• David Frazier's memoir of Vietnam, "Drafted!", is multilayered - from the days of war in the 60s to return visits as a photography - and as complex as the place itself.
From local to national, to around the world. From inside the home to speculative. From fact to fiction - though we do take care about which is which.

Water rights weekly report for January 9. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on January 18 reversed a district judge in effectively reinstating a Bush-era rule which says direct water transfers are not subject to the permitting system set up by the Clean Water Act.

A representative of the New Mexico State Engineer’s office in January described to Lincoln County officials the chances of obtaining a new water right in the area. The upshot was: Somewhere around slim or none.

The Oklahoma city of Ada on January 17 will move forward with purchase of 120 acres of land linked to substantial aquifer rights. And the city of Alamosa, Colorado, has agreed to purchase more than a half-million dollars in water rights, presented held by a ranching corporation.

Nigeria’s government in January released a new national Water Use and License 2016 document.

Exeter Resource Corporation said on January 17 that it has secured a second water source, which will provide a timely development pathway for its 100% owned Caspiche gold oxide/ gold-copper project in Chile.

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for January 23. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

As a new administration takes power in Washington, the Idaho Legislature kicks into gear and introduces legislation at a somewhat faster rate than its members did a year ago.

The Bureau of Land Management has signed a Record of Decision to authorize routes for the final two segments of the Gateway West transmission line project, which connects the Hemingway substation in southwest Idaho with power generation facilities in central Wyoming. The project will address congestion problems within the Western electrical grid, facilitate the renewable energy market, especially wind energy in Idaho and Wyoming, and aid in delivering that energy to the region.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent in December – after five straight months at 3.8 percent.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said on January 20 that the State of Idaho’s official website, idaho.gov, has a new design and significantly improved functionality.

Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, provided opening remarks at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Improving Small Business Input on Federal Regulations: Ideas for Congress and a New Administration.

A regional cold snap drove loads, or power demand, in the Bonneville Power Administration’s balancing authority area to high levels – topping out on Friday, January 6 at 10,943 megawatts. The balancing authority area is the electrically-defined “geographic” unit within which BPA’s Transmission Services Operations team balances the supply and demand of electricity on an ongoing real-time basis.

PHOTO The Idaho National Laboratory has had five supercomputers recognized on the TOP500 list, which originated in the early ’90s. The new Falcon supercomputer initially made the list in November 2014, and has maintained a position on subsequent lists. The supercomputer advanced in the current rankings as recent processor upgrades improved the operating capabilities of Falcon. Operating with more than 25,000 cores and 122 terabytes of memory, Falcon supports the needs of over 400 users – spanning the lab, national universities, other DOE labs and industry partners. (photo/Idaho National Laboratory)

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Governmental and political activity kicked into high gear last week in Boise and in Washington. The Idaho Legislature started its annual session, and members of Congress got busy on several fronts.

On January 9 the Idaho Legislature convened for its 2017 session and began work on budget and revenue matters and on review of state regulations. The session was started, for the 11th time, by a state of the state address by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Representative Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, was removed by action of the House from the three committees to which she had been assigned, after word spread of comments she had made to another legislator.

In a joint letter led by Senator Jim Risch, the Idaho congressional delegation thanked the Department of Energy for diligently reopening the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico, which was closed for nearly three years following a radiation incident in 2014. The delegation urged Secretary Moniz to prioritize waste coming from Idaho’s Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Plant as DOE establishes a shipment schedule for waste going to WIPP.

The Bureau of Land Management Pocatello Field Office and U.S. Forest Service Caribou-Targhee National Forest on January 13 issued their separate records of decision for the Rasmussen Valley Mine Project to approve an open pit phosphate mine in Caribou County, Idaho. The selected alternative will preserve 1,700 jobs supported by the project and generate approximately $85 million per year for the local economy in Caribou County.

Representative Raúl Labrador on January 12 moved to relieve Idaho’s overloaded federal courts by introducing a bill authorizing a third U.S. District judge. Since 2015, Idaho has had just one full-time district court judge and the Judicial Conference of the United States has declared a judicial emergency. To fill the gap, 17 judges from other states have presided over Idaho cases in the last four years.

Idaho National Laboratory released the “INL Fiscal Year 2016 Economic Impact Summary,” which evaluates the total economic impact that INL operations have on Idaho’s economy. The report demonstrates that INL contributes a positive value of $1.9 billion to Idaho’s total economic output – an increase of 20.4 percent or nearly $324 million between 2015 and 2016.

PHOTO Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter delivers his 2017 state of the state address. Here, e recognizes Barbara Morgan, Idaho’s first medal of achievement recipient. (photo/Governor Otter)

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Transition week is over, as people settle back to work after the holidays – and just before the Idaho Legislature kicks into action. Which it will, on Monday.

The State Board of Education on January 4 announced the process for reviewing teacher evaluations conducted by public school district and public charter school administrators during the 2015-2016 school year.
In 2016, the Idaho legislature directed the State Board to review teacher evaluations.

State Treasurer Ron Crane, who has held that office since 1998, said last week that he would not run for a sixth term in 2018. He had been easily re-elected in recent elections, though he was pressed in his most recent amid changes about spending and fund management.

Senator Jim Risch was named chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. The committee oversees the Small Business Administration, small business trade and exporting, veterans and reservist employees, women and minority entrepreneurship, among others.

Clearwater Paper Corporation has announced it has acquired Manchester Industries of Richmond, Virginia, a leading, independently-owned paperboard sales, sheeting and distribution supplier to the packaging and commercial print industries.

PHOTO The scene at Boise State University after snow fell on Boise last week. (photo/Boise State University)

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Things are quieting down for the arrival of Christmas and New Years, but a good deal of legislation is being developed at the Statehouse.

Idaho Democratic Party Executive Director Sally Boynton Brown announced her candidacy for Democratic National Committee chair on December 16. Party officers approved a two-month leave of absence and have endorsed her candidacy.

The Pocatello City Council has put its stamp of approval on the Portneuf River Vision Study. At Thursday’s Council meeting, the council voted to approve a non-binding resolution to implement the “Vision Study’s goals and recommendations, as funding and other resources allow.” The resolution also directs Mayor Brian Blad “to establish a Portneuf River Vision Study Implementation Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee.”

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public comment on a draft water quality certification of the federal license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the continued operation of Idaho Power Company’s Hells Canyon Complex.

PHOTO The Australian firm Vie Active opened its down last week in Ketchum, amid some of the first strong snowfalls of the season. Employees celebrate both. (photo/White Cloud Communications)

Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

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Things are quieting down for the arrival of Christmas and New Year, but a good deal of legislation is being developed at the Statehouse.

The Idaho congressional delegation welcomed the news that Gowen Field in Boise is among five candidates to become the home to a new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter squadron. The decision by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James was announced Wednesday.

Idaho’s standard unemployment insurance tax rate for 2017 will decrease by 6.3 percent to 1.395 percent, down from 1.488 percent in 2016. This follows the rate decrease between 2015 and 2016 of 6 percent.

TO OUR READERS: Next week’s edition will be the last of 2016, as we take a one-week break for the holidays. We’ll return after that on January 2.

The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree this year came from central Idaho. After making its way around an Idaho tour, it went to Washington D.C., where it was formally lit on December 6. (photo/Senate Republicans, Senator Mike Crapo)

Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

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Our weekly Public Affairs Digest – for Washington, Oregon and Idaho – traditionally have been for sale just by annual subscription. That’s changing.

The annual subscriptions are still available, of course, and are the best way to get the Digests. But we’ll also be selling them as single issues, $1.98 each. Payment through PayPal – if you’re already set up there – takes less than a minute.

Annual subscriptions, as noted, remain the best: As the national publications would put it, you save 41% off the per-issue cost that way. But checking out a few single issues can be a good way to get a sense, for pocket change, of what the Digests have to offer.

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A little over a year ago, we launched a revised public affairs digest – the electronic weekly edition. This week, we make a few changes, some cosmetic and organizational and others substantive. Everything that has been here over the last year remains (sometimes in a different place), but we’re also adding more original material.

Excerpts, for example, have been moved to whatever subject area seems to be most applicable. And we’ve renamed (though not repurposed) several of the sections.

These features will be showing up, from time to time, as warranted.

How things work – We’ll spotlight, from time to time, the processes and ways things work. The actions and decisions of the moment sometimes need a little more context indicating where they fit in the larger picture.

Documents – We’ll highlight some of the key documents and statements of the week, drawing from speeches, court decisions, regulatory findings, press releases, official statements and more.

Fact checks – We’ll take a look at some of the assertions made by official (and unofficial) speakers, and document reports, on various topics, especially as campaign season kicks into gear.

Ripple effects – A look at some of the effects, sometimes subtle, that some of the overt changes could create. Many policy decisions and other actions have a wide range of side effects.

View – Our take on events and trends, with analysis and perspective. We’ll be moving the “our take” feature in the excerpts section to wherever in the issue the subject matter seems most appropriate.

Let us know what you think. The changes aren’t necessarily over.

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