Yellowstone shaking in the New Year

Hundreds of earthquakes are rumbling through Yellowstone National Park up to 3.9 on the Richter scale, enough almost be causing damage.

This shows how close the earthquakes are to each other:

Obama made his mark in Idaho

The biggest most important moment in Idaho in 2008?

This year it is not even close. When Barack Obama stood up in Taco Bell Arena and said “They told me there weren’t any Democrats in Idaho,” before a crowd of more than 14,000 people, it was clear he had broad appeal. For weeks after the Feb. 2 Boise appearance the national media ran the clip of his speech at Boise State University.

Lucas says giant solar and wind farms may go extinct

Laird Lucas looks at the wind farms and solar farms popping up across the West the same way my son looks at my old personal digital assistant.

Lucas is the lead attorney of Advocates for the West, a group of attorneys that has successfully driven much of the environmental changes forced upon Idaho over the last decade and a half. His court victories have caused Idaho lawmakers to spend millions of dollars to clean up rivers, caused ranchers to stop their cows from trampling stream banks and halted the building of a nuclear waste incinerator.

Wolf delisting decision won't come today

Wolves in the Northern Rockies won’t be removed from Endangered Species Act protection today and probably not this week.

The Bush Administration wants to remove them again before it leaves office but the process of getting such a major rule through the government during the holidays is daunting. It's especially hard when some issues remain unresolved.

What's the proper role of science in policy debates?

What should be the role of scientists in public policy?

Should they stick to science and leave the policy making to others? Should policy makers leave the science to scientists? How do policymakers and more important citizens of a democracy deal with scientific uncertainty in decisionmaking?

Hope can be found in Christmas bells

Even though we remain involved in two wars most Americans’ thought this Christmas are on the economy and how much they’ve lost. There also is the fear of losing more like their jobs, their health care or their homes. These feelings of despair often cloud those of hope even when our lives are not as troubled.

At Christmas I annually ponder Henry David Wadsworth Longfellow, the American poet of the 19th century, who knew these feelings well. For him they were strongest at Christmas time in 1863, when a weary America was in the middle of a bloody Civil War.

Salmon advocates call for BPA boss Wright's removal

Steve Wright leads one of the largest most carbon-free power providers in the United States.

The administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration is a Democrat. He just signed contracts with 135 public power customers that are designed to stabilize power rates in the region which are among the lowest in the nation.

BPA has a power surplus.

So with climate change a major issue why does Wright have a target on his back with a Democratic administration prepared to take over? One word: salmon.

Craig leaves water studies hidden in omnibus bill

Republican Sen. Larry Craig will step down from the U.S. Senate in 10 days but he will leave at least one legacy waiting for completion in the next Congress.

Hidden deep in the nearly 150 public lands bills referred to as the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which includes Sen. Mike Crapo’s Owyhee Canyonlands bill and a Snake River Wild and Scenic Rivers bill for Wyoming, is authorization for $3 million for feasibility studies of new dam and reservoir projects on the Snake River, Boise and Payette rivers in Idaho.

Sage grouse will be Salazar's first test

Interior Secretary nominee Ken Salazar's first test will come with his decision whether to list or not to list the sage grouse as threatened or endangered.

The bird is the canary in the coal mine of the health of millions of acres of sagebrush steppe habitat across 11 western states. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must decide by May whether to list the bird after a decision by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in Boise in a case filed on behalf of the Western Watersheds Project.

Assistant secretaries, agency heads will tease out Obama lands policies

Now that President-elect Barack Obama has nominees for Interior and Agriculture secretary the nitty gritty work begins.

Obama followed the pattern he has for all of his cabinet picks so far by picking two centralists, Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar for Interior Secretary and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. They are viewed a savvy political veterans who can work with people on both sides of the aisle to carry forth Obama’s policy, whatever it may be for public lands and rural America.

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