Policy Update Week of April 11, 2011
- The Society of American Foresters, The Nature Conservancy and the National Alliance of Forest Owners comment on the Environmental Protection Agency's New Source Performance Standards Proposal
To read the testimony click here: http://www.eforester.org/fp/policy.cfm
In the Administration
- Surprise Move Leaves Interior's Wilderness Policy on Cutting-Room Floor
The New York Times, Published by Phil Taylor of GreenWire, April 13th
Congress' compromise budget to fund the government until October would temporarily halt an Interior Department effort to protect roadless areas in a shock for conservationists who'd fought to retain the three-month-old program.
The proposal to slash nearly $40 billion in spending through the rest of the fiscal year would strip funding for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's order to inventory and consider protecting wilderness-quality lands. To read this article http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/04/13/13greenwire-surprise-move-leaves-interiors-wilderness-poli-78397.html">click here: l
- Restoration of Western Forests Includes New Strategy for Wildfire: Coalition to Engage in Regional Effort
Western Forestry Leadership Coalition, April 11th
In preparation for the year's fire season, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) released a new strategy and report that will provide the framework to restore and maintain resilient landscapes, create fire-adapted communities, and respond to wildfires. A National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (Cohesive Strategy) and The Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act of 2009 - Report to Congress together address the wildland fire management challenges across the United States. To read more of this article click here:
- State GHG Program Funds Hit Hard Under Budget Deal
The New York Times, Published by Dina Fine Maron of GreenWire, April 13th
While the spending bill Congress and the White House etched out late last week did not handcuff U.S. EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases, the agency's climate program still took a hit.
The continuing resolution that lawmakers are expected to vote on this week quietly zeroed out proposed funding states hoped to use to implement new climate regulations. To read more of this article click here:
- U.S. Forest Service Funds Tree Inventory For Urban Planners
U.S. Forest Service Press Release, April 13th
New research funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will help city planners make better decisions about their urban trees for a range of benefits, including energy savings and improved access to nature.
Researchers, led by U.S. Forest Service scientists, will hire field crews to gather information on the condition of forests from approximately 1,000 sites in five western states - Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington - to compile data for a comparative study on the health of trees in urban areas. The result will be a network of permanently located plots in urbanized areas that can be monitored to obtain information on their health and resiliency. To read more of this article link to: http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2011/releases/04/urban-planners.shtml
- Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Proposed Colorado Roadless Rule
USDA Press Release, April 14th
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the publication and start of a 90-day comment period for the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule, developed collaboratively to address the needs of Colorado's unique and precious roadless areas. "We are committed to the protection of roadless areas on our national forests, areas vital for conservation of water resources, wildlife and for outdoor recreation," said Vilsack. "These areas also provide an important driver of economic opportunity and jobs in rural Colorado communities." To read more of this article click here:
This Week in Congress
- Congress Passes 2011 Spending Plan
USA Today, Published by Gregory Korte, April 14th
Republican House Speaker John Boehner needed help from the Democrats to pass a budget compromise Thursday, keeping the government open and honoring a deal worked out with Senate Democrats and President Obamalast week. Fifty-nine House Republicans voted against the spending plan, which cuts $38 billion compared to last year's budget. It took 81 Democrats voting yes to pass it. The final vote was 260 to 167.
The spending bill went immediately to the Senate, which passed it with no debate, 81-19. Of the no votes, 15 were Republicans. To read more of this article link to: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-04-15-congress-passes-2011-spending-bill-.htm?csp=34news
- April 12th -Representative Walter Herger [R-CA2] introduced H.R. 1484: To address the public health and safety threat presented by the risk of catastrophic wildfire on Federal forestlands by requiring the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to expedite forest management projects relating to hazardous fuels reduction, forest restoration, forest health, and watershed restoration.
To read more about this bill link to: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-1485
- April 14th - The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies held a hearing that discussed the USFS and BLM budget for the upcoming year.
To read testimony from this hearing link to: http://appropriations.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Detail&HearingId=45&Month=4&Year=2011
- Obama Signs Bill Averting Government Shutdown
The Los Angeles Times, Published by Michael Muskal, Aprtil 9th
President Obama signed the short-term spending bill that averted a government shutdown, the White House announced Saturday.
The measure, passed overnight by both houses of Congress, keeps the government operating until Friday. In a sharp contrast to the week of political sturm und drang, the signing was announced in a news release. To read more of this article link to: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/09/news/la-pn-government-shutdown-averted-20110410
- Senate's Bingaman Is 'Optimistic' U.S. Energy Bill Will Pass
Bloomberg, Published by Jim Snyder, April 12th
U.S. Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat, said he is "reasonably optimistic" an energy bill would pass Congress.
High gasoline prices are helping to push energy to the forefront of policy discussions in Congress, Bingaman said today at an energy conference in Washington sponsored by The New Republic. Companies worried about maintaining U.S. leadership in clean-energy markets are also pushing for a bill, Bingaman said.
"We have a lot of things we are polarized about in Congress these days," Bingaman said. "This area of energy is one where we ought to be able to develop enough of a consensus to move ahead." To read more of this article link to: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-12/senate-s-bingaman-is-optimistic-u-s-energy-bill-will-pass-1-.html
In the States: California
- California Renewable Energy Gets Major Boost in New Law
The Los Angeles Times, April 12th
Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Tuesday a mandate that 33% of electricity in California must come from renewable sources by 2020. Executives at solar, wind and other clean energy companies said the new regulations could help California reclaim its green leadership position after losing ground to states such as Texas and Iowa. "This is tremendous," said Mike Hall, chief executive of solar installer Borrego Solar. "A legislative solution provides a lot more clarity and firepower for regulators and proponents." To read more of this article link to: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/04/renewable-energy-rps-california-electricity-jerry-brown.html
Last Week in Congress
- Senate Rejects Efforts to Block EPA Climate Regulations
Politico, Published by Robin Bravender and Darren Samuelsohn, April 6th
The Senate today knocked down a series of attempts to kneecap the Obama administration's climate policies, but the White House isn't out of the woods yet. Forty-six Senate Republicans and four Democrats voted to support a GOP amendment blocking the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. One Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, sided with the remainder of the Democrats and the White House in opposing the amendment to the small-business bill that needed 60 votes to pass. To read more of this article link to: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/52699.html#ixzz1IqtvFSH3
- House GOP's 2012 Budget Promises Overhaul of Energy, Environmental Goals
The New York Times, Elena Schor of GreenWire, Published April 5th
House Republicans rolled out a 2012 budget today that aims to vastly reshape federal policy on a number of fronts, cutting energy research, agriculture subsidies and the government workforce while lifting current "moratoriums and bans" on domestic fossil-fuel exploration. The budget blueprint released by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) marks a raising of the stakes for a 2011 spending battle that continues to leave the capital braced for a potential Friday shutdown.
But even as Ryan's plan generates national attention for its approach to entitlements and corporate taxes, his budget also promises to be a potent vehicle for advancing domestic production and regulatory easing proposals that Republicans have dubbed the "American Energy Initiative." To read more of this article link to: http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/04/05/05greenwire-house-gops-2012-budget-promises-overhaul-of-en-97569.html
- Murkowski Offers Revised Sealaska Lands Bill
The Tundra Drums, Published by Alaska Newspaper Staff, April 6th
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has introduced revised legislation to allow Sealaska Corp. to complete land selections promised in the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The measure, introduced on April 5, is co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. It will be referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which Murkowski is the ranking member. The Sealaska bill, originally introduced in 2007, then again in 2009, has undergone major revisions to reflect public comments gathered at town hall meetings in Southeast Alaska communities over the past year, Murkowski said. To read more of this article link to: http://www.thetundradrums.com/article/1114murkowski_offers_revised_sealaska_lands_bill
- Udalls Revive Push for Renewable Power Standard
The Hill, Published by Ben Geman, April 6th
Democratic Sens. Tom Udall (N.M.) and Mark Udall (Colo.) are renewing their push to require utilities to ramp up the amount of power they supply from renewable sources like wind and solar energy.Their reintroduction Wednesday of legislation to create a "renewable electricity standard" - or RES - comes even as the White House is courting Republicans by promoting a wider utility standard that would credit other low-carbon sources including nuclear power. To read more of this article link to: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/154293-udalls-revive-push-for-renewable-power-standard
- April 5th - House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight Hearing on "Effect of the President's FY-2012 Budget and Legislative Proposals for the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service's Energy and Minerals Programs on Private Sector Job Creation, Domestic Energy and Minerals Production and Deficit Reduction."
To visit the committee website click here: http://naturalresources.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=231001
- April 7th - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden [OR-D] introduce S. 766: A bill to provide for the designation of the Devil's Staircase Wilderness Area in the State of Oregon, to designate segments of Wasson and Franklin Creeks in the State of Oregon as wild rivers, and for other purposes.
To read more about this bill click here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s112-766
- Study: Wildfire Crews Notice Erratic Blazes in Beetle-Infested Forests
The Missoulian, Published by Jenna Cederberg, April 5th
The precise implications Montana's large number of beetle-infested forest acres have on wildfires are still being studied. But one thing is clear: Drastic changes in wildfire behavior have been reported by fire crews working in infested areas, FireSafe Montana's Everett "Sonny" Stiger said Tuesday. Stiger presented his talk "Wildland Firefighter Safety and the Mountain Pine Beetle" during the International Association of Wildland Firefighters conference being held in Missoula this week. Stiger and his team have been gathering firefighter observations of blazes burning in stands killed by mountain pine beetles for several years. To read more of this article link to: http://missoulian.com/news/local/article_ebf497f0-6004-11e0-aac0-001cc4c002e0.html
- Forest Service Copes With a Busy Wildfire Season
The New York Times, Published by Katie Galbraith, April 7th
At Camp Bowie, an army training center in west-central Texas, fire covered a hillside with gray smoke. A Black Hawk helicopter hovered above another smoking hill, dumping water. An army captain estimated that about 30 people - civilian and military - were fighting the blaze, which scorched nearly 3,000 acres by the time it was put out this week.
Such scenes are increasingly common across Texas. An extremely dry winter combined with strong spring winds has caused a surge in the number of blazes. As of Tuesday, the Texas Forest Service, the lead agency for fighting wildfires, had responded to 618 that had burned 279,000 acres this year - far more than the 167 fires that burned 7,300 acres over the same stretch last year. To read more of this article link to: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/08/us/08ttfire.html?_r=3
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