doomsday bill doomed

By Jim Stanford on February 28, 2012

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Unprepared for Armageddon?

Depriving comedians and headline writers of quality material, the Wyoming House of Representatives defeated today the so-called “doomsday bill” that would have created a task force to plan for the failure or shutdown of the federal government.

The bill failed on a 27-30 vote, with three legislators excused. Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, R-Jackson, voted for the bill, while Reps. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, and Jim Roscoe, D-Wilson, helped kill it.

The legislation made national headlines over the last week as observers chuckled at some of the more outlandish provisions, including Wyoming instituting a draft, forming an army and ordering an aircraft carrier. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Dave Miller, R-Riverton, who has a libertarian bent.

On Friday, the House sunk Miller’s battleship by removing the aircraft carrier provision, dashing Wyoming Public Radio news director Bob Beck’s dream of becoming admiral of the Wyoming Navy.

Comics, take heart. The House did advance today the bill calling on Congress to declare New York’s Central Park a wilderness area, thereby delivering a gift to the New York tabloids. Petroff voted in favor, with Gingery and Roscoe opposing.

To follow the action from the Legislature (today is the last day for bills to pass house of origin), search hashtag #wyleg on Twitter or follow @ButterBob.

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Posted under Economy, Humor, Politics, Republican Party, Wyoming Legislature

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Flaming Gorge pipe dream taxpayers’ nightmare

By Jim Stanford on November 28, 2011

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Flaming Gorge Reservoir in southwest Wyoming. Click to enlarge.

Apparently unaware that Wyoming legislators can make it rain (or snow) by pumping $14 million into cloud seeding, Colorado businessman Aaron Million is pressing ahead with his proposal to pump water some 500 miles from Flaming Gorge Reservoir over the Continental Divide to Colorado’s Front Range.

In a bit of procedural sleight of hand, Million has shifted his application from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, now claiming the project will produce hydropower. In doing so he seeks whichever federal agency is most likely to give the plan a favorable review.

Former Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal opposed the pipeline, as does his successor, Gov. Matt Mead. Sportsmen from southern Wyoming and northern Utah also have ridiculed the plan, which would divert 250,000 acre feet of water — or about 30 percent of the storage capacity of Jackson Lake, for a comparison — from the Green River Basin each year, into the eastbound Platte Basin.

The staggering price tag — $3 billion by Million’s estimation, up to $9 billion by other projections — regulatory hurdles and widespread doubts make it unlikely the pipeline ever will be built. But we never can be too vigilant, so click here to submit an eComment to FERC. The docket number for the Flaming Gorge Pipeline is P-14263, and the deadline is Dec. 16.

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Posted under Economy, Environment, Politics, Sports, Wyoming

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stimulus for sorcerers

By Jim Stanford on November 9, 2011

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Wyoming lawmakers could do just as well paying Shoshones for a raindance.

It seems any enterprising engineer or dreamer looking for an easy handout from state government could hit up the Wyoming Water Development Commission.

On the heels of recommending $300,000 for a Green River watershed study — possibly an end run for yet another ill-advised dam proposal — water managers are seeking $2.4 million for more cloud seeding.

Yes, cloud seeding. The latest request comes on top of nearly $12 million the Wyoming Legislature has given the agency to pump silver iodide into the clouds above the Wind River, Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre mountains, with no measurable results and in violation of wilderness protections.

The goal is to boost snowpack and increase runoff in the Green and Wind rivers, presumably to graze more cattle in the desert. Barry Lawrence, project manager for the Wyoming Water Development Office, calls cloud seeding a “long-term water management strategy,” the News&Guide reported.

Lawmakers might as well be wandering the desert with a forked stick.

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Posted under Economy, Environment, Politics, Republican Party, Weather, Wyoming, Wyoming Legislature

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Jorgensen retires from Wyoming Legislature

By Jim Stanford on March 9, 2010

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Pete Jorgensen at the Capitol.

No more Re-Petes.

State Rep. Pete Jorgensen, D-Jackson, said Monday he won’t seek re-election for House District 16.

“I think it’s time,” Jorgensen said. “I’m hoping we can get a good person to fill the seat.”

Jorgensen, 75, a retired highway engineer, served four terms in the Legislature. He established himself as a watchdog on the Appropriations Committee, which controls the purse strings of state government spending.

The former University of Wyoming trustee took on legislators from both parties in resisting projects he deemed lavish or frivolous. He gained a small measure of notoriety in 2004 for opposing the use of state funds for construction of luxury boxes at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.

His skepticism was pivotal in the state’s jettisoning of a plan, hatched by Republican leaders in 2005, to build a $28 million graduate school of business and corporate training center in Jackson — a boondoggle that looks even more foolish in light of the economic collapse on Wall Street. U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, then state treasurer, was among the architects of that plan, along with state Sen. Grant Larson, R-Jackson.

Jorgensen was a champion of open government and Wyoming’s public lands and wildlife. He used to say he represented only one special interest in Cheyenne — the public interest.

Teton Dems now have two sets of big shoes to fill; Gov. Dave Freudenthal announced last week he won’t run again this fall.

The Teton County Democratic Convention is March 20. Candidates have until May 28 to file to run in primaries.

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Forest Service to give bailout to distressed realtors

By Jim Stanford on March 6, 2009

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Now in the business of real estate.

Now in the business of real estate.

Despite public objections and uncertainty whether the sale is even legal, the Bridger-Teton National Forest is pressing ahead with a proposal to sell part of its 15-acre headquarters on North Cache.

The stewards of public land have set up a Web site, Jackson Gateway North, as the News&Guide reported this week, and have hired a consulting company from Washington, D.C., to run the “virtual deal room.”

Who’s invited into the deal room? Realtors and developers. (Although crashers can register here.)

The Web site is a bizarre and stomach-wretching glimpse into a public agency forced to prostitute itself.

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