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Wind energy production tax credit gets 1 year extension

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Wind turbines near Lamar, Colorado. Photo courtesy NREL.

Congressional vote may help prevent additional wind energy layoffs in Colorado

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Surprisingly, and in part because of the persistence of Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), the wind energy production tax credit made it through the federal budget fiasco, gaining approval for a one-year extension that could help protect Colorado’s burgeoning renewable energy industry.

After giving 27 speeches on the Senate floor in support of the tax credit, Udall said the extension  gives manufacturers in Colorado and throughout North America the signal they need to create jobs, make capital investments in the United States, and ensure that wind energy remains a strong part of our national energy strategy, although a one-year extension isn’t likely to spur significant long-term investments.

“The extension of the wind Production Tax Credit is excellent news for workers in Pueblo, Windsor, Brighton and across the country. Thanks to the PTC extension, I am confident the wind industry will be able to create jobs and help revitalize our American manufacturing sector,” Udall said. Continue reading

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Environment: Salazar rescinds BLM wilderness plan

BLM will work with local stakeholders to identify parcels for potential wilderness designations

The public land wars continue in the West, as congressional Republicans win their battle against a BLM 'wild lands' plan.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Under harsh fire from congressional Republicans, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar this week rescinded a plan to identify and designate wild lands on Bureau of Land Management territory. The continuing budget resolution passed by Congress made the plan moot in any case by stripping the Interior Department of any funding to carry out the plan.

Conservative western lawmakers characterized the proposal as yet another federal land grab and charged that the Interior Department doesn’t have the resources to adequately manage the acreage it already controls.

Instead, Salazar said he will work with members of Congress, states, tribes, and local communities to identify public lands that may be appropriate candidates for congressional protection under the Wilderness Act. Continue reading

Op-ed: Bipartisan agreement on government waste?

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Report shows lack of fiscal accountability, overlap in many government agencies

By Orrin Hatch and Mark Udall

During the last election, Americans spoke loud and clear. Regardless of the political party they belong to, they want Congress focused on the economy, and they want us to work together to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.

Specifically, they want Congress and the President to focus on reining in federal spending. We face a $14 trillion debt, and every day we wait to take responsible steps to control spending, we leave our fiscal situation less sustainable for the future. The markets are demanding immediate action. Just last week, Standard & Poor’s placed the United States’ AAA bond rating on a negative outlook, citing a greater than one in three chance of a downgrade within the next two years.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado)

While there are plenty of areas where we disagree when it comes to the federal budget, we agree that it’s time for immediate reductions in government spending. We need to take action now, and a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) offers a constructive suggestion for where to start. This eye-opening study identifies multiple overlapping federal government programs that, if consolidated or cut, could dramatically reduce administrative and overhead costs, among other savings. The duplicative programs span a range of federal government agencies from domestic food assistance and education to homeland security and defense.  For example:

∙         Over 20 federal programs address homelessness, spanning seven federal agencies, including the departments of education, health and human services, labor and veterans affairs.
∙         At least 44 programs run by the departments of education, health and human services, and labor provide employment and training services.
∙         There are 80 economic development programs at four agencies, 52 of which have authority to fund “entrepreneurial efforts.”
∙         More than two dozen individuals appointed by the president are responsible for biodefense.
∙         And 15 agencies are involved in food safety – a costly overlap that GAO says has caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination and an inefficient use of resources. Continue reading

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