Word on the street is that Congress will take up reauthorizing three notorious sections of the USA PATRIOT Act later on this month, including the most notorious of them all, Section 215, which the NSA has used to justify spying on all of our telecommunications. Why reauthorize them? Because the best way to get these Constitution-busting provisions passed in the first place was to let them expire after a few years, ostensibly so that Congress could debate their utility anew. Of course, if you were never convinced of their "utility" in the first place -- not just because big government snooping violates our rights, but also because collecting massive amounts of data is not a particularly good way of catching terrorists -- you're less convinced that "sunsetting" these provisions was so generous, and if you've noticed that Congress has reauthorized these provisions twice, not only with minimal debate, but with Congressional leadership (regardless of party) actively stifling debate, you're probably even less impressed. So Demand Progress helps you call your Congressfolk and demand that our government stop abusing its power to spy on us.
Meanwhile, Rep. Pocan (D-WI) has introduced H.R. 5844, the Protect Our Public Lands Act of 2015, which would ban hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. "fracking") on public lands. Why? Because the Bureau of Land Management has begun to lease public lands -- our lands -- for fracking by gas drilling corporations, when we know fracking uses hundreds of chemicals linked to cancer and those chemicals will get in our drinking water. Corporate scientists say that fracking doesn't put chemicals in the water, but they actually mean that fracking once doesn't put chemicals in the water -- and what gas drilling corporation fracks once? And frackers still use leaky open pits to store their waste, and they still can't contain accidents where fracking chemicals turn our water brown, brackish, or gelatinous -- and they still fight, tooth and nail, any attempt by our government to regulate their affairs so they don't ruin our drinking water. Hence Breast Cancer Action helps you tell your Congressfolk to support the Protect Our Public Lands Act, and thus also protect our drinking water from the ravages of fracking.
Finally, three bills (S. 338, S. 890, and H.R. 1814) seek to strengthen the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is currently set to expire at the end of September. Both H.R. 1814 and S. 338 would permanently reauthorize the Fund, so it wouldn't be held captive to the whims of whomever controls Congress and/or the Presidency; S. 890 would do the same, but would also mandate that the President submit precise allocations of land and water funds as part of his or her annual budget request, and then Congress would then have 120 days to pass legislation changing those allocations (though not the total amount allocated). I'm not convinced S. 890 is a good idea -- if the problem is to get the dirty politics out of the Congressional appropriations process, the solution is to take your case to the people, rather than hand it off to the President -- but I think the other two bills are good ideas. The Wilderness Society helps you tell your Congressfolk to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation fund. If you have your doubts about S. 890, as I do, the email tool allows you to say so.