While the Obama Administration and the EPA continue their assault on the coal industry in the United States, mandating a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020, it seems that their “war on coal” is only interested in attacking US power companies. In fact, it’s cutting sweet deals with foreign interests, exporting American coal for pennies on the dollar from BLM controlled lands.
The Northern Plains Resource Council has filed a lawsuit on May 14, 2014, against a federal coal lease in Musselshell County, Montana, alleging that BLM failed to study the impacts of mining in ranch country. Huge cracks appearing in the surface there are affecting spring-flows, draining water away from livestock and other ranching uses, which will also affect wildlife.
Much concern is also being raised about the incredible loss of revenue to American taxpayers in light of the BLM “giving away 25 coal seams for the price of one” to Signal Peak Energy, the mining company involved. An international commodities company, Gunvor, bought one third interest in the coal mine in 2011. A close friend of Vladimir Putin, named Timchenko, held a 43% interest in Gunvor until the sanctions resulting from the Russian annexation of Crimea. Timchenko, who was co-founder of Gunvor, sold his interest to his partner, Tornqvist. Forbes magazine places Timchenko on the list of sanctioned Russian billionaires and close associates with Putin, who according to this Forbes article, may still have access to Gunvor funds, and holds Gunvor investments.
As the Obama noose tightens around the necks of domestic coal energy providers, those companies seeking to stay in business have looked offshore. American coal exports have doubled since 2009 to 120 Million tons according to this Wall Street Journal story. That same story says that European natural gas powered electricity is being displaced by much cheaper imported American coal, mostly UK, Netherlands, and Italy. Germany is planning to shut down its nuclear powered plants and replace with coal. China and India’s voracious appetite for coal has hardly even been addressed by American coal, yet.
So, as America’s coal consumption drops, the rest of the world’s increased usage will consume much more than what America conserves. This will further place America at an economic disadvantage, especially if the government continues to sell its coal at firesale clearance prices.
Meanwhile, across the country to southern New Mexico where yet another battle is under way between federal authorities and ranchers of Otero County, along the Aqua Chiquita (Little Water creek). US Forest Service has built metal fences with padlocked gates to keep cattle from accessing water from the spring-fed stream. (Seems ironic they can build fences to control cattle and ranchers but refuse to finish the border fence to control illegal aliens and drug traffic.)
The County Commissioners voted to order the Sheriff to cut the locks, allowing ranchers to access water for their livestock. According to the Forest Service, the fence was built to preserve the “wetlands” of the area. The frustration continues to grow and no resolution appears to be in sight. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) said what’s happening in Otero County is another example of overreach by the federal government. “These disputes could be easily avoided if federal bureaucrats would stick to their constitutional oath and respect property rights,” he said. [via Western Ag Reporter]
County Commissioner Tommy Herrell called the agency’s actions tyranny, he said the Forest Service is unwilling to temporarily open the gates while the parties search for long-term solutions.
Newest Monument: New Mexico
Just a couple hours drive southwest of Agua Chiquita near Las Cruces is another 500,000 acres just recently designated as a National Monument by President Obama. National Monuments, parks and wilderness areas in border states have long been corridors for criminal elements of all kinds coming up from Mexico. Via this Fox News story:
Dona Ana County Sheriff Tom Garrison told FoxNews.com the monument will likely hamper law enforcement’s ability to patrol the area. That’s because nearly half of the land will be set aside as wilderness. When that happens, the area will be largely closed off to vehicles, including police cars.
Garrison said his concerns have fallen on deaf ears, and says he’s been shut out of the process.
“They tell the media they have talked to law enforcement, but they haven’t talked to local law enforcement,” he said. “They haven’t talked to me. They talk to Border Patrol and Border Patrol tells [lawmakers and media] whatever Washington tells them to say.”
Again, local ranchers are concerned that the new designation will further restrict their leases and property rights. The Cliven Bundy story in Nevada is just the tip of the iceberg.
[Interesting Statistic: The United States Government directly owns 650 million acres of land. That’s 30% of the landmass of the entire 50 States, or almost 19 times the size of the state of Iowa!]
America, when “Federal Over-Reach” starts to limit your bank accounts, travel, and consumption of goods and services, perhaps you will remember these anecdotes. When your retirement accounts and pensions, along with your medical care, become subjected to these same types of controls perhaps you’ll realize it’s too late to do anything about it. It’s not about ranching, or coal mining, or even national monuments…