Senate votes to require improvement in vehicle mileage.

After 30 years of trying, the Senate has voted to raise the required fuel efficiency of American automobiles. In addition, the notorious SUV loophole was closed. The bill still must go to the House of Representatives.

Story in the LA Times.

Efforts to increase taxes on the oil industry failed due to a Republican filibuster. The industry has been raking in record profits due to the high price of gas, but not building new oil refineries (a guarantee that gas prices will remain high). The new oil taxes would have been used to subsidize the development of alternatives of wind, solar, and biofuels. As we have seen, there are substantial problems with wind and biofuels (especially corn ethanol), but the voters like the idea and the Republicans could take a beating for favoring oil companies over new energy alternatives.

Yes to CAFE boost, No to oil taxes. Grist Magazine. By David Roberts.

Note. I cover this issue because anything that reduces the need for fossil fuels reduces the threat the energy companies pose to the majesty of America’s West.

Forest Service seeks to decommission 19,000 miles of old logging and unauthorized roads in its Northern Region

This is great news for fisheries and clean water. Abandoned logging roads often don’t heal. In fact, they can generate more and more erosion as the years go by, the culverts wash out, and small disturbances turn into gullies. In addition, there are many “use” ways — roads never constructed that were made simply by people driving. Because they were never planned or located to fit the land, these too are major sources of erosion.

Unfortunately, the Service doesn’t have the money to to this, but there is a bill moving through the House that would provide the money. “The ‘Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Initiative’ under consideration by the House would set aside funding for road decommissioning, road and trail repair and maintenance, and the removal of fish barriers.”

Story in the Missoulian. Forest Service seeks closure of worn-out roads. By Perry Backus.

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