Monday, August 26, 2013

Fire near Yosemite burns Sierra Pacific land

The huge wildfire raging near Yosemite National Park has burned about 12,000 acres of Sierra Pacific Industries-owned land, company spokesman Mark Pawlicki told me this afternoon. The company owns about 18,000 acres in the area.

No dollar figure has yet been placed on the loss, he said.

"The smoke is so thick we can't assess it yet," he said. "We're doing rough estimates."

SPI foresters in the area are helping fire agencies by providing maps and assisting with fire breaks, Pawlicki said. The company will be able to salvage log burned areas, so it'll shift its resources there and away from harvesting the green timber until the work is done, he said.

This is the second year in a row that a big wildfire has damaged a large swath of SPI land. Last year's Ponderosa Fire burned 17,600 acres of SPI-owned timberland -- the worst damage the company has ever seen from a fire.

For my story on the Rim Fire's impacts on agriculture, check CapitalPress.com soon.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Klamath Basin endures another water crisis



In the photos, Upper Klamath Basin ranchers Roger Nicholson and Linda Long are in the midst of showing the impacts of this summer's water shutoff on the region. The two gave me a tour of areas north of Klamath Falls last week. Long discusses some of the impacts in this AP story that we published today.

I'm working on a major project examining the latest Klamath Basin water crisis, which explains my relative blog and Facebook silence of late. You can look for my Page One centerpiece in an upcoming issue of Capital Press, or check back at CapitalPress.com.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tehama today: Almond shaking under way



In the photos, worker Elias Sanchez uses a shaker on a nonpareil almond tree, and grower Kevin Borror checks the condition of almonds during harvest. The photos were taken this afternoon at Borror's Tehama Angus Ranch near Tehama, which produces almonds and walnuts as well as cattle.

This year's almond crop in California is lighter than growers had expected this spring, but the crop is still poised to be the third largest in the state's history.

For my complete story, check CapitalPress.com soon.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Libya 'whistleblowers' to speak in Redding

An American couple that worked and traveled in Libya at the height of the recent turmoil there will speak to the Redding Tea Party next Monday night. Jimmy and JoAnne Moriarty will discuss the 2011 NATO air strikes and the fall of former leader Moammar Gadhafi, the forces behind the turmoil in Syria and Egypt and "the facts surrounding the 9/11 attack in Benghazi," the Tea Party's Erin Ryan said in an email. From a bio forwarded by Ryan:
Jimmy & JoAnne spent years developing a lucrative business in the oil sector in Libya. They just concluded negotiations in February 2011 and signed contracts to begin their business in Libya when the Arab Spring hit that country.

In April of 2011 Jimmy & JoAnne are asked and accept to head a Fact Finding Commission to Tripoli, Libya. In May their sojourn begins in London, continues through Tunisia and then by bus to Tripoli. Within the FFC, they are witnesses to horrific bomb sites, wounded children, raped women and other atrocities. They are shocked and saddened by what they witness.
The Moriartys are traveling around the country, making speeches and going on radio shows, including Redding's "We The People" show, "rather than hide in the shadows as directed by U.S. agencies," the announcement stated. The couple will appear Aug. 12 at 6 p.m. at Destiny Fellowship Church, 2570 South Bonnyview Rd., Redding.

Friday, August 2, 2013

House bills tackle Obama admin excess

The north state's Rep. Doug LaMalfa joined other Republicans in the House of Representatives today in passing a package of bills aimed at curbing what they see as excessive spending and regulations imposed by the Executive Branch.

According to LaMalfa's office, the bills include:

· Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2013, H.R. 367. This bill would require congressional approval of new regulations and restrict the power of bureaucracies.

· Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013, H.R. 2009. This measure prevents the IRS from imposing new taxes to fund the President’s health care takeover.

· STOP the IRS Act, H.R. 2565. Cutting through the red tape protecting government workers who abuse their positions, this bill allows the termination of IRS employees who use their official powers for political purposes.

· Government Employee Accountability Act, H.R. 2579. Allows agencies to place employees on unpaid leave when they are under investigation for certain serious offenses.

· Government Spending Accountability Act, H.R. 2711. This bill increases transparency with respect to taxpayer-funded conferences, places limits on federal conferences, and requires agency head approval for the most expensive conferences.

· Government Customer Service Improvement Act of 2013, H.R. 1660. Requires agencies to adopt customer service standards and to hold their organization and federal workers accountable.

· Stop Playing on Citizen's Cash Act, H.R. 2769. This bill puts a halt to lavish IRS conferences until new rules limiting these trips are in place.

· Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act of 2013, H.R. 2768. This bill gives the Commissioner of the IRS the responsibility of ensuring that Internal Revenue Service employees are familiar with and act in accord with taxpayer rights, including a right to privacy and confidentiality.

· Citizen Empowerment Act, H.R. 2711. Leveling the playing field between citizens and government, this bill ensures that individuals have the right to record their meetings and telephone exchanges with federal officials and requires that individuals be notified of this right.

· Common Sense in Compensation Act, H.R. 1541. This bill puts common-sense limits on the size of bonuses government employees can receive and restricts the number of bonuses that may be given to senior officials.

My colleague Carol Ryan Dumas is preparing a story on the bill that requires congressional approval of any new government regulation that would cost over $100 million. Watch for her report at CapitalPress.com.

LaMalfa presses FWS over frog designation

The north state's Rep. Doug LaMalfa queried U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe yesterday about the proposed designation of millions of acres of the Sierra Nevada mountains as critical habitat for the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog. His questions came during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing. The critical habitat designation proposed by FWS would encompass over 2.2 million acres of the Sierras. LaMalfa also announced a public forum on the proposal in Nevada City on Wednesday, September 4, which the FWS has agreed to attend.

“Every study on these frogs has found that the chytrid fungus is causing their decline, not human activity, yet the Fish and Wildlife Service is considering drastic limits on land use in over 2.2 million acres,” LaMalfa said. “Over 20 percent of Nevada County alone would face new environmental regulation under this plan, and residents deserve a say in the matter.”

Nielsen seeks to restore skilled nursing funds

The north state's Sen. Jim Nielsen, a Republican, has teamed with Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo of Salinas to call for restoring Medi-Cal funding for California’s most vulnerable patients. In the last five years, about 40 hospital-based skilled nursing facilities in the state have closed due to financial pressures and many more find themselves at the brink of bankruptcy and closure, the lawmakers contend. This is the result of Medi-Cal cuts that were implemented to deal with the budget crisis two years ago, they explain. Although California’s budget purportedly has a surplus this year, Gov. Jerry Brown has not committed to reversing those cuts.

“In many cases, these hospital-based skilled-nursing facilities are the only point of access to health care, especially in the rural areas I represent,” said Nielsen, whose district includes many small hospitals in Northern California. “Unless we take action, these facilities are going to close. That means patients will remain in the acute-care hospital longer, adding greater costs to the health care system than the dollars ’saved’ through the proposed cuts from two years ago."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Petition seeks to defund Obamacare

A new national petition to block funding for Obamacare already has more than 130,000 signatures. The site, www.dontfundobamacare.com, urges Republicans to withhold funds in budget legislation expected over the next two months and lists where each GOP senator stands on the issue. "This is the last opportunity we’re going to have to stop Obamacare before the January 1 deadline so we have to refuse to fund it now," Utah Sen. Mike Lee says on the site. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas agrees, saying on a radio show today that the White House's goal is to get enough people "addicted to the subsidy" so that the program will never be rescinded. In the West, both Idaho senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, are listed as having pledged to defund the health care measure.

New EPA czar won't talk about job losses

From the Congressional Western Caucus:
At her first public speech, newly confirmed Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy set the tone for her reign at the EPA with the question, “Can we stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs please?” Congressman Steve Pearce, Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, has an answer for her:

“If you stop killing jobs for just one day, we will stop talking about the jobs lost for one day.”

The EPA under President Obama is responsible for purposefully over-regulating everything from coal plants to dust in rural communities. Of course the EPA wants to stop talking about jobs. They’ve made it their mission to regulate Americans out of jobs every day for the last 5 years.