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.”

Thursday, January 16, 2014

People want AZ lawmakers to stand strong for fair, clean elections

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- Action alert today from Arizona Advocacy Network: Send this message to Democratic State Lawmakers now: 

After the last minute passage of HB2305 during the 2013 session, I currently don't believe Republican lawmakers will keep their word on any deals and neither should you. I have four respectful requests that will help you, me and the Arizona Progressive Community succeed this year:

1. Oppose Reps. Mesnard's and Boyer's attempt to refer anti-Clean Elections measures to the ballot. A deal was made in 2012 and they dishonor the parties and the Centennial Legislature that struck the compromise with citizen groups.

2. Support legislation that strengthens Clean Elections if introduced. Push for a committee hearing and passage.

3. Oppose any "HB2593 fix" to block an emergency clause. You and I need this for negotiating during the last hours of the session to ensure any compromises on legislation are honored.

4. Oppose the repeal of HB2305. We turned in over 154,000 signatures so voters could decide whether these anti-voter laws should take effect and possibly voter protect these provisions from passing again. Republicans are likely to pass portions of the law that will hurt voters and turnout on Election Day if they successfully repeal HB2305.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My view on AZ Gov. Brewer's State of the State: Capture of CPS to Gov's office, ending confirmation process

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's embarrassment at Child Protective Services’ failure is understandable, as is her desire to change the agency. I wish her good luck.

She should’ve started CPS reform by firing her pick to oversee the agency, Clarence Carter, but she hasn’t, a troubling indicator of Brewer's weakness here.

Brewer's move to capture CPS into the Governor’s office, and grant herself exclusive authority to appoint the director, ending Senate confirmation and participation by the minority, harms the public interest for democratic checks and balances. Certainly the legislature has also failed to protect Arizona's most vulnerable kids, but Arizonans may suffer more cronyism with CPS run from the Governor’s office with less oversight and transparency.

An executive branch usurpation is an executive branch usurpation, no matter their political party. Governors always want more power. But power grabs seldom benefit the common good long term.

See Brewer channels her inner Obama
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Monday, January 06, 2014

Follow @DanPattersonUSA in 2014 for breaking news & views

TUCSON -- For breaking news on environment, politics, labor, immigration, my plans and other big issues, please follow me @DanPattersonUSA &/or like my facebook page. Thanks!