Question of the Day April 24, 2014
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Q:I have a question not specifically about Las Vegas but it does includes Clark County, cattle and possibly the energy needs of Las Vegas sometime into the future. So in a roundabout way it could indeed involve Las Vegas. Intrigued yet? I have not seen any coverage of this from the mainstream media but can you possibly explain the situation that is going on at the Bundy Ranch which involves the BLM, Senator Harry Reid and his son Rory and a Chinese energy company’s solar plant and how the Bundy Ranch fits into all of this?
A:It doesn’t really. The flashpoint of the controversy was that Cliven Bundy was grazing his cattle on Bureau of Land Management land and in a protected habitat for desert tortoises – and wasn’t paying land-use fees. Also, he refuses to recognize the authority of the U.S. government. As wife Carol Bundy says, "And if we are a sovereign state, in the State of Nevada, we don't need to worry because we haven't broken any state laws." Or, from the man himself: "I don’t recognize the United States Government as even existing."
The BLM happens to be run by freshly confirmed Neil Kornze, an eight-year veteran of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office. Reid’s son, Rory, works for ENN Mojave Energy, a Chinese solar-power company. Both the elder and younger Reid have been heavily critical of Bundy. Do all these threads tie together to form a conspiracy? Finding an answer requires delving into some of the murkier recesses of the Internet.
The posited scheme is that Sen. Reid wants Bundy’s cattle off BLM land so that ENN can develop a solar farm on the acreage. Mind you, Bundy hasn’t been paying his grazing fees since 1993. In 1998, the BLM obtained a court order restraining Bundy from using the tortoise habitat as grazing land. According to Snopes.com, "In July 2013, a federal court finally ordered Bundy to get his cattle off public land within 45 days or risk having them confiscated by the government and sold to pay off the fees and trespassing fines (reportedly in excess of $1.2 million) that he owes."
Breitbart.com picks up the thread: "Court records reference Bundy’s confirmation in deposition that the cattle--branded or not--were indeed his on the tracts. Further, the [Department of Justice] detailed the family’s ranching improvements to the off-limits New Trespass Lands to include corrals, water troughs, hay and grazing supplements—such improvements were explicitly prohibited for any party, according to court records. The government repeatedly reminded the court that no grazing permits in the disputed area were ever offered."
What’s even more to the point, as Breitbart.com notes, is that the ENN land was nowhere near Bundy’s. "While it would be fair to claim that such activity was in Bundy’s relative neighborhood, the federal lands once leased by the family were more than 20 miles away, east of Overton, Nevada."
No question, Sen. Reid has been a supporter of the ENN project since 2011 and Rory Reid’s law firm represents ENN. Unfortunately for conspiracy theorists, even if the ENN land was adjacent to Bundy’s, the issue would be moot. ENN terminated its purchase agreement with Clark County almost a year ago. The project’s downfall was its inability to generate power purchase agreements (PPAs) from area utilities. "Unfortunately, the market will not support a project of this scale and nature at this time," wrote ENN Senior Vice President Tim Carlson at the time.
"Under the terms of the option/purchase agreement with the County, ENN needed to obtain sufficient PPAs in order to exercise the option to purchase Phase 1 of their project’s land in Laughlin, about 90 miles south of Las Vegas," elaborated TV station KSNV. (NV Energy rebuffed Sen. Reid’s public pressure to buy power from ENN, saying it had met its renewable-energy threshold.)
Adding two and two, and getting five, Bundy supporters conflate the ENN site with the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar project (already in progress, on Native American land). They also take this paragraph regarding the discrete Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone – "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" – and attribute it to the Bundy dispute. When the Dry Lake citation briefly disappeared from the Web, it was taken as sign of a coverup. Again, the land in question is well to the southwest of Overton.
In conclusion, we quote conservative pundit Tucker Carlson, who said during a Fox News appearance, "I have a lot of sympathy for the Bundys. I think they were completely mistreated by the federal government. But I still think it's important to point out that this land does not belong to them and that's not a minor distinction, it's the essence of private property."