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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

Report: New Fed Loopholes Big Enough to Fit a Gas Rig Through

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008   

Denver - A last-minute rule change by the Bush adminstration could leave currently protected roadless areas in Colorado among the most vulnerable to development in the country, according to a new report from the Pew Environment Group. The report finds nearly 100 gas leases could move forward on Colorado forest lands in areas currently protected, along with millions of other acres nationwide, under the federal roadless rule.

Pete Kolbenschlag, with Pew, says the move is bad news for Colorado's most precious back-country forests.

"They would end up with less protection than any other similar national forest anywhere in the country."

David Petersen, with Trout Unlimited, says some of the vulnerable areas are among the most important in the state for hunters and anglers.

"This is where big elk herds hang out, where we have native cutthroat trout streams, and our primary watersheds."

Petersen says his group is not against energy development in general, but feels the administration has been in too much of a rush to drill in recent years, without considering all the impacts.

The Forest Service says the agency is responding to a request by Gov. Ritter. Representatives from Pew call it a case of "unintended consequences," and say they hope the governor will ask the federal government to suspend the process until the full impact can be studied.

The new roadless area rules for Colorado are expected to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, which will begin a 90-day public comment period.




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