Environment: House GOP continues anti-wolf crusade

The leader of the new Summit County wolf pack, dubbed "John Denver" by federal biologists. PHOTO COURTESY USFWS.

GOP continues wolf persecution.  Photo via USFWS.

Latest budget amendment would overturn federal court rulings that reinstated protection for wolves

Staff Report

FRISCO — For the second time in five years, anti-environmental Republicans in Congress are trying to make an end run around the Endangered Species Act by stripping federal protection for gray wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes states.

The amendment to a spending bill for the Interior Department is similar to a measure passed in 2011, when Congress removed protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana — the first time that Congress legislatively removed protections for a species. Since the 2011 rider passed, more than 1,900 wolves have been killed in the two states. Continue reading

Public lands: Proposed resort development seen as big threat to Grand Canyon National Park

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A proposal for a large new resort development near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon threatens public resources.

Forest Service eyes plan for road, infrastructure improvements around Tusayan, Ariz.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Plans for a sprawling real estate development near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon are moving closer to reality. The U.S. Forest Service says it will study a request by the town of Tusayan to provide more access to key parcels of private land surrounded by national forest.

The start of that process spurred conservation advocates to warn that the development adds to the environmental pressure on one of the country’s most cherished natural landmarks. The planned megaresort, with 2,100 residential units and 3 million square feet of retail space along with hotels, a spa and conference center. Continue reading

Feds to update financial rules for oil and gas drilling

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An aerial view show a spreading network of drilling roads spreading on public lands in eastern Utah.

Lease practices, bonding requirements and royalty rates on the table in planned revision

Staff Report

FRISCO — The federal government wants to update rules governing oil and gas royalty rates and other financial aspects of oil and gas development on public lands.

In a rule-making notice to be published in the Federal Register this week, the Department of Interior said it will take public comment on rental payments, lease sale minimum bids, civil penalty caps and financial assurances for oil and gas operations.

“It’s time to have a candid conversation about whether the American taxpayer is getting the right return for the development of oil and gas resources on public lands,” Interior Secretary Jewell, said in a statement. Continue reading

Feds propose new rules for operating drones

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FORT scientist and Raven-A sUAS pilot Leanne Hanson launches the drone in the San Luis Valley as part of an effort to monitor sandhill cranes. USGS photo.

FAA taking public comment for 60 days

Staff Report

FRISCO — With everyone from ski movie makers to wedding photographers and wildlife biologists getting in on the drone craze, the airspace above the U.S. is getting even more crowded.

To help manage the boom in the use of unmanned aircraft systems, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration have released a new set of draft rules open for public comment. At the same time, the White House released a presidential memorandum that addresses civil rights and privacy issues associated with drone operations. Continue reading

Senate releases CIA torture report

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A chilling chapter in American history.

U.S. agents and contractors operated well outside the law, lied to Congress and the American people on torture of terror suspects

Staff Report

FRISCO — Top U.S. intelligence officials lied, mislead Congress and blocked oversight efforts as they sought to prevent American citizens from learning about how government agencies and private contractors detained and tortured terror suspects in the early 2000s.

“The release of the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program is an historic victory for our nation, the Constitution, and our system of checks and balances,” said Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.). Continue reading

Public lands: Industry groups once again challenge 20-year uranium mining ban around the Grand Canyon

Uranium mining near the Grand Canyon? Some Senate Republicans think it's a good idea.

Uranium mining near the Grand Canyon? Say it ain’t so!

Industry groups once again appeal 20-year moratorium in court

Staff Report

FRISCO— Mining companies just won’t give up their dream of exploiting public lands around the Grand Canyon to profit from uranium mining.

Last week, the the National Mining Association and the American Exploration & Mining Association went back to court to try and overturn a 20-year moratorium on uranium mining that covers about 1 million acres in the region. Continue reading

Congress eyes widespread public land pay-to-play fees

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More public land fees ahead?

‘Stealth’ bill pending in House after passing committee without a hearing

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — In a classic bit of stealth lawmaking, House Resources Committee chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) last month opened the door for more widespread recreation day use fees on federal lands.

Without a committee hearing, Hastings sent HR 5204 (The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Modernization Act of 2014) to the floor of the House, where it could, according to critics, become law without any public hearing at all as a rider to a budget bill. Continue reading

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