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Butte County says it will file lawsuit to oppose “twin tunnels” proposal

Lawsuits, State gov, Water, Resources & Quality

County to file suit to oppose ‘twin tunnels’ proposal

Chico Enterprise-Record

Butte County plans to file a lawsuit over the plan to bury a pair of tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to move Sacramento River water south.

County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to file the suit against the Department of Water Resources over the so-called “California WaterFix,” the largest part of which is the “twin tunnels” proposal.

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Militias, Martyrs and McVeigh, Oh My!

Bundy Battle - Nevada, Bureau of Land Management, Constitution, CORRUPTION, Courts, CRIMINAL, Federal gov & land grabs, Lawsuits, Liberty

Redoubt News.com

August 5, 2017

This has been a very eventful week in the Bunkerville Retrial of four defendants. The prosecution has demonized these good men at every turn. They have portrayed them as lawless militia, anti-government radicals, and immoral propagandists.

by Shari Dovale

I Guess I Was Wrong”

The week began with more government agents taking the witness stand to tell how afraid they were of these gun-totin’ cowboys. BLM Special Agent Robert Shilaikis took some video of the events on April 12, 2014, because he was expecting a gunfight and wanted documentation. He was afraid that memories would fade over time.

He did not video record any protesters firing weapons. He admitted that some of his commentary of the videos was based on reviewing the footage later, not on what he saw at the time. He had to clarify some of his commentary, and his identification, as he was shown to be mistaken during his testimony.

“I Guess I Was Wrong,” he would say at least twice when confronted with his own video proof contradicting his testimony.

Shilaikis showed his bias repeatedly during his testimony, and the defense called him out on it. Profiling everyone as militia based on their clothing was a point for the defense to grill him on. He testified as to the defendants “ideology” and was asked how he could “see” that on the videos?

Special Agent in Charge Dan Love, April 12, 2014

Judge Gloria Navarro jumped in on the bias when the defense attempted to compare and contrast the witnesses statements towards the defendants when they began to question the witness about Special Agent in Charge Dan Love, and his dress of camo, tactical gear, and a black hat turned backwards on his head. After all, they had demonized “Black Hat” Eric Parker over these very points. The theory put forth was that, by turning his ball cap around, Parker was ready to shoot his long gun.

Judge Navarro wasn’t having that in her courtroom and refused to allow the testimony.

Sling Your Long Guns”

The jury picked up on several points and asked Shilaikis if anyone pointed a weapon at him. Of course, he had to admit that they did not. The jury also wanted to know about the order to “Sling Your Long Guns” and whether that was meant for just the BLM or all Law Enforcement.

Shilaikis attempted to imply that the order to “Sling” their long guns was more of a suggestion, and that it was a discretionary order. “Each law enforcement officer can make the decision to put away their long gun based on what they perceive as a threat.”

The defense jumped all over that one and the jury did not seem to buy it either.

AUSA Myhre used Special Agent Willis to introduce multiple photos that depicted the same thing. How many times can you see the same picture and not call it “cumulative”? They introduced several photos as evidence that they did not take, but downloaded from various sites on the internet.

Evidence was introduced from the “Frontline” documentary aired on PBS in May 2017. This brings up questions of how PBS was able to obtain sealed discovery for this show. The court is not addressing this issue, but the people want to know.

The prosecutors do not plan to prosecute PBS for releasing sealed discovery evidence. How about they release the rest of the evidence for the public to review?

Another unusual event this week, when a juror was questioned this week about a text message she received from an outside source concerning this trial. The message said, “You have 2 hours more to finished. Pass death sentence on this prisoner.” The juror immediately brought it to the court’s attention and said it would not affect her ability to be impartial. The court accepted that.

What is an FBI Employee?

A very controversial witness took the stand by name of FBI Special Agent Sarah Gibson Draper, of Idaho. Draper was placed in charge of gathering Facebook evidence on Parker, Drexlar and Stewart.

The posts that she introduced discussed the events, but did not directly show any law breaking.

What was most interesting about her testimony was the dancing around concerning “FBI Employees”. Each time an attorney would ask about an “Agent” she would correct them to say “Employee”.

What is the difference between an FBI Agent and an FBI Employee? Draper is attempting to avoid calling them paid informants. They are employees because they are being given compensation by the government, yet they are selecting their words carefully because of the negative connotations of the word “informant”. Judge Navarro does not want that word brought up in front of the jury, and she is very heavy-handed on this issue.

I have noted there seem to have been at least 5-6 informants referenced in this case.

The jurors are not asleep on this issue. Some of their questions were specifically about whether or not the FBI “provoked” or coerced the defendants. They want to know more about this, yet seem to know that the information is being kept from them,

The McVeigh Connection

Draper introduced a Facebook post of Parker’s that was strategically redacted. They omitted references to the “Miller’s: in which Parker praised the patriots for vetting these unstable people and removing them from Bunkerville.

The post also had redactions that told of the reasons the men crouched down on the bridge as they were being “green-lighted”. This means they identified government snipers that had their weapons aimed directly at them.

What they did not omit was a reference to “McVeigh”. The purpose of the government introducing this vague reference was to get Draper to say her “belief” is that this was referring to Timothy McVeigh, and explain to the jury that he was the “Oklahoma City Bomber” that killed over a hundred people. They intention was to imply that the defendants were either connected to McVeigh himself or at least his ideology.

The Prosecutor argued, “There is really not that much difference between what they did and what McVeigh did.”

Therefore, standing on a bridge in Nevada, where no shots were fired nor any person was harmed, afraid of the government’s hundreds of agents with firearms pointed at them, is not much different from blowing up a building and killing over 100 people?

“We or no one that we know of feel he is a martyr for anything,” said John Trochmann, spokesman for the Militia of Montana. “What would we have had to gain from blowing up public property?” asked Trochmann. “Who would gain anything unless someone wanted to pass some new type of anti-militia legislation?” – ABC News

This was completely misleading to the jury. They have cherry-picked evidence and the judge is allowing this. She sees no relevance to anything positive on behalf of the defense and has ruled it is fine to introduce obscure references and personal negative interpretations of those references.

Thumbs Up

Judge Gloria Navarro has stretched the limit of her lack of knowledge on the law. She continuously relies on the prosecution to give her foundations to admit evidence. She references her books while sitting in court to find ways to admit biased evidence.

An example of this is when the prosecution presented a Facebook “Thumbs Up” as a co-conspirator’s statement. If someone else posts a controversial statement, and you “Like” the post, you can now be prosecuted as a “Co-Conspirator”.

According to the rulings in this case, if you “Like” a post, then you have adopted that statement and taken ownership of it as your own statement.

*On a side note, I personally do not like all of the new social engineering emoji reaction buttons that Facebook has introduced. I general show my protest by only using a “Like”, not for agreeing with the post, but for appreciating people getting involved. I “Like” discussion. I “Like” debate. I want people to be involved. It’s the only way to get the truth to some people.

Bad Acts After The Fact

The prosecution has extended the dates of the “Conspiracy” to March 2016. This was deliberate so they could include information on Operation Gold Rush (Sugar Pine Mine, Oregon) and Operation Big Sky (White Hope Mine, Montana). Both operations took place at least a year after Bunkerville.

The government is attempting to show an ongoing agreement to threaten the government. They are attempting to portray these defendants as being so thrilled with their success at Bunkerville, that they formed a group called “Idaho 3%” and went around they country to wave their guns at Federal Agents and keep them from doing their jobs, like take someone’s property unconstitutionally.

They wore camo at these operations, and carried rifles. They conducted security patrols. All are being presented as horrible behavior, and anti-government. The prosecution, and Judge Navarro, have claimed that the ongoing conspiracy included the defendants glorifying the movement and recruiting to their ranks. By sharing the truth of what the government’s alphabet agencies are doing, they are furthering the conspiracy against the government.

The jury is questioning the government’s narrative, shown by the questions of whether or not these defendants are being charged for Sugar Pine or White Hope? Judge Navarro said that they are, as these events are part of the ongoing conspiracy. So now, anyone that was NOT at Bunkerville, yet did participate in Sugar Pine, OR White Hope, are now considered co-conspirators and can be prosecuted.

Is this for real? Only in Gloria Navarro’s courtroom.

Is the Militia Illegal?

When the questioning is completed by the attorneys, the jurors are given the option of asking the witness questions. After the questions are written down and turned over to the judge, she calls a sidebar in which all of the attorneys go behind a wall and discuss these questions before asking them of the witness.

On this particular day, Navarro allowed the jury to go to lunch while the attorneys discussed the questions in the courtroom. This was notable because the gallery audience could now hear the questions and discussion.

One of the questions was “Are Militias Illegal?” The prosecution went so far as to argue, “Yes, they are illegal in many states, including Montana.”

Second Amendment to the US Constitution:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Constitution of Montana — Article VI — THE EXECUTIVE

Section 13. Militia. (1) The governor is commander-in-chief of the militia forces of the state, except when they are in the actual service of the United States. He may call out any part or all of the forces to aid in the execution of the laws, suppress insurrection, repel invasion, or protect life and property in natural disasters.
(2) The militia forces shall consist of all able-bodied citizens of the state except those exempted by law.

This is the false narrative that the government is using against these defendants. Militias are NOT illegal. It is in the Constitution and they are important to our Nation.

Martyrs

These men were prepared to be martyrs on April 12, 2014. This was evidenced by a video from Steven Stewart taken that day. In it, he states that, “They were threatening us with chemicals earlier, to back down. So we pushed forward. They couldn’t gas us. We were going to be martyrs if they wanted to continue this.” Stewart said on the video.

Conclusion

This entire trial is based on false evidence. They have thrown out the rules of evidence and denied the basic rights guaranteed by our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Every American should be upset by what is happening in Judge Navarro’s courtroom. If the government is allowed to proceed, and get away with, this mockery of justice, what will stop them from treating every other American the same way.

The prosecution is expected to rest their case on Monday, August 7th. The defense is then expected to take about a week to present their evidence, with the jury receiving the case for deliberations after that.

The target date for the next trial to begin is September 18, 2017. The jury questionnaires were mailed to prospective jurors last week.

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Militias, Martyrs and McVeigh, Oh My!

 

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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California prepares to sue Trump administration

Lawsuits

Sac Bee.com

August 5, 2017

WASHINGTON

California is poised to sue the Trump administration over the president’s latest attempt to punish jurisdictions tagged by the Justice Department as “sanctuary cities” that harbor undocumented immigrants, according to two sources close to the case.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — in conjunction with other California city and county attorneys — is considering charging the Justice Department with violating the Constitution by threatening to take crime-fighting funds away from cities and states that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration agents, according to those sources.

“The cities and states affected by these provisions have strong arguments to make in court that these conditions are illegal,” said a former Justice Department official familiar with California officials’ thinking. “If Congress wanted these requirements to be part of the grant funding decision, they would have written it into the law.”

California’s concern stems from an announcement last month by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who warned that jurisdictions that do not assist federal immigration agents seeking to deport undocumented immigrants would no longer get funding from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant.

THE CITIES AND STATES AFFECTED BY THESE PROVISIONS HAVE STRONG ARGUMENTS TO MAKE IN COURT THAT THESE CONDITIONS ARE ILLEGAL.

Former Department of Justice official

California was allocated nearly $18 million under that program in Fiscal 2017. To get future grants, municipalities will have to allow federal immigration agents access to detention facilities, and provide 48-hours notice before they release inmates who are wanted by federal authorities on suspicion of being in the country illegally.

Those familiar with Becerra’s thinking say he’d argue that Congress, not the executive branch, has power to set conditions on the grant money.

Becerra, a Democrat, could still change his mind, one source cautioned.

Becerra has not been at the forefront of the fight with Washington over sanctuary cities. While California leads the nation in the number of undocumented immigrants, and its Democratic-dominated state legislature is moving to pass a so-called “sanctuary state” bill, the attorney general has left leadership on the issue to smaller states, including Washington State and Hawaii, which won high-profile suits against the Trumpadministration’s travel ban against six Muslim-majority countries.

Gil Duran, a Democratic strategist in California, said now is the time for officials to demonstrate “bold leadership and stand up for their highest values.”

“As a Californian, as a Latino and as the attorney general of the most populous state in the country, it is well within his scope of duty to do this,” said Duran, who has worked for some of the state’s top politicians, including Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris of California.

“Becerra is a guy who spent years in Washington and knows the law and he would be a very formidable opponent to Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions,” Duran said.

AS A CALIFORNIAN, AS A LATINO AND AS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE MOST POPULACE STATE IN THE COUNTRY, IT IS WELL WITHIN HIS SCOPE OF DUTY TO DO THIS.

Gil Duran, Democratic strategist

In April, the courts blocked Trump from implementing a broad executive order stripping a wide swath of federal funding from cities and states that don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents. U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick III, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, said Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order was unconstitutional.

In this latest attempt, the administration took a much more narrow approach, specifically targeting the justice assistance grants. This is the issue Becerra is considering.

Bill Lockyer, a former attorney general in California, told McClatchy in an interview Friday that Becerra’s office generally takes a “very deep dive into the legal issues.”

“There are some instances where a connection between federal money and local policy has allowed the federal government to win those disputes,” he said. “And there are other examples where the federal government overreached and ultimately was prevented from that compulsion.”

If Becerra takes action, Lockyer said likeminded states could come together and discuss who has the resources and who has the greater exposure to the impact of the federal policy.

“For California, because we have the largest legal office in the country, that often causes other states to rely on us to provide leadership because we can actually finance the fight,” he said.

Cadelago reported from California.

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/article165519622.html#becerrakillingmiddleclass

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Point Reyes National Seashore suit ends with settlement

Federal gov & land grabs, Lawsuits, Liberty

Western Livestock Journal

wlj, 07-24-2017 » Page 1

PRNS suit ends with settlement

— Ranching can continue — for now

A settlement agreement was announced July 12 in a dispute about the future of ranching at the Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS) near San Francisco, CA. The agreement gives beef and dairy producers at least a temporary reprieve and the ability to continue operating their mostly organic businesses.

The suit was filed in February 2016 by environmental special interest groups against the National Park Service (NPS) as it was moving forward with a Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan/Environmental Assessment (RCMP) for the six dairies and 18 beef ranches that ranch on the peninsula.

The plaintiffs, which include the Resource Institute, Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project, challenged the RCMP alleging that NPS was moving forward without conducting adequate environmental studies. They also claimed lack of public input and that ranchers were being given special treatment.

Joining the NPS and PRNS Superintendent Cicely Muldoon as intervenors in the case were members of the Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association (PRSRA). In a statement, PRSRA said its members signed onto the case as individuals rather than an association.

Terms of the case require the NPS to proceed with a General Management Plan (GMP) amendment rather than one focused specifically on ranching. Terms of the settlement stipulate that an environmental impact study (EIS) be completed and a new plan issued within four years of the date the agreement is accepted by the U.S. District Court. The process requires public comment on the proposed policies and priorities of the park.

Melanie Gunn, PRNS outreach coordinator, told WLJ that the GMP amendment will be prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and a public planning process that will involve park ranchers.” She added that although the NPS will terminate the RCMP process, some of the information developed through that process can and will be adapted for use in the GMP amendment.

Details about the lawsuit and planning process are available online at http://tinyurl.com/PRNS-Plan.

The EIS must consider action alternatives including; a no ranching alternative; no dairy ranching; and a reduced ranching alternative. The NPS may also consider other action alternatives. Those actions could include agricultural diversification, increased operational flexibility, the promotion of sustainable operational practices and succession planning.

Acting PRNS Superintendent Steve Meitz said of the settlement, “We are pleased that park ranchers, local government, environmental groups, and the park were able to come together and agree to move forward on this important topic. This approach initiates a comprehensive, robust, and durable planning process to define future uses of these lands managed by the park while providing interim stability and authorizations for park ranchers during the new planning process.”

An area of particular concern for the livestock and dairy producers was the length of leases. Historically, producers held fiveyear leases, however during the RCMP process those leases were reduced to one-year renewals; the settlement will allow interim five-year lease renewals during the review period. Ranchers had sought 20-year lease renewals in an attempt to provide more certainty and long-term planning for their operations.

David Evans, a fourth generation organic and grass-fed beef rancher in the PRNS and CEO of Marin Sun Farms, said, “I am encouraged that the ranchers, the plaintiffs, and the National Park Service have come together on a settlement that sets the stage for much needed long-term planning in the Point Reyes National Seashore.”

He continued, “Today, my ranch provides habitat for several threatened California native species including the California red-legged frog, is home to several native grasses, and provides pastoral habitat for an extremely diverse ecosystem.

Issuing five-year leases, while still too short-term to truly secure the viability of small scale ranching, is a step in the right direction towards long-term security for the families who, for generations, have made their livelihood growing food for our community and maintaining habitat for wild species here in the Seashore.”

Evans said he is also pleased that the agreement requires a GMP. “We look forward to the support of the general public through the review period of the planning process, and to securing at least 20-year leases after this planning phase, thereby confirming the critical role that ranching plays in maintaining our thriving and beautiful working landscape.”

Tule elk

The settlement also addresses management of tule elk. The elk herd is often in conflict with ranchers by eating forage and destroying fences. The settlement says NPS will “preserve and manage tule elk at the Seashore under its lawful authority, and shall endeavor to use non-lethal management techniques to manage the population of the Drakes Beach herd.”

The Drakes Beach herd is a free-ranging group, considered a subherd of the Limantour Beach herd which was established after elk from the Tomales Elk Preserve were released in 1998.

The preserve is a 2,600-acre fenced enclosure where the species, which was thought to be extinct, was reestablished in the 1970s.

Historical overview

The PRNS was created in 1962 with the intent of preserving the livestock operations that had inhabited that area of the seashore for several generations, and to help prevent urban encroachment from nearby San Francisco.

The agreement at that time provided that the NPS would purchase the land from existing farmers and ranchers and lease it back to the original owner for 25 years or the lifetime of the owner. Since that time a few lifetime leases are still in place with the others replaced with short-term leases that are renewed every five to 10 years.

CCA support

The California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), although not directly involved in the lawsuit has been following the case and was pleased with the settlement agreement. Although most of the ranchers that would be impacted by the decision are members of the PRSRA, many are also members of CCA.

Kirk Wilbur, CCA director of government affairs, told WLJ that PRNS is expected to begin the GMP amendment process this fall. As that process moves forward CCA will be involved with the scoping process and in talks with the acting park superintendent, and subsequently, the superintendent, when named. Wilbur said, CCA wants to have input to “make sure that ranching remains an active part of the environment at Point Reyes National Seashore.” — Rae Price, WLJ editor

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Albuquerque Tea Party granted tax-exempt status after 8 years

Lawsuits, TEA Party

 

It’s taken nearly eight years, but the Internal Revenue Service finally granted tax-exempt status to a Tea Party group in what lawyers representing the group on Wednesday called a “major victory for free speech.”

Graham Bartlett, president of the local Tea Party, said he was informed about a month ago that the group’s request was going through, The Albuquerque Journal reported.

The group filed its request in December 2009. Several months later, the IRS demanded more documentation concerning the organization’s activities. The group complied, but then the IRS requested even more documentation. The Tea Party provided more than 1,000 pages of documentation about the group’s activities. Eventually, it filed a lawsuit against the IRS.

“What I understand is the IRS was targeting any organization that had the name ‘Tea Party’ in it or the word ‘conservative,'” Bartlett said. “We weren’t the only ones.”

In 2012, the American Center for Law and Justice, or ACLJ, filed a lawsuit against the IRS on behalf of the Albuquerque Tea Party as well as other conservative groups whose requests for tax-exempt status seemed to be put on hold during the Obama administration.

“The ACLJ is pleased to announce that after a long, arduous legal battle, our client, the Albuquerque Tea Party, has finally received their tax-exempt status – nearly eight years after originally filing their 501(c)(4) application,” the organization said in a statement on its website Wednesday. “This is a major victory for free speech.”

“The widespread and coordinated attacks against conservative groups like the Albuquerque Tea Party began in early 2010,” the ACLJ said. “The IRS literally took their money and then ignored their application requesting tax-exempt status for eight long years.

“This is outrageous,” the group said. “No organization should ever be forced to wait that long for a determination.”

‘This is outrageous.’

– ACLJ, in a statement

In 2015, a bipartisan review from the U.S. Senate’s Finance Committee found management flaws at the IRS contributed to a “dysfunctional culture” that allowed agents to mistreat conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status.

Both Bartlett and Moore said that since President Trump and the Republicans assumed power in Washington in January, there seems to have been a change toward a more equitable policy at the IRS.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/07/20/albuquerque-tea-party-granted-tax-exempt-status-after-8-years.html

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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LaVoy Finicum shooting: FBI agent indicted for alleged false statements

Bundy Battle - Nevada, Bureau of Land Management, Constitution, CORRUPTION, Courts, CRIMINAL, LaVoy Finicum, LAWS or law, Lawsuits, Liberty
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WOLF: Oregon Cattlemen elect to sue feds

Agriculture, Lawsuits, Wolves

Western Livestock Journal

wlj, 06-19-2017 » Page 1

Oregon Cattlemen elect to sue feds

At a mid-year meeting held in Pendleton on June 2, members of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) voted to move forward with a plan to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) over their continued failure to remove gray wolves from the federal endangered species list in portions of the state. While originally intended as a joint effort across all three West Coast states, Oregon is the only state currently moving forward with the suit.

Specifically, the planned lawsuit targets a 2013 proposed rule change by USFWS, in which they recommended removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list nationwide. While USFWS did find that wolves had recovered sufficiently in the U.S. to warrant delisting, the proposal quickly became mired in environmental lawsuits over wolves in the western Great Lakes region.

Except for Wyoming, where wolves were delisted earlier this year, wolves remain under protected status in much of the U.S., including portions of Oregon, Washington and all of California, despite the 2013 recommendation. In Oregon, wolves remain under federal protection west of Highway 395, roughly two-thirds of the state.

According to OCA Executive Director Jerome Rosa, OCA members felt that this limbo has continued for far too long. “Nobody wants to sue,” says Rosa. “Unfortunately, that’s what you have to do to get action. Our members have been living patiently with wolves for a long time. They have tried hard and abided by the law, and we felt like this was the responsible thing to do at this time.”

According to Johanna Talcott, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Fund (PLF), which intends to represent OCA, the case, from a legal standpoint, is clear. “Under the ESA, when the service issues a proposal, they have 12 months to publish a final rule,” she explains. “To me, this is not a very complicated issue.”

For neighboring states, however, the issue is considerably less clear cut. According to Rosa, the plan to sue was originally conceived last year, through the combined efforts of members of the OCA as well as the Washington Cattlemen’s Association (WCA). However, while WCA members were present at the Oregon meeting, that group has indicated that they would rather not take part in the suit. Similarly, members of the California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), also in attendance in Oregon, have indicated that they do not intend to take part in the suit at this time.

“At this time, we are not contemplating joining the suit,” says CCA director of government affairs Kirk Wilbur. While strongly in favor of delisting wolves, Wilbur indicates that CCA prefers to give the fledgling Trump administration a chance to address the issue on their own.

“We know that we have a sympathetic administration,” he says. “We want to give them time to act to delist the wolf in accordance with the proposed rulemaking that began in 2013. If they ultimately fail to move forward on that, then maybe down the line, litigation is an option. But I don’t think that right now is the appropriate time to employ that strategy.”

Additionally, says Wilbur, his organization is already involved in a similar lawsuit to delist wolves at the state level, as a hedge against the expected federal delisting. “We suspect that, ultimately, the gray wolf will be delisted federally,” he says. “The issue then is that wolves are still completely protected within California. We’re focusing our efforts there.”

Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council, has also expressed concerns regarding the timing of the suit. “We like what we’ve heard from (USFWS) on their path forward for delisting so far,” Lane says of the PLC. “Given the fact that there is not a new director or any senior staff in place yet, we’re inclined to let that play out before we go to the legal system.”

“However, we always want to be careful to respect the decision of any of our state affiliates to choose the path that is best for them,” he adds.

Citing the recent delisting of wolves in Wyoming as an encouraging sign, Lane indicates that much is resting on the pending court decision in the upper Great Lakes, where wolves were returned to the ESA list following a court order in 2014.

“The court case that is pending there is really the lynchpin of the whole issue,” says Lane. “I think that everyone is waiting with baited breath for the appeals court to rule on that.”

WCA president Tyler Cox also does not think that USFWS is likely to move prior to the great lakes decision, pointing out further cause for his state to question the timing of the suit.

“Once that 60 day notice is filed, that tool is done,” he says. “To me, that’s using up one of our major pieces of ammunition before we’re in range of anything.”

Ironically, a potentially favorable administration is also a major factor in OCA’s decision to go ahead with the lawsuit.

“We are obviously concerned that, following the 2018 elections, the political atmosphere may change,” says Rosa. “It takes a while for this process to move forward. To take advantage of the current favorable atmosphere, we felt like we should go ahead and move at this time.”

In order to start the process, a 60-day notice of intent to sue must be filed with the federal government, a step that Talcott says will occur sometime this week. According to Talcott, PLF feels that USFWS is unlikely to move soon without some pressure. “We have to initiate these lawsuits to get them to move,” she says. “They don’t act without a little bit of prodding.”

“There’s several different strategies in place here,” says Rosa. “Different folks have different thoughts and ideas on what the best time is. We felt like the pros outweighed the cons, and that’s why we decided to move forward at this time.” — Jason Campbell, WLJ correspondent

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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How environmentalist litigation is sending our national forests up in smoke

Endangered Species Act, FIRES, Forestry & USFS, Lawsuits

PNP comment: Unfortunately, this has been happening for 30 years! — Editor Liz Bowen

Free Range Report

June 10, 2017

“Our national forests are dying from neglect. Rather than channeling dollars to active forest management to reduce the risk of wildfire, the Federal government must spend its funds defending sound management practices from this perpetual environmental litigation machine.” ~Rep. Tom McClintock

House Committee on Natural Resources Press Release

Policy Overview

♦The U.S. Forest Service is entrusted with managing 193 million acres1 of mostly forested areas in 43 states and Puerto Rico.

♦Currently, Fifty-eight million acres of national forest are at high or very high risk of severe wildfire3 due in large part to a lack of active management of the landscape.

♦When District Rangers, Forest Supervisors and their staffs attempt to advance forest thinning and other active management projects, their efforts can be significantly delayed or derailed due in large part to ever increasing environmental analysis requirements resulting in longer, more costly planning timelines and significantly increased regulatory complexity.

♦Ever-increasing analyses are a direct result of attempts by the Forest Service to make environmental analysis documents “bullet-proof” in an increasingly litigious landscape.

♦As reported in the Helena Independent Record, “the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Forest Management Act (NFMA) are most often cited as the basis for litigation.”

♦Vegetative management activities account for more than 40 percent of all lawsuits brought against the Forest Service.

♦According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis of data provided by the National Association of Environmental Professionals, the Forest Service produced 572 Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) between 2008 and 2012, nearly 25 percent of all draft and final EIS produced during that time period.

Panel Examines Negative Impacts of Excessive Litigation on Forest Health 

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 8, 2017 –

Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a hearing to examine how litigation and increasingly excessive environmental analysis facing the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has exacerbated the ongoing forest health crisis.

♦“We are bankrupting the future,” witness Lyle Laverty, Certified Forester and President of the Laverty Group, said. “America’s green infrastructure is on life support, perhaps even on the brink of ecological collapse.”

58 million acres of national forests are at high or very high risk of severe wildfire. Despite deteriorating forest health and the increasing potential for catastrophic wildfire, USFS employees spend more than 40 percent of their time conducting planning and analysis instead of managing our federal forests and rangelands.

♦“[O]ur national forests are dying from neglect,” Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA) said. “[R]ather than channeling dollars to active forest management to reduce the risk of wildfire, the Federal government must spend its funds defending sound management practices from this perpetual environmental litigation machine.”

Environmental laws originally intended to protect the environment, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, are now working against the USFS, significantly hindering active management.

♦”This has contributed to the decline of the very resources the laws are intended to protect,” Laverty stated. “Unnatural fuel accumulations lead to the uncharacteristic wildfires that can and will ultimately harm listed species and water quality.”

The panel outlined how excessive lawsuits and vague statutory authorities force the USFS to make environmental analysis documents “bullet-proof,” in fear of litigation.

In this litigation-prone climate, Laverty argued the federal focus “has been mostly prevention of harm from action. The potential for harm from inaction has largely been ignored.”

Another witness, Lawson Fite, General Counsel for the American Forest Resource Council, argued that a large percentage of lawsuits aren’t targeted as specific legal violations, but are instead used by self-proclaimed environmental groups to halt or prevent restoration activities.

♦“They force the agencies into years-long paperwork exercises that result in no project changes or conservation benefit,” Fite said.

♦“They have succeeded...  It might be making environmental attorneys rich, but it is  killing our forests,” McClintock added.

♦Fite, however, offered hope, describing forestry as “an area of bipartisan progress” noting: “There are a number of measures with support from Republicans and Democrats, environmentalists and industry, which can streamline environmental compliance while preserving a right of review and protecting resources such as watersheds and wildlife. The time for action is now.”

♦”Healthy forests are a win-win-win situation,” Rep. Westerman (R-AR) stated“We should all be able to work together to manage our forests in a healthy, sustainable manner for everyone’s benefit.”

http://freerangereport.com/index.php/2017/06/10/how-environmentalist-litigation-is-sending-our-national-forests-up-in-smoke/

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Hearing lambasts “sue and settle” agreements

Agriculture, Clean Water ACT - EPA, Lawsuits

Western Livestock Journal

wlj, 06-05-2017 » Page 1

Hearing lambasts “sue and settle” agreements

— Cost to taxpayers staggering

Cozy consent decrees between environmental groups and agencies could become a thing of the past if a recent hearing on Capitol Hill is any indication. On May 24, a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing examined abusive “sue and settle” tactics, their effects, and how to put a stop to them.

There to explain “sue and settle” to the committee were several witnesses from the private sector, including an Idaho rancher; a Colorado property rights attorney; an environmental attorney; and a representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, William Kovacs.

The “sue and settle” phenomenon happens under the “citizen suit” provisions of environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Environmental groups sue agencies, usually on procedural errors such as missed deadlines. Often, the agencies then voluntarily agree to consent decrees instead of going to trial.

Those settlements can result in new federal regulations that lack public vetting and analysis, because they often include abbreviated deadlines for agency decisions, Kovacs said. They can also result in the denial of federal permits or the imposition of permit conditions on private parties such as ranchers. They can bind an agency to future actions, and sometimes even bind future administrations.

The only parties than can enforce a consent decree are the interest group, the agency, or the court, Kovacs explained. The public is completely left out of the process. Even parties that intervene to defend against environmental groups are most often left out of the settlement.

Cozy—and costly

Furthermore, there doesn’t always appear to be an adversarial relationship between the interest groups and the agencies, Kovacs argued. For example, he said between 2009 and 2012 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chose not to defend itself in over 60 Clean Air Act lawsuits from advocacy groups. These cases resulted in settlement agreements—and EPA ultimately published more than 100 new regulations.

The cost to Americans is staggering. According to a 2013 Chamber report, the 10 most costly regulations from sue-and-settle agreements (all EPA water and air regulations) cost the economy in excess of $100 billion annually. Kovacs noted that, between 2013 and 2016, settlements and new regulations only increased.

Setting the agenda Ironically, the shorter deadlines imposed by consent decrees are usually the result of deadlines already missed by the agency, Kovacs said.

“Here’s how the problem starts,” Kovacs explained. “An agency like the EPA misses somewhere between 84 percent and 96 percent of its deadlines. And once a deadline is missed, the interest group can sue the agency.”

And since EPA misses virtually all of its deadlines, he went on to say interest groups can cherry-pick which rules out of hundreds of rules they want to advance. “It’s through this selection process that the interest groups establish the priorities of the agency,” he said.

Creating log-jams

Another witness at the hearing, Colorado attorney Kent Holsinger, also pointed out how environmental groups are sometimes creating the very “log-jams” that open the door for litigation. For example, by petitioning to list hundreds of species at a time under the ESA, certain groups have made it impossible for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to meet its ESA-imposed deadlines. The groups then litigate those missed deadlines, forcing the agency to divert resources into the courtroom and miss even more deadlines.

The staggering number of ESA lawsuits brought by a few environmental groups over the years finally resulted in the infamous 2011 “mega-settlements” that gave USFWS shortened deadlines on over 1,000 species listing decisions. The result, Holsinger said, has been numerous listings and critical habitat designations that haven’t been properly analyzed by the agency or vetted by the public.

Ranching in the crosshairs

Witness Darcy Helmick, an Idaho rancher and representative of Simplot Land & Livestock, gave several examples of how interest groups use missed agency deadlines and settlements to target the livestock industry. In one case on Idaho’s Jarbidge Resource Area, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), anti-grazing litigators had sued to prevent BLM from renewing a large number of grazing permits. That lawsuit resulted in a settlement agreement wherein BLM was to perform environmental reviews within a certain timeline before renewing the permits.

But then the special interest group sued BLM again on a separate matter, making it impossible for the field office to accomplish its environmental reviews in time. Over 2,000 pairs of cattle had to be removed for over 80 days until a judge issued an order allowing them back on.

Taxpayers funding the problem

Several of the witnesses noted that interest groups are benefiting nicely from attorney fees awarded in settlement agreements. Holsinger pointed to a 2012 House Committee on Natural Resources investigation that showed that, between 2008 and 2012, the federal government paid more than $15 million in attorney fees on ESA-related lawsuits alone.

“Unfortunately,” Holsinger noted, “the true cost of ‘sue and settle’ is impossible to ascertain as neither the agencies nor the Department of Justice seem to keep track.”

Holsinger also pointed out that many of the groups that use “sue and settle” receive extensive government grants. For example, WildEarth Guardians, one of the groups party to the 2011 ESA mega-settlements, received $800,104 in government grants—just in 2016.

Legislation needed

Though things could be different under the Trump administration (EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt stated in March 2017 that the EPA intended to end the practice of ‘sue and settle’), the problem reaches beyond the EPA and beyond this administration, the witnesses noted.

“Legislation is needed, because the [sue and settle] practice can be repetitive in the future,” said Kovacs.

One bill, H.R. 1525, the Stop Taxpayer Funded Settlements Act, would prevent attorney fees from being awarded in settlements regarding the Clean Air Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, or the ESA.

Several witnesses also pointed to H.R. 469, the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2017 (Senate companion bill S. 119). The bill would require the defending agency to provide a 60-day notice to the public on consent decrees so the public can provide comments. The agency would then be required to provide a summary of those comments to the court for review. Additionally, interested parties such as ranchers would be granted the right to intervene and participate in the consent decree if they could establish their rights weren’t being adequately protected by the defending agency.

“We are not trying to change any of the law in terms of how the process goes or the discretion of the agencies,” said Kovacs. “What we’re trying to do with H.R. 469 is bring transparency to the process.”— Theodora Johnson, WLJ correspondent

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Citizens File Lawsuit Against State of California

JEFFERSON DECLARATION, Lawsuits, Liberty

May 3, 2017

Citizens for Fair Representation (CFR) will file a lawsuit against the State of California for lack of representation and dilution of vote. CFR represents citizens from 21 rural counties in the northern area of the State. A long list of plaintiffs have joined CFR in the lawsuit, representing a diversity of cultures, ages, races and political philosophy.

Over the last 3 years, most of these plaintiffs have petitioned the California State Legislature and Secretary of State seeking equal/fair representation, Tens of thousands of letters, phone calls and emails have gone out to their elected representatives, requesting they introduce a Bill or Resolution, creating a more representative balance in both legislative chambers. The plaintiffs have personally visited individual legislative offices, but plaintiffs claim that all requests have gone ignored, leaving them no choice but to now enter the legal process.

Currently, California’s population is just under 40 million, represented by 40 State Senators and 80 Assembly members. The same number of elected representatives that in 1862 represented 416,640 people.

Prior to 1964, just about every County was represented by one State Senator. Today a California State Senator represents an average of 1 million people, with each assembly member, representing 500,000. Currently, 11 northern rural counties have one Senator whose vote is diluted by 15 senators representing the single County of Los Angeles.

California’s imbalance of representation ranks the worst on the list of 50 States. The small state of New Hampshire has 400 in their State House of Representatives, with one representative for less than 4,000 people. There are 24 State Senators, or 1 for every 55,000 citizens. New Hampshire’s ratio of balance closely models the representation that CFR is seeking to accomplish. If CFR is successful, this would be history in the making, not only for their 21 counties, but all of California’s 58 counties and those in other states.

Claimants state, “California’s refusal to increase its levels of representation to reflect its exponential population growth is both arbitrary and unconstitutional. “

The case, Citizens for Fair Representation vs Secretary of State Alex Padilla, will be filed on May 8th, in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Sacramento Division. Citizens for Fair Representation is a 501(C)(4), a non profit corporation.

# # # Attention News Editors: For interviews or more information, please call Mark Baird, 530-227-6729, Terry Rapoza, 530-246-9706.

Terry Gherardi, CfFR Public Information Officer – 530-677-4294

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