Grand County, Utah Public Lands Plan Fails to Address Watershed Issues
According to a recent press release, the Grand County Council intends to hear comments on three alternative proposals for “long-term designations of public lands” in Grand County, Utah on April 23, 2014, with their “final” decision expected sometime after May 2, 2014.
Embedded in all three Grand County alternative plans are the Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act (URLEA) exchange parcels. All three Grand County proposed plans treat the URLEA as settled law. Despite its lack of legal acceptance, Grand County plans to use URLEA as the backbone for its own land use designations.
As specified in my written protests to BLM, articles here and at MoabGas.com, I strongly disagree with the proposed “reverse land swaps” in Grand County. I call it a reverse land swap whenever the Utah School and Institutional Land Trust (SITLA) will receive land and mineral rights within Grand County. Such transfer of Grand County BLM land to SITLA encourages fossil fuel exploitation in Grand County, all under the guise of a “Recreational Land Exchange”.
If the BLM and Grand County Council make their land use decisions based on URLEA’s current “Exchange Agreement”, I will consider that neither BLM nor the public had an opportunity to hear my voice. Before Grand County enshrines URLEA in its land use documents, BLM should share my written protests with the Grand County Council. Until my written protests are accepted or rejected, they are germane to Grand County’s long-term land use decisions.
On March 25, 2014, BLM closed its acceptance of written protests to URLEA. Before that date, I submitted two written protests to BLM. According to Ms. Joy Wehking of the BLM in Salt Lake City, mine were the only written protests received. The BLM protest period lasted forty-five days. On May 1, 2014, my written protests will be more than forty-five days old. A forty-five day protest period should also be the maximum time it takes BLM to answer my written protests. Fair for one is fair for all.
On April 15, 2014, I addressed Joy Wehking with my concerns about not receiving a reply from BLM regarding my written protests. This was her answer: “Because the decision for the Utah Recreational Land Exchange that you protested was signed by the BLM Utah State Director, your protest must be reviewed and responded to by the BLM's Washington Office. They have been provided with the relevant information and will be sending you a written response to your protest. As to when this may occur, I do not know".
From my previous articles, we know that the URLEA parcel exchange is flawed. For example, Parcel 32, adjacent to Canyonlands Field received a “grazing land” appraisal. Upon completion of the “reverse swap” conveyance, SITLA is on record with BLM that they plan to sell that parcel and its mineral rights to the private sector. If that happens, Moab visitors will likely find a petrochemical production and distribution facility intertwined with and dwarfing the Moab Airport.
The Grand County Council, which never saw a steer or an old energy extractionist that it does not like should start posting signs welcoming visitors to “Moab – The New Industrial Desert”.
For the past few years, Grand County resident Kiley Miller has kept her email contacts informed about assaults on the environment in Grand County. In her latest email (below), she lays out the stakes for all to see. The Grand County Council Public Lands Working Committee, recently proposed three alternatives for the future of public lands in Grand County. When the Grand County Council, loaded with “wild westers” appoints a committee to create land use plans, we can all expect the worst.
As Kiley miller said, “We expected bad, but this is far worse”.
Background: On April 9, 2014, the Grand County Council Public Lands Working Committee identified three alternatives, along with maps, for long-term designations of public lands in Grand County. A public meeting is scheduled for 6 pm Wednesday April 23, 2014 at the Grand Center to present the maps and to take public comments; the Grand County Council will accept written comments on the proposal until May 2, 2014.
Even the best alternative (Alternative #3) proposed by the Working Committee would roll back environmental protection in Grand County. Members of the County Council need to hear from you; the County must “GO BEYOND #3” and strenuously improve the Working Committee’s proposal.
All the alternatives ignored the public input that the county received. Of the 182 letters received by the Council from Grand County residents and business owners, nearly 90% favored strong wilderness and public lands protection.
And yet, the County’s best alternative (Alternative #3): Protects just over half (58%, or 484,446 acres) of the proposed wilderness in Grand County -- and then riddles that “protected wilderness” with ORV routes. The Working Committee decided that places like Porcupine Rim, Mary Jane Canyon, Fisher Towers, Goldbar Rim, the Dome Plateau, and most of Labyrinth, including Mineral, Hell Roaring, Spring, and Tenmile canyons, were unworthy of wilderness protection.
• Would punch a hole through the heart of the Book Cliffs -- one of the largest remaining roadless areas in the lower 48 states -- to build a “Hydrocarbon Highway” for fossil fuels extraction. The county proposes a mile-wide “transportation corridor” (proposed as 2 miles wide in the other alternatives) to ship fossil fuels from the Uinta Basin and proposed tar sands mining in the Book Cliffs to dreamed-of refineries in Green River, or to the railway.
• Leaves open to oil and gas drilling the entire view shed east of Arches National Park, including the world-famous view from Delicate Arch. The Working Committee rejected proposed wilderness areas east of Arches. This is the same area that caused a national uproar and sent Tim DeChristopher to prison when, in its the waning days, the George W. Bush Administration sold the famous 77 oil and gas leases. Under the county’s best proposal, leasing and drilling in that region may follow.
• Allows oil and gas drilling and potash mining on the rim of Labyrinth Canyon (upstream from Spring Canyon). The lack of real protection in the greater Labyrinth Canyon area in all three proposals is a glaring and curious omission.
• Supports continued off road vehicle abuse and offers zero concessions on ORV routes designated in the Bush-era BLM travel plan -- even though the planning of those routes likely failed to follow the law. The county would codify the BLM’s Bush-era route designations even though a federal judge recently set aside a nearly identical travel plan in the Richfield BLM office for failure to comply with legal mandates to protect archaeology, riparian areas and other natural resources. It is just a matter of time before the Court overturns the challenged Moab travel plan.
• Fails to protect Moab’s watershed. There is no wilderness proposed for the La Sal Mountains on US Forest Service land. Destructive cattle grazing will continue.
• Limits the use of the Antiquities Act in Grand County -- the same act that was used by three different Presidents to protect what is now Arches National Park.
Alternatives 1 & 2 are even worse. Both would impose a 2-mile wide transportation corridor for the Hydrocarbon Highway through the heart of the Book Cliffs. This is wide enough to build an entire city within the corridor. Alternatives 1 & 2 provide even less protection for Grand County’s proposed wilderness and less protection from oil & gas and potash development.
What you can do:
The Grand County Council needs to hear from you!
1. Please, call your council members at (435) 259-1342 and let them know they need to improve Alternative 3. This should be the beginning of the discussion in Grand County, not the end.
2. Attend the public meeting Wednesday, April 23rd at 6 pm at the Grand Center.
3. Send a letter to the Grand County Council before May 2nd:
Grand County Council
125 E Center Street
Moab, UT 84532
Also, send a copy of your letter to:
Mr. Fred Ferguson
Legislative Director, Rep. Rob Bishop
123 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Thank you, Kiley Miller and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) for the above information.
Moab and Grand County, Utah now stand at a crossroad. On the old energy side of the road, sit the ranchers, miners and mineral extractors. On the new energy side of the road, sit outdoors people, environmentalists, botanists, photographers… and even a few Jeep owners, such as myself. If you care about the future of Moab, and are a “citizen” of this world, let the officials listed above know how you feel. Otherwise, do not be surprised when the industrial desert drowns out any serenity still present in Grand County, Utah.
at 04:54 PM |
(0) | Link
Google This Phrase: "How+to+Crack+an+ATM+Safe"
A recent Los Angeles Times article asked, “Where did all the bandits go?” Further, they wrote, “At one time, bank robberies were part of L.A.’s daily routine. Not so anymore.” As early as 1963, the Times had identified Los Angeles as the “Bank Holdup Capitol”. In 1992, which was the biggest year for bank robberies, there were as many as twenty-eight bank robberies there in a single day. In recent years, smaller jurisdictions, such as San Francisco, Atlanta and other cities have taken over the robbery crown.
Unable to give definitive reasons for L.A.’s robbery decline, experts attribute it to a combination of factors, including improved security devices and strategies. Bulletproof Plexiglas “bandit barriers” are now common in bank branches, as are high-definition video camera systems. The website "LA Bank Robbers" now specializes in photos and video of active Los Angeles area bank robbers. In California, prison sentences for repeat offenders can be as high as sixteen years, thus taking a convicted robber off the streets for more than a decade. While the average heist in 2003 netted around $10,000, in 2013, that sum had dropped to as little as $1,000. In light of the increased risk, face-to-face bank robbery no longer pays.
Old-fashioned bank banditry required little more than nerves of steel, a disguise as simple as a baseball cap and a note demanding the cash. Would be bandits who are stuck in the old energy mode can expect to have a short career in bank robbery. If they persist in serial pursuit of ever dwindling returns, arrest and detention are now almost inevitable. Unless one is determined to spend significant time in prison, bank robbery is an unromantic way to lose one’s freedom.
Since 2008, I have written occasional articles on the subject of bank robbery. They proved to be so popular that I combined them into a separate website at MoabBank.com. During my research, I discovered that the latest trend in illegal withdrawals of money from banks involves Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) theft. When I say “ATM theft”, some thieves go so far as to abscond with the ATM itself.
The most overt style of ATM theft involves the use of a heavy truck to ram an outdoor, wall-mounted ATM off its moorings. The truck of choice for these so-called ATM “ram raids” is a flatbed tow truck. Once in positioned, the armored steel stern of the truck bed is rammed into the wall supporting the ATM. Assuming that the ATM comes loose from its moorings, the tow truck “operator” then tilts the truck bed down at the rear. The operator then feeds out a steel cable from the truck-mounted winch, grapples the ATM and then reels it in like fish. As soon as the ATM is on the truck's ramp, the ram raid team will be back in the cab, driving away.
Like the bank branch robbery, the ATM ram raid requires speed. As soon as the truck hits the ATM, alarms both silent and loud will start to ring. Even in the middle of the night, the process is loud and boisterous, drawing the attention of both witnesses and law enforcement officers. Once away from the scene of the crime, a tow truck carrying a damaged ATM needs quick access to a secure location large enough to hide the whole rig.
Once the ram raid ATM reaches its hideout, the robbers will need a plasma torch, which can cut open the steel plate door of the ATM safe. Inside the safe, the robbers will find between one and four cash cassettes, holding up to $40,000 each. Imagine the jubilation of dividing up $160,000 between a small team of robbers. Then, imagine the consternation over getting rid of the tow truck and vacating the hideout without leaving behind any clues.
A variation on the ATM ram raid is the in-situ plasma torch robbery. Rather than stealing a tow truck and risking easy detection and capture, in-situ ATM robbers take the “Mission Impossible” route. After locating a bank branch in a strip mall or other single story building, the robbers first "case the joint" for security cameras and roof access points. Posing as tradesmen and utilizing ladders, the robbers can easily move their demolition and break-in tools to the roof. After staging their tools and equipment above street level, several members of the team remain on the roof, while others remove the access ladders and retreat to a safe location.
Overnight, the roof-team opens a hole in the roof sufficient to lower one or more members into the “back room” of the ATM. Once inside, security cameras are blocked and other security systems compromised. With portable fans working to evacuate any fumes up and trough the escape-hole, the robbers proceed to cut the reinforced hinges off the ATM safe. Once inside the ATM, the robbers remove the cash cassettes, bag the money and raise everything back up to the roof. Before sunrise, the “tradesmen's truck” returns and a ladder allows the roof-team to return both themselves and the money to the truck. If all goes well for the bandits, no hideout is required and there is no ram raid truck requiring disposal.
For those who thought bank robbing should be easy, tow trucks, ladders, circular saws, sledgehammers, plasma torches and hideouts make for a daunting shopping list. In search of the easiest bank robbery, many have turned to electronics and software as their answer. Since most bank robbers are inherently lazy, the “debit card skimmer” has great appeal. In theory, the electronic bank robber need only use double-stick tape to install the skimmer over the actual ATM card reader. Once the unsuspecting ATM customer inserts their card into the skimmer, it reads and records both the magnetic strip on the card and the password entered by the customer. Later, the robber creates a duplicate ATM card and uses the stolen password to drain the unsuspecting customer's account.
If one is willing to do business with nefarious websites that sell thinly disguised skimmer kits, debit card skimmer kits require a relatively low investment. Some kits go as far as providing housings color-matched to the ATM’s of a targeted bank. Still, no would-be robber can be sure if he or she is buying online from other electronic criminals or from an FBI sting-website designed to catch the neophyte electronic robber. Anyone gullible enough to "click to buy" a kit designed to defraud a banking establishment might be surprised to find that there is no such kit and that their identity has been stolen. As P.T. Barnum said, "There is a sucker born every minute".
Even if successful in capturing debit card numbers and passwords via a wireless connection, the electronic robber must remain near enough to the scene to receive the data and recover the debit card skimmer. With skimmer kits costing well into the hundreds of dollars, subsequent risk of capture or loss of the deployed skimmer is high. As with traditional bank robbery, newer ATMs include security features designed to thwart electronic skimming. Using both physical and electronic sensors, a newer ATM will detect an installed skimmer and shut down the ATM.
Effective April 2014, Microsoft Corporation will no longer support its Windows XP operating System. For illegal hackers and identity thieves, the effect will be a bonanza in new ways to compromise XP computers and their users' identities. Microsoft will continue to provide software patches and a modicum of security to banks still running Windows XP and willing to pay a fee. When researching this article, I was surprised to discover that many “state of the art” ATMs rely on the thirteen-year-old Windows XP operating system. With typical shortsightedness, Microsoft is giving up their 95% lock on the ATM software business, preferring to see their clients switch to open source code offered by Linux.
Unlike a personal computer attached to the internet, ATMs connect to their home offices via a virtual private network (VPN). As such, even if they are running an old operating system like Windows XP, ATM's are less vulnerable to outside attack than any website or other internet-connected device. In order to compromise older private networks and the ATMs that they control, one must take control of the private network, itself. According to another recent L.A. Times article, that is exactly what unknown conspirators recently did.
Individuals with insider knowledge of older bank ATM network architecture hatched a brilliant, yet simple plan. First, they obtained the email addresses of ATM network administrators authorized to change both withdrawal limits and geographical restrictions on networked ATMs. Next, the conspirators sent innocuous, but official looking emails to the various ATM network administrators. In the phishing emails were nefarious links disguised as normal business. Once an administrator clicked on the nefarious link, malware automatically downloaded to the administrator’s computer.
From there, it was a simple process for the conspirators to change withdrawal limits and geographical limits to “unlimited” status. On a predetermined holiday weekend, with bank branches closed and security lax, the conspirators struck. At such a time, a busy bank branch may have four ATMs containing up to $160,000 each. Overnight, when foot traffic was slower, conspirators used previously stolen ATM cards to access the ATM cash on an unlimited basis. Using only twelve stolen ATM cards, the most prolific conspirators recently drained a reported $45 million from one or more banking institutions. As of this writing, no one has been charged in the caper.
“what’s the best way to rob an ATM?”, “what can cut thru ATMs?”, “breaking into ATM safe”, “breaking into small ATM machines”, “easy ATM break ins”, “NCR 22e ATM dispenser cassette”, “ATM machines cut into”, “breaking in ATMs with a blow torch”, “easiest way to rob a bank”, “defeated ATM alarm”, “how to break into ATM safe”, “ATM kiosk design”, “breaking into a ATM machine on spot”, “can torches cut metal on a ATM?”, “how to break an ATM vault”, “easiest way to break ATM vault”, “how to crack an ATM”, “cut open an ATM”, “ATM dispenser Diebold”, “ATM safecracking”, “how to break in an ATM machine”, “easiest way to break into ATM”, “easiest way to rob a bank”, “ATM cassette removal”, “ATM burglary with blow torch”, “NCR ATM machines”, “ATMs cutter”, “cut through ATM”, “ATM machine back cash door”, “new technology in ATM machine”, “bank robbers”, “ATM vault crack”, “ATM weak points”, NCR SelfServ 14 ATM”, “NCR 22e fascia open”, “Burglars of safe with a blow torch in bank”, “easy way to break into ATM”, “use cutting torch to rob…”, “breaking into a bank's ATM through the roof”, “thieves cut open ATMs with blow torches”, “robbery metal cutter machine price”, “plasmas cutter can open ATM”, “inside ATM machine”.
If you recognize any of your own queries in the list above, please think of yourself as being in the “wanna be” or “amateur” bank robber category. Then think twice and go no further with your ATM or bank robbery plans. Otherwise, we may not see you again online for another sixteen years.
at 05:38 PM |
Technology | Comments
(0) | Link
Rites of Spring in Moab, Utah - Peaceful Protest of the New Industrial Desert
Occasionally, one person rises up and makes a difference. At Moab, Utah, such a person is Ms. Kiley Miller. Over the past several years, Kiley has investigated and publicized the dangers of industrializing the desert in Grand County and Greater Canyonlands. Her latest attempt to gain both public and institutional support for saving Greater Canyonlands was in the form of a peaceful protest on March 20, 2014. That the protest took place in Moab on the first day of spring indicates the spirit of hopefulness that Kiley Miller and forty intrepid local citizens brought to this important debate.
Following, in her own words, is an account of the environmental protest that Kiley Miller organized:
“Thanks to All who showed up for the protest!!! It was awesome to see y'all there. About 40 people showed up! The BLM kindly sectioned off part of their parking lot just under the BLM sign as our "free speech" zone. Sarah & Emily Stock & I went in ahead of time & were greeted by Lisa Bryant. We let her know this was a peaceful protest & that it was not personal but that we are protesting the agency as a whole & do not approve of what is happening to our public lands.
John Weisheit & others spoke of national energy policy, pipeline safety, alternative energy etc. Carol Mayer pointed out that thankfully there are people out there in the community paying attention to what is happening in the region & raising the red flags.
We then walked over to the Fidelity Exploration office & they just happened to be closed so John Weisheit gave ‘em a call asking that someone please come down & talk with us but no one came. Members of the press were there & many of us were filmed & interviewed.
A participant named Judy came to me & said she got goose bumps from my Ed Abbey quote sign & that she was so happy to see so many young people there. She was new to protesting & wants to be more involved. It felt great to stand in solidarity with fellow citizens who were all there to show their love & support of protections for this beautiful place.
Canyon Country Rising Tide along with other groups & citizens will continue to have demonstrations in the future, I hope to see more of you at them.
‘My job is to save the f**king wilderness. I don't know anything else worth saving.’
- My new favorite Ed Abbey quote spoken through George Hayduke from the Monkey Wrench Gang.
For the Earth -
If interested, you may contact Kiley Miller by email. If you do, please tell her that Moab Jim sent you.
at 04:49 PM |
Environment | Comments
(0) | Link
The Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act of 2009 - A Study in False Advertising
In late March 2014, the Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act of 2009 (URLEA) will become law. In a previous article, I discussed the final agreement between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Utah State Institutional Land Trust (SITLA). Both my article and my written protest to the BLM pointed out significant errors in the official Appraisal of at least one exchange parcel. Unless sufficient changes are made to the Agreement, a Greater Canyonlands National Monument in Grand County will become a wish of the past.
Parcel 32, in direct contradiction to the expressed spirit of the Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act of 2009 (URLEA) is destined to become part of SITLA land holdings in Grand County. According to BLM contact Joy Wehking, SITLA is on record that they plan to sell all of their new Grand County land holdings to private interests. Currently, Parcel 32 has two petrochemical pipelines, U.S. Highway 191, a county road and the Potash Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad running through it.
To me, it seems obvious that Parcel 32 is destined for chemical extraction, storage and transportation. According to URLEA documents, the appraisal firm of Cushman & Wakefield’s responsibility was to assess mineral rights on exchange parcels. The catch is that Cushman & Wakefield was to appraise mineral rights only on parcels previously identified by SITLA or the BLM as containing them. In my estimation, Cushman & Wakefield erroneously assessed the “highest and best use” of Parcel 32, calling it grazing land. If Parcel 32 is destined for petrochemical development, there is an obvious disconnection between SITLA, BLM and the Cushman & Wakefield Appraisal.
When proposed by U.S. Rep Jim Matheson (D-Utah) in 2009, the core concept of the URLEA was to convey environmentally sensitive and recreational land in Grand and San Juan Counties from SITLA to BLM control. In return, SITLA was to receive Uintah County land of equal value, but with a high potential for mineral extraction.
When the Appraisal was complete, Cushman & Wakefield appraised Corona Arch as if it were prime resort property and Parcel 32 as if it were barely fit for range cattle. Consequently, Utah/SITLA withdrew 20,000 acres, valued at $10 Million from the land exchange. From those obvious errors alone, BLM should void the URLEA agreement and reappraise all properties according to their probable use. Otherwise, Corona Arch will remain a natural wonder at the end of a footpath and Parcel 32 will become the hub of petrochemical development and transportation in Grand County. To see the negative impact of creating an "Industrial Desert", one needs only to look at the crippled Brightsource Energy project in California's Ivanpah Valley, near Primm, Nevada.
After reflecting on the problems with the appraisal of Parcel 32, I decided to look at two other parcels destined for a similar URLEA “reverse exchange”. Focusing on Parcel 33 in Grand County and Parcel 34 in San Juan County, I discovered immediate issues. Parcel 33 contains approximately 69 acres and Parcel 34 consists of 170 acres.
In order to learn more about the parcels in question, I turned to the (final and official) "Decision Record Signed" and the "Exchange Agreement", as published on the internet. According to Page 7 of 9, “Exhibit B - Utah Recreational Land Exchange – Federal Lands and Interests to be Conveyed”, Parcel 33 contains a “road”, reserved in perpetuity. In the same document, on Page 9 of 9, both parcels are located “Behind the Rocks”. Each parcel contains a “Federal Grazing Allotment” issued to one “Kenneth Bates”. In the "Signed" Decision Record, I was shocked to find that Parcel 33 and 34 were Appraised as having a highest and best use of "Residential". After seeing how SITLA and BLM had treated Parcel 32, I was dubious.
If not for some form of mineral development, why would this SITLA and BLM “reverse exchange” include open grazing land, appraised as "Residential"? Is it "over the top" to think that SITLA plans to sell these former undeveloped pastures as "estate lots", intended for retired BLM or SITLA board members? Or is some Old Energy company planning to test stealth drilling rigs (see images) that can "hover and extract" without ever touching the land? If not, those parcels should remain open land, not some rich person's hideaway mansion surrounded and protected from encroachment by BLM land. Any way you look at it, the conveyance of Parcels 33 and 34 into private hands reeks of undue influence, old-boy networking and backroom politics. Please, BLM and SITLA, help me restore my trust in our public institutions. Prove me wrong.
The sad fact is that we may not soon know what BLM and SITLA have planned for these remote pastures. As published on the internet, “Exhibit B - Utah Recreational Land Exchange – Federal Lands and Interests to be Conveyed” is missing two critical pages. Both Pages 6 of 9 and 8 of 9 are missing from the BLM website and therefore, from the general public record. Based on the sequence of information offered on the existing published pages, it is logical to assume that each of the two missing pages may contain information pertinent to Parcels 33 and 34. Like the disappearance of Moab's mythical hovering drill rigs, they have vanished overnight.
I am not a conspiracy theorist, but the missing and obfuscated information regarding URLEA Parcels 32, 33 and 34 is too much to ignore or to sweep under the rug. My questions are these. Who made the heretofore unmentioned agreement to convey any lands in Grand and San Juan Counties from BLM to SITLA? Who decided that the parcels in question were to be assessed as “grazing land” or "residential", when in at least the case of Parcel 32, that is obviously not true? Why are two critical pages of the legal Agreement missing from the public record? Why is any Grand County or San Juan County land conveyed to BLM or SITLA in a “recreational land swap” subject to subsequent sale and development of its mineral content? Is it just me, or does such an outcome directly contradict the spirit, if not the letter of this law?
The BLM deadline for written protests to any aspect of the Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act (URLEA) is March 24, 2014. Even if you read this article after that date, it is appropriate to fax your protest to: (801) 539-4237. You may protest by U.S. Mail to: UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Utah State Office, 440 West 200 South, Suite 500 Salt Lake City, Utah 84101-1345. Since it is obvious that BLM and SITLA need to reassess the URLEA, I am sure that your comments will not be ignored.
at 05:10 PM |
Environment | Comments
(0) | Link
Earlier Stories >>