Congress eyes widespread public land pay-to-play fees


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

Op-ed: GOP renews attack on Endangered Species Act


Does this look like any congressman you know?

Lots of ruffled feathers and foot-stomping …

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Watching the House Committee on Natural Resources field hearings on greater sage-grouse and the Endangered Species Act was a bit like watching the birds themselves during their magnificent mating ritual — a lot of puffed up rhetoric, ruffled feathers and foot-stomping, but very little substance.

The main take-home message appeared to be that there’s a vast conspiracy of liberal judges, conservation groups and Obama administration officials colluding to destroy the American way of life in the rural West (specifically Montana and Wyoming, where the hearings were held).

That’s probably not surprising, considering the list of witnesses was hand-picked by the committee’s ultra-conservative and anti-environmental GOP leadership, but the inflammatory words used by some of the more extreme committee members still comes as a shock. Continue reading

Environment: Extreme anti-environmental Republicans once again on the march against endangered species protections

Endangered species like Florida's manatees would have little chance of surviving, much less recovering without the Endangered Species Act to protect them from the excesses of greedy developers and their Republican political allies.

Endangered species like Florida’s manatees would have little chance of surviving, much less recovering without the Endangered Species Act to protect them from the excesses of greedy developers and their Republican political allies.

The words change, but the song remains the same — and it’s all about money

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Radical anti-environmental House Republicans are once again on the march against endangered species protections. In a hearing this week, the GOP renewed its attacks against the bulwark environmental law, retreading the same arguments that have been rejected by the American people more than once.

The message trotted out by right-wingers like Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) doesn’t change much from year to year: Grow the economy, create jobs, but it’s really driven by a corporate agenda that wants only to extract more profit from public lands.

This latest assault comes as the nation celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Act — a world-famous law that has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the species entrusted to its care and put hundreds of them on the road to recovery. Continue reading

Opinion: House GOP renews energy witch hunt

Instead of focusing on the environmental damage done by fossil fuel extractions, Republicans in Congress are nitpicking about procedural reports related to oil and coal development.

Resources committee to consider issuing subpoenas on mining stream buffers, Gulf drilling moratorium

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY —The radical anti-environmental leaders of the House Natural Resources Committee last week announced the latest chapter of their anti-Obama witch hunt, scheduling a March 28 full committee meeting to discuss possible subpoenas related to coal mining stream protections and a moratorium on Gulf of Mexico oil drilling.

At issue are two efforts by the Obama administration to raise environmental standards. To try and protect streams and riparian areas from the ravages of coal mining, the interior department set out to rewrite a stream buffer zone rule. Continue reading


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