GOP trying to scuttle Paris climate deal


Can the U.S. effectively help negotiate a global climate deal with the GOP working against U.S. interests at every turn?

Subversive actions may limit President Obama’s options during upcoming talks

Staff Report

Widespread global support — including in the United States — won’t stop Republicans in Congress from trying to scuttle the deal, even if it means acting subversively, against the interest of the American people and against President Barack Obama.

Politico, and other news sources, have reported that GOP political operatives are telling foreign governments that Congress will try to block efforts to pay for U.S. contributions to the climate change mitigation and adaption fund, a key part of any global deal to try and limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. Continue reading

Feds say greater sage-grouse not endangered


Greater sage-grouse doing fine, feds say.

No listing needed …

Staff Report

Making a decision for which the political handwriting was on the wall a long time ago, the U.S. Department of Interior this week said that greater sage-grouse are doing just fine, and don’t need protection of the Endangered Species Act.

The non-listing may very well be challenged in court by some conservation groups who question whether a patchwork of voluntary conservation measures will be enough to save one of the West’s landmark species, but federal officials — tired of fighting with governors in western states like Colorado and Nevada, said the birds “remain relatively abundant and well-distributed: across their 173-million acre range. Continue reading

House GOP tries to slash forest environmental rules

Logging on the Frisco Peninsula, Sept. 2011. @bberwyn photo.

Logging on the Frisco Peninsula, Sept. 2011. @bberwyn photo.

‘The public will be looking at irreparable habitat damage, polluted watersheds and drinking water and a devastated outdoor economy’

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Anti-environmental Republicans in the House are once again trying to fast-track logging projects under the guise of forest health. They also want to discourage citizen involvement in forest management decisions and try and stop conservation groups from challenging illegal logging projects in court.

The House last week passed H.R. 2647, with the Orwellian name of “Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015.”

Here’s a bill summary posted at

“The Resilient Federal Forests Act would make a variety of changes to the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service forest management standards such as requiring studies on plans in response to forest fires, insect and disease infestation, and catastrophic events. It would also make it more difficult to issue a lawsuit against the Forest Service by requiring plaintiffs who lose lawsuits to pay for the agency’s legal expenses, and in some cases by exempting the agency from paying the plaintiff’s legal expenses if the plaintiff wins.”

Govtrack gives the bill just a 15 percent chance of being signed into law, mainly because the extreme rightwingers in the House included language that won’t be acceptable to moderate Republicans in the Senate.

In effect, the House GOP quashed any real chance at passing any meaningful forest management reform because they insisted on pursuing an extreme, ideologically bill. That becomes apparent when you read the statement from Rob Bishop, the Utah Republican who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee:

“The verdict is in. The draconian environmental policies and litigation assaults of the past thirty years have failed our forests. Horrific wildfires are running rampant in our National Forest System. H.R. 2647 gives the Forest Service the resources it needs to suppress these devastating wildfires and gives them the tools they need to prevent fires before they start. I am proud of Rep. Westerman and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their advancement of H.R. 2647, a bill which makes enormous progress toward restoring the health of our treasured national forests.”

Conservation groups are not thrilled about the bill. Defenders of Wildlife said the measure would “bulldoze bedrock environmental laws to pave the way for dramatic increases in logging in forests across America.”

This bill turns back the clock 50 years on forest management and puts our nation’s forests at risk by green-lighting reckless logging practices, damaging vital wildlife habitat, short-cutting critical environmental review, and limiting public involvement in forest management decisions.

“This is a sad testament to the fact that instead of leading the charge on conserving America’s valued forests, many in Congress seem bent on casting aside our nation’s foundational conservation laws,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO, Defenders of Wildlife. “Dramatically increasing logging based upon little to no environmental analysis is like racing down the highway with your windshield painted black. You know that the outcome will not be good. The public will be looking at irreparable habitat damage, polluted watersheds and drinking water and a devastated outdoor economy.

“Rather than recklessly rolling back time-tested conservation laws, Congress should focus on the one and only legislative reform actually needed for our nation’s forests—properly funding the fire-fighting budget,” Rappaport Clark said.

Independence Day: Time to reject corporate tyranny

‘Ensuring life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness  requires persistent vigilance’


Happy Independence Day. Cherish your freedom and stay vigilant.

By Bob Berwyn

The last few years, I posted the text of the Declaration of Independence in the Summit Voice news feed on July 4th because it’s an important reminder of why we’re all celebrating on this day. As a writer, I marvel at the flowing cadence of the declarative phrases; as a human being and American, I take special pride in what the words represent.

The Declaration speaks to us through the ages as a timeless statement of basic human values that transcends the issues specific to the age in which it was written. Refocusing on those values could help us rid ourselves of new and particularly insidious forms of tyranny, including the quasi-totalitarian control that some corporations seek to exert over the public and private lives of Americans.

And there’s more. I don’t want to harsh your holiday hotdog buzz, but our own government is spying on us. Not so many years ago, it ordered the torture of prisoners in our name, and it should be pretty clear that Congress is pretty much for sale to the highest bidder — not at all what the founding fathers envisioned.

All this may not be quite as dramatic as a squad of red-coated British soldiers surrounding your house with bayonet-affixed muzzle-loaders. But add up the incremental cuts and bites taken from the fundamental liberties and rights spelled out by the Declaration if Independence and draw your own conclusions.

The list is pretty long, but I’ll just stick to a few examples from my neighborhood. Let’s start with the ski industry, dominated in these parts by Vail Resorts, which is trying to privatize water that by any common sense definition belongs to all the people of the United States because it flows off national forest lands. The industry’s recent efforts in that area reflect a global trend of water privatization— a scary thought, because corporations know that, when they control water, they control everything. It’s time to take back public control over public lands and resources.

The multinational fossil fuel companies of course have their tentacles deeply wrapped into almost every aspect of daily life, as do the giant petrochemical corporations and agribusinesses that don’t really want to give you much choice in what you eat — you can put 25 different types of colorful cereal packages on the shelf, but what does it matter if it’s all grown by the same three companies using the same three strains of genetically modified grain?

How about making a personal declaration of independence this year, finding a way to weaken corporate and government rule. Try buying less stuff, for starters. You could search out pre-owned and recycled items reduce the need for the exploitation of raw natural resources. For the same reasons, drive your old car one or two years longer, or better yet, ride your bike. Instead of just whining about how high gas prices spike on the 4th of July, don’t buy any gas. The fossil fuel companies may not hear your cries, but they’ll notice when your dollars are missing from their bottom line.

Energy independence overall is probably one of the most important areas. Imagine how much control a company could exert if it threatened to shut off energy supplies during a cold mountain winter. It sounds far-fetched, but Russia is doing just that with recalcitrant republics. The best answer is a fully distributed system of renewable energy production, combined with a drastic cut in usage — both achievable with current technology.

Let’s elect some politicians next year who understand the dangers of creeping corporate totalitarianism and who are willing to take a stand for personal liberty. It’s more important than ever for lawmakers to fulfill their true role as representatives of the people, with the judicial apparently willing to kowtow to corporations at every level and the executive bent on expanding centralized government control.

And finally, you can support independent media like Summit Voice. By know we all know that most the major remaining major media outlets are themselves part of huge corporations that are definitely not designed to serve the public interest. Far from it, the web of advertising that’s spun through what passes for news these days is mind- and soul-numbing, and saps your ability to recognize “the long train of abuses and usurpations” that are the signs of despotism.

Independent journalism will play a critical role in the years ahead, as evidenced by the chain of events around Edward Snowden. Without reporters willing to tell the story, Snowden’s revelations would have been like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, and we would still know very little about how our own government, elected to serve us, has callously abused the public trust.

We still enjoy an incredible amount of freedom in this country, but don’t take it for granted. Ensuring life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all requires persistent vigilance, an enlightened and educated electorate and the exercise of personal responsibility on a daily basis.

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Opinion: Climate, drought and the political Bizarro-land of the House Natural Resources Committee

Right-wingers frame drought as battle between environment and people; Colorado could avoid similar showdown with good planning


Delta smelt, via USFWS.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Apparently, the lack of water in California has hindered the ability of some of the state’s elected officials to think straight.

Completely ignoring the facts that California’s precipitation has been well below average for four years in a row, and that the state’s temperatures have running at or near record highs, some Republican congressmen are calling the Golden State’s current dry spell a “man-made drought.” Continue reading

Study pinpoints mysterious CO2 spike over Capitol

GOP Anti-science speeches found to contribute to overall greenhouse gas crisis


Although CO2 is generally described as colorless and odorless, emissions of the gas at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. are so high they sometimes become visible to the naked eye. A recent climate study shows that most of the CO2 is being emitted during anti-science speeches by GOP lawmakers in Congress, @bberwyn photo.

By Robby Nerbwin

FRISCO — A new climate study released Wednesday, April 1 shows that cutting anti-science rhetoric by GOP politicians could go a long way toward helping the U.S. meet its stated intention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of a global deal to avoid catastrophic global warming impacts. Continue reading

Are liberals happier than conservatives? Or do they just act happier?


Is this a happy man? Photo via Wikipedia.

‘We were surprised by how consistently happiness-related behavior was predicted by having a liberal political ideology’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Psychologists with the University of California at Irvine said they were surprised at how much happier liberals are than conservatives, at least based on their detailed study of the links between political beliefs and patterns of emotional language.

“The so-called ‘happiness gap’ between liberals and conservatives is more complicated than we thought,” said Sean Wojcik, a doctoral student in psychology & social behavior at UCI and lead author of the study, which appears this month in Science. Continue reading


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