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Colorado lawmakers seek federal disaster aid for Black Forest and Royal Gorge fires

A smoke column rises from the West Fork Fire Complex in Colorado's San Juan Mountains. Photo courtesy InciWeb/Schlapfer

A smoke column rises from the West Fork Fire Complex in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Photo courtesy InciWeb/Schlapfer.

Congressional delegation also wants economic aid for communities and businesses affected by West Fork Fire Complex

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Colorado’s polarized congressional delegation may not agree on much, but it did find common ground in asking for federal money to help parts of the state recover from recent wildfires.

The lawmakers this week sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to expedite and approve a request from Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to issue federal major disaster declarations in response to the Black Forest and Royal Gorge fires. The declaration would make federal resources available for response and recovery efforts. Click here to view the letter.

Additionally, the delegation asked for the Small Business Administration to quickly approve a disaster declaration for the massive West Fork Fire complex in Southwest Colorado to provide economic injury disaster loans to businesses affected by the fire. The sprawling blaze in the San Juans has effectively shut down parts of the area’s economically important summer tourism season. Continue reading

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Global warming finally gets some attention in campaign

Obama calls climate change a “critical issue” in MTV interview; calls for more research to find energy breakthroughs

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —Climate change may not have been front and center during the three-round presidential debate series, but President Obama did address the issue Friday on MTV during a Q &A with host Sway Williams.

During the interview, Obama said climate is a critical issue and that increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases are the root cause.

“I am surprised it didn’t come up in one of the debates,” Obama said in response to a question from Williams. “Gov. Romney says he believes in climate change. That’s different than a lot of members of his own party that deny it completely. But he’s not sure that man-made causes are the reason. I believe scientists who say we are putting too much carbon emissions into the atmosphere and it’s heating the planet and it’s going to have a severe effect.

“After hearing from thousands of young voters, we were glad that President Obama finally broke the silence on climate change, which is one of the most important issues to young voters,” said Maura Cowley, director of Energy Action Coalition. “President Obama acknowledged that ‘we’re not moving fast enough to address the climate crisis,’ and we couldn’t agree more.

“The climate crisis is a top issue for the youth vote because we have the most to lose if we don’t address it, and want to see more investment in creating a clean energy economy,” Cowley said. Thousands of young voters are turning out to demand climate action this election—in fact more than 10,000 have joined the PowerVote campaign to demonstrate that climate is their top priority. This election, and the climate crisis, are about our future, and we’ll continue to demand leadership from candidates on this issue, up to and through Election Day.”

Continue reading

Crop art highlights Colorado River woes as Obama visits Grand Junction

Activists press for better conservation measures to sustain river flows

A message for President Obama. Photo courtesy Protect the Flows.

By Summit Voice

Even before he lands in Colorado, President Obama will be reminded of the one of the key long-term environmental issues in the West, as communities, water providers, would-be oil shale developers and others wrangle over the fate of the Colorado River.

To highlight grassroots concern over the Colorado, the advocacy group Protect the Flowsworked with crop artists Stand Herd to carve a giant message into a field that should be visible as Obama flies into Grand Junction. The message covers about one acre; each letter is 30 feet from top to bottom and the entire message is about 360 feet long, equal to the height of a 36 story building.

The simple phrase, “Mr. Prez – We rely on the Colorado River,” will help make clear that continued plans for increased diversions from the already over-appropriate river pose a fundamental threat to the region. Continue reading

White House OKs federal disaster aid for Colorado

Federal aid for Colorado’s wildfire disasters has been approved by the Obama administration.

*Read: Colorado Western Slope firefighting resources stretched

Federal funds will help with emergency work and rehabilitation efforts

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Thursday evening that Colorado’s request for an expedited major disaster declaration has been received, reviewed and accepted by the White House.

“This evening we learned from the White House that our disaster declaration request has been accepted. We appreciate the quick review and response,” said Hickenlooper. “With this funding we will be able to provide much needed assistance to our communities affected by wildfires.”   Continue reading

Does Pres. Obama support indefinite detention, or not?

President Barack Obama.

Activists seek to overturn controversial provisions in defense spending bill

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — President Obama is taking some heat from civil liberties activists over what some say is his apparent support for provisions in the defense spending bill that enables the indefinite military detainment of civilians, including American citizens, without charge or trial.

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is also seeking to remove the provisions from the defense bill, saying that they could actually hinder the government’s ability to fight terrorism.

In a telephone press call last week, Udall said the provisions are not needed because law enforcement officials have adequate tools already in place. He is seeking bipartisan support for an amendment that would bar the practice.

According to Udall, the provisions would allow anyone to be locked up indefinitely simply if they’re suspected of terrorism. He said the recent court decision in New York shows he’s on the “right side” of the argument.

“President Obama’s support for indefinite detention is utterly tone deaf. His position flies in the face of our Constitution, our basic civil rights, and our common sense.” Said Tangerine Bolen, director of RevolutionTruth. Continue reading

A House divided no more?

A bipartisan push in Congress? PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

Senators Udall, Murkowski suggest bipartisan seating at President Obama’s State of the Union speech

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — At least a few U.S. senators think that rearranging the seating during President Obama’s Jan. 24 State of the Union speech could be a tiny step toward healing some of the bitter partisan divisions in Congress.

Senators Mark Udall (CO) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) today renewed their  call for members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to sit together during the address.

Udall and Murkowski last year suggested ending the longstanding custom of sitting divided by party during the president’s speech — with lawmakers on one side of the room cheering, while those on the other sit in silence.  The gesture — while symbolic — changed the tone in Congress for one night.  Continue reading

Obama holds Twitter town hall with #AskObama

President reaches 9 million followers as he embraces social media

SUMMIT COUNTY — Funny questions were interspersed with serious dialogue today during a national town hall meeting that used Twitter as its medium. And while Twitter may not be such a novelty anymore, it certainly helps people keep questions short and to the point with its 140-character limit.

There are plenty of good recaps out there, including a comprehensive one from the Washington Post, but it’s worth taking a look at the #AskObama and the @TownHall threads yourself to get a feel for how the conversation unfolded today. And a video of the town hall is online here: http://askobama.twitter.com/.

Following are some of the top tweets. All the links in the tweets are live, so you can click on them to reach the sources or learn more about the tweeters. Continue reading

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