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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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Udall urges CIA to come clean on torture program

Obama administration has yet to authorize release of a congressional report on ‘wrongheaded’ and ‘misguided’ detention and interrogation program

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — There’s little doubt that the detention and interrogation program used in the war on terror violates international law. And with the Obama administration still refusing to come clean, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) pressed for a full and transparent accounting of the program during a confirmation hearing for CIA General Counsel nominee Caroline Diane Krass.

Udall said that, before he can support her nomination, he needs additional information and assurances relating to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s landmark study on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. Udall has been a leading voice in Congress for the White House and CIA to come clean about the agency’s deeply flawed detention and interrogation program. Continue reading

New effort launched to curb NSA snooping

EFF version of NSA logo

Civil liberties advocates created their own version of the NSA logo to make their point. Image courtesy Electronic Frontier Foundation.

‘We have now seen that secret, domestic surveillance programs at the National Security Agency have crossed the line’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Along with colleagues from Wisconsin and Oregon, Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is leading a new effort to curb overly eager spy agencies from invading the privacy and abusing the civil liberties of people who have absolutely no connection with terrorism.

Udall and U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)  introduced the Freedoms and Privacy Act of 2013, legislation that strengthens transparency, oversight and accountability on National Security Agency domestic surveillance.

“Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, we learned about the importance of sharing information about international terrorism between intelligence agencies and law enforcement,” Udall said. “But we need to ensure that any personal information collected on innocent Americans with no connection to terrorism or espionage is shared appropriately with law enforcement entities. We need strong, appropriate privacy protections,” he said. Continue reading

House GOP tries to heist federal water rights

Radical anti-environmental GOP leaders seek to privatize water

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Tenmile Creek flows through the White River National Forest near Frisco, Colorado, helping to sustain aquatic ecosystems. bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Anti-environmental House Republicans are at it again, this time trying to pull of one of the greatest heists of all time by passing a law that would ban agencies like the National Park Service and the Forest Service from exerting any control over water flowing off federal lands.

House Resolution 3189, the so-called Water Rights Protection Act, wouldn’t actually protect any water; instead, it would open the door for more private development of water for fracking and urban development by prohibiting “the conditioning of any permit, lease or any other use agreement on the transfer, relinquishment, or other impairment of any water right to the United States by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture.” Continue reading

Senate timidly moves to curb NSA snooping

Sen. Mark Udall.

Sen. Mark Udall.

Sen. Mark Udall votes against measure, says more far-reaching reform is needed

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A bill that would take baby steps toward curbing the excessive spying by U.S. intelligence agencies passed through a Senate committee this week, but the measure doesn’t go far enough, according to Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who has proposed legislation that would would rein in the dragnet collection of phone records, provide safeguards for warrantless wiretapping under the FISA Amendments Act, and create a constitutional advocate to protect privacy rights in cases before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Udall voted against the bill, saying that Americans need more protection from snooping government agencies.

“The NSA’s ongoing, invasive surveillance of Americans’ private information does not respect our constitutional values and needs fundamental reform – not incidental change,” Udall said. “Unfortunately, the bill passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee does not go far enough to address the NSA’s overreaching domestic surveillance programs. ” Continue reading

Public lands: Forest Service eyes new rules for summer activities at ski resorts

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The U.S. Forest Service is taking comments on new rules governing various uses on public lands under permit to the ski industry.

Agency may authorize fees for uphill skiing, snowshoe travel at resorts on national forests

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —Can you harmonize with the natural environment while speeding down a mountain zip line?

It may depend on exactly how fast you’re going, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which is rolling out a new set of rules to govern the permitting of summer recreational installations at ski areas operating on national forest lands.

In one of the biggest changes that would affect other private businesses near resorts, the agency would back away from a long-standing policy that precluded authorization for facilities that could be provided on nearby non-Forest Service lands. The proposed rules are posted at  http://www.fs.fed.us/specialuses. Continue reading

Lawmakers want to curb spy agency abuses

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Congress to consider intelligence-gathering reforms.

Reforms needed to restore public confidence

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from the U.S. House and Senate want to ban bulk collection of Americans’ records, shield Americans from warrantless searches of their communications and install a constitutional advocate to argue significant cases before the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court.

The Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act would halt the erosion of constitutional liberties resulting from invasive surveillance activities and the secret legal interpretations that have allowed this surveillance to proliferate, according Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and other supporters of the bill, including Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Continue reading

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