The Summit Daily News reported today:
Summit County’s state lawmakers are in the nation’s capital today, testifying in support of legislation that would provide funding to address the mountain bark beetle epidemic.
State Sen. Dan Gibbs and State Rep. Christine Scanlan, both of whom represent Summit County, are lobbying U.S. senators in hopes of drumming up millions of dollars for western forests through the National Forest Insect and Disease Emergency Act.
“We both think it’s a really positive bill for the state of Colorado and other Western states,” Gibbs said.
The mountain pine beetle outbreak has affected 2.9 million acres of trees in Colorado. In Colorado and southern Wyoming combined, the total area infested totals 3.6 million acres – an area larger than the state of Connecticut. Gibbs cited estimates that every lodgepole pine tree in the state will be dead within a decade…
Well, we just got a press release from Sen. Mark Udall–this hearing never happened, and lots of upcoming hearings may not happen anytime soon from the read of it. Full text follows, says Sen. Udall, “Angry over the passage of health insurance reform legislation, Republican leaders are using an arcane rule, which requires the unanimous consent of Senators in both parties to agree to hearings scheduled after 2 p.m., and have objected to the bark beetle hearing and vowed not to cooperate with Democrats for the rest of the year.” [Pols emphasis]
Given Sen. Udall’s often to-a-fault preference for bipartisanship and respectful verbiage, we find the title of his update, “Today’s hearing canceled due to Republican Obstruction,” fairly significant. We’re also completely baffled by this new strategy from Republicans; do they really believe that intentionally paralyzing the government will make them more likable?
**IMPORTANT UPDATE: Today’s hearing on Senator Udall’s bark beetle legislation has been canceled due to Republican Obstruction**
Washington, D.C. – Today’s scheduled hearing on Senator Mark Udall’s bill to protect communities from wildfire and falling trees as a result of bark beetle infestation has been canceled due to Republican obstructionism. Angry over the passage of health insurance reform legislation, Republican leaders are using an arcane rule, which requires the unanimous consent of Senators in both parties to agree to hearings scheduled after 2 p.m., and have objected to the bark beetle hearing and vowed not to cooperate with Democrats for the rest of the year.
Senator Udall today strongly urged Republican leaders to stop their political maneuvering and allow the hearing about a critical public safety issue to be re-scheduled this week. One of the witnesses set to testify at the hearing was Colorado State Senator Dan 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. Delay just prevents urgently needed resources from going to Colorado communities threatened by beetle-killed trees,” Senator 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.”
TODAY: Udall Announces Hearing on his Bipartisan Bill to Reduce Damage Caused by Bark Beetle, Protect Communities from Wildfire
Bill Provides Additional Tools and Resources for Forest Service to Address Beetle-Killed Trees, Prioritize Emergency Areas, Work with State Officials on Treatments
Washington, D.C. – Today, Tuesday, March 23, U.S. Senator Mark Udall will participate in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing about a bipartisan bill he introduced to give the Forest Service and Interior Department more resources to reduce safety and health threats posed by bark beetle-damaged trees. The bill would allow foresters to prioritize emergency areas, enabling them to more quickly address the most serious threats and, in some cases, work with state officials to treat beetle-killed trees near homes.
At Senator Udall’s invitation, Colorado State Senator Dan Gibbs will testify about the devastating impact bark beetles have had on Colorado forests and the need to act to protect people and homes from wildfire and other damage.
When: Today, Tuesday, March 23, 2010
2:30 PM (EDT)/ 12:30 PM (MDT)
Where: Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hearing Room 366**