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Judith Gap
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Thursday, July 24, 2014
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, the focus is on oil and gas and solar power.

The U.S. Transportation Department took a step Wednesday in its ongoing process of developing new regulations designed to make the shipment of oil by rail safer, but the draft regulations released still lack some details as the debate continues on how and when tank cars that carry the oil should be updated.

A new study of the proposed regulation on curbing greenhouse gas emissions found that natural-gas producing states would get an economic boost from the rule, while coal-producing states like Wyoming would bear the brunt of the rule.

The public utilities commissions in both Utah and Colorado are working on proposals to either impose new fees for customers whose solar-power installations feed excess power back into the grid or to curb incentives for such customers.

Also in the news, the Forest Service put a ban on exploding targets in place in all or portions of five western states due to the wildfire risk the targets present, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is again asking Congress to raise fees charged oil and gas companies for inspection of wells.

Rockies today

U.S. rolls out proposed regulations to make shipping oil by rail safer
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation released proposed regulations designed to make shipping oil by rail safer, which include a measure to phase in the use of new tank cars, although the design of the new cars is still being hammered out; including ethanol in the regulations; and requiring trains with 20 or more cars of oil to travel at a lower speed.
Flathead Beacon (AP); July 24

Study finds new Clean Air Act rule would boost Texas, Okla. economies
A study done by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Rhodium Group of the proposed federal regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions found that Texas and Oklahoma, whose elected officials have been the most vocal opponents against the rule, would see the most economic gain, given the natural gas production in those states, while Wyoming, the top coal-producing state in the union, would face the largest economic hit.
New York Times; July 23

Wildfire season in the West heats up after slow start
On Wednesday, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said he expects the latter half of wildfire season in the West will push the agency beyond the $1 billion budgeted for fighting wildfires.
Ravalli Republic (AP); July 24

  • USFS expands ban on use of exploding targets in 5 western states
    Due to continued drought and concerns about wildfire risks and public safety, a ban on the use of exploding targets on U.S. Forest Service lands in southern Idaho, southwestern Wyoming, Nevada, Utah and a small portion of eastern California went into effect on Wednesday and will remain in effect through July 22, 2015.
    Casper Star-Tribune (AP); July 24

Colorado PUC holds first workshop on Xcel's net-metering credit
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission has scheduled three workshops to gather public comment on Xcel Energy's proposal to end the net-metering credit for customers of Colorado's largest utility who feed unused power from their rooftop solar installations back into the grid, and the first one began at 10 a.m. today in Denver at the PUC's headquarters.
Denver Post; July 24

Utah groups criticize utility's 'net-metering' plan for Utah solar power producers
On Monday, the Utah Public Service Commission will take testimony on Rocky Mountain Power's proposal to charge customers that feed electricity produced from their home or business solar-power installations back into the grid a monthly $4.65 "net-metering" fee, and on Wednesday, religious and business groups spoke out against the proposal.
Salt Lake Tribune; July 24

BLM tries again to raise fees for inspections of oil, gas wells
The Bureau of Land Management is again asking Congress to raise fees for oil and gas well inspections, but a report issued earlier this year that found many high-risk wells had not been inspected as required may make the third request successful.
Casper Star-Tribune; July 24

Montana DEQ gets hundreds of comments on proposed copper mine
A decision on the application from a subsidiary of Tintina Resources to drill exploratory wells near White Sulphur Springs to plumb copper deposits in that area of Montana is expected from the state Department of Environmental Quality within a few weeks.
Missoulian (AP); July 24

Canadian cooperative buys cheese company in Idaho
Minnesota-based Davisco Foods International announced it had sold the Jerome Cheese Company in Idaho to Agropur, a cooperative owned by more than 3,500 Canadian dairy farmers, with the deal set to be finalized Aug. 1.
Twin Falls Times-News; July 24


Critics say Wyoming study on elk, chronic wasting disease raises concerns
The new study from the state of Wyoming that found that, should chronic wasting disease reach elk feedgrounds in the western part of the state, the always fatal disease would not result in total extinction of the elk herds, but some critics question the state's study of a pandemic without addressing the role feedgrounds may play in the spread of the disease. A column by Todd Wilkinson, in an ongoing series about wildlife diseases in the Greater Yellowstone area.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; July 23

Beyond the region

Lightning sparks 92 new wildfires in Oregon, Washington
Storms over the past 24 hours sparked 92 new wildfires in Oregon and Washington, where crews are already battling 19 large wildfires, and six wildfires in Eastern Oregon quickly turned into large blazes.
Portland Oregonian; July 24

Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan Inc. releases 2nd-quarter earnings report
Freeport-McMoRan Inc., the Phoenix-based international mining and oil and gas company reported a $428-million profit for the second quarter of this year, earnings that were level with the same quarter last year.
Arizona Republic; July 24

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"I f we can stop a fire from coming into a community, we will stop it. Cost is just an outcome. It isn't what drives our actions. What drives our actions is safe, effective suppression tactics."

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, who said it's likely his agency will spend more than the $1 billion budgeted for fighting wildfires this season.
- Ravalli Republic (AP)

On The Bookshelf
Barbara Theroux of Fact & Fiction reviews Grizzlies on my mind


Mountain West Perspectives
New report highlights opportunities in the Colorado River Basin
New report highlights opportunities in the Colorado River Basin


Mountain West Voices
Hear weekly stories from the Rocky Mountain West as gathered by Clay Scott

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West

at the

The University of Montana