Avon, Colorado — Memorial Day marks the unofficial kickoff of the summer tourist season in the Colorado highlands, where cities and counties that rely heavily on funding outdoor recreation on their vast tracts of federally-owned land She watches over him nervously. Congress Frustrated Over Debt Ceiling.
About a third of Colorado is owned and managed by the federal government, and agencies from the Forest Service to the Bureau of Land Management strengthen the opening and maintenance of access roads and campgrounds each spring to reduce summer congestion and mountainous terrain. Be prepared for fire season.
President Joe Biden and Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy An agreement was reached on raising the debt ceiling To maintain a two-year term and funding for the federal government, legislation still must pass through a narrowly divided House and its fiercely partisan Right and Left Freedom and Progress caucuses. . And it has to do so by Monday, when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said funds were starting to dry up and she would have to make tough funding choices about which programs and institutions to fund.
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Analysts say that in the event of a debt ceiling breach—an unprecedented fiasco likely to cause a global recession—states with most federal facilities and federally-owned land would likely be federally owned. I agree that the state is likely to be in crisis. Feel the effects more quickly.
The White River National Forest in northwestern Colorado comprises 2.3 million acres of US Forest Service land. It’s the most-visited national forest in the country, largely because there are 12 ski areas within its boundaries. Most recently, in 2019, Of Colorado’s economic impact, outdoor recreation accounted for approximately $12.2 billion, more than 3% of the state’s overall economy, of which winter activities accounted for only about $1.7 billion.
When asked how a US debt default would occur, Subsequent withdrawal of funds A spokeswoman for White River National Forest told the Forest Service National Office that the Forest Service emergency could impact Colorado’s major tourist destinations at such a critical time of the year. Postponed the.
“It is inappropriate to speculate on this at this time,” Forest Service spokesman John Wynn said in an email. For reference, Wynn pointed to the 2018 Government Shutdown Contingency Plan.
“This previous plan highlights various categories and details of individuals who fall into the “exception” category, i.e. individuals who can continue to work and can be expected to be retroactively paid if funding is approved or extended. . This category includes areas such as fire fighting, law enforcement, and emergency services. ”
Reduced rail inspection
Surrounded by the White River National Forest, Eagle County is an 84% federally owned state jurisdiction administered by the USFS and BLM. Tourism and outdoor recreation account for approximately 50% of Eagle County’s annual revenue of $181 million.
“While the county is certainly aware of the deliberations at the federal level that may have local implications, we are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach for now,” Justin Patrick said.Director of Communications Strategy for Eagle County. “Based on empirical knowledge, it is difficult to predict the extent of disruption we may face.”
“State and federal funds allocated this year for many programs may not be affected at all. We are working closely with our state and federal partners to ensure that any disruptions We intend to close the gap in service to voters in the future,” Patrick added. “We are certainly keeping a close eye on the situation and will intensify our logistical arguments if the federal agency shutdown is prolonged.”
(McCarthy’s) debt ceiling bill would cut railroad safety inspections at the same time that the dangerous Uinta Basin railroad project is being considered.
– US Senator Michael Bennett
In recent weeks, there has been widespread speculation that if an unforeseen event were to occur, basic federal services such as air traffic control and railroad inspections could be shut down. severe budget cuts The Limit, Conserve, and Grow Act passed by House Republicans last month was actually supposed to be part of the debt ceiling deal.
“[McCarthy’s]debt ceiling bill will reduce railroad safety inspections, as well as reduce dangerous railroad safety inspections.” Uinta Basin Railway Project It will reduce clean energy investments made under the Inflation Control Act (IRA), which is under review following what happened in Eastern Palestine and is already boosting jobs in Colorado,” Colorado said. American Michael Bennett said in an emailed statement. This refers to Utah’s rail expansion plans that will send up to five two-mile-long oil trains a day through sensitive mountain ecosystems.
While the current Biden-McCarthy deal appears to sidestep austerity and potential fiscal cuts under the Limit, Save, and Grow Act, Biden Signature Climate Change and Health Bill, IRA, as bills pass through Congress that include cuts to the Internal Revenue Service that Biden agreed to, it’s very likely that members of the Far Right will still try to impose those cuts in the coming days. Increasing IRS funding to pursue tax fraud by the wealthy and thereby reduce the budget deficit is a key component of the IRA.
One aspect of the IRA that has yet to hit the budget cap is aimed at paying farmers and large agribusiness companies to conserve water to replenish a vital reservoir on the drought-hit Colorado River. It provides billions of dollars in funding for USDA conservation programs. .the money is very important to Short-term water-sharing agreements between nations It depends on the Colorado River.
And funding for transportation infrastructure in general, or new spending under Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, doesn’t appear to be on the table for now. Previously approved highway projects already underway will not be affected.
“(Colorado Department of Transportation) We will not be affected by the June 1 federal shutdown date,” a CDOT spokesperson said. Before Finance Minister Yellen updated, Elise Thatcher said: Government funding cut off until June 5. “CDOT Funds are already on hand for projects currently under construction. ”
Energy transition becomes difficult
But members of the House of Representatives Liberal Party, including Rep. Lauren Boubert of Sylt, said in the next few days: try to impose a reduction The IRA’s unprecedented $369 billion in federal grants for climate spending includes funding for everything from renewable energy projects to electric vehicle tax credits. This would likely be a deal breaker for members of the House Progressive Caucus.
The Biden-McCarthy deal contains power sending permission reform It is considered essential for accelerating clean energy projects (as well as fossil fuel development).US Senator John Colorado’s Hickenlooper played a key role in advancing those reforms.But environmental activists and some progressive lawmakers are already opposed the pace of energy reform And now lined up to shoot torpedoes. Transactions contain surprising content Approval of a natural gas pipeline in Senator Joe Manchin’s home state of West Virginia would require a vote in the Senate.
Astrid Atkinson, CEO of a technology company camus energyhas partnered with eight rural power cooperatives across the country to improve grid reliability as they transition to renewable energy, including Holy Cross Energy in Glenwood Springs. Holy Cross currently sources 50% of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass, hydro and geothermal. Renewable energy penetration is reported to reach 92% We aim to achieve this by next year and aim for 100% by 2030.
“There are certainly things regulators can do to make our lives easier or harder,” Atkinson said. “The IRA is a great example of putting a lot of money into electrification and doing a lot of great things. It doesn’t necessarily directly support my business…but more EVs, more…smart Homes and heat pumps, people moving from gas to electric heat, all of this really helps because we’re in the business of helping change society, the grid.”
Atkinson added that regulatory stability is essential to driving the clean energy transition and mitigating the impacts of climate change.
“Where that can get really difficult is in states that have deliberately put in place regulatory structures meant to thwart climate action,” she says. “Kentucky actually put in laws to prevent power companies from refusing to use coal. It’s making my life really difficult.”
The Brotherhood of Electric Workers International issued the following statement Monday in support of the Biden-McCarthy deal. IBEW International President Kenneth W. Cooper:
“On behalf of IBEW’s 775,000 members, I call on Congress to swiftly pass the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, allowing the administration to put this trumped-up crisis in the rearview mirror. The challenges of this country are too important to allow a few extremists to bring us to the brink of destruction. It just sows suspicion around the world about