It has already started

I was right in my biodiesel post. According to a CNN story, soybean farmers in Brazil are already destroying Amazon rainforests.
[Survival International] blame a lack of political will and a powerful lobby of cattle ranchers and soybean farmers for fueling deforestation and threatening Brazil's 700,000 Indians.

Based on what it would take to convert just the US to all soy based fuels, expect much more of this.


Developers and Enviros get cozy

Yesterday, to much media fanfare (here and here), the Cascade Land Conservancy announced its 100 year plan for preserving forests and farmlands in Washington. Strangely, as of this writing, the CLC’s website is silent regarding the plan.

The CLC talks an awful lot about how cooperative and collaborative it is. Sadly, on its Board of Directors and Advisors, something is missing. Not one person is listed as farmer, or rancher, or forest owner, or citizen. Their list of names fall into fairly specific groups. There are the environmental interests (Washington Conservation Voters, Open Space Advocates), developers (Quadrant, Graysmith Landscape Architects) and government (Washington State Department of Transportation, US Forest Service). Organizations like this will only make it harder for regular citizen land owners to choose how to use their land.

Continue on...

It seems that environmentalists have realized that they can’t stop development, so they might as well get in on the game. If you’ve tried to build a home on your own property in the last ten years, you know how time consuming and expensive it is to get approval to start construction. Zoning, environmental, and building regulations can push projects out years. Yet companies like Quadrant are able to start new developments all the time. Large developers and government regulators have been cozy for a long time.

We all know that organizations like the Sierra Club spend most of their money on staff and recruiting, rather than saving the world. They also spend a good amount on lobbying efforts, but don’t often actually go get their hands dirty.

Organizations like the Cascade Land Conservancy have double benefit for these groups. First, they have the ability to stand up and say they’re actually contributing to saving something. Secondly, and more disturbingly, the arrangement gives environmental groups easy access to cash.

For instance, the CLC bought 100 acres adjacent to Northwest Trek. The land was then acquired by NW Trek from the CLC in 2005. The $1.4 million purchase was funded in part by a grant of $850,000 from the Pierce County Conservation Futures. The PCCF is funded by a 6.25 cents per $1000 property tax. Based on sale records, the CLC bought the property for $1,125,000. Thanks to public funding, they made a 24% profit without doing a thing to the property.

More interesting is the deal the CLC was able to secure for the Treemont property purchased from Port Blakely Tree Farms in 2003. CLC purchased the 260 acre property for $8.8 million to prevent it from being developed with up to 194 homes. Port Blakely, had it chosen to develop the property, would have been a direct competitor in multiple industries with Weyerhauser, Quadrant’s parent company.

CLC was able to secure an agreement with King County that looks pretty sweet. King County has the ability to purchase a conservation easement on the property. In addition, the CLC is allowed to develop 100 acres for a “conservation-oriented” community. Lots range from 2.5 to 3 acres. Similar lots with homes adjacent to the new development are priced above $1 million. This is another wonderful windfall for the CLC.

Quadrant has made out pretty good from the deal as well. They were able to prevent Port Blakely from entering the housing market in their own back yard. And there have been other benefits.

Quadrant initially began their development of Snoqualmie Ridge sixteen years ago. They were opposed by residents and local governments in the Snoqualmie area. As the above story points out, a deal “brokered” by the CLC resulted in much quicker approval of Quadrant’s SR Phase II plans and allowed additional homes to be built in their first phase. The article fails to mention, however, that a Quadrant representative sits on the Board of Directors of the CLC. So while King County and ‘conservationists’ get their protected lands, Quadrant gets a speedy approval to build more houses without having to worry about more resident protests.

The CLC seems to be a model for the future. Government has long been in bed with large developers like Quadrant. Government has also had a cozy relationship with environmental groups. Until now, developers and environmentalists haven’t gotten along very well. The CLC has found a way to make these deals profitable for all three. And in the end, it will be even harder for us common folk to do with our land as we please.
Crossposted at Head West, Turn Right


Moving up in the world

I am now a contributor to Head West, Turn Right a 'Joint Blog of the Conservative Northwest Blogging Alliance: Red State Points of View from a Blue State Point on the Compass'. Brian, I hope I do a good job! Thanks for the opportunity!


And another thing with Mr. Smith and Seattle Vision

Going through the Seattle Vision website from the previous post, I noticed this. See all those buildings just north of the stadium? They're not there yet. This is how it looks right now. Basically, all of the parking is wiped out in the Seattle 'Vision'.

Residents of the state of Washington have shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars for Safeco and Qwest Field (roughly $600 million between the two). King County residents have shelled out even more money (an additional .017% sales tax). But those fans from Spokane or Richland on the east side of the state, or Skykomish in King County, will have to either leave their car with a friend or in a park and ride or face the very real possibility of $100+ parking for games.

Mr. Smith and SV seem to think that the Mariners and Seahawks belong to Seattle. They seem to think that the stadiums belong to Seattle. Maybe it's time to wake them up.

Big Surprise...

An unsurprising rip on property rights in the Seattle Times today. Basically, Greg Smith and Nina Carter say that Washington shouldn't pass an initiative similar to Oregon's Measure 37. Smith and Carter make it sound like it threw growth regulations out the window.

This is not the case. Measure 37 allows that if the land use regulation was not in effect when the current owner's family purchased the property, the owner should be compensated at fair market value or should not be subject to the regulation. So, since my parents bought their ranch in 1992, and my grandmother owned it since 1989, the property is only subject to land use regulations of 1989. Any regulations since then do not apply. For instance, if my parents wanted to build a megamall on their ranch and it was legal in 1989 but not now, then they could build their mall. However, if it was not allowed in 1989, they cannot seek compensation.

Smith and Carter say,
Special interests...and developers are trying to exploit the concerns of a few landowners who believe that the use of their property is unfairly restricted. The developers are trying to sell us something other than the truth.

Funny coming from Mr. Smith. You see, Mr. Smith is a developer. But also one that feels that he has the power to tell other property owners what to do. Mr. Smith is an avid member of Seattle Vision whose 'vision' of Seattle includes
Planning without constraint of existing property ownership.
So, basically Mr. Smith and other major property owners in the city of Seattle want to be able to tell all the 'minor' property owners what will be done with their land.

I'm quite curious what Mr. Smith would say if a government body came to Seattle and made it impossible to build new buildings in downtown. Would Mr. Smith feel that the use of HIS property is "unfairly restricted"? What if a government body came to Seattle and said that it was no longer legal to sell his million dollar condos? Would he then become a property rights advocate?

The Op/Ed continues on, saying
Washingtonians...have a history of opposing such efforts.
Before these special interests run an initiative like Measure 37 in Washington, they would do well to consider what the people of Washington think.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is the purpose of an initiative.

My favorite piece of the article states
Washingtonians cherish...the right to protect our quality of life from the actions of others...

It's great to see that Smith and Carter are qualified to determine everyone's quality of life.


National ID

The Militant Libertarian has a great rant about the REAL ID Act. According to ML,
Under the law, residents of states that fail to adopt the new national ID won't...receive Social Security.
Does that mean that we won't have to pay in either?

Biodiesel the next energy crisis?

A story on Komo 4 news today touting biodiesel as our oil crunch savior. Rob Elam of Seattle-based Propel Fuels says,
"When have you ever had a chance to say 'no' to foreign oil, or 'no' to gasoline?"
But will biodiesel cut our dependence on foreign energy?

From Economagic, total domestic petroleum field production for January 05 was 7,698,613 barrels per day. Total domestic petroleum exports were 983,774 barrels per day for January 05. This gives a net domestic product of 6,714,839 barrels a day. For January 05, total imports were 12,862,935 barrels a day. This gives us a total daily domestic consumption of 19,577,774 barrels a day. Therefore, the US produces 34.3% of its petroleum products domestically. Not great, but not terrible.

The USDA tracks US and world crop supply. For soybeans and other oilseed products (sunflower, cottonseed, and canola), US production for 2005/06 is projected to be 89.2 million tons. World production for 2005/2006 is projected at 378 million tons. The US produces 23.6% of the world's soybeans.

In 2000, the US consumed 30% of the world's soybeans (see table 10 in the link). However, only 8% of the total soybean production went to produce soy oil products.

From Practical Biodiesel,
"oilseed crops such as canola, soybeans, sunflowers, safflower and crambe are capable of producing up to 100 gallons of fuel per acre..."

Some quick math. We get approximately 19 gallons of gasoline for every 55 gallon barrel we produce or import. So roughly 34% of imported oil becomes gasoline ~ 371,977,706 gallons per day or 135,771,862,690 gallons per year. If we were to completely replace gasoline with biodiesel, we would require 1,357,718,627 acres per year dedicated to producing soybeens only for fuel.

According to the USDA, soybeans were planted in 72,415,000 acres in the US in 1998. That would have to stay in production to meet demand for soy meal, the beans themselve and other products currently in use. To meet our demand for new fuel source and our current soy demands, we would require 2,121,435 SQUARE MILES planted in soybeans. That is nearly two thirds of the entire land area of the United States.

It is a physical impossibility for the United States to produce enough biodiesel to meet its own possible demands.

Just as with oil, the increased demand on soybeans will drive up the price. We will see cartels start to emerge. Instead of Saudi Arabia, China will become an energy powerhouse.

Third world countries will definitely see economic benefits. But in all likelyhood, gains made by reduction of CO2 emissions will be offset by those third worlders reducing rainforests, wetlands and other 'critical habitat' to raise oilseeds.

If biodiesel is the standard, we still fall under the thumb of foreign interests.

Confused City Employees

A tree rooted in ground owned by the city of Seattle fell into 74 year old Joyce Johnson's yard. She figured that the city would come clean up the mess, however,
"The city explained that private property owners who live next to city property are, in many cases, responsible for the trees on that adjacent city property."

"[Seattle Transportation Department spokeswoman Liz] Rankin explained that most of the old trees throughout the city were planted to satisfy the demands of a public that desired a community filled with green. Because citizens enjoy the benefits of those trees, it's the citizens' responsibility to help maintain them."

Isn't this (for lack of a better term at the moment) double-banging this poor woman? She is 'the city', isn't she? She pays taxes so that the City of Seattle can exist and people like Rankin have jobs.

One of my favorite parts from the article says,
"it's important to know [who is responsible for certain trees], because a permit is required to cut down or trim trees on city property or public easements."

Isn't that nice? You pay us to plant them, you have to pay us if you want to trim them or cut them down, and if they fall, you have to pay to clean them up. All while paying us to do...what, exactly?


Illegal Immigrant Health Care

I have a couple of problems with this. First is the slippery slope. How long until we (since we are FedGov) start paying for all the health care of illegals?

Second springs from a point made in the article:

"It seems to me that if the federal government has abdicated its responsibility for immigration enforcement, then it's responsible for making those jurisdictions whole," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank based in Washington.

Why isn't this $1 Billion going to border enforcement? In 2003, the INS budget was $6.5 Billion. Why are we paying so much to pay for health care of people that cross the border illegally instead of giving the INS a 15% bump to prevent it from happening?

Washington sucks sometimes.


60 years ago today

On May 6, 1945, the only mainland American causualties from enemy action were sustained in Bly, Oregon. The flock of a pastor, five children and his wife, were killed by a Japanese Balloon Bomb. The Klamath Herald and News has a story on the anniversary.

From the Mitchell Monument webpage, the pastor, Achie Mitchell, became a missionary in Vietnam. He was abducted by the Viet Cong in 1962 and was never seen again.


Former schoolmate is a Gypsy Joker President?

Matt Wright, a former school mate of mine, and former classmate of my brother, was sentenced Tuesday for first-degree burglary, second-degree robbery and third-degree assault. The thing that blew my mind was this:

"Wright is believed to be a former president of the Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club "

People surprise you. I never knew Matt had leadership skills.

Funny how people change. Matt wasn't a bad kid. Now he's going to jail for ten years...staying in Klamath can do that to you.

Quarter Complaints (Defending Gov K, I must be sick)

The Klamath Falls newspaper is once again complaining about the Oregon State Quarter. The debut of the quarter will be in Portland, while Crater Lake is in Klamath county, roughly 250 mile south.

Randy Adams says
"it's a matter of right versus wrong, big versus small, and ignorance versus greed"

While I agree that Crater Lake would have been an amazing, and appropriate, place to hold the unveiling, other states have not launched their quarters at the places represented.

The Missouri quarter shows the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. However, the unveiling was held at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, half way across the state. Kansas also unveiled theirs at their state fair, upstaging ZZ Top.

California, showing a natural wonder that rivals Crater Lake, is unveiling theirs, not at Yosemite, but in Sacramento.

If it were about right versus wrong, as Mr. Adams asserts, perhaps the best place to debut the Oregon quarter is on the steps of the capitol in Salem. It is, after all, Oregon's quarter, not Klamath County's.

If it were about big versus small, maybe Mr. Adams should consider the cost to the state and FedGov to get dozens of people to Crater lake versus Portland. I'm sure from the dollars perspective, this is a decision of small over large.

If it were about ignorance versus greed, Mr. Adams would not be ignorant of the fact that many states don't debut them at the locations shown on the obverse. He would also not chastise the decision without first examining his own greed.