Our archives

Major Funders:
Foundation for Community Vitality
Greater Montana Foundation
Encouraging communications on issues, trends and values of importance to Montanans.
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map This morning, we take a state-by-state stroll through Rockies today.

In Idaho, the state Department of Water Resources issued a new ruling on the water call issued by the Rangen fish hatchery, that reduces the area and the number of users affected by the water call, but doesn't provide a long-term solution for groundwater users that hold junior water rights.

The mayor of Eagle explains why the city decided to head to court to get easements across property owned by three companies to get access for a one-mile stretch of the Greenbelt trail system, and a Boise-based company continues to add geothermal assets to its renewable energy portfolio.

In Montana, the Environmental Protection Agency will hold a meeting tonight in Columbia Falls to discuss the environmental assessment it recently completed on the shuttered Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. plant there, and the state wildlife agency said that the annual count of the Northern Yellowstone elk herd was so hindered by poor weather and lack of a helicopter that the count won't be included in the data that dates back to 1986.

And Butte-Silver Bow has submitted its application to be one of the nation's manufacturing hubs.

Oil production is increasing in Wyoming, where it is now edging out natural gas production in the energy sector.

In Colorado, oil production is on the rise, too, and so are conflicts on whether regulation of drilling operations should remain in the state's hands or should be relegated to the local level.

And in Beyond the region, a new study shows the Environmental Protection Agency greatly underestimated methane releases from drilling operations in Pennsylvania, and the Portland Oregonian provides a "by-the-numbers" look at what could be the largest oil train terminal in the Pacific Northwest.

Today, in On the Bookshelf, Barbara Theroux reviews "Goliath Staggered: How the people of Highway 12 conquered Big Oil."

Author Steve Bunk follows the battle of residents along Highway 12 in Idaho to keep the transport of massive pieces of equipment off the highway that passes through the corridor of the Wild and Scenic Lochsa River.

And on April 22, Bunk, as well as two principals of the Montana resistance to the megaloads, Robert Gentry and Zack Porter, will speak at Fact & Fiction, 220 N. Higgins, in Missoula, Mont., at 7:00 p.m.

Rockies today

Colorado at center of state vs. local control of drilling debate
As drilling for oil expands in Colorado, the Centennial State has become the epicenter of the debate about whether authority over drilling operations should remain at the state level or should be handled at the local level, with 17 ballot measures aimed at bolstering local control proposed along the Front Range.
Denver Post; April 15

Idaho DWR issues new ruling on fish hatchery's water call
On Friday, Idaho Department of Water Resources Director Gary Spackman issued a new water ruling on Rangen’s Hagerman fish hatchery water call that decreases the total number of acres affected by the call, as well as the number of users, but the most recent ruling does little to address a long-term solution for groundwater users in that area of the state.
Twin Falls Times-News; April 15

Eagle to use eminent domain to get easement for section of trail system
After negotiating with property owners along a one-mile stretch of the Greenbelt that passes through Eagle for more than a year, the Idaho city's council voted on Monday to pursue eminent domain to obtain an easement for the trail.
Idaho Statesman; April 15

Wyoming oil sector heats up as natural gas sector cools
The quarterly report released Monday by Wyoming's Department of Administration and Information showed that state revenues for the first quarter of 2014 were higher than the same quarter of 2013, and that oil production this quarter was up, while natural gas production was down.
Casper Star-Tribune; April 15

EPA completes assessment of closed aluminum plant in Montana
A meeting will be held today, April 15, in the Columbia Falls Fire Hall from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the Environmental Protection Agency's environmental assessment of the Columbia Falls Aluminum Co.'s shuttered aluminum plant in that Montana community.
Flathead Beacon; April 15

Montana city submits bid to become U.S. manufacturing hub
Montana's abundant natural resources were emphasized in Butte-Silver Bow's application to be one of the 15 National Network Manufacturing Innovation Centers in the United States, a few of which have already been selected.
Montana Standard; April 15

Bad weather, lack of chopper hinder annual count of Yellowstone elk
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said the data gathered this year of the Northern Yellowstone elk herd wasn't thorough enough to be compared with annual numbers dating back to 1986.
Billings Gazette; April 15

Idaho company buys more geothermal leases in Oregon
Boise-based U.S. Geothermal continued its acquisitions of renewable energy projects by adding acres of geothermal leases in Oregon near its geothermal plant at Neal Hot Springs, after the Idaho company announced it was buying Ram Power Corp's geyser geothermal electricity operation in California.
Idaho Statesman; April 15


GAO needs to give Park Service budget a tough review
Given the $11.5 billion backlog of maintenance projects the National Park Service reports it has at national parks, monuments and military parks under its authority, Wyoming U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi and two other GOP senators are to be commended for their call for the Government Accountability Office to do a first-ever review of the National Park Service's budget.
Casper Star-Tribune; April 15

Vandalism in Utah national park a symptom of irresponsible citizenry
The discovery of illicit carvings into a sandstone ridge at Arches National Park in Utah forced the closure of the area, another on a growing list of incidents where scofflaws consume public funds to address their mess left behind.
Salt Lake Tribune; April 15

Beyond the region

Oil-train terminal proposed in Vancouver, Wash. will be region's largest
Last week, a majority of the members of the Vancouver City Council went on the record to formally oppose the $110-million oil train terminal proposed by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos., and the Portland Oregonian provides some numbers about what would be the largest such facility in the Pacific Northwest.
Portland Oregonian; April 15

New study shows methane releases in Penn. much higher than estimated
A study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that seven well pads in the booming Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania emitted an average 34 grams of methane per second, considerably lower than the Environmental Protection Agency's estimates that the releases were somewhere between 0.04 grams and 0.30 grams of methane per second.
Los Angeles Times; April 14

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"W e've tried to be reasonable about this all the way through. We just want the pathway. They've been very good about delaying. It looked like this was going to go on and on and on."

On The Bookshelf
Barbara Theroux of Fact & Fiction reviews Goliath Staggered: How the people of Highway 12 conquered Big Oil


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