Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Thursday, July 5, 2012
produced daily by Shellie Nelson
In the Rockies today, the federal government has settled a lawsuit brought by environmental groups and Colorado's San Miguel County over the routing of energy corridors in 11 Western states.
The settlement, which must still be approved by a federal judge, requires the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to re-evaluate the corridors in areas deemed sensitive.
Also on the energy front, General Electric announced it would push back the opening of a solar-panel plant planned in Aurora for 14 to 18 months, the second large economic project the Colorado city has seen go by the wayside in recent months.
And the Associated Press delves into the disproportionate number of coal-fired power plants operating on or near tribal lands, and how different tribes view those plants.
Wildfires continue to scorch states in the Rocky Mountain West, although Colorado got some relief over the holiday, while the Squirrel Fire in Wyoming prompted new evacuations on Wednesday.
Settlement of federal energy corridor case awaits judicial approval
The federal government has reached a settlement over challenges of a plan to create energy corridors for transmission lines, pipelines and other energy-distribution systems across the West, and the settlement is now before a federal district court judge in California.
Durango Herald (AP);
General Electric puts Colorado solar panel plant on hold
Aurora took another economic punch when General Electric announced that the $300-million solar-panel plant it had planned to build in the Colorado city, creating an estimated 335 jobs, would be delayed 14 to 18 months.
Tribes in the West take different approaches on energy
About 10 percent of the nation's power plants operate within 20 miles of reservations, and while the Navajo Nation has embraced power production, with five power plants operating on its sprawling reservation in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, while members of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana are fighting to get the Colstrip coal-fired power plant shut down.
Denver Post (AP);
Smoke from Wyoming wildfires smog up Colorado skies
As wildfires in Colorado quieted on Wednesday, smoke from large wildfires burning in Wyoming poured across the border along Colorado's Front Range, prompting an air quality alert in Denver.
Alberta city launches jobs campaign in Oregon, Washington state
The Edmonton Economic Development Corp. (EEDC) is seeking thousands of skilled workers for a number of infrastructure projects, and the Alberta city began its media campaign for such workers in Seattle and other parts of Washington state and Oregon.
Report says BLM undercharged for Montana, Wyoming coal
Last week, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis released a report that said the Bureau of Land Management is leasing coal in the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming for just a fraction of its value.
Idaho wolf hunting season ended Saturday, opened Sunday
The 2011-2012 wolf hunting season in Idaho ended Saturday, and the 2012-13 wolf hunting season on private land in the Panhandle opened, with the general season opening Aug. 30 across the state.
Coeur d'Alene Press;
BLM takes public comment on proposed land exchange in Utah
Under a proposed land swap, the Bureau of Land Management would trade nearly 14,000 acres it owns in Utah's Skull Valley for 14,300 acres now owned by the Skull Valley Co., and the BLM is taking public comment on the proposed exchange through July 17.
Montana senator robbed Wyoming of Abandoned Mine Lands funds
Wyoming has spent nearly 30 decades trying to get the money the state is owed from the federal Abandoned Mine Land trust fund, and the Cowboy State's job just got harder, now that Montana U.S. Sen. Max Baucus successfully wrote a provision into the new federal transportation bill that will take $700 million from the AML fund over the next decade to pay for roads.
Beyond the region
U.S., Canada begin talks on Columbia River Treaty
The 1964 treaty signed by the United States and Canada turned the Columbia River into the Northwest's powerhouse, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bonneville Power Administration are meeting with the 15 tribes and the four Northwest states, as well as with representatives from other federal agencies, to discuss if there are changes that need to be made to the nearly 50-year-old treaty.
U.S. releases info on Enbridge pipeline spill in Michigan
The United States' investigation into the circumstances that caused the 2010 spill from an Enbridge pipeline in Michigan found that Enbridge employees were not well trained and that an atmosphere in the control room that dissuaded employees from shutting down operations prevailed.
Edmonton Journal (Postmedia);
Grounded air tankers cleared for take off
The Northern Command, which is in charge of C-130 air tankers when they're used to drop retardant and water on wildfires, allowed the seven air tankers that had been grounded after one of the planes crashed while fighting a wildfire in South Dakota, to again resume flying.
Casper Star-Tribune (AP);
Tab for homes lost to Colorado's Waldo Canyon Fire climbs to $110M
The Denver Post's analysis of homes burned by the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado assessed the value of those homes at $110 million, although the costs are expected to climb much higher when replacement costs of the homes and other items are factored into the calculation.
Five wildfires in SE Montana folded into one complex
The Ash Creek Fire, the Horse Creek Fire, the Powerline Fire, the Coal Seam Fire and the Taylor Creek Fire in Montana are now known as the Southeastern Montana Complex, allowing better allocation of resources. The Ash Creek Fire is the largest at 244,500 acres.
Crews battle seven wildfires in Utah
The Shingle Fire in Kane County, which flared up Tuesday night and forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes, is one of seven burning in Utah.
Salt Lake Tribune;
New wildfires ignite in W. Wyoming
The Fontenelle Fire in western Wyoming grew to 90 square miles, while new wildfires ignited in that area of the state.
Jackson Hole News and Guide;
"T he amount of no-go corridors tells you how badly this opportunity was missed the first time and what an important opportunity we have now.
Mountain West Perspectives
Mountain West Voices
Hear weekly stories from the Rocky Mountain West as gathered by Clay Scott