Public lands: Obama’s budget includes boost for national parks

Infrastructure repair, education and outreach targeted

Camping in the backcountry wilderness of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Click on the image to visit the park website.

Camping in the backcountry wilderness of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Click on the image to visit the park website.

Staff Report

FRISCO – The National Park Service could see funding for essential programs and operational needs climb $432.9 million this year under President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016.

“This is an investment in ‘America’s best idea’ that pays dividends in gateway communities across the nation,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.”For every dollar appropriated to the National Park Service in the President’s 2016 Centennial budget, $10 is returned to the American economy in the form of visitor spending, travel and tourism and construction jobs,” Jarvis said. The funds will help parks upgrade aging infrastructure and respond to climate change, he added. Continue reading

Obama pushes for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge protection

Conservation plan proposes 12 million acres of new wilderness

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The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Alaska’s North Slope.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A far-reaching conservation plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska would designate 12 million acres of new wilderness, including critical wildlife habitat along the coastal plains that are home to vast herds of caribou.

On the White House blog, John Podesta and Mike Boots directly addressed the potential threat and disastrous consequences of a major oil spill in the region.

President Obama said he will make an official recommendation to Congress to designate core areas of the refuge – including its Coastal Plain – as wilderness, the highest level of protection available to public lands. Watch the President discuss the announcement here.

If Congress chooses to act, it would be the largest ever wilderness designation since Congress passed the Wilderness Act more than 50 years ago — but that’s highly unlikely with GOP control of Congress. In fact, Alaska’s pro-development lawmakers have already over-reacted by characterizing the announcement as a war on Alaska’s future, according to the Alaska Dispatch News, which has the best coverage of the story. Continue reading

Obama unlikely to sign Keystone XL pipeline bill

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The White House and Congress are set to clash over the Keystone XL pipeline.

Court rulings, State Department decision still pending on controversial fossil fuel project

Staff Report

FRISCO — Republicans in Congress may be falling all over themselves in their haste to please the fossil fuel industry by passing a bill seeking to force approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, but the White House is saying not so fast.

This week, the Obama administration signaled that it won’t sign a pipeline bill, which would “circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether cross-border pipelines serve the national interest,” and “cut short consideration of important issues relevant to the national interest,” according to a White House statement. Continue reading

Colorado: Senators Udall and Bennet ask President Obama to use Antiquities Act to designate Browns Canyon as a national monument

Gridlock in Congress prompts request for designation

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There’s a new push to create a national monument along the Arkansas River.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Citing gridlock in Congress, Colorado’s U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have asked President Obama to consider designating Browns Canyon, in Chaffee County, as a national monument under the Antiquities Act.

The request comes as Congress has all but ignored a huge backlog of public lands bills primarily based on ideological opposition to land protection measures by House Republican committee chairs.

According to Udall and Bennet’s Nov. 25 letter to President Obama, community leaders in the Browns Canyon area suggested the Antiquities Act path, recognizing the significant economic benefits of the designation for regional tourism-based businesses. Continue reading

EPA releases draft climate change adaptation plans

Agency cites increases of extreme weather, drought and flooding in call for public comment

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A NASA map shows global temperature anomalies for Aug. 2013.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — At this point, most people know that global warming is already having tangible impacts on their day-to-day lives, from more intense heatwaves to destructive coastal flooding and longer wildfire seasons.

But it’s not always easy to figure what, if anything, can be done. To help communities in different parts of the country, the EPA is developing climate change adaptation implementation plans, with detailed information about the actions EPA plans to take across the country to help communities adapt to a changing climate. Continue reading

EPA proposes cap on power plant carbon emissions

Common-sense standards easily met with current technology

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Global warming trends since 1950 are unmistakeable.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Dovetailing with the upcoming new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the EPA this week issues sweeping new rules that could help cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA proposed setting standards that would cap carbon pollution from new gas and coal-fired plants. At the same time, the agency is seeking stakeholder input to set carbon pollution standards for existing plants. Continue reading

Obama addresses domestic spying concerns

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President Barack Obama.

President pledges more transparency and reform of Patriot Act

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — President Obama tackled the domestic spying controversy head-on during an Aug. 9 press conference, saying he will push for increased transparency and reforms in U.S. intelligence programs.

Obama spelled out four specific steps aimed at addressing issues raised by critics in Congress and at rebuilding public confidence in the intelligence community.

Obama said he wants to reform the PATRIOT Act and push U.S. spy agencies to declassify more information about data-gathering programs.

He said the White House will also take input from outside groups in a review of intelligence and communications technologies. Continue reading

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