CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 19, 2009 |
Across the desert flatlands of southeastern California, dozens of companies have flooded federal offices with applications to place solar mirrors on more than a million acres of public land. But just as some of those projects appear headed toward fruition, environmental hurdles threaten to jeopardize efforts to further tap the region's renewable energy potential. The development of solar-power facilities in the desert has been a top priority of the Obama administration as it seeks to ease the nation's dependence on fossil fuels and curb global warming.
October 16, 2009 |
The Obama Interior Department is reviewing a decision made by the Bush administration in its final days that attempted to lock in lucrative royalty rates and favorable regulations for oil companies holding leases for oil-shale development on public lands. The decision, which came in the form of amendments to existing leases, drew little public notice at the end of the Bush administration in January. But since then, congressional watchdogs, environmental groups and state officials in Colorado, where most of the leases are located, have denounced the amendments as a massive giveaway to the oil industry.
October 9, 2009 |
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Thursday that only 17 of 77 oil and gas leases on Utah public lands that the Bush administration auctioned off in December were valid and that his agency would prevent development on the remaining parcels, at least in the near future. Salazar spoke at a Washington news conference to announce the findings of a report he commissioned this year on the parcels, which became the subject of a fierce controversy during the waning days of George W. Bush's presidency.
October 7, 2009
Christian crosses and other religious symbols are common sights in a military cemetery, and appropriately so. But the U.S. Supreme Court will be asked today to approve a war memorial in California's Mojave National Preserve that consists entirely of an 8-foot-high cross. It would offend the 1st Amendment if the court endorsed this discriminatory display in a public space. Even worse would be a broad decision opening the way for other such displays. In 1934, the Veterans of Foreign Wars erected a cross along with a plaque commemorating the "Dead of All Wars" on an outcrop called Sunrise Rock.
July 7, 2009 |
The wife of a southern Utah doctor who killed himself after his arrest on charges of stealing Native American artifacts from public lands pleaded guilty on Monday to similar charges. As part of a plea agreement, Jeanne Redd, 59, pleaded guilty to seven counts of theft of government and tribal property and trafficking in stolen artifacts. Federal prosecutors agreed to seek a lesser penalty at her September sentencing than the maximum 10 years in prison provided for under the charges.
June 11, 2009 |
Striking at a longtime practice in the Four Corners area, federal authorities Wednesday unsealed indictments against 24 people in what they called the largest investigation ever into the looting of Native American artifacts on public lands. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the charges at a Salt Lake City news conference and said in a telephone interview that many of the stolen items, valued at $335,000, came from sacred burial sites.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 1, 2009 |
A rush to stake claims for renewable energy projects in the California desert has triggered a federal investigation and prompted calls for reforms to prevent public lands from being exposed to private profiteering and environmental degradation. Officials said last week that the inspector general's office of the Department of the Interior was investigating Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar Inc.'s recent acquisition of Hayward, Calif.
April 2, 2009 |
On Monday, President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, placing more than 2 million acres of public land in nine states under Wilderness Act protection. The new legislation preserves remote glacial valleys in Wyoming, fragile deserts in California and dense forests in northern Michigan, making these and other tracts of pristine land permanently off-limits to road building, oil and gas drilling and commercial timber harvesting.
March 15, 2009 |
As a relatively new convert to mountain biking, I'm already familiar with the hazards of this pastime. In my short two or three years as an enthusiast, I've been a victim of protruding roots, tire-swallowing sand pits, teeth-jarring washboard trails and slick, half-buried rocks that have sabotaged my good times like rain on a picnic. But I never thought I would have to worry about Claymore mines, hand grenades, 3-inch antitank rifle grenades and 81-millimeter mortars.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 15, 2009 |
Magic Mountain, a rugged peak rising out of the Angeles National Forest, is unknown to all but the most intrepid hikers. For good reason. The former Nike missile site -- not the amusement park of the same name -- is a Cold War remnant, one of 16 such outposts erected around Los Angeles during the 1950s as an air defense system. This battery, with its subterranean concrete missile silos, was built in 1955 and monitored by the Army until the '70s.