Author: Thomas Mitchell

BLM Publishes New Plans to Protect Sage Grouse

The Bureau of Land Management under the Trump administration has followed through on its promise to give states greater flexibility on protecting greater sage grouse. On Friday a 204-page draft management plan for Nevada and northeastern California was published in the Federal Register. The plan specifically states that its purpose is to enhance cooperation with the states by modifying sage grouse management to better align with the plans created by Nevada and California, covering more than 45 million acres under the jurisdiction of the BLM. Though it was determined that sage grouse did not qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act, in 2015 the Obama administration violated the law and ignored scientific evidence when it concocted a 341-page pronouncement that 10 million acres of public land in 16 Western states — nearly a third of that in Nevada — would be taken out of consideration for future mining claims, as well as oil and gas drilling near breeding grounds and that there would be additional reviews on grazing permits. The plan envisioned restrictions on grazing, resource development, solar and wind energy, and public access to public land in Nevada. According to a press release put out by the BLM announcing the new plans, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval welcomed the more cooperative stance by the agency. “I look forward to reviewing the draft Environmental Impact Statement and I trust...

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Why Education Spending Should Be Cut

Teachers are walking out of classrooms in Colorado and Arizona, demanding higher salaries and more education funding. Lawmakers are rushing to meet their demands. Here in Nevada all the candidates for governor are kowtowing to the demand for more education funding. Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt has declared, “We must continue to move forward, not backward, in the areas where we’ve made great strides. In particular, Nevada policymakers have implemented a series of programs designed to address a critical area — improving early literacy. I’ll continue to champion these promising new programs. I pledge that under my leadership, these programs and our entire public education system will be properly funded — we will never go backwards from our current levels of education spending. I repeat: I will not scale back public education funding.” His Republican opponent Treasurer Dan Schwartz has said he wants to find a way to wrest the $750 million in tax money earmarked for a Raiders football stadium and redirect it to fund education. Democratic candidates and currently Clark County Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have both called for more education spending. “Every child in Nevada deserves the opportunity to succeed and that starts with strong public schools,” Sisolak states on his campaign website. “Steve supports investing in Nevada schools so they have the resources to provide a safe and effective learning environment for all...

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Beware of California Censorship Law

Maybe it is time to update that old hippie paean that goes, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair,” to: “If you’re going to California, be sure to leave your Bible at home.” Like Nevada, California has a law on the books making it illegal for any therapist to provide so-called conversion therapy to anyone under the age of 18. In Nevada that is defined as “any practice or treatment that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person.” It is illegal no matter whether the child or his or her parents are willing participants. Recently the California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 2943 on a vote of 50-14, making it unlawful to advertise, offer to engage in or engage in any effort whatsoever to change anyone’s sexual orientation by anyone at all. The bill specifically states: “Courts, including in California, have recognized the practice of sexual orientation change efforts as a commercial service. Therefore, claims that sexual orientation change efforts are effective in changing an individual’s sexual orientation, may constitute unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business practices under state consumer protection laws. This bill intends to make clear that sexual orientation change efforts are an unlawful practice under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.” Now, there are a number of passages in the Christian Bible and, or so we’re...

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BLM Calculates Costs of Wild Horse Options

The Bureau of Land Management sent to Congress late this past week a report outlining four options for reducing the wild horse and burro population in 10 Western states to sustainable levels. Only one of the four options includes the use of euthanasia, but that was enough to give the self-styled wild horse lovers palpitations. “The BLM today released a roadmap for destruction of America’s wild free-roaming horse and burros by virtually eradicating their populations on our Western public lands,” Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign, fired off in a press release. “The agency has failed to deliver the ‘humane and politically viable’ options requested by Congress, and instead has devised an irresponsible plan that is counter to public opinion …” The BLM report noted that there now are 83,000 wild horses and burros on a range that it says can adequately sustain no more than 26,715 such animals. In addition there are another 46,000 unadapted animals being warehoused in pens and holding pastures. The cost of maintaining those no-longer wild horses and burros drains 60 percent of the agency’s current $81 million annual budget for handling the animals. Though the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act called for unadoptable animals to be sold without restriction or humanely destroyed, Congress for the past decade has used budget riders to prohibit that. “Wild horses and...

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PUC Tilts at Power Choice Initiative

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission, which is tasked with regulating the state’s monopoly utilities, has put out a 109-page report detailing a litany of things that could go wrong if voters again approve at the ballot box in November a constitutional amendment creating a free market for electricity. In 2016 voters approved the Energy Choice Initiative by an overwhelming 72.4 percent to 27.6 percent. Because the measure would amend the state Constitution it is back on the ballot this fall for final voter approval, but this time around a coalition headed by the state’s largest power monopoly, NV Energy, has vowed to spend $30 million to defeat it. The PUC report reads like an in-kind contribution to that effort. A foreword signed by PUC Chairman Joe Reynolds declares that, while the concept of open markets is quintessentially American, “ensuring a non-stop supply of electricity to every home, business, and governmental entity in Nevada every second of every day of the year, regardless of the weather or economy, makes it unique from other goods and services. Electricity is a basic necessity of modern life. Like air. Like water. Like food.” Thank goodness for those government regulated monopoly grocery stores. While Reynolds says the report neither supports or opposes the initiative, the bulk of its findings appear to find fault with the proposal. The initiative would require the Legislature to pass...

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