The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. —THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1788

Nevada standoff: Yes, it’s solar-industry cronies (but NOT the Chinese)

Desert solar

My colleague Renee Nal pointed out yesterday that the federal government itself has been complicit in plans to euthanize hundreds of Desert Tortoises, the endangered species supposedly at the center of the just-ended cattle-ranch standoff in Nevada.

That’s one part of a bigger picture involving the corruption-ridden, taxpayer-dependent solar industry.  But this story isn’t the one you may have seen already, about Harry Reid and the Chinese energy firm ENN.  I actually think that story is off-base, as we’ll see below.  What the hounding of Cliven Bundy is about instead is the interests involved in a solar farm that is connected with the grazing area for Cliven Bundy’s cattle.

There’s a whole separate argument to be made about property rights, size of government, government versus the property owner, etc.  Along with Kevin D. Williamson, who has put a nice downpayment on that discussion at National Review, LU’s Nate and Renee (again) have put down markers.  More on this in the days ahead.

But this other matter needs to be addressed first.  There’s been a widely disseminated report (see link above) that the Bundy family is being hounded with special vigor right now because of a solar-farm project involving Chinese firm ENN, whose chief counsel in the USA is Harry Reid’s son, Rory Reid.  Much of the background reporting in that story is correct, including the fact that the Bureau of Land Management’s current director moved to that job from a position on Harry Reid’s staff.  The BLM study objecting to the Bundy cattle, and tying it to a “mitigation proposal” for solar-energy projects, is also relevant.

It’s just not relevant to the Chinese-backed solar project.  ENN dropped that project in June of 2013.  It’s no longer an active proposal, nor does the area for the project fall within one of the 17 “solar energy zones” (SEZs) designated by the Department of the Interior in 2012.

Moreover, the ENN project was unrelated to Cliven Bundy’s grazing easement on federal lands.  Its proposed location was down by Laughlin, well to the south of Gold Butte, the federal-lands area where multiple interests have been clashing with the Bundy family’s for the last 20 years.  See map 1.

Solar energy project areas in southern Nevada. (Google map; author annotation)

Map 1. Solar energy project areas in southern Nevada. (Google map; author annotation)

Mitigation for solar energy projects

The hinge-point of this investigation is, however, the “mitigation” project for Gold Butte, which lies just south of Bunkerville, Nevada.  A swath of northern Gold Butte is where the Bundy cattle graze.  BLM designated Gold Butte an “Area of Critical Environmental Concern” (ACEC) in 1998.  It’s one of several ACECs in Nevada.  Two of them are visible in red on Map 2 below:  the Gold Butte ACEC (the larger one to the east), and the Coyote Springs ACEC (the smaller one to the west).

BLM map of environmentally critical areas around the Dry Lake SEZ. ("Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone"; see text for link to source.)

Map 2. BLM map of environmentally critical areas around the Dry Lake SEZ. (“Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone”; see text for link to source.)

But the now-defunct Chinese-funded project had nothing to do with the mitigation effort in Gold Butte.  The Gold Butte mitigation push is connected to the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone (SEZ).  Readers who have already waded through the BLM document “Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone” recognize where I’m going here.  The BLM mitigation strategy, intended to mitigate the damage to the regional ecosystem expected from developing the Dry Lake SEZ, is to beef up environmental “protections” for Gold Butte.  As desert tortoises, and other fauna and flora, decline in the SEZ, they are to be encouraged and protected in the Gold Butte ACEC.  This may include measures like relocating desert tortoises to Gold Butte.

The BLM document is vague and cagey about “trespass cattle” as a threat to the Gold Butte ecosystem.  It names no names, and makes only a glancing reference to the issue.  (There’s one reference to “trespass livestock grazing” on p. 30.)

But, as documented by Free Republic and others, a separate BLM document naming Cliven Bundy, last updated in March 2014, had this to say about his cattle:

Non-Governmental Organizations have expressed concern that the regional mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone utilizes Gold Butte as the location for offsite mitigation for impacts from solar development, and that those restoration activities are not durable with the presence of trespass cattle.

(As of this writing, a cached version of the BLM document in question was available here.)

“Non-governmental organizations” means, in this case, environmental activists.  Not all of them favor development of the Dry Lake SEZ.  But some who are neutral about that, or even opposed to it, have nevertheless taken the opportunity posed by the mitigation plan to press for more exclusionary federal policies in Gold Butte.*  There has long been a push to declare Gold Butte a national conservation area (NCA), something on which locals in Clark County are deeply divided (with the environmental activists on one side, and most other long-time residents on the other).

The crony-corruption link

Now, here’s where it gets fun.  If the Dry Lake SEZ is the impetus behind tightening exclusionary policies on Gold Butte, but that’s not where the Chinese-backed solar farm was going to be, who is proposing to invest in Dry Lake?

What do you know.  It turns out to be our old pal, crony-corruption firm extraordinaire First Solar.  A BLM document from July 2012 reflects First Solar as the only company with an active application for a solar-energy project in the Dry Lake SEZ, and in a notice in the Federal Register on 17 March 2014 (see p. 14734; p. 133 of the PDF document), BLM confirms that the First Solar application is the only one on record, “serialized as NVN-084232.”  First Solar proposes to build a 400 megawatt solar-energy plant in the Dry Lake SEZ.

First Solar, you’ll remember, is the crony firm whose chairman of the board, Michael Ahearn, bundled hundreds of thousands in political donations for Obama and other Democrats, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Harry Reid.  First Solar was rewarded for this special excellence with over $3 billion in taxpayer “green energy” subsidies – whereupon it laid off most of its American workers and consolidated most of its activities overseas.  The company’s stock has performed very poorly in the years since First Solar began hanging on Uncle Sam’s bootstrap, in part because of product defects that have cost hundreds of millions in customer compensation.

But a firm whose vice president has an open door to Valerie Jarrett can’t be held down for long.  First Solar unloaded its underperforming CEO in 2012, brought in James Hughes – former Enron official named as an unindicted co-conspirator in 2006 – and shifted its emphasis from manufacturing to commercial-scale energy production.  The company now has active solar energy projects in California and Nevada, including the one launched in March 2014 on the Moapa Reservation north of the Dry Lake SEZ and west of Bunkerville.

Oh, and First Solar got a nice infusion of capital in 2013, when an equity stake was taken in the company by none other than General Electric, perhaps the most equal of all the Obama cronies.

Lower than a desert tortoise on the totem pole

The desert tortoise has to take what comes, when it gets in the way of the cash-funneling solar industry.  On 1 April, First Solar began digging up desert tortoises which are to be moved out of the way for the company’s Silver State and South Line solar array projects (the “Stateline” project), on either side of the California-Nevada border.  (Solar arrays are also hard on unfortunate birds, which might prefer a noble puree-ing in the blades of a wind turbine to the gruesome frying they get from solar arrays.)

But in his standoff with the federal government, Cliven Bundy, his heritage, and his livelihood are considered to be of even less importance.

* UPDATE:  Renee Nal posted an excellent piece at Tavernkeepers after I put this one up.  She focuses on the attacks of environmental activists against Bundy’s land use and property rights.  I encourage everyone to check her post out for a flavor of the long-running problem this has posed for ranchers all across the Western states.

Obama’s cronies have regularly leveraged environmentalist efforts to carve out special deals for alternative energy companies.  And vice versa:  the environmentalists have leveraged cronyism in the “green” energy industry to get what they want, even if sometimes the activists end up losing out (as when First Solar starts digging tortoises out of their burrows so it can expand a solar-energy farm).

If you want to read in-depth about the history of environmentalist inroads against property rights in the Western states, I can recommend three very useful books:  William Perry Pendley’s Sagebrush Rebel:  Reagan’s Battle with Environmental Extremists and Why It Matters Today; Pendley’s Warriors for the West; and Elizabeth Nickson’s Eco-Fascists: How Radical Conservationists are Destroying Our Natural Heritage (which is especially readable, reflective, and full of interesting anecdote).

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.

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  • Mac Boy

    … It’s Dirty Dog – Harry Reid, the ignorant, Dinosaur of the Dem Party!!!!

  • Renee Nal

    First Solar…. who’d of thunk it?? Great stuff – I suspect that this has been called off quickly specifically so people would stop digging into all of these connections – and there are many! Some are here as well, if you are interested:

    • gomurr

      Well, you know what happens if you tell a lie……

      They knew it wasn’t about grazing fees or turtles. Too bad for them, many of us knew it, also. I’m sure they felt they could invade a Nevada ranch, isolated in the middle of nowhere, no one around to object, make a big show of force and intimidate and threaten the targets, do the dirty deed and be gone. Well, then there’s Murphy’s law…….damn.

      The one thing our criminal leaders and their thug filled agencies really don’t like. That’s being at the center of national event which shows you in a bad light. On top of that, the arrival of thousands from across America, packing but peaceful, to support Bundy, must have been a shock. I doubt they ever saw it comming.

      They prefer no one is looking when doing what they’re not supposed to.

    • J.e. Dyer

      Thanks, Renee. I encountered the same info in doing the research on this the last two days. I decided against focusing on the environmentalists because the emphasis on First Solar seemed like the right one to go with. But you’re quite right, the environmental groups that have beset Bundy and many other ranchers across the Western states are an important piece of this.
      I hope everyone will visit Renee’s link. Good stuff!

  • Nate

    Pretty stunning information. In another time, the Feds would have rolled in unchallenged. Thankfully new media exposed this corruption. It was getting too much attention so I wonder who pulled the plug and pulled the BLM back?

    • J.e. Dyer

      I don’t know, Nate. I have the uneasy feeling that the feds are just regrouping right now, and that they’ll be back.

      • Rapier Half-Witt

        Once the FedGov has their teeth sunk into a victim history shows that they rarely ever let go. It’s almost as if it’s ego driven.

      • J.e. Dyer

        Agreed, RPH. I’m concerned that the Bundys still have reason to “be afraid…be very afraid.”
        Not that they’ll actually be afraid. But I can’t see Obama letting them win this one. I suspect the IRS and the EPA will be deployed soon.

      • Rapier Half-Witt

        Agreed. Although, on the point of being afraid, I believe they have every reason to be afraid. Law enforcement (of all types) have been developing the mentality over the last couple of decades that private citizens are expendable, as the SCOTUS decision 8 years ago demonstrates; law enforcement have no Constitutional responsibility to protect private citizens. Law enforcement mentality now demonstrates “I will go home safe and sound each night, no matter the cost to private citizens.”

        The multi-lettered agencies will be engaged to harass the Bundy’s until they are bankrupt and destitute. Recent history shows us that govt (at all levels) perceive us as little more than their own private property to be used, abused and disposed of at govt discretion.

      • Thomas Lipscomb, Class of 1961

        Superb piece. Now I’d like your take on the MACRO situation. Does this YouTube from accurately outline the problem?

      • J.e. Dyer

        Thomas Lipscomb — The guy seems to nail it pretty well. A couple of things I would add.
        First, it wasn’t Congress’s intention to leave BLM with the unfettered authority discussed in the video. There were commentators who warned at the time that such an outcome could emerge from the BLM legislation. It’s amazing how many agencies and charters were created in the 1970s about which such warnings were issued, and the people giving the warnings were pooh-poohed and made fun of.
        The pessimists were right. Through the erosion of constitutionalism in all branches of government in the last 40 years, as well as a series of court decisions (and, perhaps even more importantly, settled lawsuits, which became precedents without a court ruling), agencies like the BLM have come to have the insanely unrestrained authority described in the video.
        The second point is that the citizen OUGHT to have recourse against the agencies, not only through the courts but through appealing to his representatives. In matters like this, the ones who can make the biggest difference are the senators. And you know who one of Bundy’s two senators has been since 1987: Harry Reid. Reid is hand-in-glove with the regulatory fascists. In fact, he’s one of the worst offenders in herding the tone of law and regulation along to favor unfettered regulators over property owners in the West, both outside and inside Nevada.

      • Thomas Lipscomb, Class of 1961

        Many thanks for your cogent reply. I have ported it over to my FB item where some rather fine people are having a most intelligent discussion.

        Question for you. I have been a MSM journalist in my time and worked with the LV paper. Is it doing ANYTHING to cover this story right now? It would seem ideal for it. It is a lot bigger issue than just a local story, in that it is the acid proof of what kind of use Progressives intend to make of their alphabet soup of agencies, given the lack of political or judicial opposition.

        Let me know. I think with your contribution there is enough here to get some national traction on the story on the merits rather than the shaky positions both Bundy and the Feds have taken publicly.

      • Thomas Lipscomb, Class of 1961

        BTW J.E. Dyer…. I have now ported over this response to your comment by a distinguished attorney here in NYC. Harry Lewis:

        statutory and regulatory framework governing BLM both confer authority
        upon BLM and fetter it, at least in theory. It is precisely Congress’s
        role to oversee the executive agencies, and to appropriate money for
        their budgets. If there’s BLM overreach of the type the guy in the video
        describes, Congress should be all over it, especially the Members of
        Congress and Senators from Nevada. State and local officials in Nevada
        also could chime in, as well as the fourth estate. I understand that
        Reid is crooked, but he also must answer to his constituents at some
        point in time. By focusing national attention on the Bundy standoff, BLM
        has done its opponents a huge favor.”

      • J.e. Dyer

        Thank you for posting, Thomas Lipscomb. I agree with Mr. Lewis: the law wasn’t WRITTEN to admit so much regulatory overreach.

        What critics foresaw, back in the 1970s, was the methods by which activists and politicians would prejudice outcomes (and regulatory practices), to get us to the point we have reached today. It’s a specialized body of knowledge — land-use regulation — and I come at it from outside the functional discipline. But those who know it well have written extensively about a very well-worn set of dynamics that go back to the 1880s. Corruption and cronyism in managing access to land are nothing new, nor is the clash of interests between the small (or individual) property owner, the activist, the politician, and the big businessman.

        I think the country is going to be talking about this much more in the days ahead. I’ve already been asked to be a guest on the online radio show “Talking Treason” on Thursday, 17 April. I’ll be posting more on that a little later. Meanwhile, this link was sent to me today:

        It doesn’t relate directly to the Bundy ranch or the Gold Butte area, but some of the same patterns are at work.

      • Thomas Lipscomb, Class of 1961

        J.E. DYER Check the key element in this presentation, which is something that was on the BLM site that was removed… it is otherwise rather windy, but I think you need to see the screen capture from the archive.

      • J.e. Dyer

        Thomas Lipscomb — thanks, the screen capture is of the BLM document I refer to in the text of the original article. The quote in italics (about NGOs expressing concern about the Bundy cattle) is exactly the one I included in the article. It’s why I was so confident about tying the BLM cattle round-up to the mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake SEZ.
        The timing of when the enforcement action started dovetails perfectly with the notice in the Federal Register soliciting bids for Dry Lake SEZ development. That Federal Register volume was from 17 March 2014, and the first reports of the BLM action being launched were from 20 March 2014.

  • empty pockets

    Obama promised, “We will reward our friends and punish our enemies.” Remember? He doesn’t break ALL his promises. We’ve seen numerous examples of that one being kept and this is just another one. Rich people who agree with them are fine especially if their wealth is from and dependent on them.
    Follow the money. It will rarely take you to the wrong place.

  • cozmo

    If something comes of this i will be surprised.

  • Geoffrey_Britain

    Outstanding commentary, by far the clearest, most comprehensive explanation I’ve yet seen. What a toxic stew, politicians, environmental Nazi’s and crony capitalists make…

    • J.e. Dyer

      Thanks, GB.

  • CitizenKH

    Land banks for mitigation is a scam of huge proportions which the vast majority of the public is unaware of and doesn’t understand.

    • J.e. Dyer

      You’re right, CitizenKH. Your point raises another one, which I didn’t get into in the post because it would have just gotten longer.
      A key feature of the “regional mitigation strategy” for the solar energy zones is that companies that want to develop in them have to pay extra fees to the government to cover the cost of “mitigation.” Basically, the cost is built into the per-acre fee, and ends up being built into the price per kilowatt-hour to the customer. It’s just another way for governments to collect rent from the people for the privilege of having our ordinary needs met.
      The BLM “mitigation strategy” document outlines the various things these fees will go to pay for. At the very top? MORE LAW ENFORCEMENT capability for BLM, to better enforce exclusionary conditions in ACECs and other designated areas like Gold Butte.
      As unbalanced as the armed federal incursion was against the Bundys this time, the federal government wants it to be even more unbalanced in its favor.

      • CitizenKH

        A lot of that goes on for wetlands mitigation for marsh owners in coastal Louisiana. The real winners are the company which trade the landbank credits.

  • Rapier Half-Witt

    VERY interesting. Thanks for the post!

  • NaCly Dog

    Excellent research and analysis, J.E. Dyer. Thank you.

    The confluence of extra-Constitutional governmental taking and unchallenged enviromental activists is a key front in making America poorer. The Central Valley of California is the best example, but fisheries on each coast are another.

    The latest is declaring the lesser prairie chicken Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. There is a recent private plan put in place by the local stakeholders, but this will be wiped out by federal regulations. The main effects will be developmental controls on wheat farming in western Kansas, where much of the nation’s wheat is grown. Ranching in western Oklahoma and panhandle Texas would also come under frderal control. Finally fracking (and presumedly the stripper wells in the region) would be banned. Kansas has been fracking since the late 1950s.

    If this is allowed to go forward, we will have less bread, less meat, and less natural gas and oil. It’s all good for the enviromentalists, but not for the rest of the nation, and wheat’s export customers.

    • J.e. Dyer

      Absolutely right, NaCly Dog. I’ve been following the shenanigans with the prairie chicken too, although not as closely as some of the California sagas in recent years. The prairie chicken would be the pretext for environmentalists, regulatory fascists, and no doubt solar-industry cronies to make rural lands in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, etc impossible to live on. The idea is to drive independent ranchers, farmers, and industry off the land — as much to eliminate the independence as to eliminate anything else.

  • Magdalite

    What about the discovery of palladium & platinum @ Bunkerville? Palladium just topped out @ $800 an ounce last Friday.
    Here’s evidence of said discovery: (scroll all the way to the bottom, to “Bunkerville”

    • J.e. Dyer

      Magdalite — It doesn’t appear that Glencore Xstrata is doing anything with its “Bunkerville Project.” The only major mining activity in the Gold Butte area south of Bunkerville is the Simplot Silica mine, according to this report from Nevada:

      The report is from 2013 and reflects 2012 information. But neither BLM nor Nevada has a mining plan on file for platinum or palladium mining in Clark County — by anyone, Glencore Xstrata or anyone else.
      It’s quite common for a company to buy an interest in proven mineral stock and then sit on it for years. That may be what Glencore Xstrata is doing.

      • Magdalite

        “U.S. Bureau of Land Management geologist Lorenzo Trimble tells the
        Las Vegas Review-Journal the Elko County oil and gas leases sold Tuesday
        for $1.27 million to six different companies. The auction took place in
        Reno. The leases are near where Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. wants
        to drill for oil and natural gas on 40,000 acres of public and private
        land near the town of Wells. The Review-Journal reports the project
        would be the first in Nevada to use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking,
        to extract oil and gas from shale deposits.”
        My understanding is the Noble Energy Inc is Chinese-owned. (The 20 scientists that were occupants on the missing Flight 370 were connected with Noble Energy.) Who can say what the Chinese would do if they got a foothold in Nevada with legal leases?

      • J.e. Dyer

        Magdalite — There are several problems with the theory about oil and gas drilling. One is that there is no need to clear the Bundy cattle off of drilling land. Drilling and raising cattle coexist just fine. Oil companies offer to buy drilling leases; they don’t need to force ranchers off their land to drill.
        Another problems is that this particular story is about Elko County, which is miles away to the north of Bunkerville and the Bundy ranch. It’s not related in any way to Bundy’s grazing issue.
        A third problem is that BLM is definitely not trying to force the Bundy cattle out of the Gold Butte ACEC to accommodate oil and gas drilling. BLM actually favors declaring Gold Butte a National Conservation Area. Making it an NCA would prevent any drilling in the area.
        Harry Reid introduced a bill to make Gold Butte an NCA in 2013. The bill isn’t expected to go anywhere, but it shows Reid and BLM are on the same side on this issue. Reid’s connections, when it comes to the Bundy grazing land, keep coming down to the mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake SEZ. (Making Gold Butte an NCA would strengthen the basis for that strategy.) And that means: First Solar.
        Incidentally, Noble may have Chinese investors, but it’s a Houston-based US company.

  • Ray – Jesus is the Son of God.

    The Ten Planks That Are Destroying Our Country – COMMUNIST MANIFESTO.

    1. Abolition of private property: The foundation of this nation was ownership of property. The settlers came here to insure private ownership of land and our Founding Fathers made it unlawful for government to own land except for the ten square miles of Washington D.C. and such as may be needed for erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, Dockyards and other needful buildings. Today you don’t OWN your home, car, farm or most property. You are just allowed to use it as long as you pay your property taxes, buy a car license, pay for building permits and get permission from the zoning commission. Individual OWNERSHIP is only by virtue of government. To USE property we must be in accordance with law and subordinate to the powers of government.

    2. Heavy Progressive Income Tax: I believe all Americans understand the IRS. What most of them don’t realize is that we didn’t have an Income Tax until 1913. Before that year Income Taxes were considered unconstitutional.

    3. Abolition of all rights of Inheritance: We now have Estate Taxes, Inheritance Taxes, also called the Death Tax. Many a farm and small business could not be passed on to the next generation, but had to be sold in order to pay the estate taxes. Many times the IRS forces the sale, as it did in the case of the Roy Rogers Museum sale.

    4. Confiscation of property of all emigrants and rebels: Government seizures, tax liens, private land under Eminent Domain, the IRS taking property without due process and even taking “suspected” drug money from anyone carrying large amounts of cash is nothing but government confiscation of private property

    5. Central Bank: The Constitution called for Congress to “coin Money and regulate the Value thereof,” but since 1913 the Federal Reserve Bank has taken over that duty. The Federal Reserve is a “private” bank that sets interest rates and creates money out of thin air.

    6. Government control of Communications & Transportation: Today we have the Federal Communications Commission, Department of Transportation, Interstate Commerce Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration. You are not allowed to drive your car without a license.

    7. Government control of factories and agriculture: Our government has gained control of the banking industry, finance, automobile production, energy and health care. Department of Commerce, Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management, Department of Agriculture; all of which control land use.

    8. Government control of Labor: The Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the minimum wage law control all aspects of American businesses.

    9. Corporate Farms, Regional Planning: Corporate Agriculture now controls markets and prices of farm production. We now have Planning and Reorganization and zoning all across the nation.

    10. Government control of Education: State and Federal Departments of Education, National Education Association, Outcome Based Education, No Child Left Behind; all paid for with tax dollars.

    Karl Marx stated that these ten planks in the Communist Manifesto would be the test whether a country had become communist or not. Is America a Communist nation? Study the manifesto and the laws that have been passed by our Republican and Democrat politicians, and “you determine” if we are or if we are not a Communist Country.

  • bittman

    In view of the government’s abuse of Bundy, it is time for Americans to insist that ALL PROPERTY owned by the federal government be sold and all proceeds used to pay down the $17 trillion nation debt — NO exceptions allowed.

    • J.e. Dyer

      I certainly agree that we should pay down the national debt by selling land. I’ve been advocating that for some time. Libertarians don’t care who buys the land, but I would stipulate that it must be sold only to Americans. No massive Chinese of Russian land buys.
      I don’t have a problem with keeping some lands public, but for several reasons, I prefer that the states manage them.

      • Betty4440

        no land should be sold to any one . that is not AMERICAN BORN AND BREAD. PERIOD. AND LOVES THIS COUNTRY AND OUR GOD.

      • Betty4440

        no land should be sold to any one . that is not AMERICAN BORN AND BREAD. PERIOD. AND LOVES THIS COUNTRY AND OUR GOD.

  • muttpack

    This is the best explanation from the right that I’ve been able to find. Very well reasoned and supported by published facts. The author is to be commended for supporting her opinion so well.

    But, the Bunkerville allotment, Bundy’s grazing permit, was terminated by BLM in 1994and a federal judge ordered the cattle removed in 1998. I’m having trouble connecting his 1994-1998 losing court fight with a Solar Energy Zone established after 2008.

    Since one of the Tortoise hugging conservation groups, the Center for Wildlife diversity had indicated in March that it was going to sue BLM to enforce the federal injunctions, it’s certainly plausible that that threat was the motivation for the attempted roundup.

    • J.e. Dyer

      muttpack — the SEZ connection is not to Bundy’s prior court fight. It’s to the specific attempt launched by BLM in March 2014 to remove his free grazing cattle from the Gold Butte area.

      • muttpack

        In 1998, after the court proceedings were complete, the BLM sold Bundy’s grazing permit rights to Clark County for the establishment of the Tortoise reserve. So he had no legal basis for having cattle on any of the land–not the Lake Mead National Recreation area or his former allotment. And the Nevada District Court judge who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, by the way, had ordered the cattle removed from the Bunkerville allotment in 1998 and other non-grazing public lands in the 1998 order and another in 2013.

        But I can certainly appreciate your point about the timing of the cattle roundup and the reasons for it.

        But if Mr. Bundy wasn’t going to comply with the court’s orders to remove the cattle, someone has to do it. We are very close to anarchy when the courts are flouted.

      • J.e. Dyer

        muttpack — You get at the heart of the crucial issue; i.e., what is lawful in this case. I suggest we set the question of the immediate impetus for the March 2014 enforcement action aside for a moment.

        It isn’t actually correct to characterize Bundy’s posture as anarchy. He has, rather, a view of land law that, while not politically popular today, is in fact derived from precedent regarding the extremely basic principle he invokes.

        The article here is a really good one to help understand the basic concept:

        I won’t rehash the points here. In light of the author’s argument, however — and his thesis is still alive in court decisions being made today — the question raised by Bundy’s interpretation of the law is not as clear-cut as it first appears to our modern minds.
        The issue is really, really basic. A good way of framing it is to put it this way. Nevada has long been called a “public lands state,” because so much of the land there has been tacitly ceded to the federal government since statehood in 1864.
        But if the SCOTUS ruling in the 1845 case cited by the author at the link is still binding — and the author lists a couple of more recent cases that suggest it is — then it’s not actually valid to have a “public lands state.” The reason is that such a state would have been admitted to the union on an unequal footing with the other states, which are NOT “public lands states.”
        The original states were not admitted on the basis that the federal government had sovereign claim to all their unincorporated lands. Therefore, all the rest of the states, according to the Enabling Act, have to be admitted on the same basis: that the STATE is the sovereign administrator of its unincorporated lands.
        Bundy’s claim is precisely that. The issue comes up almost entirely in the Western states, where the weight of usage — but not judicial precedent or constitutional mandate — favored the now-pervasive practice of federal land management. But the 1845 case involved Alabama.
        If a case were crafted in which SCOTUS had to consider the merits of this particular question, I don’t know that it’s obvious whose view would prevail. We have accepted a great deal as customary, when it comes to federal land sovereignty, without testing the concept constitutionally.
        I consider the whole issue an interesting one. Rather than encouraging anarchy, I think it will prompt a lot of Americans to revisit the founding ideas of the republic and the original intent of our laws.
        I say this as someone who thinks there is definitely a role for government in conservation, and who thinks we do need to reserve “heritage” lands. But I don’t think that the importance of doing this means we have to fear legitimate disputes over our concepts of property rights, individual rights, and government authority. We’ve gone much too far in the direction of unbalanced authoritarianism. Invoking and testing the law — and forcing Congress and the people to think about what it’s supposed to mean and accomplish — is the way to address that.

      • muttpack

        But he’s lost in court twice. He is said to have lost at the Court of Appeals. He didn’t appeal to the Supreme Court when he had the opportunity to do so. He didn’t appeal the 2013 decision to the 9th circuit. He could have and that would have given him an opportunity to appeal to the Supreme Court. Since he didn’t do that, he’s bound. Even if he’s right he has to abide by a final court order.

        This is not like the civil rights protestors who had to be arrested to get into court at all. Once arrested, they had an avenue for federal consideration of their constitutional claims.

        I just went and read the 1845 case on the Equal Footing Doctrine as well as its 1842 predecessor, Martin v. Waddell. In the earlier case, the Court makes a very fundamental point–that sovereignty to lands in the original colonies was obtained by right of discovery, not right of conquest. Vacant land in the West passed to the US government by conquest–ie the treaty ending the Mexican War. And therein lies the distinction between Pollard’s Lessee v. Hagen and the Equal Footing Claims for states created from lands ceded by Mexico. But this will be something for a higher court than the 9th Circuit to decide. The 9th Circuit has already decided the issue against litigants who made that claim in Gardner v. United States.

        Of course, Congress as the elected representatives of all the people can always act to transfer Western federal land to the states. But, as of this time, it hasn’t. Until it does or the Supreme Court rules, citizens are bound by the current state of the law.

        I agree that legitimate disputes need to be feared. But there is a way to resolve those disputes peacefully and without threatening “range war”, and that way is through litigation or legislation.

      • muttpack

        Legitimate disputes need NOT to be feared.

      • muttpack

        Sorry to keep going, but if Equal Footing– which is not mentioned in the constitution–claims are correct, what will happen to the federal requirement in new states that certain sections of land be reserved for school purposes.? That was not found in the original colonies/states, but was imposed later as a federal requirement based on what federal power?

      • muttpack

        Article 4, Section 3 of the US Constitution provides:
        The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all
        needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property
        belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so
        construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular

      • muttpack

        The first paragraph of this section is about new states.

      • muttpack

        Federal sovereignty over public lands was addressed by the US
        Supreme Court in Kleppe v. New Mexico, 22 Ill.426 U.S. 529, 96 S. Ct. 2285, 49 L. Ed. 2d 34 (1976).

        So unless this activist court overrules yet another long series of precedents, the only option would seem to be legislation.

        At least one NGO referred to by the BLM as expressing concern (threat to sue over the lack of enforcement of the court order is the Center for Wildlife Diversity.

      • muttpack

        Here is a discussion of the Property Clause from The Heritage Foundation, which is rather well known as a bastion of political conservatism:!/articles/4/essays/126/property-clause

        Now I really will stop.

      • J.e. Dyer

        muttpack — there’s a lot to unpack here, and I haven’t had time to give it the attention it deserves. Don’t give up on the thread though. I’ll be back!

    • Keith Terceira

      If you want to make that connection go back to the creation of the SEZ’s, the battle between environmentalists, court cases etc. I did and it’s more than obvious that as far back as 1989 the plan was developing that the only way to create the sez’s and not be tied up in court forever with Sierra club etc. was to have a plan to provide a place for several species to move to. Government sacrificed the rancher’s way of life for making billionaires and greenies happy

      • Keith Terceira

        The Desert Tortoise Conservation Center was established in 1990

    • Pat Kosorek


      Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17

      To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such
      District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of Particular
      States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the
      Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over
      all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in
      which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals,
      dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;–”

      PLEASE PLEASE show me where the Feds can take land for TURTLES,, OR PRIVATE ENERGY COMPANIES??? THEY CAN’T…….. PERIOD..

      • muttpack

        Doesn’t matter that Bundy was grazing cows on federal land since 1877. It’s not his land. The land belongs to the Federal Government who got it from Mexico after they won the Mexican War.

        According to a Cato Institute paper on the Economics of Western Grazing, the Feds did not attempt to regulate open range until 1934. Before that time, anyone could use it free and for gratis if the neighbors would allow it. In 1934, the Feds passed grazing legislation (the Taylor Act) to control overgrazing on its lands. According to the Cato Institute paper, grazing permits were issued to people already in place, and those permits could be transferred to their heirs. Cato Institute paper described the use and inheritance as being almost comparable to private land ownership, but over federal land without a grant of ownership. (Bundy’s private land was inherited from people who undoubtedly homesteaded it in 1877, and if that’s the case, the federal government GAVE it to them. They did not give them the rest of the cattle range, nor did they ever grant it to the state of Nevada.) The land in the Bunkerville allotment still belongs to the federal government; it OWNS it.

        In 1946, BLM was established, in part because the ranchers wouldn’t control their overgrazing of range lands and needed to be policed, along with other other users of vacant federal land who were also abusing it.

        AND one of the very long established and clear principles of law is that it is impossible for a private citizen to obtain title to government land through adverse possession. .

      • muttpack

        I do wish this site allowed edits.
        If the states do and have owned all federal land within their borders, what happens to private individuals who got title to their homestead lands from the feds in existing states?

  • Keith Terceira

    Thank you ! Well done!

  • Pat Kosorek


    • muttpack

      Well, I watched the video you posted, and it’s true that Cliven Bundy’s name is in the documents, but that’s because he’s had no legal grazing rights since 1998 to his former allotment. His cattle have been trespassing for 16 years and, until removed, WILL have an impact on the habitat.

      The author of the video made one huge mistake which Ms. Dyer corrected in this article. He tries to tie Harry Reid’s push for the Chinese solar project to the Dry Lake SEZ and Bundy. And that’s just plain not true.

      As to Harry Reid’s former policy advisor being named head of BLM there are some things to consider before you assume corruption. The BLM is primarily a Western agency. If you look, it has probably always been headed by a Westerner with political connections, no matter what party. Since it’s an appointed post, political influence is crucial to appointment, and the advice of Western senators of his party going to carry great weight with any President. and if the Senate Majority leader is from the west and proposes a name for the post, one supposes that the President will name that person if s/he is not a felon, a moral idiot, or unqualified. This is the way Washington works.

      I don’t like it any more than you do, but nominations to appointed positions do have to be proposed by someone, and a politician is going to nominate/recommend people who he knows and has worked with. Think of the fact that many, many Supreme Court justices and other judges
      from both the right and left have been nominated from positions they already held in the federal government or had held. Very few come from private life.

      Here is an excerpt from a biography of Justice Roberts:
      n 1992, President Bush nominated him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for
      the District of Columbia Circuit, but he was not confirmed. He was
      nominated again in 2003 and confirmed 8 May 2003. His law firm advised
      the Bush campaign during the 2000 Florida election recount.

      Payoff? It is very likely that Bush wouldn’t have been President without the lawsuits in Florida that stopped the recounts.

      Roberts had also worked in Bush I’s adminstration as Deputy Principal Solicitor General. Do we assume corruption here? That Bush II would name a man who had worked for his father, who had won his election for him might very well look like a corrupt payoff to some.

      BTW, I do agree that BLM is acting to cover up a lot of the documents involving the Bundy case, solar energy in Nevada and tortoises. There are a lot of documents that are simply not able to be accessed through its website these days, not just the ones that you mentioned. Or maybe I should say, “Can’t be accessed by me.” The documents just don’t come up from their website, even with a direct link.

  • Pat Kosorek

    Can your “Yellow Journalism” Disprove these “FACTS” you simply DECIDED NOT TO LOOK AT??
    “Deleted from but reposted for posterity by the Free Republic,
    the BLM document entitled “Cattle Trespass Impacts” directly states that
    Bundy’s cattle “impacts” solar development, more specifically the
    construction of “utility-scale solar power generation facilities” on “public lands.”

    Organizations have expressed concern that the regional mitigation
    strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone utilizes Gold Butte as the
    location for offsite mitigation for impacts from solar development, and
    that those restoration activities are not durable with the presence of
    trespass cattle,” the document states.…/2014/04/041114document1.jpg

    • missek

      Produced by: Bureau of Land Management March 2014
      It states in smaller print on the document
      “Unavoidable hydrologic impacts may occur due to changes in drainage and recharge patterns. Potential impacts to water availability will be mitigated
      onsite through the implementation of a net neutral use policy (water rights must be purchased).”

      So far as I know there is only three ways for them to do that rent/buy from someone that is willing to sell part of their water rights or dig a well or purchase buy running land owners off that already has water rights. I wonder who
      they would buy out or run off?

  • Pat Kosorek
  • Pat Kosorek
  • Pat Kosorek


  • Pat Kosorek
  • Pat Kosorek

    Back in 2012, the New American reported that Harry Reid’s son, Rory
    Reid, was the chief representative for a Chinese energy firm planning to build a $5-billion solar plant on public land in Laughlin, Nevada.

    And journalist Marcus Stern with Reuters also reported that Sen. Reid was heavily involved in the deal as well.

    “[Reid] and his oldest son, Rory, are both involved in an effort by a
    Chinese energy giant, ENN Energy Group, to build a $5 billion solar
    farm and panel manufacturing plant in the southern Nevada desert,” he
    wrote. “Reid has been one of the project’s most prominent advocates,
    helping recruit the company during a 2011 trip to China and applying his
    political muscle on behalf of the project in Nevada.”

    “His son, a lawyer with a prominent Las Vegas firm that is
    representing ENN, helped it locate a 9,000-acre (3,600-hectare) desert
    site that it is buying well below appraised value from Clark County,
    where Rory Reid formerly chaired the county commission.”

    Although these reports are in plain view, the mainstream media has so far ignored this link.

    The BLM’s official reason for encircling the Bundy family with sniper
    teams and helicopters was to protect the endangered desert tortoise,
    which the agency has previously been killing in mass due to “budget constraints.”

    “A tortoise isn’t the reason why BLM is harassing a 67 year-old rancher; they want his land,” journalist Dana Loesch wrote.
    “The tortoise wasn’t of concern when [U.S. Senator] Harry Reid worked
    with BLM to literally change the boundaries of the tortoise’s habitat to
    accommodate the development of his top donor, Harvey Whittemore.”

    “Reid is accused of using the new BLM chief as a puppet to control
    Nevada land (already over 84% of which is owned by the federal
    government) and pay back special interests,” she added. “BLM has proven
    that they’ve a situational concern for the desert tortoise as they’ve
    had no problem waiving their rules concerning wind or solar power
    development. Clearly these developments have vastly affected a tortoise
    habitat more than a century-old, quasi-homesteading grazing area.”

    “If only Cliven Bundy were a big Reid donor.”



    • Howard Portnoy

      Kindly note that several of your comments were automatically rejected because they include all caps. They have been restored as a courtesy, but see Posting Policy above.

  • J.e. Dyer

    Pat Kosorek — did you read the post? The ENN project has been defunct since June 2013. Its location down by Laughlin also means it never had anything to do with Cliven Bundy’s grazing land in the Gold Butte area.
    I noted in the post that Cliven Bundy’s name and his specific situation were the subject of the BLM document you have posted the screen-caps of. That BLM document relates to Gold Butte, as does the development bid by First Solar, Obama’s crony. First Solar is connected in multiple ways to Harry Reid as well, which is shown in the post. Reid is certainly implicated, but not through the Chinese ENN project. It was dropped in June 2013.

  • muttpack

    Excellent National Review article with which I personally find hard to disagree.

    • J.e. Dyer

      Thanks, muttpack. I am working up a separate article which I expect to post on Monday, to discuss the various issues in this very large-scope question. There’s more to it than who has sovereignty. Very much at issue is what sovereignty MEANS. The concept of holistic ecological management poses a proposition about sovereignty different from any that has been literally adjudicated in our courts.
      The courts have looked at points of law that are much narrower — if they have looked at all. Mostly, they have simply dismissed as points of law arguments made about the basis of federal sovereignty, declining to take them up. That’s not ruling. Nor should it necessarily BE ruling. As you implied with an earlier comment, a court ruling is not necessarily what is needed here. More fundamental than a judicial ruling is a reading of intent from the people, and that’s the level at which we need to start.
      More on all this later.

    • J.e. Dyer

      Meanwhile, y’all folks can entertain yourselves by listening to the first half of my radio spot with Talking Treason on Thursday the 17th. Link is at the end of the post here:

  • LadyImpactOhio

    Thank goodness you did all the research on this. I had the document and it’s daunting. Tweeting it to Dean Heller.

  • J.e. Dyer

    Thank you for the clarification, Dave Burton. Should have caught that myself.

  • Marka

    My question is why did Glenn Beck rush to exonerate Harry Reid and turn his listeners and viewers against Bundy so fast? Passing strange indeed. Beck could have done more research (He claims that the truth “lives here”) Instead, he summarily ordered us to abandon Bundy just like that. The feeling I had was similar to the confusion and heartache I felt when Justice John Roberts ruled so unexpectedly for Obamacare. What’s going on?” Did Beck let his dislike of Infowars affect him? Reid and Beck are both Mormons. Is there something sinister there? Is Beck a fraud? His actions were that upsetting to many of us. I’m still not over the idea that a man so dedicated to fighting out-of-control government jumped in to defend it and Harry Reid.

    • J.e. Dyer

      Marka — I don’t know what was going on with Beck. It had me in a puzzle too. The Bundys are also Mormons, so the Mormon connection doesn’t seem to weigh especially in Harry Reid’s favor.

      I’ve wondered if maybe Beck went out of his way to be extra hard on Bundy, because he didn’t want to to be tarred with any fall-out there might be from the Bundy crisis of three weeks ago (i.e., both of them being Mormons and political conservatives in general). Beck wasn’t alone among conservatives in trying to distance himself from Bundy.

      I’ve never seen any reason to suspect Glenn Beck of duplicity, although I don’t agree with him on everything. It could be that Bundy is just a polarizing figure for the political right. I’m not the slightest bit embarrassed by him, even though I don’t necessarily agree with him on everything either. But clearly, quite a few conservatives are. They seem to be clumped together in the urban-conservative enclaves, and to be the ones who have little or no knowledge of rural life or traditional rural libertarianism.

  • Carol Smith

    Ah, another right wing conspiracy site. Eat it up, right wingers.

  • Carol Smith

    Despite Bundy’s claims, the land is demonstrably Federal property.

    As it is federal property, and the
    habitat of an endangered species, the Federal Government not only has
    the right, but the responsibility to regulate it. And those regulations
    did not forbid Bundy using it for grazing, only insisted that he pay
    fees and obey rules.

    Bundy fought this in the courts, and already lost, so he cannot claim he was denied due process. He continued to engage in demonstrably illegal behavior, trespassing and continuing to refuse to pay his lawful fees. All the while the utmost restraint was
    employed in dealing with him (this is news now, but it has been
    dragging on for 21 years). Moreover, he has threatened violence against
    Federal civilian employees and law enforcement, so he both picked and
    escalated this fight.

    The fight involves a 600,000-acre area under Bureau of Land Management
    control in Nevada called Gold Butte, near the Utah border. It is the
    habitat of the protected desert tortoise, and ranchers whose cattle
    graze there must pay fees.

    Bundy stopped paying grazing fees of about $1.35 a month per cow-calf
    pair in 1993.

    After five years of refusing to pay fees, in 1998, the BLM finally
    revoked his grazing permit. Clark County then bought out that permit for
    $375,000 (buying the permit is explicit acknowledgment by Clark County
    of who the land really belongs to) and retired it permanently to protect
    the desert tortoise under the Clark County Multiple Species Habitat
    Conservation Plan. It was ultimately Clark County, not the Feds, that
    forbid all grazing on the land.

    Bundy continued to trespass and graze illegally, so a Federal judge
    ordered a round-up in 2012. This, however, was postponed by BLM after
    Bundy threatened violence toward federal employees.

    Since then, he has lost two federal court rulings — and a judge last October
    prohibited him from physically interfering with any seizure or roundup
    operation. This past Sunday, his son, Dave Bundy, 37, was
    arrested Sunday for refusing to disperse as the roundup began, but freed
    the next day.

    But this isn’t exactly a David and Goliath parable. Don’t think one man vs.
    jack-booted impersonal government. Plenty of citizens not only support,
    but were campaigning for, the government to take action — notably
    conservationists who were threatening to sue the Feds over their
    inaction in regards to Bundy’s law-breaking.

    John Hiatt, Red Rock Audubon’s conservation chairman says: “From
    the standpoint of wildlife, the springs and riparian areas in Gold Butte
    are vital. The most immediate result of the removal of the trespass
    cattle will be the recovery of the vegetation around these water sources
    which will benefit all wildlife species.”

    Terri Robertson, President of Friends of Sloan Canyon, “Mr. Bundy
    has long falsely believed that Gold Butte is his ranch. We all know that
    is not the reality, and it is time for him for obey the law.”

    Rob Mrowka, senior scientistatt the Center for Biological Diversity,
    “The federal government has been caving in to Cliven Bundy for years at
    the sacrifice of lands that are not only being destroyed for the
    tortoise but also for all the people of the United States who own it…
    Again and again federal judges have said the BLM has the right and duty
    to remove cattle trespassing in the Gold Butte area to protect desert
    tortoises and other imperiled species. We’re heartened and thankful that
    the agencies are finally living up to their stewardship duty.”

  • Frank

    I would like to see someone who could spare the money that, Bundy needs to pay his fines, then see what harry but would try then? Most likely kill his family and him, some sort of accident.