Tag: Congress

Congressman plots public lands giveaway

Gotta have one good camping trip every summer!
Some of Utah’s favorite public lands playgrounds could be privatized under a bill to be introduced in Congress this week. @bberwyn photo.

Fracking in national parks?

Staff Report

Given the extreme anti-federal positions gaining traction around the West, it’s probably not surprising that a new bill by advanced Utah Republican Congressman Rob Bishop was presented as a moderate proposal for public lands compromise by some news outlets.

But his bill, due to be introduced this week, is only moderate when compared to the armed Oregon takeover of public lands by trespassers. By any other measure, it’s one of the most extreme anti-environmental bills that has ever been considered in Washington, D.C. Continue reading “Congressman plots public lands giveaway”

Can the Endangered Species Act withstand the GOP assault?

Lynx kittens
Rare species like lynx would face increased threats under GOP proposals to weaken the Endangered Species Act. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Lawmakers rally to block attacks on key environmental law

Staff Report

Conservation-minded lawmakers are rallying to counter the GOP’s seemingly endless attacks on the Endangered Species Act. In a letter to President Barack Obama, 91 members of Congress warned that Republicans are “doubling down” on their efforts to undermine protections for threatened plants and animals.

Led by Arizona Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, the lawmakers asked the administration to reject the many proposals that undermine the Endangered Species Act, including those weakening or blocking protections for specific imperiled species. Continue reading “Can the Endangered Species Act withstand the GOP assault?”

Scientists slam Congress for once again considering misguided forest management bills

The magenta-flowered fireweed, which springs up after a burn, dominates a landscape once covered in black spruce in Alaskas Yukon Flats. Credit: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The magenta-flowered fireweed, which springs up after a burn, dominates a landscape once covered in black spruce in Alaskas Yukon Flats. Credit: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

‘Fire is not destroying our forests, rather, it is restoring these ecosystems …’

Staff Report

A group of scientists has weighed in on the political tug-of-war over forest policies by writing a letter to the U.S. Senate and President Obama, warning that two bills currently on the table would be destructive to forest ecosystems and wildlife

At issue are House Resolution 2647 and Senate Bill 1691, both proposed in response to ongoing concerns about forest fires. But the measures won’t improve forest health or reduce fire risks, the scientists said. Instead, the laws are aimed at short-cutting environmental studies, reducing public involvement and preventing courts from enforcing environmental laws.

The role of the timber industry in federal forest management would also unfairly increase under the deceptive guise of promoting decision-making by “collaborative” groups, the scientists wrote.

Continue reading “Scientists slam Congress for once again considering misguided forest management bills”

Will Congress act on wildfire funding?

Budget ‘borrowing’ reaches $700 million as political gridlock prevents meaningful budget reform

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A wildfire in Yellowstone National Park. Photo via National Park Service.

Staff Report

With wildfires still raging across the West, the U.S. Forest Service has already used up its firefighting budget for the year. This week, the agency notified Congress that another $250 million will be needed to cover the spiraling costs.

Subsequently, top cabinet officials sent a formal letter asking Congress to change the way the nation pays for firefighting so that the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management can invest in forest and rangeland restoration, and make lands less vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire.

Continue reading “Will Congress act on wildfire funding?”

New GAO report details effects of environmental lawsuits on government agencies

New environmental justice deal signifies progress, experts say.
Lawsuits against the government by environmental groups are not as big a deal as Republicans claim.

‘The real story is that Republicans are angered by the success of environmental groups in enforcing environmental laws and ensuring public health and safety …’

FRISCO — Claims by Republican leaders in Congress that environmental lawsuits prevent federal agencies from doing their job are unfounded, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. Continue reading “New GAO report details effects of environmental lawsuits on government agencies”

Polis tackles federal-state marijuana nexus

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A proposed bill in Congress would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to conduct testing on the impact of marijuana use on driving.

Colorado Congressman Jared Polis eyes federal guidelines for marijuana-impaired drivers

Staff Report

FRISCO — Teaming up with California Republican Tom McClintock, Colorado Congressman Jared Polis is continuing his efforts keep the federal government from interfering in state marijuana laws.

The McClintock-Polis Marijuana Amendment, which failed on a narrow House vote, would have prevented the federal Drug Enforcement Agency from prosecuting individuals who use, sell, or possess marijuana in compliance with state laws. Continue reading “Polis tackles federal-state marijuana nexus”

Alaska, far West face biggest wildfire threats this summer

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The biggest threat of wildfires in early summer is in Alaska and northwestern Canada.

Year-to-date wildfire activity is well below the average of the last 10 years

Staff Report

FRISCO — While the wildfire season is off to a relatively slow start — at least compared to blistering pace of the past 10 years, Forest Service fire experts are still expecting an above-average season, and there is concern once again that the agency might have to use money and personnel from other programs to address the threat.

So far this year, wildfires have burned across about 390,000 acres through the end of May. The average for the pst 10 years is about 1.2 million acres. But the agency won’t let down its guard, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell told Congress during a recent budget hearing. Continue reading “Alaska, far West face biggest wildfire threats this summer”