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

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, British Columbia reaches a settlement to retire coal leases in the North Flathead watershed, a Utah county pitches options for U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop's grand bargain and a Wyoming town remains evacuated after an explosion at a natural-gas plant.

Cline Mining has settled its claims for leases lost after British Columbia enacted the Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act in 2010 for $10 million.

The leases were revoked to protect the Flathead River, which runs south to Montana, and the North Fork Watershed Protection Act has passed in the U.S. House, but was recently blocked in the U.S. Senate.

In Utah, as part of U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop's public-lands initiative, Grand County officials are exploring different options for the county's portion of the "grand bargain," but all three options pitched at a meeting Wednesday call for the paving of a road through Sego Canyon, where ancient rock art decorate the canyon walls.

Rockies today

B.C. agrees to pay mining company $10M for lost leases in watershed
Cline Mining officials announced that the now-bankrupt company will get $10 million in an out-of-court settlement with the province of British Columbia for lost leases under the Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act passed in 2010 to protect the headwaters of the Flathead River, while a similar bill to protect acres in the watershed in Montana has stalled in U.S. Senate.
Missoulian; April 24

Dispute about road tangles debate on Utah county's plan for 'grand bargain'
Hundreds of people attended a public meeting on Wednesday on the Grand County Council's three alternatives for inclusion in Utah U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop's public lands initiative, with all three options calling for a paved, 15-mile highway through Sego Canyon to provide a shortcut for oil trucks and equipment between the Uinta Basin and Interstate 70.
Salt Lake Tribune; April 24

Safety of oil shipments caught in track vs. tank car debate
The American Petroleum Industry is resisting regulations requiring that tank cars used to ship oil by rail be upgraded or replaced, saying that if railroad systems were repaired and upgraded and positive train controls installed, shipping oil by rail would be safer.
Flathead Beacon (AP); April 23

Explosion at natural-gas plant forces evacuation of Wyoming town
An explosion Wednesday afternoon at a natural-gas processing plant forced the evacuation of Opal, a town of about 100 residents in southwestern Wyoming, and while no injuries were reported, the town remains evacuated today as the plant continues to burn.
Casper Star-Tribune (AP); April 24

Montana FWP to consider smaller-scale bison plan
On Wednesday, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Jeff Hagener told the Associated Press that the state's plan to restore wild bison may start with a pilot project of 50 to 100 animals, rather than the earlier proposal of 1,000 bison to restore the wild bison.
Billings Gazette (AP); April 24

Alberta mulls offset program for protecting wetlands
Andy Ridge, executive director of water policy with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, said the focus of the province will still remain on protecting wetlands but its pilot project to be rolled out this year will allow protection of wetlands in southern Alberta as an offset for affecting wetlands elsewhere.
Calgary Herald; April 24

Wyoming coal town booms again
The slowdown in the coal industry hasn't hampered growth and development in Wright in Wyoming's Campbell County, as oil and gas, as well as the uranium industry, are now contributing to the area's economy.
Casper Star-Tribune; April 24

Former BLM director, Utah legislator square off in debate
At Wednesday's Trib Talk, former Bureau of Land Management Director Pat Shea and Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory argued their respective positions on whether states should take over management of federal lands.
Salt Lake Tribune; April 24

Group files lawsuit to reclassify grizzlies in Montana's Yaak area
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed a lawsuit in federal court in Montana seeking reclassification of the Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bears in northwestern Montana from threatened to endangered.
Flathead Beacon (AP); April 24


Attorney General Fox releases fracking documents to Montana group
The day before a state district judge was set to hear arguments in an open-records lawsuit filed by Montana Environmental Information Center, state Attorney General Tim Fox released documents on the regulation of hydraulic fracturing sought by the group.
Flathead Beacon (Great Falls Tribune); April 24


Eastern Montana needs a funding program for infrastructure that will work
While Gov. Steve Bullock is to be commended for pressing for financial aid for communities in Eastern Montana that are struggling to keep up with growth brought by the oil boom, his $45-million sewer-and-water bonding proposal won't pass muster with a Legislature that's already resisted such programs in the past, and a better route would be a grant program to provide seed money for other grants to get an immediate response to a growing problem.
Billings Gazette; April 24

USFS, Wyoming should ensure rare-earth minerals mine is done right
There is no question that the rare-earth minerals mine proposed in Wyoming must be built, as it would be only one of three such mines outside of China, and while the U.S. Forest Service should move quickly to approve the mine, both the federal agency and the state should ensure that residents' concerns about the environmental effects of the mine are addressed to their satisfaction.
Casper Star-Tribune; April 24

Nevada rancher's extremism fairly ordinary
For folks like Ken Toole, who has followed armed right-wing militias, white supremacists and other well-known figures who made history in their high-profile resistance of the federal government, such as Randy Weaver, David Koresh and Timothy McVeigh, Nevada rancher Clive Bundy's views are nothing new, but the news coverage of his standoff with the Bureau of Land Management has raised the volume of the rhetoric. A column by Todd Wilkinson.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; April 23

Beyond the region

Oil production on tribes' lands in N.D. puts area in Top 10 in U.S.
There are more than 1,000 wells on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota producing more than 180,000 barrels of oil a day, a level that puts the reservation in the Top 10 oil-producing areas in the United States.
Billings Gazette (AP); April 24

  • N.D. tribes turn attention to environmental effect of oil production
    At the third annual oil and gas conference of the Third Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota, representatives from the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara nations celebrated the economic boost that oil production has brought to their tribes, but said now is the time to address the environmental effects that production is having on their lands.
    Billings Gazette (AP); April 24

As crowds dwindle, Nevada rancher clutches on to limelight
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has become a symbol for people who believe the federal government is over-reaching, garnering support from Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who is considered likely to run for president.
New York Times; April 24

Vermont legislators pass bill requiring labeling of GMO foods
Governor Peter Shumlin said he will sign legislation that will require any foods that contain genetically modified ingredients sold in Vermont to be so labeled, making the Green Mountain state the first of the 20 or so states considering such labeling to have a law in place.
New York Times; April 24

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"O ur economy is really looking good. But now it's time to turn around and start protecting our land, guys."

Mervin Packineau, a tribal councilman, speaking at the Three Affiliated Tribes' third annual oil and gas conference in North Dakota on Tuesday.
- Billings Gazette (AP)

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