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Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, Alberta's push for renewable energy, Wyoming mulls schedule change for tax payments from oil, gas and coal companies, and Idaho legislators have drafted a bill to change how solar-energy projects are taxed.

Included in Alberta's wide-ranging climate change plan is the requirement that the province end its dependence on coal-fired power by 2030, moving power generation to wind, solar and natural gas.

NDP ministers and utility companies expressed confidence that the timeline could be met, but Wildrose party ministers said the costs of the switch will be onerous and will be foisted upon ratepayers.

An interim panel of lawmakers in Wyoming drafted legislation that would require mineral companies to make monthly ad valorem property tax payments rather than the twice-yearly schedule they are on now.

Coal companies are expected to vigorously oppose the measure and the progress of the legislation is uncertain.

In Idaho, an interim panel is working on legislation to tax the solar industry as it does the wind and geothermal industry.

Also in the news, another spill was reported at Cotter Corp.'s defunct uranium mill in Colorado, the fifth in as many years, and in Utah, a pipeline break in Summit County released 11,000 gallons of gasoline, butane and propane.

Rockies today

NDP, industry leaders: Alberta renewable-energy plan workable
Alberta's plan to move the province away from coal-fired power and toward renewable energy sources won't leave consumers with a hefty bill, NDP ministers and energy industry officials said Monday, despite the multimillion dollar cost of the plan.
Calgary Herald; Dec. 1

Wyoming legislators consider new schedule for mineral tax payments
On Nov. 20, the members of the Wyoming Legislature's Joint Interim Revenue Committee voted 8 to 5 to approve draft legislation that would require mineral companies to pay state ad valorem property taxes on a monthly basis rather than twice a year, but the measure could have a tough time getting passed as it is opposed by the coal industry, which usually finds a receptive ear in the Legislature.; Dec. 1

Idaho legislators consider changing tax basis for solar-power industry
On Monday, members of the Idaho Legislature's Solar Energy Task Force met with representatives of the solar industry and state tax officials to gather input on a proposed change to the state's tax system that would tax solar projects on energy produced rather than property taxes. The change would put the solar industry on the same tax basis as wind and geothermal energy installations.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Dec. 1

Push is on in W. Montana to expand use of solar power
Solarize Missoula, a joint campaign by the Montana Renewable Energy Association, Climate Smart Missoula, the city of Missoula, Missoula Federal Credit Union and Montana Department of Environmental Quality, is working to encourage businesses and homeowners in Missoula to install solar panels to produce their own power, and tonight, there is a presentation scheduled at the Missoula Public Library about the process and benefits.
Missoulian; Dec. 1

EPA strikes deal with aluminum plant owner to study Montana contamination
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. signed off on a deal to study the contamination at the site of the aluminum plant in Montana, with the plant's owner, Glencore, paying the cost of the study as well as the EPA's costs of monitoring the work.
Flathead Beacon; Dec. 1

Colorado investigates another spill at defunct uranium mill
Cotter Corp. reported that a broken coupler on a pipe at its now-defunct uranium mill in Colorado led to the spill of an estimated 1,800 gallons of contaminated water, which the company has told Colorado officials is now contained. The spill is the latest in at least five spills at the Superfund site since 2010.
Denver Post; Dec. 1

Pipeline leak releases 11,000 gallons of gasoline in Utah county
A pipeline leak discovered when employees of Citation Oil and Gas Corp. saw bubbles of chemicals coming from the ground released 11,000 gallons of gasoline, butane and propane in Summit County. The leak temporarily closed Chalk Creek Road in the Utah county from Monday evening until this morning.
Salt Lake Tribune; Dec. 1

Group urges world to consider how climate changes affect wildlife
The National Wildlife Federation is working with researchers from around the world to draw attention to the plight of wildlife caused by a changing climate. Species affected in the United States include trout, which are threatened by warming waters, moose and mountain goats, which are struggling with warmer weather.
Missoulian; Dec. 1

Active bears prompt Wyoming national forest to extend food-storage rules
Bridger-Teton National Forest officials cited the lack of snowpack and continued sightings of bears in the western Wyoming forest for the extension of food-storage rules from Dec. 1 to Jan. 15.
Jackson Hole Daily; Dec. 1


B.C. gives Mount Polley Mine a two-year water discharge permit
Concerns that the Springer Pit, an open pit created by mining at the Mount Polley Mine, might soon overflow were cited by British Columbia officials for their decision to give Imperial Metals a two-year water discharge permit that will allow the mine to release treated water into Hazeltine Creek, then into a settling pond before being piped and discharged into Lake some 98 to 130 feet below the surface.
Vancouver Sun; Dec. 1


Utah leaders should heed warning about cost of Lake Powell pipeline
Before Utah's governor and state legislators pass legislation to commit the state to back $1.8 billion in bonds to allow Washington and Kane counties to build the 140-mile pipeline to carry Lake Powell water to those Utah counties, they should carefully read the letter written by 22 university economists, past and present, that warn that the water users in those counties will never be able to pay high enough rates to retire the debt, essentially passing the debt on to the state.
Salt Lake Tribune; Nov. 28

Washington Post Factchecker gives Carson's federal lands idea a look
After retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson spoke with the Las Vegas Review-Journal's editorial board and said that he would prefer that federal lands be "returned" to the states, the Washington Post's Factchecker column put Carson's statement through its process and assigned him a 2 Pinocchio rating.
Washington Post; Dec. 1

Beyond the region

Federal lawmakers have big 'to-do' list before the holidays
Before the end of the year, federal lawmakers must pass either the $1.1 trillion omnibus budget bill, or another stopgap spending bill to keep the government open through the holidays to replace the previous one that provided funding through Dec. 11, as well as a highway spending bill, but first lawmakers are turning their attention to once again trying to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act and to defund Planned Parenthood, as well as trying to stop climate change measures put in place by the Obama Administration.
Flathead Beacon (AP); Dec. 1

EPA releases new biofuel mandates
On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its rule requiring 18.11 billion gallons of renewable fuel by the end of 2016, an 11 percent increase over that required in 2014.
New York Times; Dec. 1

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"A lberta, if you’ve done any research, has one of the best wind and solar resources in North America, so we’re ideally suited to take advantage of capitalizing on renewable energy. We also have abundant natural gas generation, and that can act as a safety back-up."

Scott Thon, president of AltaLink, Alberta's largest regulated electricity transmission company, expressing confidence in the province's proposal to move from coal-fired power to renewable resources by 2030.
- Calgary Herald

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A Look Ahead

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