Wednesday, May 30, 2007

ACC votes 5-0 to protect Kofa NWR from powerline

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Corporation Commission today voted 5-0 to deny a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility to Southern California Edison for the Devers–Palo Verde No. 2 Transmission Line Project (DPV2), a 500 kV line proposed to run 230 miles between the Harquahala Generating Substation in Arizona and the Devers Substation in California, including 97 miles in Arizona.

The identified route would have cut across important and sensitive wildlife habitat, including the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. The denial of this certificate is great news for the Refuge and its wildlife.

The Arizona Corporation Commission could affirm, deny, or approve with conditions the Certificate of Environmental Compatibility which had been issued by the Arizona Power Plant and Line Siting Committee.

The law requires that the Commission consider several factors in deciding whether or not to issue the Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and they must “. . . balance, in the broad public interest, the need for an adequate, economical and reliable supply of electric power with the desire to minimize the effect thereof on the environment and ecology of this state.”

In doing so, they said no to the line and the destruction of wildlife habitat in the Kofa NWR.

This is really an unprecedented decision in Arizona and a huge win for everyone who cares about our wildlife refuges and other protected lands.

Special thanks to Tim Hogan and the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, who represented the Sierra Club in this process. Tim spent countless hours before line siting and then at the Commission and did a great job.

Thanks to Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club for again being effective for Arizona conservation.

Thanks to the Arizona Corporation Commission staff. They raised a lot of important issues and also asked for the denial of this Certificate.

Thanks to Don Begalke, who intervened as an individual and worked very hard to present a strong case against the line.

Thanks to Ken Sweat for providing expert testimony in the line siting process and helping us with our comments.

Thanks to Jon Findley for all his work and support through the process.

Thanks to Cary Meister and Yuma Audubon for stepping up once again to protect those precious remote desert lands in western Arizona.

Thanks to Lon Stewart who helped with some early research to get us rolling on this project and continued to comment throughout the process.

Thanks to SW PEER and many Arizonans for caring, for writing, for emailing, and continuing to fight to protect Arizona’s wildlands and wildlife.

And a big thanks to the Arizona Corporation Commissioners, who today, voted to do the right thing.

- adapted from Sierra Club

Hunters concerned about Zimbabwe politics

Bob Marley and Africans in Zimbabwe.

TUCSON -- Remember when Bob Marley and the Wailers sang about liberating Zimbabwe on their 1980 Survival album?

The nation is again in chaos under President Robert Mugabe.

Check out Tucsonan TJSafari's post on hunting in Zimbabwe now.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hoyer & Giffords speak in Arizona about Congress

TUCSON -- I and about 100 others attended the event today with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) in mid-town at Lodge on the Desert. Here's a short report.

After tasty tea and snacks it started.

Both sharp and confident, Hoyer and Giffords talked to media and a proud party activist crowd about the progress this congress has made in the past five months.

Hoyer started his speech saying protecting our safety is the most important thing government can do. Many nodded as one man in the crowd commented to Hoyer that congress should do more to protect our rights and civil liberties from erosions such as the USA Patriot Act.

Steny commented that he is a big supporter of Israel and the free market system.

I had a chance to ask Hoyer privately about immigration legislation, and if congress may be willing to revoke parts of the Real ID Act that the Bush administration is using to exempt border militarization and walls from environmental laws.

Hoyer agreed this is a problem and congress may try to remedy. Then he was out the door toward Phoenix.

We'll see.

Hoyer's second visit here in 8 months speaks to both the significant influence of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and the growing national political importance of Arizona.

I enjoyed seeing Giffords and Hoyer today in our city. No politician is perfect, but they seem to be trying for some real reform. It's nice to see future national star Giffords teaming with old pol current leader Hoyer, 30 years older.

This was essentially a Giffords campaign event, and it appeared to go well for her. I predict hard-working Giffords will rightfully again win District 8 next year, and then hold it for as long as she wants.

Gov. Bill Richardson, when are you visiting Tucson as part of your Presidential run?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Mourn world's war dead, acknowledge war is bad

War is not the answer. Wounded little girl in Iraq.

TUCSON -- Pause today to remember our war dead, and war dead worldwide. Memorial Day is not a day of celebration.

Fly a black flag of mourning along with the stars and stripes.

Some wars may be unavoidable, but not Iraq. War is always a bad and bloody option.

3500 dead American soldiers and growing. Likely hundreds of thousands of dead innocent Iraqi civilians, children and women.

The Iraq war is Bush/Cheney's greatest crime against humanity, for which they will burn in hell.

As I mourn the deaths from our wars, I thank my strong Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) for always being a true and courageous leader against the Iraq war.

Shame on House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and the wimpy majority for voting to pay hundreds of billions more for the thoughtless and pointless massacre in Iraq. As a new Dem, I am deeply disturbed by this.

I still support her, but Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' (D-AZ) unwise vote for more war money looks like political pandering to a handful of pro-war screamers. Maybe she really does feel like we should still be Iraq? I hope not. Giffords has been doing a fine job so far in her freshman term, but this pro-war vote may hurt, not help her in the 2008 election.

Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-AZ) also voted with the Bush/Cheney side for more war funding.

We must unite to end the unneeded and failed Iraq war now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Kyl won't protect US from global warming floods

Kyl and Bush salute their corporate masters.

WASHINGTON -- Last week marked the current Senate's first global warming vote, on an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act.

US Senator Jon Kyl (R - Arizona) unwisely voted against science, safety and the environment again.

Arizona's other 'Senator', John McCain (R), was AWOL again and didn't even vote. McLame almost never votes anymore because he devotes all his time to running for President, not working in the Senate to represent Arizonans.

The amendment would have required the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make sure it considers the impacts of global warming -- including increased hurricane intensity, flooding and sea level rise -- when it designs levees and other projects intended to protect our homes and communities.

The good news: A majority of the Senate (51 senators) voted in favor of this amendment, leading the way for more success in curbing global warming pollution.

The bad news: The amendment was defeated because of rules agreed to that required 60 votes for the amendment to pass. Despite this global warming amendment not passing, some are very excited because the vote lays a solid foundation for more future legistlation to curb global warming pollution.

- adapted from NWF

Rep. Grijalva on Colbert Report Thursday night

US Rep. Raúl Grijalva's interview with Steven Colbert for the "Colbert Report" airs Thursday night May 24th on Comedy Central.




Does Raúl know his Congressional District?!?


Yep! Here it comes...

Colbert v. Grijalva: Getting beyond the mustache!

- adapted from MC

Monday, May 21, 2007

Richardson has best energy plan; IFNM shooting

SANTA FE -- Presidential candidate Bill Richardson has distinguished himself from the crowd with the most ambitious energy plan yet.

Add this bold plan to the New Mexico Governor's wealth of experience and you'll see the best Dem candidate emerging.

*

Other news: Back BLM plans to stop reckless and dangerous shooting on the Ironwood Forest National Monument near Tucson.

As a gun owner and hunter, I support BLM's proposal to protect Monument visitors and natural & cultural resources from wildcat shooting. Contact AZ_IFNM_RMP@blm.gov

5/22 Arizona Daily Star editorial.

Friday, May 18, 2007

America recognizes Endangered Species Day

ESA protection ended by Bush/Cheney, the endangered Cactus Pygmy Owl seems doomed to its now virtual extinction in S. AZ, which is nothing to celebrate.

WASHINGTON -- Today is America's Endangered Species Day, a national recognition of our country's commitment to protecting and recovering endangered species, including the bald eagle, gray wolf, grizzly bear, and American alligator.

On this day it is also crucial to not overlook or avoid the harmful anti-conservation, anti-wildlife aggressions of the Bush/Cheney administration, one of the worst ever for our environment.

Educational institutions and community centers across the country are hosting events, including the San Francisco Zoo, Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida, Oregon Zoo, Denver Botanical Gardens, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff High School, ZooMontana, Arkansas Aerospace Educational Center, Maine State Aquarium, and the National Geographic Society's Bioblitz in Rock Creek Park in Washington DC.

"Endangered Species Day gives us a chance to celebrate America's commitment to protecting our unique wildlife," said David Robinson, founder of Endangered Species Day. "Endangered Species Day is a great opportunity for young and old alike to learn about our nation’s wildlife and get involved in protecting endangered species and their habitat."

The U.S. Senate proclaimed May 18th as "Endangered Species Day." The Senate resolution encourages all Americans to "become educated about, and aware of, threats to species, success stories in species recovery, and the opportunity to promote species conservation worldwide."

"Endangered Species Day provides opportunities for young people, students, and the general public to learn more about the more than 1,800 species in the U.S. and abroad, which are designated as 'at risk' for extinction," said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who led the effort to pass the resolution.

Neither of Arizona's Senators, John McCain or Jon Kyl, co-sponsored the resolution.

In addition, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared May 18 "Endangered Species Day" in California, Governor Ted Kulongoski of Oregon declared Friday "Oregon Endangered Species Day," and Governor John Baldacci of Maine declared May "Endangered Species Month" in Maine.

"For more than thirty years, the Endangered Species Act has served as the nation’s safety net for wildlife, saving many plants and animals from extinction and putting many more on the path of recovery," stated Governor Schwarzenegger. "On this day, I encourage everyone to appreciate our biodiversity, increase ecological awareness and take action to preserve our environment."

Endangered Species Day provides an opportunity for schools, libraries, museums, zoos, botanical gardens, agencies, businesses, community groups and conservation organizations to educate the public about the importance of protecting endangered species.

Endangered Species Day is an occasion for all to learn more about the wide variety of actions that individuals and groups can take to help protect our nation’s wildlife, including driving less, conserving energy, building backyard wildlife habitat, cutting urban sprawl, protecting water quality, and supporting local efforts to clean up rivers, parks, and other natural areas.

"Today, we encourage children, parents and teachers across the country to learn more about our nation’s rich biological heritage," said Pat Waller, President of the National Association of Biology Teachers. "We have a responsibility to prevent the extinction of fish, wildlife and plants because once they are gone, we cannot bring them back."

"AZA accredited zoos and aquariums have transformed themselves into modern centers of wildlife conservation," Steve Feldman, Senior Vice President for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.) "We give people up close connections with animals which strengthen their commitment to conservation. We welcome Endangered Species Day to highlight these great opportunities for the public."

Endangered Species Day raises awareness about the ongoing threats to endangered species, and the Endangered Species Act’s tremendous success in helping species to recover. This year, the focus is on protecting species like polar bears from global warming.

A recently released report from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that 20-30 percent of animal and plant species could be at an increased risk of extinction, with up to 60 percent species loss in some areas if global warming continues unabated.

Endangered Species Day is endorsed by over seventy diverse organizations across Arizona and the US.

- adapted from ESC

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Off-road rage riot in Utah BLM isn't talking about

LITTLE SAHARA DUNES, JUAB COUNTY UT -- Over 50 law enforcement officers from several agencies were assigned to the Little Sahara Recreation Area (LSRA) over the Easter weekend. Approximately 35,000 visitors were located within the LSRA administrative unit.

Officers were faced with near riot conditions on two separate nights involving approximately 1,000 people which required all available officers and over 5 hours to mitigate the situation; approximately 200 people were ejected from the main hill area and several were arrested when they returned.

Groups of partiers were blocking an area and forcing women to bare their breasts in order to leave, along with numerous incidents of unwanted fondling of women.

When law enforcement officers took action, the crowd became unruly, throwing objects at the officers. A Utah HP Officer was struck in the head and sustained minor injuries.

Medical assistance was rendered on 37 incidents. Over 300 incidents resulted in arrests and/or citations.

- from USDA LEI Weekly Report for 4/29-5/5/07.

*

PEER is investigating, but BLM officials in Utah so far are not returning calls.

Perhaps the Bush/Cheney BLM is so close to the ORV lobby that they are trying to cover this up?

*

Off-roader violence toward Sheriff in CA.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

State should drop 'bypass' highway sprawl desire

San Pedro River valley, near Cascabel

TUCSON -- The AZ Dept. of Transportation is holding a meeting today on plans for a 'bypass' highway that would slash near the Tortolita Mountains then cut down the San Pedro River valley, a fragile and remote area. Similiar huge roads are planned for other sensitive areas, including the Ironwood Forest National Monument.

Many Arizonans will be there to suggest sustainable alternatives and protest this bad idea, and I agree.

These mega-road ideas are a developers dream, with a true, but politically downplayed aim at opening up huge areas of private, state and BLM lands for privitization and urban sprawl.

The Napolitano administration should drop the Tucson/Pima 'bypass' plan now, and instead focus even more on growing state efforts for rail, bikes and real alternatives to 'one person-one car' shlepping across town daily. She's made some good moves, but ADoT Director Victor Mendez is still planning a spider-web of new freeways, especially across Maricopa and Pinal Counties.

Pima County rep to the state transportation board Si Schorr is a main guy pushing this at the state level. He has long been quite close to big developers. Nothing personal against Si, but the County may want to install a rep with a more balanced transportation and land use background.

Tucson has I-10 and I-19 and we're going to have to live with it. We already have a lot of big roads that can bring down quality of life, and we cannot build our way out of congestion. Traffic is here to stay, although we are glad in summer for a little less of it.

AZ needs other ways to get around, and more vibrant walkable/bikeable communities, especially with fuel prices at record highs, global warming pollution and health benefits.

I, for one, and many others will agree, don't want new freeways and the blight, sprawl and extra pollution freeways bring.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bush BLM, ORV lobby aim to kill high desert range

Furnace Creek & ORV barrier BLM wants to remove, wild White Mtns. CA
Daniel R. Patterson photo

Special report details dangers of ATVs.

BISHOP CA -- Today the Bush/Cheney Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that it will allow the construction of a road through Furnace Creek, a rare perennial desert stream that winds its way through the White Mountains Wilderness Study Area in the Great Basin desert near the California-Nevada border.

Soaring to over 14,000 feet, the White Mountains are the highest desert mountain range in North America.

Despite receiving more than 7,000 comments from the public in opposition to new construction, as well as one from the California Department of Fish and Game, the Bureau has taken the first step toward ensuring destruction of this unique desert canyon by claiming a finding of "no significant impact" to natural resources.

The next step will come in a joint Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management proposal to build a road through this desert oasis with 14 stream crossings along only 4.5 miles of the creek.

"The BLM is bending over backwards to make a bad decision. They have completely ignored the well-known environmental consequences of this decision and made a choice based on politics, not science," said Paul McFarland, executive director of Bishop-based Friends of the Inyo. "Even their own Environmental Assessment issued in November stated that the preferred alternative would be to keep the area protected from off-road vehicle damage."

Due to the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service's own concern and environmental analysis, Furnace Creek's wetlands have been protected from needless off-road vehicle abuse since 2003.

Furnace Creek provides streamside habitat used by the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher during migration, along with breeding habitat for Costa's hummingbird and eight other bird species of conservation concern. The protection has also helped curtail illegal road proliferation into the heart of the White Mountains on the Inyo National Forest, home to the sage grouse and the world's oldest trees, bristlecone pines.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Friends of the Inyo, Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club will respond by filling a formal protest.

"This is far from over," said Chris Kassar, wildlife biologist with Tucson-based CBD. "Furnace Creek is too important for us to just walk away. We will continue to fight to keep the closure in place and to protect this delicate creek ecosystem and the life it supports."

Photos and background information

- adapted from CBD

It's your public land. Tell BLM 'NO!'
hvillalo@ca.blm.gov, steven_j_borchard@blm.gov, mpool@ca.blm.gov

*

VW WESTY VAN FOR SALE

Friday, May 11, 2007

AZ should join NV for Jan 19 Pres. primary 08 vote

US needs a President who won't harm our SW desert bald eagles.

PHOENIX -- With Arizona now the fastest growing state in the nation, it is time for us to have more influence on the nomination of Presidential candidates.

Governor Napolitano and the Legislature should consider setting Arizona's primary to Jan 19, the same day as our neighbors in Nevada. Candidates are already campaigning in the Silver State, so it makes sense to focus on another southwestern state, Arizona, at the same time.

The states are jockeying to be early, but no states should set their primaries before Jan 2 08.

Republican John McCain should be for Jan 19, as he will likely win an AZ primary, and winning it early in the season would help him.

Speaking of campaigning and Arizona, now that Democrat John Edwards had a big crowd, it is time for other candidates to get to Tucson, especially our friend Gov. Bill Richardson from next door in New Mexico.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

AZ-MX border views: Cabeza Prieta & Organ Pipe

View from helicopter pad at US Dept. of Homeland Security's Camp Grip, Cabeza Prieta NWR.

AJO AZ -- I just returned to Tucson from a trip to the border in western Pima County, on the damaged and threatened Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, both in Rep. Grijalva's district.

Over a million acres of these public reserves are closed to the public primarily due to border stress related to failed US border policy.

Some photos for now and more news on this later. All photos by me, Daniel R. Patterson.

Sonoyta, Sonora-based workers build vehicle barrier on CPNWR. Vehicle barriers work and are a much better option than triple walls.









Border Patrol trash at Camp Grip in wilderness along El Camino del Diablo, CPNWR











Large Border Patrol HQ building at Camp Grip, border & drug war outpost, CPNWR wilderness, western Pima County AZ.












Technology at Camp Grip. Will more technology really relieve environmental damage?








US Fish & Wildlife Service talks with Border Patrol about concerns near huge loud petro-fueled generators and fueling station at Camp Grip.

DHS wants to build a similar 'camp' further west in the sensitive Tule Well area.










Off-road driving damage by Border Patrol and some smugglers, near Growler Rd., Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument wilderness.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Rep. Giffords defends Endangered Species Act

UPDATE, 5/17: 77 US Reps. signed the letter.

WASHINGTON -- US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) will stand strong with Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and dozens of her colleagues in the House by signing on to a letter from lawmakers to Bush Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in support of the Endangered Species Act.

The ESA is America's most important wildlife law. The Bush administration has been trying to skirt Congress and weaken the act behind closed doors.

Voters and nature thank you, Congresswoman Giffords.

Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ) was asked to sign on, but did not.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Community survey for Town Hall's 'usual suspects'

UPDATE, 5/8: Developers bash neighborhoods at exclusive 'Town Hall', but no neighborhood leaders there to defend public-interest.

TUCSON -- As part of the overall Tucson Regional 'Town Hall' process... the results from a series of surveys will be utilized in conjunction with the Tucson Regional Town Hall to help shape actionable goals intended to make the Tucson Region a better place to live for all of its residents.

Survey results will also be published in upcoming articles featured in the Arizona Daily Star.

-- from Tucson Regional Town Hall

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Quechans halt reckless Bush push for oil refinery

YUMA -- The Quechan Tribe has prevailed in court so far over the Bush/Cheney Interior Department's reckless handling of a proposed oil refinery, near the Gila River and Goldwater Range in Yuma County.

Refineries are like toxic dirty bombs, and this one would use imported oil.

Big Oil men want to build pipelines across the Sonoran Desert so oil could be brought in on supertankers to Mexican ports in the Sea of Cortez.

I wouldn't be disappointed if this refinery plan dies. It would only increase global warming pollution and dependence on foreign oil, while harming our desert, air, water and national security.

A better idea is ethanol or biodiesel plants in Yuma County that could benefit local agriculture, help research, and provide alternative American-grown fuels.

Climate Change: Help review Desert Ice Project


TUCSON -- I received this today in my inbox, and have only glanced at it. Review is wanted so let's have some comments.

*

Dear Colleague,

My name is Ivaylo Avramov and I am writing you because of your work dedicated to climate issues. I'd like to introduce you one vision about how to tackle Climate Change consequences as part of bigger mechanism, and to hear your professional opinion regarding its feasibility.

I am conducting a research in the field of climate change (and what we could do to adapt to it). The study has multiple scientific, social, economic and political aspects.

The details are available at http://www.deserticeproject.com

There you will find a description of the project aimed to fight global warming (and many other related global problems like desertification / drought, food and water shortage, poverty, etc.) by global, complex measures.

The emphasis is on the belief that basically we can react to climate change in two key ways: 1. by intensive greening (more trees and leafs - more absorbed CO2, as well as more jobs, more income and profits, more stable economies and more well living people, etc.), 2. by sophisticated filtering and energy efficient systems not allowing heat-trapping gases to flow in the atmosphere.

Even UN admits in the latest Climate report that this problem (or chain of problems) should be considered more as economical, social and political, rather than purely environmental one.

I believe that this might be interesting for you from your perspective, and that the proposed measures could initiate a serious discussion.

Thank you in advance for any opinion, criticism or additional info.

I. Avramov
Sofia, Bulgaria

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Another Bushie bites the dust: Julie MacDonald

Gunnison's prairie dog celebrates MacDonald's demise, but her bad decisions still stand.

WASHINGTON -- Julie MacDonald, a corrupt anti-environmental and anti-science political appointee in the Bush/Cheney Interior Department, has resigned.

I and other environmentalists have been after MacDonald for years due to her frequent overruling of agency scientists, and rewriting important federal environmental decisions across Arizona and the west to benefit industry. She has no training or education in natural sciences.

All greens should now call for a formal investigation and re-opening of MacDonald's unjustified decisions.

It's great that MacDonald is finally gone from Interior, but her dirty legacy should not remain.





MacDonald tours the Sonoran Desert's Algodones Dunes with off-road lobbyists, working on ending protection for endemic endangered species.

Rare Puya berteroniana plant to flower in Arizona

SUPERIOR AZ -- From UA's Boyce Thompson Arboretum: In 2002 our exotic South American Puya plant bloomed, and caused a sensation. Conditions must have been just right this winter, because it is sending up a flower stalk once again, and should begin to bloom this weekend -- continuing for at least a few weeks, and maybe as long as late May if conditions are right.

Steve Carter, Director of Horticulture at the Arboretum, says "Puya berteroniana is both rare and spectacular to see when in flower. I know of no other one near this size in Arizona…and it is very unlikely you will see it in people's gardens. This specimen has been in our collection for more than 35 years and first bloomed just six years ago in April of 2001. One year later, it bore twin flower stalks, each about seven feet tall and topped with a beehive-size crown of metallic, blue-green flowers and bright orange anthers. This species of plant takes a long time to flower but is well worth the wait. There is truly nothing like their incredible, other-worldly looking flowers."

In other news today: Pima County moves toward greener future.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Marching for humanity on May Day in Arizona


Crowds at AZ State Capitol in PHX today for fair & humane immigration reform

TUCSON -- Big May Day march with an estimated 2500+ here in the Old Pueblo and 50000+ in Phoenix. Many marchers were critical of details in the proposed STRIVE act currently under debate in congress.

Gov. Napolitano picks best Arizona quarter design


PHOENIX -- This is it, the long awaited Arizona quarter design. It was my top pick, and clearly the top pick of most who voiced an opinion.

Great job Quarter Commission and Governor Napolitano for giving America a quarter Arizonans will be proud of. I can't wait to get my hands on one next year.

Below is the New Mexico quarter, also nice and due to be released in 08.