similar incidents of armed resistance or livestock trespass; and
  • Steps taken to bolster the safety of BLM employees.  Media reports indicate that BLM staff have received death threats or have been targeted by armed militias.

In addition, BLM has refused to release its annual tabulation of threats and attacks against its employees. BLM has released this annual summary describing the nature and location of such incidents to PEER every year since 1996, when the organization started collecting a database of these assaults following the Oklahoma City bombing.

“Parts of the Sagebrush West are beginning to resemble Eastern Ukraine,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that BLM’s secretiveness is stoking various right-wing conspiracy theories. “To tamp down the rumor mill fueling these high-profile incidents, the BLM should be communicating more with the public not less. This information is important not only to BLM staff but also to members of the public visiting these federal lands.”

During the 1990’s when similar “Sagebrush Rebellion” incidents flared, the reluctance of the U.S. Justice Department to criminally prosecute referrals from the BLM and U.S. Forest Service frustrated land managers who felt powerless. For example, Gloria Flora resigned as supervisor of Nevada’s Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest citing Justice’s timidity.

“Allowing these calculated obstructions and armed threats to go unpunished seems to invite only more dangerous confrontations by extremists,” said Daniel Patterson, Southwest PEER Director who formerly worked with BLM, pointing to other subsequent incidents such as an illegal off-road vehicle invasion into BLM public lands closed-to-ORVs at Recapture Canyon, Utah. “Not knowing the agency’s limits invites violent ideologues to miscalculate with potentially tragic results.”

- adapted from PEER.org

Monday, May 19, 2014

Daniel R. Patterson resume: energy, environment, government, natural resources, public lands, wildlife, water, communications, education, media, PR, community, public service, planning, politics, etc.


Daniel R. Patterson | Tucson Arizona USA | 520.906.2159 | roundriver@gmail.com

EXPERIENCE: 
Southwest Director, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Tucson AZ (2006-now)
• Helping employees and retirees; director of all media work and programs in AZ, NM, UT & NV.
Events Professional, IATSE Local 415, Tucson (2013-now)
• Supporting events reliably for trade shows, exhibitions and the entertainment industry.
Volunteer, US Interior Dept./FWS, Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Sasabe AZ (2014)
• Assisted USFWS on education, outreach, conservation, recreation, restoration & monitoring.
Letter Carrier, US Postal Service, Tucson (2013)
• Served people and business through friendly, dedicated professional service.
State Lawmaker, Arizona Legislature, Tucson/Phoenix AZ (2008-12)
• Elected/re-elected to represent Tucson/Pima. Ranking Member, Energy & Natural Resources.
• Listened with independent mind to all. Collaborated for public interest. Served constituents.
Fellow, US State Dept./American Council of Young Political Leaders, Washington DC (2011)
• Represented Arizona on political, business and cultural diplomacy tour across Argentina.
Western Legislative Academy, Council of State Governments, Colorado Springs CO (2010)
• Selected for prestigious policy and communications leadership training for state lawmakers.
Planning Commissioner, City of Tucson, Tucson (2005-08)
• Appointed by Mayor & Council to make policy on growth, parks, water, land & transportation.
Congressional Advisor, U.S. House of Representatives, Tucson/Washington DC (2002-09)
• Advised US Rep. Grijalva & staff on some energy, water & natural resources issues and policies. 
Board Member, Pima County Board of Adjustment, Tucson (2007-08)
• Appointed by County Supervisors to hear and settle community land use disputes.
Political Leadership Fellow, Center for Progressive Leadership, Phoenix (2008)
• Trained to organize and direct effective, diverse political, advocacy and media campaigns.
Ecologist & Deserts Director, Center for Biological Diversity, Tucson/SoCal (1996-2006)
• Protected nature and health through science, policy, education, media, law and cooperation.
• Managed and directed staff. Work with tribes. Helped triple membership, staff and budgets.
Professional Ecologist, Round River Ecological Services, San Diego CA (1996-98)
• Designed and implemented landscape restoration to help people and wildlife.
• Monitored and surveyed for rare wildlife in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts.
Natural Resources Specialist, US Interior Dept./BLM (ECO), Barstow CA (1995-96)
• Coordinated multiple-use projects with public, stakeholders and other agencies.
• Cooperated on CWA, NEPA, FLPMA, CAA, NHPA, ESA and state & local law compliance.
• Directed work crews, project funds, planning, media and community/partner relations.
Corporate Accounts Manager, Pattco Properties, Lansing MI (1988-94)
• Recruited and managed business accounts; sales. Worked in successful family business.

EDUCATION:
Michigan State University, East Lansing MI (1990-94)
• Natural Resource Development, B.S., Agriculture & Natural Resources Communications, B.S.
• Worked in Botany Dept. on restoration. Popular radio host on WDBM-FM

COMMUNITY: 
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Co-Founder, Arizona Chapter, Tucson (2013-now)
• Collaborating with sportsmen conservationists on new voice for wildlife management. 
Foundation for Inter-Cultural Dialogue, Ambassador, Tucson (2009)
• Selected to help represent Arizona Legislature on diplomatic tour of Turkey.
Santa Rita Park Neighborhood Association, President, Tucson (2000-08)
• Cooperated with neighbors, city, community and business for barrio planning and quality of life.
BICAS (Bicycle Inter-Community Art & Salvage), Board Member, Tucson (1998-2003)
• Supported diverse community and youth involvement in art, bicycling, air quality & education.
Sierra Club-Rincon Group, Conservation Chair & Exec. Committee, Tucson (2001-02)
• Represented thousands on Southern Arizona conservation and community issues.
Desert Restoration Task Force, Ecologist, fed & state/private, AZ, CA, NV, UT (1995-98)
• Prioritized landscape-scale restoration based on science, community & economy; founder.
Desert Protective Council, Board Member, San Diego (1996-98)
• Raised funds and directed conservation relations in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts.
Desert Tortoise Council, Co-Chair, Board of Directors, AZ, CA, UT, NV (1996-98)
• Represented science-based group in regional land use and wildlife recovery planning.
Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Council, Co-Chair, Tucson (1994-95)
• Appointed to advise city and county governments on transportation and air quality solutions.

REFERENCES:
Available on request.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

US Wildlife Refuges at risk as oil & gas regulations on very slow track

Oil well on Delta National Wildlife Refuge, LA
WASHINGTON — Despite admitting “significant damages” from oil and gas operations on national wildlife refuge lands, there are still no safeguards against spills, leaks and other preventable contamination of these preserves. The responsible agency is still on the ground floor of adopting protective rules years after announcing that it would, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), which operates the network of 562 wildlife refuges, estimates oil or gas deposits exist on nearly half of all refuges; more than 200 refuges contain oil infrastructure with more than 100 active drilling operations, including 1,700 active wells and 1,300 miles of pipeline. Altogether, drilling on refuges accounts for approximately 1% of domestic production.

Unlike other federal land agencies, FWS has no rules governing basic safeguards such as spill prevention, reclamation bonds or requirements that best management practices be employed. In April 2011, PEER filed a formal rulemaking petition urging FWS to adopt rules modeled on enhanced rules then proposed by the National Park Service. More than a year later in June 2012, FWS announced that in response to the PEER petition it would begin “promulgating regulations for administering private minerals on refuge lands” and would “conduct a thorough… analysis of the proposed regulations, most likely resulting in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).”

For months, there was no public activity until a Federal Register notice of February 24, 2014 in which FWS issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking and notice of intent to prepare an EIS, declaring:

“The Refuge System has sustained significant damages to refuge resources from leaks and spills, inadequate plugging, abandonment and reclamation.”

The notice, however, indicates that FWS has not advanced from where it was two years earlier in that:
  • “The Service is not currently proposing any specific approach for managing non-Federal oil and gas operations;”
  • FWS remains uncertain on how to address a range of issues from financial assurances to access fees to whether to pattern its approach on National Park or U.S. Forest Service rules; and
  • Without any discussion, FWS limited the scope of its consideration to private subsurface holdings, allowing federal holdings on Alaskan refuges to be left to Bureau of Land Management oversight without any refuge-specific restrictions.
“At this rate, the Obama presidential library will be built by the time these regulations are ready to be adopted,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that a major federal regulation averages between one year and 18 months from proposal to final promulgation – a timeline which should have had the refuge drilling regulations already on the books. “With scores of refuges at risk, the Fish & Wildlife Service should not be slow-walking needed protections.”

The public comment period on this preliminary notice ends tomorrow.

Besides direct contamination effects from releases, FWS points to indirect adverse impacts from oil and gas operations to wildlife such as habitat fragmentation, introduction of invasive species along roads and pipelines, increased predation of declining species and heightened exposure to disease.

PEER news release with links to documents, etc.

Monday, April 21, 2014

New photos released of Jaguar roaming near Tucson

TUCSON -- The US Fish & Wildlife Service has released new photos of an endangered Jaguar roaming the Santa Rita Mountains, Coronado National Forest.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Need a ride? Lyft Tucson launches Fri Apr 4 @ 7pm

Looking for a Lyft?
TUCSON -- Cutting edge US rideshare service Lyft launches 24/7 public operations in Tucson on Friday, April 4 at 7pm, it was announced tonight at a public party downtown.

Need a friendly, fun ride? We all do sometimes. Check out Lyft.com and download the @Lyft app. Get FREE rides!

City of Tucson, Pima County and State of Arizona should allow safe operation Lyft to compete in the open market. People deserve more choices.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Your land at risk: US Forest Service knifes its own law enforcement budget. 15% cut prompts reduced National Forest patrols

USDA bureaucrats in DC cut Rangers on US National Forests.
WASHINGTON — Even as the overall budget for the U.S. Forest Service has grown this year, its law enforcement program is hobbled by a budget reduction of roughly 15% from last’s year’s levels, according to documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Thus far, the shortfall has resulted in orders for “office days” taking officers off patrol, mileage and shift limits and a hiring freeze as managers wrestle with how to avoid layoffs.

The reason for the shortfall appears to be bureaucratic neglect rather than a hostile Congress. The Forest Service got the precise amount of funds it requested for its Law Enforcement & Investigations (LEI) Division but that amount was lower than the prior year. The impact of this cut was compounded by 1) the fact that, unlike other Forest Service programs, LEI did not have its fire transfer dollars reinstated after last year’s budget-busting fire season and 2) LEI had to absorb the cost of employee raises.

“By asking Congress for less money, it appears that the Forest Service deliberately short-sheeted its own law enforcement program,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that LEI is responsible for protecting natural resources and the visiting public in 44 states across 193 million acres of forest lands, an area larger than the State of Texas. “Sudden cuts of this magnitude will unquestionably compromise the effectiveness of Forest Service law enforcement.”

The ink was barely dry on this year’s new appropriations package when the size of the shortfall began to become clear, internal emails reveal. Among immediate actions taken within to husband funds, include –
  • Taking law enforcement officers out of patrol vehicles and confining them for “office days” in which they are supposed to occupy themselves with paperwork. Officers could still respond to emergency requests for assistance;
  • Limiting the number of miles officers can drive and shortening shifts of officers working out in the forests on drug and other stakeouts; and
  • Freezing “all LEI hiring nationally… So anything we have vacant today will remain vacant and anything that may become vacant through attrition, will also remain vacant,” per one directive.
Nonetheless, these economy measures are unlikely to close this large funding gap in the short-term. Nor has national leadership emerged on what the overall plan will be, leaving each LEI region to cope on its own. In the meantime, there is confusion on how LEI is supposed to respond to wild-land fires, drug trafficking operations or other incidents that will require greater expenditure of resources or manpower. The Coronado National Forest in Tucson and southern Arizona, already short on Rangers, will suffer, along with forests nationwide.

“Forest Service law enforcement personnel are left in the untenable position of having to decide whether a request for assistance justifies the cost of gasoline,” Ruch added, pointing out that LEI has aggravated its fiscal plight with a number of ill-considered expensive equipment purchases ranging from military-style hardened laptops, body-mounted cameras and even drones which have never been deployed. “Far more critical than its financial deficit is the Forest Service law enforcement program’s leadership deficit.”

Link to documents, etc.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Arizona & New Mexico cooperate for wildlife restoration

AZ sent Gould's turkeys to NM in exchange for pronghorn.
CIMARRON, NM – New Mexico has larger pronghorn herds in southern New Mexico and will soon have larger flocks of Gould’s turkeys in the Peloncillo and Animas-San Luis Mountains thanks to the successes of a recent pronghorn trap operation near Cimarron, NM.

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish biologists, conservation officers and staff captured over 200 pronghorn from irrigated croplands on a ranch in northern New Mexico. The pronghorn received blood tests, vaccinations and were fitted with radio collars before being relocated on Bureau of Land Management sites outside of Fort Stanton, near Capitan and northwest of Roswell. In exchange for a flock of 60 Gould’s turkeys, forty-three pronghorn were relocated to Cochise County, Arizona, in cooperation with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

"New Mexicans benefit on multiple fronts from the outcome of this trap," said NMDGF Interim Director R.J. Kirkpatrick. "Southern New Mexico pronghorn herds increase in size, the trade with Arizona provides critical new birds to augment our turkey populations and New Mexicans can enjoy opportunities to see more wildlife in their natural habitat.”

The Department began trapping and transplanting pronghorns to new ranges in New Mexico in the 1930s and continues the practice today. The statewide population now has grown to approximately 30,000 pronghorn.

- from NMDGF

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ruling vastly expands official gov't secrecy on infrastructure safety, blocking public knowledge of risks

WASHINGTON — A sweeping new appellate court decision justifies federal agencies withholding substantial public safety information concerning dam failures, chemical spills and other critical events, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The ruling blocked PEER’s attempts to force release of the emergency plans in the event of failure of two large international storage dams on the Rio Grande River and inundation maps showing the areas likely to be flooded.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided this week that this material could be withheld because “terrorists or criminals could use that information to determine whether attacking a dam would be worthwhile.” The court’s reasoning significantly expands the scope of the exemption under the Freedom of Information Act for material compiled for “law enforcement purposes.”

“Under the standard articulated by the court, the majority of information about known risks and planned responses to virtually every emergency could be placed off limits,” stated PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, who filed the complaint and argued the appeal. “This ruling will block affected communities from learning about plans to prevent and respond to chemical spills,” added Dinerstein, noting recently-plagued West Virginia, oil blowouts that fouled the Gulf of Mexico and even steps needed to prevent and respond to contamination of food and drugs.

The case involves the actions of a little-known agency called the United States Section, International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) which implements border treaties with Mexico and, in so doing, jointly operates several international dams and water treatment plants along the border. Despite acknowledging external reviews showing two major structures, the Falcon and Amistad Dams, are in “urgent” need of repair, the agency refused to release –
  • More than 75 inundation maps, showing what areas will be flooded following dam failure; 
  • A 2009 report issued by a panel of technical advisors regarding the condition of Amistad Dam (the release of which was remanded to the lower court for further consideration); and
  • Much of the Emergency Action Plans for the dams, including the “Guidance for Determining the Emergency Level”; “Notifications and Emergency Service Contacts”; “Location and Vicinity Maps”; “Summary of People/Structures at Greatest Risk”; and “Reservoir Elevation Area-Capacity Data”. 
“Basic emergency planning should not be treated as a state secret,” said Dinerstein, noting that the court had transformed a fairly narrow law enforcement exception from public disclosure into an extremely broad one without well-defined limits. “By the court’s incredibly deferential standards, virtually every federal agency could withhold maps, assessments and even phonebooks if an official can imagine a potential nefarious use for them. A vigilant public will lose access to much of the information needed to protect itself and to agitate for changes that prevent these man-made disasters from occurring.”