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News releases news reports and official statements of interest to South of Flagstaff residents and visitors are reproduced here. These news items are originated by various Coconino County agencies, the Forest Service and various federal agencies, the State of Arizona, and other entities.

South of Flagstaff
News and Information

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March 25, 2013

Earth Justice

 

Roadless Rule Survives Final Legal Challenge

 

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today ended a challenge by the state of Alaska against a nationwide Clinton-era rule protecting tens of millions of acres of roadless forest lands from logging and road building.

The Alaska case was the final litigation challenging the rule nationwide. The court held that no further challenges are allowed, because the statute of limitations has run out.

Earthjustice attorney Tom Waldo said, “This is a complete victory for the Roadless Rule. It means that it’s too late not only for the state of Alaska, but for anyone to file lawsuits against the rule, which has withstood every legal challenge. The Forest Service adopted it with overwhelming public support. It is important for clean water, fish, wildlife and recreation in the remaining intact areas of the national forests. American families cherish these places for camping, hiking, fishing, boating, hunting and all kinds of other recreation. The Roadless Rule ensures they will be available for generations to come.”

The court dismissed the state’s lawsuit for being filed after the six-year statute of limitations. Conservation groups who helped galvanize a citizens’ campaign in the late 1990s to protect America’s last wild national forest lands breathed a sigh of relief after more than a decade of legal challenges.

The State of Alaska’s case, though focused on state issues, sought to strike down the Roadless Rule nationwide. The federal government defended the rule with conservation groups allowed into the case as intervenors. On the side of Alaska, industry-aligned interests also intervened.

Last fall, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal on a similar lawsuit brought by the State of Wyoming and a mining industry group from Colorado. The 2001 Roadless Rule prohibits new road construction and logging on large undeveloped areas of national forest land across the U.S. that includes parts of the Tongass and Chugach national forests in Alaska.

The Department of Justice and the conservation group intervenors filed motions to dismiss the Alaska case, arguing the state missed the statute of limitations. Attorneys for Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) represented the conservation groups.

In the intervention, Earthjustice and NRDC represented: Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Alaska Center for the Environment, The Boat Company, NRDC, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Tongass Conservation Society, Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace.

 

 

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March 13, 2013

SoFA Staff

 

ACC Joins Challenge To EPA Order

 

The Arizona Corporation Commission voted Tuesday to file an amicus brief in federal appeals court supporting the state’s challenge to pollution control upgrades at three coal-fired power plants

Arizona's Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) officials announced in February that the Attorney General’s Office had filed an appeal at the request of ADEQ with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to disapprove portions of the state’s air quality implementation plan. The stated goal of the is to improve visibility in national parks and wilderness areas.

The EPA ordered the installation of costly air pollution controls for nitrogen oxide emissions at Cholla, Coronado and Apache the coal-fired Arizona power plants.

Whether nitrogen oxide emissions are the true cause of haze at the parks and wilderness areas is the subject of scientific dispute.

The ACC says the EPA’s decision doesn’t strike the right balance between environmental stewardship and protection of Arizona’s economy. The commission also says it will file objections to the EPA-ordered pollution control upgrades at the Navajo Generating Station.

 

 

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March 11, 2013

SoFA Staff

 

Voter Registration At Issue

 

An Arizona election law is going before the US Supreme Court this month. Oral argument is set for March 18th.

The case is Arizona vs. Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation that administers federal, state and private grants and contracts in a variety of areas including health, research, and environmental quality for member tribes in Arizona.

The law at issue is known as the "Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act". The law requires that registered voters be required to show proof that they are citizens of the United States.

The main issue in this case is the National Voter Registration Act, (Motor Voter Act). One motive behind the Motor Voter Act was an attempt to create uniformity with respect to voter registration in an effort to increase the number of registered voters. One such device was registering to vote by mail, or when one applied for driver’s license or had one renewed.

As part of that federal attempt at uniformity, the actual registration form asks two questions at the top which all states must also ask: Will you be 18 years old by time the next election occurs? And, “Are you a citizen of the United States?” If a person answers “Yes” to both questions, then they can be registered to vote.

Arizona went a step further by requiring actual proof of US citizenship before a person could actually be registered to vote. This provision was motivated by complaints that Motor Voter registration allowed the large population of illegal aliens to vote in Arizona.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the Arizona law was unconstitutional, based on the Elections Clause in the United States Constitution.

Article I, Section 4 is the Elections Clause that section of the law states: “The times, places and manners for holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each state by the legislatures thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations…”

 

 

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March 9, 2013

Col. D. Branson

 

Jury Duty Scam

 

Identify Theft Prevention

 

Here is how the attempt to gain your personal information works: It begins with an official sounding telephone call to you. 

The caller claims to be a Jury Duty Coordinator. He/she informs you that you that because you failed to appear for jury duty, a bench warrant has been issued for your arrest.

When you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the caller asks you for your Social Security Number and date of birth, so he/she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant.

If you give them any of this information; your identity was just stolen.

The fraud has been reported so far in a number of states, including Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, Arizona, and Colorado. This scam is particularly insidious because they use intimidation over the phone to try to bully people into giving information by pretending they are with the court system.

The FBI and the federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their web sites, warning consumers about the fraud.

Check it out here:

http://www.fbi.gov/page2/june06/jury_scams060206.htm

 

 

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March 5, 2013

SoFA Staff

 

Sequester Spending Reduction Not Visible Locally

 

A telephone survey of locals known to use federal government services has not identified any impacts, including Northern Arizona national parks and monuments.

However, that may change. The Washington Times yesterday reported on:

"An administration email that seemed to show at least one agency has been instructed to make sure the cuts are as painful as President Obama promised they would be."

"In the internal email, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service official Charles Brown said he asked if he could try to spread out the sequester cuts in his region to minimize the impact, and he said he was told not to do anything that would lessen the dire impacts Congress had been warned of."

Sequestration related service reductions were predicted at the Grand Canyon, so those changes may soon become known.

 

 

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March 5, 2013

NRA-ILA

 

Arizona CCW Permit Holders No Longer Welcome in Nevada 

 

On February 28, the Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association (NvSCA) voted unanimously to cease recognition of Arizona’s concealed weapon permits (CCW), effective immediately.

In the press release issued, NvSCA cited a Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS) audit, finding that Arizona had recently made changes to their training requirements for CCW permits.  According to the NvSCA press release, “these changes created a substantially dissimilar training requirement in comparison to Nevada.”

The Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS) annually reviews the CCW issuance policies of each state to determine whether or not their statutes are similar or more stringent than Nevada's and whether or not the state has an electronic database which is accessible 24 hours a day that identifies each permit holder.

For a complete list of states with permits recognized by Nevada, please visit the DPS website.

 

 

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March 5, 2013

DOI

 

Federal Agencies Announce Action Plan to Guide Protection of Indian Sacred Sites

 

WASHINGTON – As part of President Obama’s commitment to honoring a nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country, four cabinet-level departments today joined the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in releasing an action plan to strengthen the protection of Indian sacred sites and provide greater tribal access to these heritage areas. The interagency plan is required by the Memorandum of Understanding signed in December 2012 by the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Interior and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation regarding coordination and collaboration for the protection of sacred sites.

“The federal family has a special, shared responsibility to respect and foster American Indian and Alaska Native cultural and religious heritage, and this action plan will guide us in that important role,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. “We have dedicated considerable staff and resources to address this important issue and will continue to work with the tribes and their spiritual and religious leaders to carry-out the action plan.”

"The Obama administration has taken a number of steps to ensure that American Indians and Alaska Natives have full access to the programs and services offered across the federal government,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Since 2009, USDA has stepped up Tribal consultation efforts. We understand the importance of these sites and will continue to make sure Tribes have full access to the resources they need in their communities.”

"Protecting America's air and water and our nation's heritage is an important part of the Energy Department's commitment to Tribal Nations across the country, particularly those that are neighbors to the Department's National Laboratories, sites and facilities," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "I look forward to continuing this important work and collaborating with other federal agencies and Tribal Nations to protect Indian sacred sites throughout the United States."

"Through collaboration and consultation, the signatory agencies are working together to raise awareness about Indian sacred sites and the importance of maintaining their integrity,” said Milford Wayne Donaldson, chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. “The tools to be developed under this action plan will help agencies meet their Section 106 responsibilities while affording greater protections for sacred sites. The Advisory Council is very pleased to be part of this historic initiative to address the protection and preservation of Indian sacred sites."

The MOU, unveiled at the White House Tribal Nations Conference in 2012, will be in effect for five years. The MOU commits the signatory agencies to work together to achieve enhanced and improved interdepartmental coordination and collaboration to improve the protection of and tribal access to Indian sacred sites. Among other things, the MOU commits the participating agencies to work together on developing guidance on the management and treatment of sacred sites, on identifying and recommending ways to overcome impediments to the protection of such sites while preserving the sites’ confidentiality, on creating a training program for federal staff and on developing outreach plans to both the public and to non-Federal partners.

The Action Plan includes:

  • A Mission Statement that commits the agencies to work together to improve the protection of and tribal access to Indian sacred sites, in accordance with Executive Order 13007 and the MOU, through enhanced and improved interdepartmental coordination, collaboration and consultation with tribes;
  • A list of actions the agencies will undertake together;
  • A commitment to consultation with Indian tribes in developing and implementing the actions outlined in the plan to ensure meaningful strategies for protecting sacred sites;
  • The establishment of a standing working committee made up of designated senior staff from the participating agencies, as well as other subject matter experts from the participating agencies as needed, to carry out the stipulations of the MOU; and
  • The commitment of the Agencies to designate senior level officials to serve as members of a Core Working Group, which the Department of the Interior will Chair.

Secretary Salazar also announced that Interior plans to provide a report on the Department’s Tribal Listening Sessions on Sacred Sites. Last year, the Department held several Tribal Listening Sessions across the country to elicit tribal and spiritual leaders concerns regarding sacred sites.

A copy of the action plan is available here.

 

 

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March 4, 2013

ADOT

 

ADOT engineers conduct geotechnical analysis at US 89 landslide

 

YouTube video explains work of agency's geotechnical engineers

PHOENIX — Before the Arizona Department of Transportation can move forward with a design to potentially repair the damaged section of US 89 south of Page, the agency needs to determine the mountain slope has stabilized after last week’s landslide. That’s where the work of the geotechnical engineers comes into play.Aerial view of US 89

Earlier this week, ADOT received environmental clearance and geotechnical engineers began drilling shafts to deploy equipment called inclinometers beneath the ground surface. These plastic pipes will measure slope movement at a specific location.

“This week we know we had an event (on Feb. 20) with a landslide and it’s not a typical landslide,” said Steve Boschen, ADOT deputy state engineer of design. “It’s a deep-seated bedrock-type slip. We are looking at somewhere between 100 and 150 feet and that’s why we had 10 inclinometers installed right now.”

In addition to inclinometers, ADOT is using several other tools to learn what’s happening underneath the foundation of US 89. Extensometers are being deployed above the ground to measure changes in tension from the bottom of the slope to the top with a pulley device that has a 30-pound weight registered to a scale.

ADOT is also using a three-dimensional laser scanner, called LiDAR, to map the landslide from the ground, while an aerial digital terrain map was created by flying above the ground.

US 89 will remain closed for the immediate future. There is no timetable to reopen the highway, which has approximately 500 feet of damage, including 150 feet of pavement that settled four-to-six feet due to a landslide and failure of the slope.

ADOT’s video team traveled to the site to get a first-hand look, and captured videos and interviews with the geotechnical engineers. The video is now available on ADOT’s YouTube page.

ADOT has recently launched a range of communication tools, including a new webpage (azdot.gov/us89) dedicated to keeping the public informed about the status of the closure and alternate travel routes, complemented by captivating video and photos of the roadway damage on US 89.

For more information on ADOT’s geotechnical analysis, please visit the ADOT Blog.

 

 

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March 2, 2013

SoFA Staff

 

School Bond Money Cannot Be Re-purposed

 

A three-judge Arizona Court of Appeals panel ruled on Thursday that school districts cannot spend unused bond money without voter authorization.

The law passed in2010 allowed school districts to spend excess bond money for purposes not authorized in the original bond election. The ruling applies to all Arizona school districts.

The decision could possibly be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court by the Cave Creek Unified School District. The lawsuit against the District was brought by the Goldwater Institute.

 

 

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March 1, 2013

Coconino County

 

Planet Subaru ‘Shares Love’ with County Meals on Wheels

 

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Coconino County Meals on Wheels Program benefited from $2,000 in funds from the Planet Nissan Subaru “Share the Love” event in December.

Planet Nissan Subaru assisted the County’s meal program through the Meals on Wheels Association of America. In December, Subaru purchasers could designate the cause of their choice for a $250 donation, some of which went to the local Meals on Wheels.

“Because of this funding, several of our homebound residents will receive a good meal, which was made possible by the good intensions of our local communities,” said Janet Regner, director of County Community Services Department, of which the County’s Meals on Wheels program is a part. “We thank Planet Nissan Subaru for partnering with our organization to help serve those in need.”

In Flagstaff, Planet Nissan Subaru staff braved a snowy December day to help deliver meals so the County could qualify to apply for the support.

“We’re proud to represent Subaru and its commitment to the Share the Love event,” said Nevin Foster, Planet Nissan Subaru general manager. “Planet Subaru is very happy it could coordinate its efforts for its second year with Meals on Wheels keeping some of the money raised during the Share the Love Event in Flagstaff.  Planet Subaru looks forward to working with Meals on Wheels in Flagstaff and its efforts in the local community.”

The funds will be used to offset rising food costs for the county program delivering up to 100 meals on wheels per weekday in Flagstaff and Williams.

 

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March 1, 2013

Coconino County

 

Coconino County Declares Emergency in US 89 Collapse

 

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Coconino County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Liz Archuleta today signed a Declaration of Emergency in response to the Feb. 20 collapse of US 89 south of Page.

"The closure of US 89 to Page has disrupted many lives that rely on that stretch of roadway as part of daily life," Supervisor Archuleta said. "Coconino County will continue to aid the Arizona Department of Transportation in minimizing the impact of this road closure on our county residents to the best of our abilities."

The County joins the Navajo Nation, City of Page and State of Arizona, all of which have issued similar declarations. On Friday, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a state declaration of emergency, freeing up additional state resources to aid in the quick assessment and repair of US 89.

Early Feb. 20, 2013, ADOT indefinitely closed a stretch of US 89 after a 150-foot section of roadway buckled and slid several feet down a steep mountainside known as the "Big Cut" 25 miles south of Page. County staff continues to work with ADOT, Navajo Nation and Page officials to address the collapse and the needs of the community.

"Our businesses throughout the Page area are still concerned about the impact the closure will have on their upcoming tourist season," said Supervisor Lena Fowler, whose district includes Page. "By working together with our partners in ADOT, the Navajo Nation and the State of Arizona, our local residents and businesses can be assured that all options to provide access to the Page area are being explored."

In an effort to keep County residents, travelers and visitors informed about repairs and traffic information, the County has established a website for US 89 critical information. From the County’s homepage at www.coconino.az.gov. visitors can gain the latest news and updates. ADOT has also created dedicated website to the US 89 collapse, which can be found at www.azdot.gov/us89.

Visitors to the County site can also print a map detailing alternative routes Page. Currently, there are two alternative roadways to Page from Flagstaff:

 Taking US 89 to US 160 through Tuba City and continuing north on US 98.

 Taking US 89A west through Marble Canyon, into Kanab, Utah and continuing east on US 89.

Motorists are asked to keep from using unpaved roadways throughout the area to Page, especially N 20 and N21. While many unpaved roads are properly maintained by the County and are passible, they are intended for use by local residents and are not designed to serve as a bypass route for highway traffic or heavy trucks – some of which have got stuck in the sand.

 

 

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February 27, 2013

BLM

 

BLM Issues First Rapid Ecoregional Assessment for Colorado Plateau

 

The BLM today issued its first Rapid Ecoregional Assessment, or REA, summarizing the conditions of the Colorado Plateau, one of the west’s iconic ecological regions.

The initial REA encompass lands in four states, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. It has an area of 32,387 square miles and includes land administered by 16 BLM field offices.

Additional REAs covering the Central Basin and Range, Mojave Basin and Range, Northwestern Plains, Middle Rockies, Sonoran Desert and the Seward Peninsula-Nulato Hills-Kotzebue Lowlands ecoregions will be forthcoming later this year. All of the REAs the BLM is creating are prepared in cooperation with other Federal and state land management agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of the Interior’s lead science agency.
“Rapid Ecoregional Assessments are aimed at sustaining the health and productivity of America’s public lands,” Acting BLM Director Mike Pool said. “They use existing scientific information to identify resource conditions and trends within an ecoregion, a large geographic area that shares similar ecological characteristics. Their large-scale approach is designed to help us identify patterns of environmental change that may not be evident when managing smaller land areas.”
“With their specific focus on climate change and other related factors altering the landscape of the West, the REAs will help the BLM better focus its efforts to meet President Obama’s call to ‘act before it is too late.’ They offer the BLM a way to integrate its conservation, restoration, and development programs in a cohesive manner as it works with its partners to maintain the health and prosperity of the public lands.”
REAs gather and synthesize existing data for all the lands in an ecoregion. They help identify important habitats for fish, wildlife, and species of concern. REAs also help identify areas that are not ecologically intact or readily restorable; and where development activities, such as transmission lines, may be directed to minimize potential impacts. REAs then gauge the potential of these habitats to be affected by four overarching environmental change agents: climate change, wildfires, invasive species, and urban and energy development. In contrast to more traditional BLM studies, the REAS do not assess the conditions of specific areas, such as grazing allotments, nor do they describe desired future conditions.
The REAs provide science-based information and tools for land managers and stakeholders to consider in subsequent resource planning and decision-making processes, such as Resource Management Plans and Environmental Impact Statements. The REAs themselves do not contain findings and recommendations, nor do they make management decisions or allocate resource uses. The information, maps, and tools provided by the REAs should strengthen BLM’s analyses of the projected and cumulative effects of various management scenarios.
“REAs can help us identify where the best opportunities exist for conserving or restoring key areas,” Pool added. “We are working at all levels of the agency, and with our many partners who participated in developing these REAs, to ensure this information is used when we develop management strategies to deal with broad-scale issues such as Greater Sage-Grouse conservation. We’re aware that other groups, such as the Western Governors’ Association, are working on broad-scale assessments and we encourage people who use the REAs to consider the results of these other assessments as well.”

Initial funding for the REAs came from the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009.

The BLM, working with its partners, subsequently initiated additional REAs in the Northern Basin and Range, Snake River Plain and Wyoming Basin, and Yukon River Lowlands/Kuskokwim Mountains/Lime Hills ecoregions. The BLM has initiated pre-assessment activities for potential REAs in the Chihuahuan Desert, Southern Great Plains (3 ecoregions), Madrean Archipelago, and the Beaufort Coastal Plain, Brooks Hills ecoregions.
The REAs will be made available on the internet as the data is released. The public release of each of the REAs will be followed by a public briefing that will be announced by the BLM in the local media.

 

 

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February 26, 2013

Forest Service

 

Forest Service Provides Early Opportunity To Preview 4FRI Draft Environmental Impact Statement

 

The Forest Service is providing the public with an early opportunity to preview the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI). The DEIS for the first analysis area on the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests has been posted to the 4FRI website at www.fs.usda.gov/main/4fri/planning.

In response to public input, the Forest Service will offer a 60-day formal comment period on the DEIS, which will begin with the publication of the Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register. The NOA is expected to be published in late March.

In order to allow additional time for public consideration of this extensive document, online access to the DEIS is being made available by the Forest Service prior to the official start of the formal comment period.

“There are numerous individuals and groups with an interest in this document,” said Coconino National Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart. “We wanted to provide as much time as possible for people to digest the information and begin to form comments and questions.”

When the official NOA is published, the Forest Service will announce dates for public meetings. The public meetings will provide interested individuals the opportunity to learn more about the DEIS and comment on its contents.

The DEIS analyzes about one million acres on the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests in northern Arizona. The document, which is significant due to its scope, was developed in collaboration with many individuals, groups and agencies.

 

 

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February 25, 2013

SoFA Staff

 

New Congressional Budget Office budget and economic projection for the next ten years

 

Here is the link for the CBO's budget and economic outlook for the next ten years: 

 

 

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February 26, 2013

DOI

 

Secretary Salazar: Renewable Energy on Public Lands and Waters Making Rapid Advances

 

Looming sequester threatens to slow progress on permitting

 

BOSTON – The Obama Administration’s renewable energy program has authorized dozens of renewable energy projects on public lands and will hold the first-ever auctions for commercial wind development in the Atlantic this year, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told offshore wind stakeholders at a conference in Boston today. Salazar noted that the rapid progress – as well as conventional oil and gas development on federal lands and waters – could be stymied by potential cuts under sequestration.

“We have made impressive gains, approving dozens of utility-scale solar, wind and geothermal projects in the West and transitioning from planning to commercial leasing for offshore wind,” Salazar told about 300 industry leaders in a keynote address at the Offshore Wind Power USA Conference. “The potentially devastating impact of budget reductions under sequestration could slow our economy and hurt energy sector workers and businesses.”

Salazar said he elevated renewable energy development to a departmental priority and Interior worked with industry, state, tribal and local partners to approve 34 projects on public lands in western states and to build an offshore regulatory framework in the Atlantic. The 18 utility-scale solar facilities, 7 commercial wind farms and 9 geothermal plants Interior green-lighted onshore would provide 10,400 megawatts when built, enough to power 3.4 million homes. The developers estimate that these projects would support 13,000 construction and operations jobs.

Mandatory budget cuts under sequestration, however, could delay Interior’s ability to issue permits for new development, plan for new projects, conduct environmental reviews and lease new federal lands for future development – both for renewable and conventional energy. Delays in offshore oil and gas permitting in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, could affect more than 500 exploration plans and development documents that are anticipated for review this year.

Onshore, nearly 300 oil and gas leases issued for public land in western states could be threatened under sequestration, delaying prospective production and deferring payments to the states and the U.S. Treasury. Delays in coal leasing could defer $50-60 millions of dollars in revenue sharing among states and the Treasury. Sequestration could have serious consequences for the emerging domestic renewable energy industry. The cuts would mean fewer studies, fewer opportunities to obtain meaningful stakeholder input, and delays in identification of potential use conflicts. The result could be a slower pace in identifying and leasing wind energy areas in federal waters, adversely impacting Interior’s ability to address offshore renewable energy management in a timely manner.

Under a ‘Smart-from-the-Start’ strategy, Interior has identified six Wind Energy Areas along the Atlantic coast that contain the greatest wind potential and fewest conflicts with competing uses. Interior has already issued two non-competitive commercial wind leases, one off Massachusetts and another off Delaware, and is moving forward with the first-ever competitive lease sales for Wind Energy Areas off Virginia and Rhode Island/Massachusetts, which will offer nearly 278,000 acres for development. The areas proposed could support more than 4,000 megawatts of wind generation – enough electricity to power 1.4 million homes. Salazar also signed a lease and approved a Construction and Operations Plan for the 130-turbine Cape Wind project, the first commercial wind development slated for federal offshore waters.

Calling 2013 a pivotal year for the industry, Salazar said Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will propose additional commercial lease sales this year for Wind Energy Areas offshore New Jersey, Maryland and Massachusetts and is working to determine industry interest in three areas off North Carolina. BOEM also is processing a lease request from a company with Department of Energy funding to develop cutting-edge floating wind turbines in federal waters off Maine. Other demonstration projects are proposed off Virginia and Oregon.

In addition, BOEM is considering a mid-Atlantic wind energy transmission line that would 7,000 megawatts of wind turbine capacity to the grid. This Atlantic Wind Connection would run from southern Virginia to northern New Jersey, collecting power produced by wind facilities off New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia and bringing it ashore.

 

 

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February 25, 2013

ADOT

 

Drivers have options to avoid US 89 closure south of Page

 

US 89A, State Route 98, US 160 remain open

PHOENIX — While US 89 is expected to remain closed indefinitely due to last Wednesday’s landslide 25 miles south of Page, motorists should consider their options and allow extra travel time if they are traveling between Flagstaff and Lake Powell or into Arizona from southern Utah via Page, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

A 23-mile-long stretch of US 89 (mileposts 523-546) is currently closed between the US 89A junction near Bitter Springs to the State Route 98 junction near Page.

Alternate routes include traveling east for 50 miles on US 160 to State Route 98 and northwest on SR 98 for 65 miles to Page. The detour adds an additional 45 miles over the direct route.

Motorists also have the option to take northbound US 89A through Marble Canyon toward Fredonia to reconnect to US 89 in southern Utah. On this scenic stretch, drivers may take a pit stop at the Marble Canyon-Navajo Bridge Rest Area. Motorists can reach Page using this route by traveling north to US 89 in Kanab, Utah and southbound on US 89. It’s an additional 80 miles longer than the direct route.

Drivers traveling from Utah to Phoenix can also consider taking Interstate 15 toward Las Vegas before connecting to southbound US 93 in Arizona to US 60 into the Phoenix area.

ADOT is also urging all commercial truck traffic to use one of the proposed alternate routes on state highways and avoid traveling on any local roads.

US 89 will remain closed for the immediate future. There is no timetable to reopen the highway, which has approximately 500 feet of damage, including 150 feet of pavement that buckled four-to-six feet due to a landslide and failure of the slope.

For up-to-date information on the US 89 closure, please visit www.azdot.gov/us89.

 

 

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February 22, 2013

Office of the Governor

 

Governor Jan Brewer Launches Online Tool to Promote Accountability in Arizona Education

 

Online Calculator Removes the Mystery from Performance Funding

 

PHOENIX – Governor Jan Brewer today announced the launch of an online tool that will help Arizona parents, students, teachers and school leaders see how newly-proposed performance funding will benefit their local schools. The online tool can be viewed at: http://azgovernor.gov/K-12-PF-Calc.asp.

With the launch of the online K-12 Performance Funding Calculator, anyone can determine exactly how the Governor’s performance funding system will financially impact individual school districts and charter schools. Users who visit the webpage will be prompted to enter the "A-F" score for their district or charter school, followed by a projected 2013 score. The calculator will then determine, based on the district’s level of improvement and achievement, the amount of supplemental, per pupil funding it could expect to receive for the next school year.

"Performance funding is a huge step toward funding the academic achievement we want to see in our schools. With this Performance Funding Calculator, Arizona parents, teachers and students can see how performance funding will help their individual school," said Governor Brewer. "Transparency is critical to any education reform of this magnitude, so I’m excited this new calculator will help put this important information at the fingertips of Arizonans."

In her 2013 State of the State address and "Four Cornerstones of Reform" policy agenda, Governor Brewer stressed the importance of high school students graduating with the skills necessary to succeed in college and career. Many recently-implemented reforms – including the measurement of our schools based on an "A-F" letter grade system – already have paid dividends in terms of increasing accountability and transparency in our education system.

With performance funding, Governor Brewer is pioneering a crucial effort to reward districts and charter schools for improvement and high performance. Investing additional resources in the schools that deliver the results we want will incentivize innovation and achievement – better preparing our students for success.

To view the "A-F" grade and score for your school district or charter school – and to determine precisely how performance-based funding will impact your child’s school – visit http://azgovernor.gov/K-12-PF-Calc.asp.

 

 

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February 21, 2013

Homeland Security

 

DHS Launches National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies

 

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today launched the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS), an online resource for cybersecurity career, education, and training information.

“DHS is committed to working with our partners in academia and throughout the private sector to develop the next generation of cyber professionals to protect against evolving cyber threats,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. “NICCS provides a comprehensive online resource for cyber education and training.”

NICCS leverages efforts of government, industry, and academia to provide a comprehensive, single resource to address the nation’s cybersecurity knowledge needs. This implementation tool supports the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), a nationally-coordinated effort that focuses on cybersecurity awareness, education, workforce structure, and training/professional development. NICCS makes research and training information available to federal employees and the public on a single website. This includes a robust, searchable catalog of cybersecurity training programs and certifications, which allow users to find trainings based on location, preferred delivery method, specialty area, or proficiency level.

NICCS was developed in close partnership between DHS, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Personnel Management.

To retain and continually train top talent, DHS is moving to create growth opportunities for cyber staff while continuing its support for Centers of Academic Excellence around the country that cultivate a growing number of professionals with expertise in various disciplines, including cybersecurity.

In June 2012, Secretary Napolitano announced a new initiative through the Homeland Security Advisory Council, in conjunction with public-private partnerships, to develop an agile cyber workforce across the federal government. The Department has been working since October 2012 to fulfill recommendations that expand the national pipeline of men and women with advanced cybersecurity skills, enable DHS to become a preferred employer for the talent produced by that pipeline, and position the Department to help make the United States safer, more secure, and more resilient.

For more information, visit http://niccs.us-cert.gov/.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

February 22, 2013

Energy Central Daily

 

Last days for local turbines?

 

Company officials are staying mum, but it looks as though a pioneering Flagstaff manufacturer of backyard wind turbines is closing its doors for good.

Carol Curtis, the director of the Coconino County Career Center, said employees were told by Southwest Windpower officials Wednesday that the facility in Flagstaff was going to be closed and they should "leave quickly."

Attempts by the Arizona Daily Sun to reach company officials for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.

The doors of the facility in west Flagstaff were unlocked Wednesday afternoon, but no staffers were available to talk to a reporter.

Multiple phone calls to the Flagstaff manufacturing plant as well as its administrative offices in Broomfield, Colo., outside Denver went unanswered. The company also has offices in Germany and a joint venture in China.

Mike Sobolik, the chief financial officer for Southwest Windpower, did not return calls from the Daily Sun seeking comment.

Recent developments point to a scaling back of Southwest Windpower's operations, if not a shutdown.

The wind turbine manufacturer laid off 14 employees in December, one of a series of layoffs the company has had over the last three years.

The company has sold its AIR line of turbines to a company out of Lakewood, Colo., called Primus Wind Power, and it has also has stopped selling its Whisper line.

It is not clear who would manufacture the company's top-selling model, the Skystream 3.7, if Southwest Windpower were to close.

The wind turbine manufacturer also refused to take a $700,000 federal stimulus grant to help build the next generation of its Skystream wind turbines in 2011.

Southwest Windpower had previously considered opening new offices on the East Coast earlier this year, when the state of Delaware offered the company a $1.2 million grant to move into a 6,500-square-foot facility.

The company would have spent $4.5 million of its own cash on the deal, but those plans were eventually scrapped for undisclosed reasons.

It also scrapped plans to produce the Skystream 600, a more energy-efficient version of the company's popular Skystream 3.7 model, because officials said the newer model was "not reliable."

Curtis said any laid-off employees will be eligible for re-employment services through the county career center.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

February 19, 2013

SoFA Staff

 

Should "Sustainable Development" Be Illegal?

 

United Nations Agenda 21 At Issue

 

Some state legislators see UN Agenda 21 as a direct threat to the sovereignty of the United States, and the freedoms protected by the US Constitution. While some "Progressive" local governments are working towards implementation of Agenda 21, widespread opposition is also active.

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports,

An Arizona Senate panel approved a bill that would prohibit the state or any local government within Arizona from abiding by the principles of a United Nations declaration on sustainable development.

“The truth contained within this United Nations program is something sinister and dark,” Burges testified to a round of applause in committee. “The plan calls for government to take control of all land use and not leave any of the decisions in the hands of private property owners.”

What is Agenda 21, and what does it actually require? An internet search will provide links to a range of views. The links below provide some answers, and competing views.

What Agenda 21 says

Last year's version of the senate bill

Competing views:

Green Agenda

Agenda 21 Wackos On The Move to Stop Smart Growth

Democrats Against Agenda 21

Blaze video

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

February 16, 2013

U.S. Forest Service

 

Love your forests all year long

 

Posted by Tiffany Holloway, Office of Communication, U.S. Forest Service
Forests are an intricate part of our life, from the air they clean to the water they provide. So, we invite you to love your national forests.

For more than 100 years, the U.S. Forest Service has been caring for the land and serving people. Here are a few examples of why we believe everyone should love their forests all year-round:

  • Watersheds on national forests are the source of 20 percent of the nation’s water supply, a value estimated to exceed $27 billion per year.

  • National forests and grasslands provide the greatest diversity of outdoor recreation opportunities in the world, connecting you with nature in an unmatched variety of settings and activities. You can hike, bike, ride horses, picnic, camp, hunt, fish and navigate waterways.

  • The Forest Service maintains thousands of campgrounds and other facilities and 130,000 miles of foot and equestrian trails on more than 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands.

  • Nine out of 10 wildfires are preventable, which means nine out of 10 wildfires are caused by people’s carelessness.

  • Forest Service is working hard to improve or reestablish native habitat and to control or eliminate invasive plants and animals.

  • The Forest Service protects ancient cliff dwellings and works with Tribes to protect their sacred sites as part of our national heritage.

  • The Forest Service designed safer bats for Major League Baseball resulting in a 50 percent reduction in the number of bats broken during play.

Now, here are some easy ways to love your forest:

  • You can start by visiting your local national forest or grassland. You are closer than you think. There are 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
  • Have a tree planted in someone’s honor or establish a memorial or commemorative gift. Your support will help the National Forest Foundation help us restore treasured lands.

  • Donate your time. Passport in Time is the agency’s volunteer archeology and historic preservation program. Volunteers work with Forest Service archaeologists and historians on diverse activities such as an archaeological survey and excavation, rock art restoration, archival research, historic structure restoration, oral history gathering and analysis and curation of artifacts. Talk to your family and friends, find a project, and sign up.

  • Get the kids to join the fun. Parents or teachers can help kids qualify to become a Junior Forest Ranger or Junior Snow Ranger by downloading the adventure guide and helping with the activities.

Remember, there are many ways to love your forest, so whatever you choose, take the time to enjoy America’s Great Outdoors!

Tags: forestry, outdoors, kids, recreation, love

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

February 14, 2013

SoFA Staff

 

Rogers Lake Land Gift

 

 

Coconino County received a gift from the estate of Georgia Frontiere. the owner of the St. Louis Rams professional football team... three years ago.

The property lies next to Rogers Lake, southwest of Flagstafff. It encompasses 240-acre. The property also includes a six-bedroom house and a large,16-stall stable.

Now the County Board of Supervisors is considering how to put this gift to best use. Options include... turning it into a campground, an educational center, renting it out for corporate retreats, or simply selling the property and making use of the proceeds.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

February 13, 2013

Coconino National Forest

 

Clints Well Forest Restoration project decision notice signed

 

Flagstaff, Ariz. – Coconino National Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart recently signed the Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on Feb. 6 for the Clints Well Forest Restoration project.

Stewart selected Alternative 2: Proposed Action, authorizing a combination of forest restoration treatments including vegetation thinning, prescribed burning, road decommissioning and hazard tree removal to help restore the forest structure and health, protect important soil and water resources, reduce the fire hazard in this area and to better protect adjacent communities from wildfire.

The Clints Well Forest Restoration project area is approximately 16,809 acres, and is centered around the community of Clints Well, located roughly 50 miles south of Flagstaff on the Mogollon Rim Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest. 

Project lay out is expected to begin in the summer of 2013, pending a 45-day appeal period following the posting of the legal notice in the Arizona Daily Sun. Vegetation management, fuel reduction, and prescribed burning actions will be ongoing over the next 20 years.   

Project information is posted on the Coconino National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/projects/coconino/landmanagement/projects.

           For additional information concerning this decision, contact the Mogollon Rim District Office, by phone (928) 477-2255.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

February 13, 2013

AZGFD

 

Volunteers sought for black-footed ferret spring spotlighting effort

 

Public staying engaged is critical in recovery of the species

 
Black_footed_ferret_night.jpg
SELIGMAN, Ariz. – Once considered the most endangered mammal on the planet, the black-footed ferret continues its climb toward recovery in Arizona’s Aubrey Valley.

As part of this recovery effort, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking volunteers to assist with two spring spotlighting events; the method used to document the population of this elusive, nocturnal, and endangered carnivore.

The Black-footed Ferret Recovery Project personnel are experimenting with a new method in 2013, conducting two shorter spotlighting efforts instead of five consecutive nights. The first spotlighting effort will be from March 28-30 and the second from April 25-27. Those wishing to assist can volunteer for just one evening or multiple nights.

The effort is held at the black-footed ferret recovery area in Aubrey Valley, located just west of Seligman.

“Volunteers play a vital role,” said Jeff Pebworth, wildlife program manager at the Game and Fish Kingman office. “We don’t have the personnel available to fully staff these events and the program’s continued success depends on people remaining involved.”

Twice thought to be extinct, a small population of black-footed ferrets was discovered in 1981. A mere 18 were left when captive breeding efforts began in 1985. In 1996, Arizona’s Aubrey Valley was selected as a reintroduction site.

In the last decade, black-footed ferrets in Aubrey Valley have reached a population high enough to be considered self-sustaining, meaning no captive-bred ferrets are needed to maintain a population. The ferret reintroduction crew documented a record 123 individual ferrets in 2012.

The reintroduction of these specialist carnivores in Arizona was possible because of the state’s Heritage Fund which, when matched with federal dollars, accounts for the project’s funding. This, along with the dedication of volunteers, has made Arizona’s reintroduction effort a model for other sites to emulate.

“To this point, the black-footed ferret is an amazing success story,” Pebworth said. “All the ferrets in the wild today are the offspring of just seven males and 11 females. To see population records set the last four years in Aubrey Valley is gratifying. Our crew, along with the dedicated volunteers, has played a critical role throughout the recovery process.”

Volunteers can witness the processing of the animals, which allow researchers to understand population, longevity, and movement throughout the range.

Volunteers must be able to stay attentive from sunset to sunrise and be willing to learn how to use a Global Positioning System (GPS). A parent or guardian must accompany any youth under 18.

“This is an opportunity to see the amount of effort involved with this reintroduction,” Pebworth said. “Not to mention the chance to see an animal few others have ever seen in the wild.”

Those wishing to volunteer, or needing more information, should e-mail azferret@azgfd.gov by March 22 for the earlier effort and by April 19 for the later opportunity. Please write “Spring Spotlighting” with “March,” “April,” or “Both” in the subject line. Individuals should indicate which night(s) they are available to help; include a first and last name, a contact number, and if anyone else will be attending with them.

Additional information will be sent following contact, including meeting location and times.

Volunteers should also note any of the following equipment they can bring: GPS, clipboard, headlamp, pen, binoculars, walkie-talkies, 4x4 vehicle (please list passenger capacity), compass, or a spotlight that is either rechargeable or can plug into a cigarette lighter.

It can be cool, so individuals need to dress appropriately.

“We’ve made progress,” Pebworth said. “However, it is critical we continue to document ferret numbers and understand how this population is holding up in the wild.”

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

February 13, 2013

Arizona State Senate

 

EPA regulations threaten Arizona economy, lawmakers told

 

(Phoenix, State Capitol)—Arizona’s economy could soon be feeling the effects of higher electricity rates under regulations recently announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a group of state lawmakers was told Monday.

In a rare joint committee hearing chaired by Senator Gail Griffin (R-Hereford), members of the Senate Government and Environment Committee and the House Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Representative Frank Pratt (R-Casa Grande) heard testimony from state air quality regulators, utility officials, a hospital executive, union representative, and the Director of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, all of whom agreed that new regulations announced by the EPA could have a significant, negative impact on Arizona’s economy and its ability to attract and create new jobs.

“This is a non-partisan issue that has alarmed Republicans and Democrats alike,” Senator Griffin said. “Regardless of how one feels about the EPA, there is nothing logical about requiring Arizona residents to pay a billion dollars for regulations that make virtually no improvement in visibility and have nothing to do with public health.”

The regulations in question stem from the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act, which requires states to formulate ‘State Implementation Plans’ (SIP) to improve visibility at ‘Class-1’ federal areas such as national parks. The regulations do not address public health.

In July of last year, the EPA rejected Arizona’s plan to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) and, in an unusual and legally questionable move, required Arizona to discard its plan in favor of an EPA-drafted Federal Implementation Plan.

Under the EPA plan, Arizona utilities, including Arizona Public Service (APS), Salt River Project (SRP), and Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO) would have to spend as much as $1 billion to retrofit three coal-burning power plants in some of the most economically challenged regions of the state. The scale of those costs present Arizona utilities with a stark choice—comply with the EPA rules and pass along the costs to Arizona residents and businesses through higher electricity rates, or close units at the generation facilities, costing rural Arizona hundreds of jobs.

In testimony to the joint committee of state lawmakers, representatives from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) testified that the regulations are not only excessively costly, they do virtually nothing to improve visibility compared to the state’s plan.

“We believe that the EPA’s decision is not only unreasonable in terms of its cost, but unnecessary,” declared Eric Massey, Air Quality Director for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. “No discernable visibility improvement would occur, but the costs would be significant.”

Massey explained that studies performed by state regulators clearly show that, compared to the state’s plan, the technology mandated by the EPA’s plan would result in an improvement in visibility of less than one deciview, or less than what the naked eye can perceive.

In response to questions, Massey pointed out that the EPA’s regulations are designed to address visibility only and are not related to public health.

Massey also pointed out that the EPA seems to be acting in violation of the Clean Air Act, which clearly gives deference to states, not the federal government. “Court decisions affirm that the EPA cannot substitute its judgment for a state’s when determining what constitutes best available retrofit technology,” Massey explained.

Representatives from Arizona utilities testified that the EPA plan would likely force them to increase the rates they charge their customers. Patrick Ledger, CEO of the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, testified that the EPA plan would require his utility to increase costs by roughly 17% to 30%. “These regulations would double AEPCO’s total debt, and would have a significant impact on our ratepayers,” Ledger testified.

Such an increase in electricity rates would have devastating consequences for local businesses and health care providers.

Roland Knox, CEO of the Northern Cochise Community Hospital in Wilcox testified that a substantial increase in the cost of electricity would impact his hospital’s ability to provide affordable health care to local residents.

“An increase in our electricity rates would have a significant impact on the residents of Cochise County,” Knox said. “It would be very difficult for us to manage costs.”

That concern was echoed by Gretchen Konger of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who testified that higher electricity rates resulting from the EPA regulations threaten Arizona’s economic competitiveness.

“Higher electricity rates will deter companies from moving to Arizona,” Konger explained. “If the EPA moves forward, it will stall, if not stop, Arizona’s economic recovery.”

Also concerning is the prospect of job losses if the regulations force some utilities to shut down generation units. Mike Verbout of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 570 testified that roughly 100 of his members work for utilities that would be impacted by the EPA’s plan. “There’s a lot to be lost. This affects the hospital, it affects the school, and it affects the employees. Verbout continued, “If the Apache Generating Station were to close, my workers would have a very difficult time finding jobs in the same region.”

The joint committee also heard testimony from the Director of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, Stephen Etsitty, who told committee members that the Navajo Nation has concerns with what is happening. “We’re very concerned with how these decisions are being made,” Director Etsitty said. “Much of our concern has to do with the technical issues, but also highlighting the economic impact to the plants.”

Director Etsitty pointed out that there are hundreds of Tribal members who work for the mines that provide coal to the plants in question. “There is also a core of workers employed at the plants,” who would be affected if the EPA plan is implemented.

Monday’s hearing concluded with a video presentation from AEPCO, which featured a number of families whose fixed incomes and rising medical costs would make it difficult to afford higher electricity costs under the EPA plan. One of those featured, Apolonia Garcia, explained that her prescription drug costs are $400 per month, and that any increase in electricity rates would impact her ability to buy food.

At the conclusion of the hearing, State Senator Gail Griffin, Chairman of the Senate Government and Environment Committee, told those in attendance that she was appalled by the EPA’s plan and angered by the impact it would have on her residents.

“It is my hope that the information we heard today will educate and inform not only this committee, but the people of Arizona so that they can be aware of what is happening.”

In response to the EPA’s plan, Senator Griffin has sponsored a Senate Concurrent Resolution calling upon the EPA to reconsider its actions and work with the state on a workable and affordable plan.

“Arizona cannot afford new federal regulations that cost Arizona residents and businesses a billion dollars for an improvement in visibility that is imperceptible to the naked eye,” Senator Griffin declared.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

February 13, 2013

SoFA Staff

 

Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe May Benefit From Revolving Fund

 

Mohave Generating Station Demolition (Fiie Photo)

 

The Mohave Generating Station (Mohave) near Laughlin, Nevada, was shut-down and demolished seven years ago. Mohave was a1580 megawatt coal-fired electric generating station operated by the Southern California Edison utility.

The Mohave plant owned Clean Air Act sulfur dioxide allowances under the California Acid Rain Cap and Trade program. After the plant closed, those allowances became surplus... but they still had value.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved the use of revenues from the sale of those sulfur dioxide allowances to create a revolving fund. The fund will be used to pay development deposits for renewable projects that benefit the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe.

Mohave obtained its coal from the Black Mesa coal mine, which is located on the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe lands.

The closure of Mohave caused job losses at the Black Mesa mine, and other economic loses to the town of Kayenta and nearby Hpoi villages.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

February 13, 2013

Arizona State Senate

 

EPA regulations threaten Arizona economy, lawmakers told

 

(Phoenix, State Capitol)—Arizona’s economy could soon be feeling the effects of higher electricity rates under regulations recently announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a group of state lawmakers was told Monday.

In a rare joint committee hearing chaired by Senator Gail Griffin (R-Hereford), members of the Senate Government and Environment Committee and the House Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Representative Frank Pratt (R-Casa Grande) heard testimony from state air quality regulators, utility officials, a hospital executive, union representative, and the Director of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, all of whom agreed that new regulations announced by the EPA could have a significant, negative impact on Arizona’s economy and its ability to attract and create new jobs.

“This is a non-partisan issue that has alarmed Republicans and Democrats alike,” Senator Griffin said. “Regardless of how one feels about the EPA, there is nothing logical about requiring Arizona residents to pay a billion dollars for regulations that make virtually no improvement in visibility and have nothing to do with public health.”

The regulations in question stem from the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act, which requires states to formulate ‘State Implementation Plans’ (SIP) to improve visibility at ‘Class-1’ federal areas such as national parks. The regulations do not address public health.

In July of last year, the EPA rejected Arizona’s plan to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) and, in an unusual and legally questionable move, required Arizona to discard its plan in favor of an EPA-drafted Federal Implementation Plan.

Under the EPA plan, Arizona utilities, including Arizona Public Service (APS), Salt River Project (SRP), and Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO) would have to spend as much as $1 billion to retrofit three coal-burning power plants in some of the most economically challenged regions of the state. The scale of those costs present Arizona utilities with a stark choice—comply with the EPA rules and pass along the costs to Arizona residents and businesses through higher electricity rates, or close units at the generation facilities, costing rural Arizona hundreds of jobs.

In testimony to the joint committee of state lawmakers, representatives from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) testified that the regulations are not only excessively costly, they do virtually nothing to improve visibility compared to the state’s plan.

“We believe that the EPA’s decision is not only unreasonable in terms of its cost, but unnecessary,” declared Eric Massey, Air Quality Director for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. “No discernable visibility improvement would occur, but the costs would be significant.”

Massey explained that studies performed by state regulators clearly show that, compared to the state’s plan, the technology mandated by the EPA’s plan would result in an improvement in visibility of less than one deciview, or less than what the naked eye can perceive.

In response to questions, Massey pointed out that the EPA’s regulations are designed to address visibility only and are not related to public health.

Massey also pointed out that the EPA seems to be acting in violation of the Clean Air Act, which clearly gives deference to states, not the federal government. “Court decisions affirm that the EPA cannot substitute its judgment for a state’s when determining what constitutes best available retrofit technology,” Massey explained.

Representatives from Arizona utilities testified that the EPA plan would likely force them to increase the rates they charge their customers. Patrick Ledger, CEO of the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, testified that the EPA plan would require his utility to increase costs by roughly 17% to 30%. “These regulations would double AEPCO’s total debt, and would have a significant impact on our ratepayers,” Ledger testified.

Such an increase in electricity rates would have devastating consequences for local businesses and health care providers.

Roland Knox, CEO of the Northern Cochise Community Hospital in Wilcox testified that a substantial increase in the cost of electricity would impact his hospital’s ability to provide affordable health care to local residents.

“An increase in our electricity rates would have a significant impact on the residents of Cochise County,” Knox said. “It would be very difficult for us to manage costs.”

That concern was echoed by Gretchen Konger of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who testified that higher electricity rates resulting from the EPA regulations threaten Arizona’s economic competitiveness.

“Higher electricity rates will deter companies from moving to Arizona,” Konger explained. “If the EPA moves forward, it will stall, if not stop, Arizona’s economic recovery.”

Also concerning is the prospect of job losses if the regulations force some utilities to shut down generation units. Mike Verbout of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 570 testified that roughly 100 of his members work for utilities that would be impacted by the EPA’s plan. “There’s a lot to be lost. This affects the hospital, it affects the school, and it affects the employees. Verbout continued, “If the Apache Generating Station were to close, my workers would have a very difficult time finding jobs in the same region.”

The joint committee also heard testimony from the Director of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, Stephen Etsitty, who told committee members that the Navajo Nation has concerns with what is happening. “We’re very concerned with how these decisions are being made,” Director Etsitty said. “Much of our concern has to do with the technical issues, but also highlighting the economic impact to the plants.”

Director Etsitty pointed out that there are hundreds of Tribal members who work for the mines that provide coal to the plants in question. “There is also a core of workers employed at the plants,” who would be affected if the EPA plan is implemented.

Monday’s hearing concluded with a video presentation from AEPCO, which featured a number of families whose fixed incomes and rising medical costs would make it difficult to afford higher electricity costs under the EPA plan. One of those featured, Apolonia Garcia, explained that her prescription drug costs are $400 per month, and that any increase in electricity rates would impact her ability to buy food.

At the conclusion of the hearing, State Senator Gail Griffin, Chairman of the Senate Government and Environment Committee, told those in attendance that she was appalled by the EPA’s plan and angered by the impact it would have on her residents.

“It is my hope that the information we heard today will educate and inform not only this committee, but the people of Arizona so that they can be aware of what is happening.”

In response to the EPA’s plan, Senator Griffin has sponsored a Senate Concurrent Resolution calling upon the EPA to reconsider its actions and work with the state on a workable and affordable plan.

“Arizona cannot afford new federal regulations that cost Arizona residents and businesses a billion dollars for an improvement in visibility that is imperceptible to the naked eye,” Senator Griffin declared.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

February 12, 2013

SoFA Staff

 

Hearings Regarding The Impact of the EPA Haze Reduction Edict

 

The Arizona Legislature wanted to hear about the impact the recent haze reduction order by the EPA has on Arizona's economy.

The Senate Government and Environment Committee and the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee held a joint information gathering hearing yesterday.

Those presenting information included the the Navajo Nation, Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, APS and SRP (operators of the coal-fired power plants at issue), some other businesses, and hospitals.

The EPA’s air pollution reduction order is in response to environmentalist claims that emissions from coal-fired power plants is the source of haze in southwestern national parks, including the Grand Canyon.

The EPA rejected the state’s proposed plan to improve air quality, saying Arizona’s plan didn’t go far enough in reducing pollution at the Navajo, Coronado, Cholla, and Apache power plants.

The utilities are studying whether to make the huge investment required to comply with the EPA order... or shut down the plants. Shutting down the plants would mean significant loss of jobs in rural Arizona. Power plant jobs, coal mine jobs, railroad jobs, and local business jobs would disappear.

Arizona residents could face summer brownouts, an unstable electric grid, rolling outages, and other problems arising from the loss of electric generating capacity.

The utilities must determine how to proceed. Do they spend the huge amounts of money to allow the plants to meet the new EPA standards? Do they dismantle the plants and eventually construct other reliable sources of electricity? Either way, the cost of electricity will necessarily increase.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

February 11, 2013

SoFA Staff

 

Congressman Responds To Bruce Babbitt

 

House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop of Utah responded to recent remarks by former Department of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt

Mr. Babbitt wants the President to impose stricter federal lands policies that aim to limit multiple use and energy production.

Congressman Bishop responded by issuing this statement...

“I would probably be willing to accept the ‘one for one’ concept if we started at the position of parity. At present, little more than 37 million acres of BLM land have been leased for oil and gas development, whereas 293 million acres have already been set aside for conservation. This disparity clearly favors conservation but also reinforces the fact that deserving places are already being protected. Instead of villainizing American energy developers, Secretary Babbitt should accept the fact that energy development, multiple use, and conservation are not mutually exclusive activities”.

“As Governor, Bruce Babbitt had a logical view of public land use in this country. However, as Secretary, Babbitt abandoned his former ideologies and launched a campaign to limit energy production and public land use in this country. In the final days of the Clinton Administration, Secretary Babbitt orchestrated one of the most historic assaults on Utah’s energy resources in the history of the state when he helped President Clinton establish the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument through executive fiat. This locked up the nation’s largest proven coal deposit. Suggesting that the President hurry up and use the Antiquities Act to unilaterally establish new land designations clearly illustrates that Secretary Babbitt’s agenda is purely political and has little to do with the vitality of states and communities. Otherwise, he would instead be encouraging these efforts to initiate at a local level, where most responsible and common sense land policies originate. I’m not opposed to new land designations, new national monuments, or even new wilderness areas, but they must be the result of collaborative efforts at the local level, and not an arbitrary formula concocted by a former presidential cabinet member turned liberal activist,” Bishop added.

In 1982, as Governor of the State of Arizona, Babbitt wrote that:

“By any conceivable measure of the relative federal and state interest, management of the public domain in the West is not fairly shared.

“This lack of management control—not lack of ownership—is frustrating planned growth in the West at the very moment it is needed most. It is as if each western state were split in two, with part administered from the state capitol and the rest from the Interior Department on ‘C’ street in Washington, D.C. neither the federal nor the state interests in the public lands are protected by this confused management structure. Greater shared management is needed; it can be achieved by increasing the responsibilities of state and local governments for the public domain.

“It is ironic that, while, the roots of the Sagebrush Rebellion may be traced to passage of FLPMA, the Act took significant strides toward increasing the influence of state and local government on federal land use planning activities. Section 202 of the Act establishes guidelines for BLM planning, including provisions requiring coordination with the planning and management programs of state and local governments. The Act mandates that the BLM consider state and local plans in designing resource management programs. Federal plans must be ‘consistent’ with state and local efforts ‘to the maximum extent [the Secretary] finds consistent with Federal law and the purposes of the Act.’ Inconsistencies between federal and nonfederal plans are to be resolved to the extent practical.”

FLPMA is the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

January 28, 2013

Coconino County Sheriff’s Office

 

Avalanche Reminder

 

Flagstaff, AZ; The Coconino County Sheriff's Office is reminding backcountry mountain travelers to be alert for potential avalanche hazards on the San Francisco Peaks.    Most avalanches occur during and shortly after a storm. As of 3:00pm on Sun 1/27/13 the Arizona Snowbowl reported 26" of new snow on top of the existing snow base.  Snowbowl personnel reported some natural collapsing of the snow which could lead to avalanches in unmaintained areas.  It is important for backcountry travelers to be aware that no avalanche control is conducted in the backcountry outside of the Arizona Snowbowl Ski area boundary and the backcountry is not patrolled.  Backcountry skiers and snowboarders should be aware that current snowfall may not have reached a depth to sufficiently cover obstacles such as rocks and timber in the backcountry.

All out-of-bounds skiers should be aware of increased possibilities of avalanches.  On Tuesday, the winds are expected to pick up and will greatly increase these avalanche dangers.   For further information please see the conditions summary on the AZ Snowbowl web site.  The AZ Snowbowl, US Forest Service and the Coconino County Sheriff's Office request that all skiers use caution when skiing out of the maintained areas.

 People venturing into mountainous terrain should carry avalanche rescue equipment such as a shovel, avalanche rescue beacon, avalanche probe, and winter survival gear.  Be prepared for travel and emergencies in the remote winter mountain environment where rescue is not immediate.  Do not travel alone and leave a detailed trip plan with a responsible person.  Your best chance for survival in an avalanche is companion rescue.  It is important to review recent weather reports and forecasts as well as driving conditions prior to and during your trip.  Carrying a cell phone is recommended; however,it may not always work in backcountry locations and should not substitute for good judgment and preparation.  It is recommended that people who use the mountain backcountry receive formal avalanche safety education and winter survival skills.  Free avalanche awareness clinics are offered monthly during the winter season by the Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center.  More information about these clinics and San Francisco Peaks backcountry snow observation reports can be found at www.kachinapeaks.org<http://www.kachinapeaks.org.

 Winter backcountry travel into the Kachina Peaks Wilderness Area from Arizona Snowbowl requires a free annual backcountry permit.  This includes the parking areas at FR 522 and Lamar Haines Wildlife Area.  Backcountry permits are available in Flagstaff at the Peaks Ranger Station, 5075 N. Highway 89, and the Coconino National Forest Supervisor's Office, 1824 S Thompson St.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

January 24, 2013

Center for Biological Diversity

 

Southwest Fish Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection With 293 Stream Miles of Protected Habitat

 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Endangered Species Act protection today for a rare fish called the Zuni bluehead sucker, along with 293 stream miles of proposed “critical habitat” to protect it. The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned for federal protection for the fish in 2004, and today’s proposed rule results from a 2011 agreement with the Center to speed protection decisions for 757 imperiled species around the country. The sucker is found in the Zuni River watershed in New Mexico, the Little Colorado River watershed in eastern Arizona, and Canyon de Chelly in northeastern Arizona. The sucker was once common but has been lost from more than 90 percent of its range over the past 20 years.

“The Zuni bluehead sucker desperately needs Endangered Species Act protection to have a fighting chance at survival, so we’re very pleased that this special desert fish and its habitat are finally being proposed for protection,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist with the Center.

The sucker was first identified as being in need of federal protection in 1985. Sucker populations declined dramatically as the result of chemical treatments to remove green sunfish and fathead minnow to help introduce rainbow trout populations for sport fishing. Its habitat has been lost and degraded due to water withdrawal, logging, overgrazing, development and erosion. Global climate change, drought and increasing water demand from human population growth pose major threats to the sucker’s survival. The sucker is also threatened by predation from introduced fish and crayfish; surviving populations are small and isolated, increasing the risk of extinction.

The critical habitat being proposed for the fish is in Apache County, Ariz.; Cibola, McKinley and San Juan counties, N.M.; and on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

The sucker is eight inches long with a torpedo-shaped body, bluish head, and silvery-tan to dark-green coloration with black mottling. “To attract the ladies, these guys get a flashy red stripe on them in mating season, just like a prom cummerbund,” said Curry.

Suckers require clean, permanently flowing water and cannot reproduce in polluted water because silt covers and suffocates their eggs. They feed by scraping algae off rocks and plants.

“The Zuni bluehead sucker is one of hundreds of freshwater species we could lose if we don’t take action to address pollution, water depletion, climate change, and human population growth. We have a moral imperative to do a better job taking care of our freshwater resources and the wild animals that depend on them for survival,” said Curry.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

January 17, 2013

SoFA Staff

 

President Signs Bill to Help Preserve Use of Water from Colorado River

 

New law protects fish species, taxpayer resources, and water users

 

WASHINGTON– This week, President Obama signed into law the Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Extension Act [H.R. 6060]. The legislation was introduced on June 29, 2012 by Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01). It passed in the House on September 19, 2012, and in the Senate on January 1, 2013 under Unanimous Consent.

The Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Extension Act modifies the Department of Interior’s Recovery and Implementation program to improve the protection and recovery efforts for four endangered fish species: the Humpback chub, Razorback sucker, Bonytail chub, and the Colorado pikeminnow. Importantly, the new law includes a provision to ensure that during protection and recovery efforts, there will be a continuation of the operations that provide water and power to homes and businesses.

“I am pleased that this legislation received bipartisan and bicameral support. This bill makes much-needed improvements to the recovery programs for these endangered fish and ensures that homes and businesses throughout the intermountain West continue to receive water and hydropower.

The new law enables revenues from power producers to be used toward recovery and protection efforts and helps ensure that funds are no longer used for unnecessary and redundant purposes.

“This new law improves upon the way we utilize federal resources and is just part of the broader efforts to reduce wasteful spending. I am pleased that we have been able to implement new policies that not only improve recovery efforts but also ensure the continued multiple-use of water resources from the Colorado River,” said Congressman Bishop.

The law makes the following revisions to the current Recovery Implementation Program to improve operations and accountability by:

  • reauthorizing recovery programs paid for by power users that receive hydroelectricity from the federal Colorado River Storage Project
  • strengthening reporting requirements on the status of the Endangered Species Act listed fish, determining projected dates for delisting, and providing information on how power revenues are being utilized for base funding.
  • limiting funding transfer fees from historic levels of 22% to 3%, thereby reducing wasteful overhead. This is consistent with other Department of Interior programs. This includes limiting unnecessary travel of federal employees from their duty stations to Washington, D.C. for the sole purpose of lobbying congress in order to advocate for recovery programs. Resources spent on travel detract from funds that could be utilized in recovery and mitigation efforts.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

December 15, 2012

Coconino County Sheriff’s Office

 

Winter Preparedness Tips

 

Flagstaff, AZ - Don’t be caught unprepared! Twenty-five percent of all winter-related fatalities occur because people out in the storm are caught off guard, according to the National Weather Service. Sheriff Bill Pribil and the men and women of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind all community members of some simple Winter Survival Tips.

1) Major concerns for individuals are loss of heat, power, and telephone service. Families should have food and water, flashlights and batteries, first aid supplies and a battery operated radio in their disaster kit.
2) The Emergency 911 phone system should be limited to life threatening situations only.
3) Prepare your home for a power outage. If you have to leave your home and seek shelter, remember to bring your medications and sleeping gear such as blankets and sleeping bags. These items may not be provided by a shelter or may be in short supply.
4) Identify the most insulated room in your home in advance. That’s where you and your family can gather if you need to stay warm.
5) Prepare in advance. Have alternate sources of power such as generators. The primary concerns when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.
6) Have both a “GO KIT” and “STAY KIT” for sheltering in place.
a. Have a GO KIT that includes a 72 hour supply of water, non-perishable food, change of
clothes, battery operated radio, flashlight, blankets and sleeping bags. Include a first aid kit,
computer files on external/ portable drive; copies of important documents; medicines; and
specials items for infants, elderly and special needs family members. Remember to bring
family pictures that can’t be replaced. Don’t forget to have a plan for your pets as well.
b. Household emergency supplies (STAY KIT) should include enough food, water and supplies
to last four days without power or help. Check your home emergency kit against this basic
checklist:
• Food that doesn't require heating or refrigeration, such as canned meats, soups and
stews, cereal, and energy bars
• Manual can opener
• Paper plates, cups and plastic utensils
• 1 gallon of water per person per day (allow enough for four days)
• Flashlights and batteries
• Battery-powered radio
• Battery-powered clock
• Cellular phone
• First-aid kit (printable first-aid kit checklist)
• Four-day supply of prescription medicines
• Blanket and cold-weather clothing for each family member
• Pet food and additional water for household pets
7) For Winter Driving Safety Tips – Visit the National Traffic Safety Institute website http://ntsi.com/quick-links/safety-articles/winter-driving/ or Arizona Department of Transportation website http://www.azdot.gov/knowsnow/tips.asp

When a crisis occurs, local public safety officials have three methods to alert the public:
1. Local radio, television, newspapers, and government web pages such as Arizona Emergency
Information Network (AzEIN) and www.coconino.az.gov.
2. The Emergency Alert System (EAS). Messages are rebroadcast on NOAA weather radio, AM
and FM radio and television.
3. READY! COCONINO Notification System. This system uses an E911 telephone number
database and GIS mapping to locate specific communities to notify in an emergency. The
message is recorded by local emergency officials and broadcasted to your home via computer
and telephone lines. If you only have a cell phone or VoIP computer phone number, fill out the
form at the top of the page.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

December 13, 2012

Coconino National Forest

 

Coconino NF winter recreation and road conditions

 

"Know before you go: Winter recreation and road conditions can change daily"

 

Flagstaff, Ariz. – The very conditions that draw the public to the forest in the winter are also the ones that can be dangersous. Forest Managers are taking several measures to provide for the safety of winter visitors and protect forest resources. The Coconino National Forest encourages snowplayers to know before you go: take the time to learn about the conditions and closures in place before heading out.

 

  • Road Closures – Many forest roads are seasonally closed due to wet or snowy conditions, especially in higher elevations. Watch for posted closure signs, call one of the district offices, or check the Coconino National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/coconino. Drivers are reminded to avoid driving on saturated surfaces to prevent road damage, soil erosion and getting stuck.
  • Seasonal Motorized Vehicle Closures - The Wing Mountain Area off of Highway 180 is subject to a “Seasonal Motorized Wheeled Vehicle Closure” from December 1 – March 31:
    • The Wing Mountain Vehicle Closure encompasses the cross-country ski trails, the snowplay area, and includes portions of Forest Roads 222, 518, 222A and 222B beyond Wing Mountain parking area.
  • Snowplay Area Notices – Wing Mountain Snowplay Area will be opening as soon as snow becomes more frequent and allows for adequate coverage. The area is located 10 miles northwest of Flagstaff off of Highway 180 on Forest Road 222B. This is a fee site managed by Recreation Resource Management under a Special Use Permit with services including parking management, snowplowing, restrooms, and trash receptacles. For conditions at Wing Mountain call 602-923-3555 or visit http://www.snowplayaz.com/ .

 ·       Backcountry Travel on the San Francisco Peaks - Winter recreationists who plan on snowshoeing or skiing or snowboarding in backcountry areas should think “preparedness.” The most important aspect of preparedness is to provide someone with detailed trip plans, including exact locations and expected trip length. Avalanches are common in the San Francisco Peaks; those attempting backcountry travel should be trained in avalanche awareness and know the most current conditions. Winter backcountry travel into the Kachina Peaks Wilderness from Arizona Snowbowl or off Snowbowl Road requires a free seasonal backcountry permit. Backcountry permits are available in Flagstaff on weekdays at the Flagstaff Ranger Station, 5075 N. Highway 89, and the Coconino National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 1824 S Thompson Street. Permits will also be available at Arizona Snowbowl’s Agassiz Lodge weekend mornings when the ski area opens. The best source for information on current snow conditions in the San Francisco Peaks backcountry is the Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center www.kachinapeaks.org.

 For more information, contact the Coconino National Forest Supervisor’s Office at 928-527-3600 or visit www.coconinoforest.us.

 

In anticipation of the approaching winter weather, engineers on the Flagstaff Ranger District plan to close many forest roads in the Flagstaff area tomorrow. A road is closed when snow and/or rain make it vulnerable to damage by wheeled vehicles and a safety hazard for travelers. Though road closures generally occur winter through spring, closures and re-openings aren’t dependent on a specific timeline, but rather the conditions of the roads themselves. The Coconino NF encourages every visitor to Know Before You Go.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

July 20, 2012

NRA-ILA

 

NRA Fights for Second Amendment as U.N. Moves Forward on Arms Trade Treaty

 

As the U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty entered its second week of negotiations, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre addressed the conference and made the position of the NRA and American gun owners crystal clear: No treaty that includes civilian arms is acceptable.

Here is the text of the speech:

Mr. President, thank you for this brief opportunity to address this conference. I am Wayne LaPierre and for 21 years now, I have served as Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association of America.

The NRA is the largest and most active firearms rights organization in the world, with four million members who represent 100 million law-abiding Americans who own firearms.

On behalf of those 100 million American gun owners, I am here to announce NRA's strong opposition to anti-freedom policies that disregard American citizens' right to self-defense.

No foreign influence has jurisdiction over the freedoms our Founding Fathers guaranteedto us.

We will not stand idly by while international organizations, whether state-based or stateless, attempt to undermine the fundamental liberties that our men and women in uniform have fought so bravely to preserve – and on which our entire American system of government is based.

For six years, the NRA has closely monitored this effort for an Arms Trade Treaty.

We have watched with increasing concern and, one year ago, I delivered to the Preparatory Committee our objections to including civilian arms in the ATT. I said then … and I will repeat now … that the only way to address NRA's objections is to simply and completely remove civilian firearms from the scope of the treaty.

That is the only solution. On that there will be no compromise. American gun owners will never surrender our Second Amendment freedom. Period.

Our Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment so Americans would never have to live in tyranny.

For any foreign entity to attempt to encroach on that great freedom is offensive to every American who has ever breathed our free air, or who has ever used a firearm to fend off an evil attacker – whether a criminal breaking into their home, or in defense of their family against a tyrant halfway around the world.

Our Second Amendment is freedom's most valuable, most cherished, most irreplaceable idea. History proves it. When you ignore the right of good people to own firearms to protect their freedom, you become the enablers of future tyrants whose regimes will destroy millions and millions of defenseless lives.

Without apology, the NRA wants no part of any treaty that infringes on the precious right of lawful Americans to keep and bear arms.

Let there be no confusion. Any treaty that includes civilian firearms ownership in its scope will be met with the NRA's greatest force of opposition.

Mr. President, there are those who believe that merely excluding civilian firearms from the ATT preamble will be sufficient.

Let me state – in the clearest possible terms – that it is not. A preamble to a treaty has no force of law. We know that, and a strong bipartisan majority of the United States Senate and House of Representatives know it as well.

Any Arms Trade Treaty must be adopted by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate, which has 100 members. Already, 58 Senators have objected to any treaty that includes civilian arms, and a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives also opposes such a treaty.

The NRA represents hundreds of millions of Americans who will never surrender our fundamental firearms freedom to international standards, agreements, or consensus.

America will always stand as a symbol of freedom and the overwhelming force of a free, armed citizenry to protect and preserve it.

On behalf of all NRA members and American gun owners, we are here to announce that we will not tolerate any attack – from any entity or organization whatsoever – on our Constitution or our fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Thank you.


To watch the speech,
use this link.

This speech is the culmination of nearly 20 years of NRA involvement in U.N. gun control issues in general, and the push for an Arms Trade Treaty in particular. Until 2009, the U.S. opposed the ATT. The Obama administration changed that position and agreed to move ahead with negotiations.

Proponents of the treaty continue to claim that the treaty will have no impact on American firearms laws. But, as LaPierre explained in his speech to the conference's "Preparatory Committee" last summer, inclusion of civilian arms would necessitate the imposition of gun registration and owner licensing and vast new record keeping and tracking requirements.

Proposals made at the conference bear out those concerns. Draft language circulated so far contains no recognition of citizens' rights--only the so-called "right of states." And while the language assumes that arms cause conflict, there is no admission that arms in the hands of citizens can be used to resist tyranny or even to prevent crime. Various provisions also refer to organized crime, to creation of a "national control system" and to regulation of "end users," all implying new domestic controls under the guidance of a permanent U.N. bureaucracy.

Perhaps most important on a practical level is that the current draft's "scope" includes all civilian arms and ammunition. Mexico in particular has advocated this in countless statements to the conference. Mexico even argued briefly that the treaty should include items such as bows, arrows and swords, but quickly backed away from the embarrassing position.

The inclusion of civilian arms in the treaty is a direct threat to the Second Amendment with far-reaching implications. Without the strong opposition of the United States, it is significantly more likely the final treaty will include the firearms that our Second Amendment protects.

Key Facts About the ATT

Gun owners must understand the true threat this treaty poses and also the actions that are required for the treaty to have force in the U.S. The treaty poses a very real threat, and gun owners can maximize our efforts to prevent ratification of the treaty by understanding those threats. Here are answers to some common questions about the treaty process.

When will the treaty be signed?

The U. N. will finish drafting the Arms Trade Treaty in late July. It will then be sent to the U.N. General Assembly for approval. After General Assembly approval (likely this fall), many member states are expected to immediately sign on. But there is no deadline for doing so, no date for signing has been set, and the treaty does not need any particular number of signatories to "pass."

Heads of state, or their designees, can sign international treaties at any time, even years or decades later. However, for political reasons, President Obama might choose not to sign immediately while facing reelection. Also, even if the president were to sign the treaty right away, he is not required to send the treaty to the Senate for ratification at any specific time. Nor is there usually any deadline for ratification. (For example, in 1997, President Clinton signed an anti-gun treaty negotiated through the Organization of American States; the U.S. still hasn't ratified that treaty.)

Currently, 58 senators are
on record in strong opposition to the treaty if it includes civilian firearms, as is widely expected. In addition, as we reported last week, 130 members of the U.S. House have also written to President Obama, expressing similar concerns.

What will be the treaty's effects?

Treaty advocates falsely claim that the treaty will have no impact on national gun laws. Proponents have repeatedly called for the treaty to cover civilian arms and to require national systems of licensing, registration and other restrictions.

The threat to our Second Amendment rights posed by the treaty are real, but the process for ratifying the treaty gives gun owners the time and the ability to block ratification--if we take action to hold our elected officials accountable.

What force would the treaty have under U.S. law if the Senate ratified it?

A treaty could have a severe effect, as described above, but it would not override the Constitution.

Treaties have the same legal standing as laws passed by Congress. They cannot override the Constitution and they are subject to constitutional challenge. However, they can override statutes passed prior to ratification of the treaty.

This means any restrictions imposed directly by a U.N. treaty, or indirectly by congressional legislation or executive action to implement a treaty, would have to be challenged on their own merits under the Second Amendment. Obviously, it would be far better to prevent an anti-gun treaty from being signed or ratified in the first place.

Can the President bypass the ratification process?

Strictly speaking, no. But an anti-gun administration could still try to use the treaty to impose gun control in the U.S.

Even if the Senate defeats any effort to ratify the treaty, anti-gun activists in the administration could argue that, under customary international law, the U.S. must implement the treaty's restrictions lest we violate its "object and purpose."

This tactic has been used before. For example, the United States has never ratified the U.N. Law of the Sea treaty, but treats parts of that treaty as binding on the U.S.

The Obama administration could easily take the same approach with respect to an Arms Trade Treaty--for instance, by arguing in court that a narrow interpretation of the Second Amendment is necessary to comply with our obligations under "customary international law."

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

January 28, 2013

Coconino County Sheriff’s Office

 

Avalanche Reminder

 

Flagstaff, AZ; The Coconino County Sheriff's Office is reminding backcountry mountain travelers to be alert for potential avalanche hazards on the San Francisco Peaks.    Most avalanches occur during and shortly after a storm. As of 3:00pm on Sun 1/27/13 the Arizona Snowbowl reported 26" of new snow on top of the existing snow base.  Snowbowl personnel reported some natural collapsing of the snow which could lead to avalanches in unmaintained areas.  It is important for backcountry travelers to be aware that no avalanche control is conducted in the backcountry outside of the Arizona Snowbowl Ski area boundary and the backcountry is not patrolled.  Backcountry skiers and snowboarders should be aware that current snowfall may not have reached a depth to sufficiently cover obstacles such as rocks and timber in the backcountry.

All out-of-bounds skiers should be aware of increased possibilities of avalanches.  On Tuesday, the winds are expected to pick up and will greatly increase these avalanche dangers.   For further information please see the conditions summary on the AZ Snowbowl web site.  The AZ Snowbowl, US Forest Service and the Coconino County Sheriff's Office request that all skiers use caution when skiing out of the maintained areas.

 People venturing into mountainous terrain should carry avalanche rescue equipment such as a shovel, avalanche rescue beacon, avalanche probe, and winter survival gear.  Be prepared for travel and emergencies in the remote winter mountain environment where rescue is not immediate.  Do not travel alone and leave a detailed trip plan with a responsible person.  Your best chance for survival in an avalanche is companion rescue.  It is important to review recent weather reports and forecasts as well as driving conditions prior to and during your trip.  Carrying a cell phone is recommended; however,it may not always work in backcountry locations and should not substitute for good judgment and preparation.  It is recommended that people who use the mountain backcountry receive formal avalanche safety education and winter survival skills.  Free avalanche awareness clinics are offered monthly during the winter season by the Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center.  More information about these clinics and San Francisco Peaks backcountry snow observation reports can be found at www.kachinapeaks.org<http://www.kachinapeaks.org.

 Winter backcountry travel into the Kachina Peaks Wilderness Area from Arizona Snowbowl requires a free annual backcountry permit.  This includes the parking areas at FR 522 and Lamar Haines Wildlife Area.  Backcountry permits are available in Flagstaff at the Peaks Ranger Station, 5075 N. Highway 89, and the Coconino National Forest Supervisor's Office, 1824 S Thompson St.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

December 4, 2012

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

 

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Announces Castle Rock Cut Advisory, Dangling Rope Marina Closure, and Winter Hours

 

The depth of Castle Rock Cut in Lake Powell is approximately six feet. Boaters should be cautious in this area and use the cut at their own risk. Beginning immediately, National Park Service (NPS) and concessioner-operated facilities will reduce hours of operation or close the following facilities:

Wahweap

· Lake Powell Resort

o Rainbow Room Restaurant-Closed until March 29, 2013

o Driftwood Lounge-11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

o Canyon Coffee -7 a.m. - 3 p.m.

· Boat Rentals-9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

· Marina Store-8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

· Marina Fuel Dock-8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

· Stateline Launch Ramp-Closed until May 1, 2013

· Stateline Fuel Dock-Closed until March 29, 2013Wahweap Launch Ramp-7 a.m. - 5 p.m.

· Carl Hayden Visitor Center-8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

· Lone Rock Beach-Boat launching is prohibited until spring

Antelope Point

· Jadi'Tooh Restaurant closes January 2, 2013

· Antelope Point Public Launch Ramp-Closed until spring

Dangling Rope Marina

· Dangling Rope Marina and all services, including fuel-Closed until March 1, 2013

Bullfrog

· Defiance House Lodge-Open, registration through Corner Store

· Anasazi Restaurant-Closed until April 1, 2013

· Kiva Lounge-Open Thursday through Sunday 5:00 pm-9:00 pm

· Family Trailer Units remain open

· Bullfrog Launch Ramp-7 a.m. - 5 p.m.

· Bullfrog Fuel Dock-8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

· Bullfrog Visitor Center-Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 9 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., October 22 - November 19. Closed after November 19

· Bullfrog Urgent Care-Open 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. every Friday, except holidays

 

Halls Crossing

· Halls Crossing Fuel Dock-Closed until April 1, 2013

· Halls Crossing/Bullfrog Ferry-Closed

· Family Trailer Units remain open

· Halls Crossing Launch Ramp-7 a.m. - 5 p.m.

 

Hite

· Hite Store-Closed. Credit card fuel and emergency Family Trailer units are available during winter closure. Will reopen April 1, 2013.

· Hite Launch Ramp-Access dependent on water levels.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

December 15, 2012

Coconino County Sheriff’s Office

 

Winter Preparedness Tips

 

Flagstaff, AZ - Don’t be caught unprepared! Twenty-five percent of all winter-related fatalities occur because people out in the storm are caught off guard, according to the National Weather Service. Sheriff Bill Pribil and the men and women of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind all community members of some simple Winter Survival Tips.

1) Major concerns for individuals are loss of heat, power, and telephone service. Families should have food and water, flashlights and batteries, first aid supplies and a battery operated radio in their disaster kit.
2) The Emergency 911 phone system should be limited to life threatening situations only.
3) Prepare your home for a power outage. If you have to leave your home and seek shelter, remember to bring your medications and sleeping gear such as blankets and sleeping bags. These items may not be provided by a shelter or may be in short supply.
4) Identify the most insulated room in your home in advance. That’s where you and your family can gather if you need to stay warm.
5) Prepare in advance. Have alternate sources of power such as generators. The primary concerns when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.
6) Have both a “GO KIT” and “STAY KIT” for sheltering in place.
a. Have a GO KIT that includes a 72 hour supply of water, non-perishable food, change of
clothes, battery operated radio, flashlight, blankets and sleeping bags. Include a first aid kit,
computer files on external/ portable drive; copies of important documents; medicines; and
specials items for infants, elderly and special needs family members. Remember to bring
family pictures that can’t be replaced. Don’t forget to have a plan for your pets as well.
b. Household emergency supplies (STAY KIT) should include enough food, water and supplies
to last four days without power or help. Check your home emergency kit against this basic
checklist:
• Food that doesn't require heating or refrigeration, such as canned meats, soups and
stews, cereal, and energy bars
• Manual can opener
• Paper plates, cups and plastic utensils
• 1 gallon of water per person per day (allow enough for four days)
• Flashlights and batteries
• Battery-powered radio
• Battery-powered clock
• Cellular phone
• First-aid kit (printable first-aid kit checklist)
• Four-day supply of prescription medicines
• Blanket and cold-weather clothing for each family member
• Pet food and additional water for household pets
7) For Winter Driving Safety Tips – Visit the National Traffic Safety Institute website http://ntsi.com/quick-links/safety-articles/winter-driving/ or Arizona Department of Transportation website http://www.azdot.gov/knowsnow/tips.asp

When a crisis occurs, local public safety officials have three methods to alert the public:
1. Local radio, television, newspapers, and government web pages such as Arizona Emergency
Information Network (AzEIN) and www.coconino.az.gov.
2. The Emergency Alert System (EAS). Messages are rebroadcast on NOAA weather radio, AM
and FM radio and television.
3. READY! COCONINO Notification System. This system uses an E911 telephone number
database and GIS mapping to locate specific communities to notify in an emergency. The
message is recorded by local emergency officials and broadcasted to your home via computer
and telephone lines. If you only have a cell phone or VoIP computer phone number, fill out the
form at the top of the page.

 

 

~~~~~ ~~~~~

December 13, 2012

Coconino National Forest

 

Coconino NF winter recreation and road conditions

 

"Know before you go: Winter recreation and road conditions can change daily"

 

Flagstaff, Ariz. – The very conditions that draw the public to the forest in the winter are also the ones that can be dangersous. Forest Managers are taking several measures to provide for the safety of winter visitors and protect forest resources. The Coconino National Forest encourages snowplayers to know before you go: take the time to learn about the conditions and closures in place before heading out.

 

  • Road Closures – Many forest roads are seasonally closed due to wet or snowy conditions, especially in higher elevations. Watch for posted closure signs, call one of the district offices, or check the Coconino National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/coconino. Drivers are reminded to avoid driving on saturated surfaces to prevent road damage, soil erosion and getting stuck.
  • Seasonal Motorized Vehicle Closures - The Wing Mountain Area off of Highway 180 is subject to a “Seasonal Motorized Wheeled Vehicle Closure” from December 1 – March 31:
    • The Wing Mountain Vehicle Closure encompasses the cross-country ski trails, the snowplay area, and includes portions of Forest Roads 222, 518, 222A and 222B beyond Wing Mountain parking area.
  • Snowplay Area Notices – Wing Mountain Snowplay Area will be opening as soon as snow becomes more frequent and allows for adequate coverage. The area is located 10 miles northwest of Flagstaff off of Highway 180 on Forest Road 222B. This is a fee site managed by Recreation Resource Management under a Special Use Permit with services including parking management, snowplowing, restrooms, and trash receptacles. For conditions at Wing Mountain call 602-923-3555 or visit http://www.snowplayaz.com/ .

 ·       Backcountry Travel on the San Francisco Peaks - Winter recreationists who plan on snowshoeing or skiing or snowboarding in backcountry areas should think “preparedness.” The most important aspect of preparedness is to provide someone with detailed trip plans, including exact locations and expected trip length. Avalanches are common in the San Francisco Peaks; those attempting backcountry travel should be trained in avalanche awareness and know the most current conditions. Winter backcountry travel into the Kachina Peaks Wilderness from Arizona Snowbowl or off Snowbowl Road requires a free seasonal backcountry permit. Backcountry permits are available in Flagstaff on weekdays at the Flagstaff Ranger Station, 5075 N. Highway 89, and the Coconino National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 1824 S Thompson Street. Permits will also be available at Arizona Snowbowl’s Agassiz Lodge weekend mornings when the ski area opens. The best source for information on current snow conditions in the San Francisco Peaks backcountry is the Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center www.kachinapeaks.org.

 For more information, contact the Coconino National Forest Supervisor’s Office at 928-527-3600 or visit www.coconinoforest.us.

 

In anticipation of the approaching winter weather, engineers on the Flagstaff Ranger District plan to close many forest roads in the Flagstaff area tomorrow. A road is closed when snow and/or rain make it vulnerable to damage by wheeled vehicles and a safety hazard for travelers. Though road closures generally occur winter through spring, closures and re-openings aren’t dependent on a specific timeline, but rather the conditions of the roads themselves. The Coconino NF encourages every visitor to Know Before You Go.

 

 

 

 

 

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