Well, I apologize for being somewhat absent on the blog this week. After putting a little too much weight on my back during a workout, I’ve been pretty much immobilized with back pain for most of the week. That being said, I have had a lot of time to read, and compile research for our statewide radio talk show, Voices of Montana. I’ll guarantee you’re going to find at least one or two articles of interest in this week’s Political Trough.
North Dakota’s top state and federal prosecutors say the White House is justified in singling out the state’s oil patch as part of its 2014 national drug control strategy released Wednesday.
Dramatic increases in crime in the Bakken oil-producing region of northwestern North Dakota and northeastern Montana have “overwhelmed state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies working with limited resources,” the report says.
Meanwhile, National Geographic has an in depth report from the Bakken: Bakken Oil Boom Brings Growing Pains to Small Montana Town
The K-12 Bainville School faces similar challenges. The influx of oil workers has pushed rent for run-down mobile homes to upwards of $2,500 a month. Teachers, whose salaries start at $33,000, can’t afford housing. At the same time, student enrollment has more than doubled to 165 since 2009.
Montana towns like Bainville, Portra said, are suffering the effects of the boom, while others are getting rich. The majority of the Bakken wells, and tax revenue, are in North Dakota. For oil drilled in Montana, the state takes 50 percent of tax revenue. Counties and schools across the state receive most of the remainder. Towns and cities share only one-tenth of one percent.
“Why should it come back to the local taxpayer to pony up for schools, roads, water, and police when we are sending millions to the general fund?” Portra asked.
WashingtonPost.com: Lawsuits seek to stop work at mines in 3 states
Coal industry representatives say lawsuits against mines in three Western states could have consequences across the U.S. as environmentalists seek changes in how mining is approved on federally owned reserves.
In civil cases unfolding in Colorado, New Mexico and Montana, the group WildEarth Guardians asserts coal companies benefited from lax oversight by federal regulators.
The cases involve the San Juan coal mine in New Mexico, the Colowyo and Trapper mines in Colorado, and the Spring Creek mine in Montana. Combined, they employed about 1,200 workers and produced 27 million tons of coal last year, according to federal records.
Fox News First:GARDNER DEFENDS FRACKING AS JOB CREATOR
The (Colo.) Durango Herald: “Rep. Cory Gardner[, R-Colo.], seeking to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Udall[, D-Colo.], defended hydraulic fracturing as a job creator and said bans of the practice would kill thousands of jobs ‘overnight’ in a visit to Durango on Sunday. His ‘all-of-the-above energy policy’ relies on fracking. ‘If an energy ban were to take place in this state, you would lose 120,000 jobs overnight,’ he said. ‘Twelve billion dollars in economic activity would walk away and $1 billion in tax revenues that builds roads and schools in this state. Colorado has some of, if not the most, stringent regulations in place. A hydraulic fracturing ban on the ballot would be devastating to our economy.’”
Wall Street Journal editorial: Germany’s Fracking Follies
Just when the Ukraine crisis makes clear that the need to diversify Europe’s gas supplies couldn’t be greater, Germany wants to ban fracking. “There will be no fracking for economic purposes in Germany in the near future,” German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks announced at a press conference on Friday. Under her proposal, most forms of hydraulic fracking will be prohibited until 2021.
Germany imports 90% of its gas supply. Yet the country has up to 2.3 trillion cubic meters of domestic shale gas. Germany already possesses much of the infrastructure to efficiently produce and distribute shale gas. Its 438,000 kilometers of pipelines cover much of Europe. Germans are fracking pioneers, having used fracking technology to extract tight gas since the 1960s.
Politico’s Morning Energy: CANADIAN AMBASSADOR – KEYSTONE XL MUCH BETTER THAN RAIL
Approving the Keystone XL pipeline would prevent lots of crude oil from being transported by rail, a less environmentally friendly and more dangerous method of transportation, Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer says. “For large shipments of oil, we believe that rail is less efficient, has higher greenhouse gases. The safety comparisons are pretty stark in the State Department report. And it has higher costs,” Doer said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” on Sunday. “So we think … if the decision is made on science, it’s yes. If the decision is made on politics, it’s delay and God knows what after that.” Watch: http://cs.pn/1oyS30J
OilAndGasOnline.com: U.S. Fracking Has ‘Cut Carbon More Than The Whole World’s Wind And Solar’
Fracking in the US has led to a greater reduction in carbon emissions than all the wind turbines and solar panels across the entire globe put together. This is the stark fact presented at a meeting at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg last week.
Chris Faulkner, who is chief executive of Breitling Energy Corporation based in Texas, explained: “Fracking has succeeded where Kyoto and carbon taxes have failed. Due to the shale boom in the US, the use of clean burning natural gas has replaced much more polluting coal by ten per cent. In 2012, the shift to gas has managed to reduce CO₂ emissions by about 300 megatonnes (Mt).
“Compare this to the fact that all the wind turbines and solar panels in the world reduce CO₂ emissions, at a maximum, by 275 Mt. In other words, the US shale gas revolution has by itself reduced global emissions more than all the well-intentioned solar and wind in the world.”
Montana wildlife officials have dropped their plans to cancel this year’s sage grouse hunting season, and they are instead proposing to severely limit where the game birds can be pursued because of their low numbers.
The state Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to vote Thursday on the plan to close hunting in all or parts of 32 counties across northern, eastern and southern Montana, in addition to the 11 western counties that are already closed.
Yep, so rather than deal with the real problem- the predators targeting sage grouse- hunters, farmers, ranchers, and the energy industry will bear the burden.
Meanwhile, Democratic US Senate candidate John Walsh (D-MT) says the threat of listing the sage grouse on the endangered species list…is a good thing?
An obscure, chicken-sized bird best known for its mating dance could help determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. Senate in November.
Two Republican congressmen running for the U.S. Senate in Montana and Colorado, Steve Daines and Cory Gardner, are co-sponsoring legislation that would prevent the federal government from listing the bird for a decade as long as states try to protect it.
“Montanans want locally driven solutions,” Daines said in an interview. “They don’t want bureaucrats thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C., dictating what should happen.”
Environmentalists and the two Democratic senators being challenged, John Walsh in Montana and Mark Udall in Colorado, oppose the idea. They say they don’t want a listing, either, but that the threat of one is needed to push states to protect the bird.
National Review: Meet the Bird That Could Drop a Spoiler on Senate Races
Wall Street Journal editorial: Dissidents and Diplomacy in Beijing; The illegal detention of Liu Xia should be on the U.S. agenda.
John Kerry and other senior U.S. officials are in Beijing this week for the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which involves private jousting over matters such as currency policy and cyberespionage, along with public diplomacy such as Tuesday’s tour of the Great Wall. Unfortunately not on the agenda: a U.S. visit to the Beijing home of ailing artist Liu Xia, who is under illegal house arrest for the apparent crime of being married to imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo.
Since being cut off from outside contact in October 2010—alone in her one-bedroom apartment without access to mail, email or the phone—Ms. Liu, 53, has battled severe depression and in February suffered a heart attack, for which she initially received one day’s treatment in hospital. Yet Beijing insists that she is under “no legal restriction.” If so, U.S. Ambassador Max Baucus or another diplomat should be able to visit her.
Politico’s Playbook: PRESIDENT OBAMA is waking up in Colorado, where he’s the lead story of The Denver Post: “Denver Visit: Obama sits down with Coloradans — President talks economy as immigration crisis roils.” Below the fold, “IMMIGRATION EMERGENCY: White House seeks funds [$3.7b] to handle young migrants flooding the border.” See the front page. http://bit.ly/1k4PfUM
Politico’s Morning Energy: HOUSE SPENDING BILL SEEKS TO BLOCK EPA CLIMATE RULES
Unsurprisingly, the House’s 2015 Interior-EPA spending bill includes a provision blocking EPA’s new climate rules and other regulations. The $30.2 billion bill includes $7.5 billion for EPA, a 9 percent cut over 2014 enacted levels, according to the Appropriations Committee. Besides cutting funds for agency leadership and holding staff at its lowest level since 1989, the bill also includes provisions prohibiting funds from going toward enforcing greenhouse gas emissions rules or EPA’s recently proposed ‘Waters of the U.S.’ rule on Clean Water Act jurisdiction. It’s not clear whether such language could make it out of Congress, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that he would fight to block any such anti-EPA provisions.
The purchase would benefit customers because energy prices would be based on the cost of production and not on varying prices NorthWestern pays for power on the open market, he said.
If the sale goes through, NorthWestern’s 342,000 electricity customers will see an immediate rate increase of 5 to 7 percent, Larcombe said. That would add $4 to $6 to an average customer’s electric bill each month.
The Montana Consumer Counsel, which represents the interests of utility consumers, has raised concerns that the price NorthWestern is paying for the dams is too high.
If you think the price of gas is high, imagine paying up to $6 a gallon.
That’s what energy expert Dan Steffens thinks the price could be if not for the domestic oil boom.
“With what’s going on the Middle East, I think it would five or six bucks (a gallon),” said Steffens, president of the Energy Prospectus Group out of Houston. “If it wasn’t for the shale revolution, you’d be in big trouble.”
The Supreme Court is the most libertarian branch of the federal government.
Yes, the Supreme Court. The same body that once ruled the federal government had the authority to regulate wheat grown for home consumption — under the odd rationale that wheat not being sold was subject to the constitutional provisions giving Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce — is now perhaps the only part of our three-part system of governance that still believes in limited government.
Fox News First: OBAMA GETTING COLD SHOULDER IN COLORADO
If President Obama is as thin-skinned as his critics say then his ego is in for a bruising in Colorado today. Obama will be campaigning in the Centennial State – one of the key battlegrounds in his bid to hold the Senate for his party – but neither the incumbent senator he is trying to save nor other top-tier Democratic candidates will appear in public with the president. Adding insult to injury, embattled incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., will appear in private with Obama tomorrow for the president to tap his extensive donor network in the state. Udall’s team cited scheduling problems that would keep the senator, locked in a toss-up race with challenger Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., from appearing at a daytime campaign event where there will be reporters present. But Udall’s schedule will clear up just in time for the senator to arrive at a closed-door donor event in Denver. Even more galling: Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, facing a tough re-election test, and Andrew Romanoff, the former state House speaker now running for a seat in Congress, will both be no shows for Obama. Candidates ditching unpopular incumbents in public is nothing new, but the Colorado case is telling for Obama and his party this cycle.
— Aaron Flint (@aaronflint) July 8, 2014
More Government= More Expensive Beer?
The last six-pack of beer I bought ran me about $11. It was a craft Altbier from Wisconsin, and it was lovely. It was also 44% more expensive than it needed to be. Yep, it turns out if you total up all the taxes “levied on the production, distribution and retailing of beer,” according to the Beer Institute, they add 44% to the retail price. My Altbier pack could have cost just $6.60, which definitely would have made it even more delicious.
The trailers were great, but the movie was horrible.
Six years in, that’s the general consensus on the Obama presidency. Having ridden a wave of “hope and change” to the White House, President Barack Obama has failed to deliver on his huge box office, err, ballot box expectations.
A Quinnipiac poll released in America this week has Obama ranked as the “worst president” since World War II.
Now, for a roundup of news concerning the chaos on our Southern border here in the US.
There’s still the big unanswered question. Who or what is behind this apparent, suddenly-organized effort? After all, extreme poverty and violence have existed in these countries for years. It’s hard to argue that there was a more violent time than when the Medillin drug cartel and Pablo Escobar ruled Colombia in the 1980’s, yet were there similar reports of a giant influx of unaccompanied Colombian children at the border? The violence in some Mexican cities, such as Juarez, has reached a peak this decade–yet Mexico isn’t on the list of the top three countries sending unaccompanied children into the U.S. And the number of Mexican children coming into the U.S. illegally–while above 10,000–isn’t reported to have surged in the same fashion as it has from three Central American nations.
The facts suggest an organized effort in these particular nations, as well as an established trafficking pipeline. It’s unlikely that tens of thousands of children could safely travel through Mexico without assistance or approval from the violent drug cartels that rule many parts of the country, as well as the tacit approval by some in the Mexican government. Indeed, if the children were to make it only as far as Mexico before being stopped, and became the Mexican government’s responsibility, one could imagine the influx might be halted rather abruptly.
If the Daily Beast is correct about the drug cartels’ involvement in the trafficking, then, by being a haven for some of the children who make it to the border, the U.S. is inadvertently serving the profit motives of the violent cartels and human traffickers, feeding the businesses of those who are moving the kids, helping them create a bigger market, more demand and higher prices.
“I kept thinking [during the Johnson interview] that you need to change your slogan at the beginning of your show,” Labrador stated. “Instead of, ‘If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press,’ it should be ‘If it’s Sunday, it’s another administration official making stuff up on Meet the Press.’ It’s really shameful.”
That didn’t sit well with Gregory, who demanded to know what Johnson had made up during his appearance.
“Look at what he said. He said the number one reason these children are coming to the United States is because of the violence in these Central American countries. The reality is that the violence has existed in these Central American countries for a long period of time,” Labrador responded.
The vast majority of 50,000 unaccompanied youths and children who have illegally crossed the Texas border during the last few months have been successfully delivered by federal agencies to their relatives living in the United States, according to a New York Times article.
A second New York Times article report revealed that officials have caught an additional 240,000 Central American migrants since April, and are transporting many of them to their destinations throughout the United States.
The 290,000 illegals — so far — are exploiting legal loopholes that allow them to get temporary permits to stay in the United States.
The number of illegal immigrants is so high that the Border Patrol can barely cope. From last October to the end of May, 162,000 people from countries “other than Mexico” have entered the United States across the southern border. That’s a nearly 100 percent increase from the previous year. Three-quarters of those crossed in the Rio Grande Valley. Among them were 47,017 unaccompanied children, sent by family in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador or Nicaragua to join relatives in the United States.
The unaccompanied minors present a complex problem for authorities. They can’t be immediately sent back – and they can’t be left alone in the U.S. to fend for themselves. They are supposed to be handed off to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours, but the sheer numbers of children has left some of them languishing in crowded Border Patrol stations longer than that.
Breitbart.com: Why the White House Wants Amnesty
According to statistics provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, President Obama has now significantly decreased the number of illegal immigrants aged under 18 deported or turned away at the border. That statistic has decreased some 488% under President Obama, from 8,143 the last year of President Bush’s administration to 1,669 last year. Meanwhile, the Bush administration deported some 600 minors on average each year; Obama deported 95 last year.
Those statistics demonstrate that George W. Bush was dramatically lax on illegal immigration. But they also demonstrate that President Obama is even more lax – and that laxity has resulted in tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors pouring across America’s southern border.