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Sen. Mark Udall votes against assault weapons ban

Colorado lawmaker says bill was too broad, bu supports expanded background checks and limits on high-capacity ammo clips

Sen. Mark Udall said Coloradans are entitled under the second amendment to own weapons that can be used to commit mass murder.

Sen. Mark Udall says Coloradans are entitled under the Second Amendment to own weapons that can be used to commit mass murders.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO— Facing reelection next year, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) this week voted against a proposed ban on assault weapons, saying the measure was too broad for his gun-toting Colorado constituents.

Udall did support a background check bill, which failed when four Democratic senators, all up for reelection next year, voted against it. According to many polls, more than 90 percent of Americans support stronger background checks.

Udall dusted off the Second Amendment and said, “Coloradans, including sportsmen, hunters and responsible gun owners, agree that we need to keep dangerous military-style weapons off of our streets and out of places like our schools and movie theaters. Continue reading

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Environment: Can forest health be legislated?

Proposed Senate bill would require widespread national forest logging

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Healthy undergrowth and lodgepole regeneration in an unlogged stand of beetle-killed lodgepole pines near Frisco, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.

Salvage logging in a stand of beetle-killed lodgepole pines in Frisco, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.

Salvage logging in a stand of beetle-killed lodgepole pines in Frisco, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.

*This story has been corrected to include Sen. Michael Bennet as the primary author of the proposed bill. That information was left out of the previous version due to an editing error.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal land managers could get wider authority for more backcountry logging under a new bill proposed in the U.S. Senate by Michael Bennet (D-CO), along with co-sponsors Mark Udall (D-CO), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Max Baucus (D-MT).

The National Forest Insect and Disease Treatment Act is being pitched as a way to   help Forest Service treat insect and disease epidemics and promote overall forest health. As drafted, it directs the agency to treat threatened watersheds while prioritizing preservation of old-growth and large trees when possible. Continue reading

Big money influences Keystone pipeline Senate vote

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The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Canada across the heartland of the U.S.

Colorado’s senators split, with Bennet voting yes, while Udall casts a no vote

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — It’s probably not surprising that the U.S. Senate passed an amendment (62-37) in support of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. There’s money — Big Money — at stake, and new research from Oil Change International details who got what.

The 10 senators who cosponsored the Hoeven Amendment have on average received $807, 517 from the fossil fuel industry. That works out to 254 percent more  than the average senator not sponsoring the amendment, and a total haul of more than $8 million dollars, based on data from DirtyEnergyMoney.org. Continue reading

Senate bill could boost wildfire restoration efforts

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A bill passed by the U.S. Senate could help additional restoration efforts in areas scarred by wildfires last summer. Photo courtesy PSICC.

‘Water is precious’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Colorado communities hit hard by this past summer’s wildfires could get some help with restoring damaged watershed, as the U.S. Senate passed a disaster recovery bill that includes a boost in resources  to support Colorado’s watershed recovery efforts.

If the House passes the bill, the $125 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program likely will be used, in part, to repair watershed damages that El Paso, Larimer and Weld counties sustained during this year’s wildfire season.

“Water is precious in Colorado, especially right now during the worst drought in years,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “This bill will provide help for the Colorado communities that are recovering from the devastating fires this summer and are now facing threats to their water supply and the risk of flooding at the same time. I am hopeful our colleagues in the House will quickly pass the bill and deliver this support to the communities that need it,” Bennet said. Continue reading

Energy: Senate moves on wind power tax credit

Romney favors coal and oil over renewable energy

Wind turbines in Montana. Photo courtesy NREL.

By Summit Voice

Wind power in the U.S. may yet get a leg up from Congress this year, as the Senate Finance Committee this week passed a bill including language that would renew the wind Production tax credit, due to expire at the end of this year.

While the tax credit faces additional hurdles, Colorado’s U.S. senator Mark Udall and Michael Bennet praised the committee after the vote.

“Passing the wind Production Tax Credit is one of the most important steps Congress can take this year to re-energize our economy, create jobs and pursue true energy security. I am glad to see the Senate Finance Committee agrees,” said Udall, who has been giving almost-daily floor speeches on wind power to draw attention to the issue. Continue reading

Forest bill hearing victimized by partisan politics

A Senate hearing on a forest health bill critical to Summit County was cancelled Tuesday.

Local Democratic leader accuses Republicans of obstructionist tactics by using obscure U.S. Senate rule on timing of hearing in backlash over health care passage

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on a forest health bill set for today was canceled, with no word on when it might be rescheduled.

State Sen. Dan Gibbs was in Washington, D.C. to testify in support of the measure, which could help speed fire mitigation and forest health logging projects in Summit County.

According to Gibbs and Summit County Democratic Party chair Lucinda Burns, Republican senators blocked the hearing by using an arcane rule that requires unanimous consent of senators in both parties to agree to hearings scheduled after 2 p.m.

Denver Post political editor Curtis Hubbard blogged about the partisan gridlock, with a quote from Gibbs.

“It is critical that this hearing go forward — especially with Senator Gibbs in Washington to explain how important this bipartisan bill is to Coloradans,” said U.S. Senator Mark Udall, one of the co-sponsors of the bipartisan measure.

According to a e-mail from Burns, Republicans blocked the hearing because they’re angry about passage of the health care bill. She wrote that the Republicans have vowed to not cooperate with Democrats for the rest of the year.

Udall agreed with that assessment.

“Delay just prevents urgently needed resources from going to Colorado communities threatened by beetle-killed trees,” Udall said.  “I strongly urge my colleagues to re-think their strategy. This is a matter of public safety, and that’s too important for political gamesmanship.”

Republican officials in the U.S. Senate could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

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