PROPS & DISSES: 4.2.14

By on April 1, 2014

JACKSON, WYO – BLM: Take the money and run DISS
What a mess the feds have created by selling our future to oil and gas lessees. After raising nearly $9 million from the private sector to halt drilling in the Noble Basin, now comes news that another 41,554 acres are in play in the Wyoming Range and it will take $2.6 million to make oil and gas extractors walk away from those leases, signed in 2005.

Acting under the authority of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, and amended by the Mineral Leasing Act for Acquired Lands of 1947, the Bureau of Land Management enters into various lease agreements on behalf of the Forest Service (in this case the Bridger-Teton) and accepts payment up front. It’s a recipe for disaster equal to, say, allowing PETA to run the Jackson Hole Rodeo.

Bonus money, or money paid upfront as sort of a signing bonus to secure the leases, is a standard practice but BLM should be much more cautious about accepting cash for leases it has not properly cleared with the agency for which it is negotiating. The $2.6 million advance money collected in 2005 was for a dozen parcels totaling 20,963 acres spread throughout the northern Wyoming Range, with some of the area as close as 35 miles from Jackson.

The leases have been challenged by enviros on the grounds that proper studies were not conducted, including effects on the protected Canada lynx and air quality issues. Some NEPA data seems to back up claims by environmentalists who say development in the range would be harmful. Former BTNF super Jacque Buchanan endorsed a rejection of all existing leases. That was fought successfully by pro-energy alliances.

It’s an awful lot of back and forth over comparatively minor leases that oil and gas exploration companies have shown little to no interest in exercising to date. A new study is due out in October with a final decision by May 2015.

Busman’s holiday: Hitting the Lynx DISS
How apropos that a meeting to discuss the future of a bus line that has so far survived mostly on taxpayer dollars will happen on tax deadline day, April 15.

Mass transit to a drive-through national park is an ill-fated idea from the get-go. Government-funded bloat like Lynx wouldn’t make it off the drawing board in the corporate world, but feel-good programs like mass transit always seem to find funding in a Democratic administration.

The intra-system bus line called Lynx hemorrhaged cash from day one. Nobody rode it. The cost for a ride from Riverton to Jackson was hardly better than a tank of gas to drive yourself. Busses don’t really work out West. A bus from Philly to New York, maybe. From Jackson to Yellowstone? Not so much.

It looks like the end of the line for Lynx now unless an angel investor comes forth next month or yet another pointless grant is secured with taxpayer money.

Does Idaho gov hate all animals? DISS
Idaho is blowing it on many fronts. Space limitations in this column force a concentration on just one, the latest.

Governor Clement Leroy “Butch” Otter has busied himself early in 2014 signing into law at least two complete crap bills. The 32nd governor, who has advocated gunning wolves down from low-flying aerial, has now set aside $400,000 from the state’s general fund for the extermination of the lobo. The controversial bill snuck by on the last day of the recent legislative session.

Otter also struck a blow to pigs, cows, chickens and all other livestock with the signing of the so-called “ag gag” bill. At least 17 groups have sued or voiced their opposition with the new law making it illegal to film agricultural operations or lying to gain employment at a farm or ranch with the intent of bringing to light animal abuse.

Recent atrocities in Idaho and neighboring states have been publicized only because organizations like the Humane Society and other similar animal rights groups have snuck a camera in to a facility and taped employees doing unspeakable things to livestock. Otter mistakenly believes it’s the farm owners and employers who need protection from such viral video. Really, Butch?

If you don’t want your pig-kicking rage showing up on Facebook, control yourself and stop kicking pigs. Don’t blame the messenger.

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