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Sunset At Fort Peck
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Monday, Aug. 3, 2015
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, President Obama is expected to roll out today the final version of the Clean Power Plan, which was proposed a year ago.

The plan is a state-by-state approach to curbing carbon emissions and, since Montana and Wyoming rank first and third, respectively, in such emissions, those states will have to make the most dramatic changes.

Idaho is at the bottom of the list of states, and Vermont isn't covered in the plan because it gets none of its power from coal-fired power plants.

In early July, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University's Scott Institute for Energy Innovation released a free model for states to follow to reduce their carbon emissions.

Also in the news, the Outdoor Retailer summer event opens Wednesday in Salt Lake City, with more than 1,550 exhibitors on hand to show their wares to an estimated 46,000 attendees, and again, members of the powerful Outdoor Industry Association are voicing their displeasure on the state's quest to gain control over federal lands.

The contract with show owner Emerald Expositions to hold its summer and winter events in Salt Lake City expires next year, and Emerald released a short list of potential cities where the event could be moved, which includes Las Vegas, Chicago, Dallas and Orlando, Fla.

Members of the Outdoor Recreation Industry may not like Las Vegas either, given the resolution passed by the Nevada Legislature this spring calling for the transfer of 7.3 million acres of federal lands to the state.

Montana Public Radio will broadcast Mountain West Voices at 4:54 p.m. today.

Today's broadcast takes listeners along to the class of award-winning biology teacher Jim Schulz, of Helena, Montana, on his last day of teaching before he retires.

Tune in to Montana Public Radio at 4:54 p.m. to hear the broadcast, or listen online via the Mountain West Voices website.

Rockies today

White House to release retooled Clean Power Plan today
The final version of the Clean Power Plan, initially proposed by the Obama Administration a year ago, will be released today, with the goal of curbing carbon pollution from power plants by 32?percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030.
Washington Post; Aug. 3

  • Montana, Wyoming among states with most to do under Clean Power Plan
    Under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan set to be released today, Montana will have the most work to do to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants, with Wyoming ranked third in emissions to be curbed. Editor's note: This article has a graphic showing each state's current carbon emissions, the percent of power produced by coal and the amount of carbon pollution each state will be required to cut.
    National Geographic; Aug. 3

Massive outdoor recreation retailer show opens in Utah city
The Outdoor Retailer show opens in Salt Lake City this week and, again, the organizers of the massive event are making noises about relocating to another city because of Utah's stance on federal public lands, and Las Vegas, Chicago, Dallas and Orlando, Fla., are all reportedly in the running as a potential site for future Outdoor Retailer shows.
Salt Lake Tribune; Aug. 3

Denver-based company banks big on marijuana growers in Colorado
Two Rivers Water & Farming Co., a Denver-based publicly traded company that has been acquiring agricultural lands and water rights in Colorado, is now at work on a massive greenhouse in Pueblo, in which a spinoff of Two Rivers, GrowCo Inc., plans to lease to recreational marijuana growers for an estimated $1 million an acre.
Denver Post; Aug. 3

Virginia-based coal miner that operates in Wyoming files bankruptcy
On Monday, Alpha Natural Resources filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the largest coal company in the United States, and the first major producer operating in Wyoming, to do so. In May, Wyoming gave Alpha Natural Resources 90 days to come up with $411 million to cover its reclamation costs in the Cowboy State, and it is not yet known if the bankruptcy will affect the company's response to that demand.
Casper Star-Tribune; Aug. 3

Critics: Alberta Energy Regulator too slow in addressing dormant wells
Since April, Alberta Energy Regulator has brought 3,600 dormant wells into compliance, with plans to have nearly 5,500 wells addressed in the 2015-16 fiscal year, but critics of the five-year plan said that leaves 22,100 wells untested, and the plan remains silent on timelines for companies to take steps to close wells.
Calgary Herald (Canadian Press); Aug. 3

Hot, dry conditions tangle Glacier Park wildfire fight in Montana
Two human-caused wildfires were quickly contained in Western Montana on Sunday afternoon, while crews were able to further contain the Reynolds Creek Fire in Glacier National Park on Sunday, despite weather conditions.
Missoulian; Aug. 3

Idaho PUC considers Idaho Power's challenge of solar project
Last week, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission began examining Idaho Power's challenge of Site Based Energy's project near Bellevue, which consists of 10 separate projects, each capable of producing 100 kilowatts of power, a level that requires the PUC to set the rate for the power under a 20-year contract, but Idaho Power said that the project is simply one big project broken down into components to qualify for those contract conditions. Public comment will be taken on the challenge through Aug. 14.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Aug. 3

Parties at odds over Montana coal mine expansion ordered to find common ground
Attorneys for the Department of Interior and three environmental groups, which challenged the federal Office of Surface Mining's permit to allow Wyoming-based Cloud Peak Energy to expand its Spring Creek mine in southeast Montana because the groups allege a lack of public notice on the expansion, were given 60 days by U.S. Magistrate Carolyn Ostby to come up with a remedy over the 2012 decision. At the conclusion of the four-hour hearing in Billings last Friday at which Ostby rendered her decision, the judge said that if no remedy was agreed upon by the parties, she would provide one.
Billings Gazette; Aug. 1


Utah develops warning system for toxic algae in waterways
At a meeting last week of Utah's Water Quality and Health Advisory Panel, scientists warned that conditions were ripe in 44 percent of the state's waters for the development of toxic algae, including in several waterways that provide drinking water, and in the absence of funding to test the waters weekly, local governments were provided with guidelines to use to evaluate water quality and risk of the algae to determine when to post warning signs.
Salt Lake Tribune; Aug. 3


Utah's natural beauty ensures its status as tourist destination
The results of a poll taken by Envision Utah showed overwhelming support for expansion of public lands to accommodate a growing population's demand for outdoor recreation, and 42 percent of those surveyed said they'd support a multibillion-dollar, taxpayer-funded effort for such an expansion, but 37 percent said they'd prefer the expansion cater to residents, not visitors to the state, an unrealistic pipe dream as tourism is a driving force in the state's economy.
Salt Lake Tribune; Aug. 3

Idaho senators must get the votes needed to pass wilderness bill
U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson has worked for more than a decade to get wilderness protections in place for areas of the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains in central Idaho, and now that the U.S. House has passed the latest version of Simpson's bill, and the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has sent a similar measure to the full Senate for action, Idaho's U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo must work diligently to get the measure through the Senate.
Twin Falls Times-News; Aug. 3

Beyond the region

California wildfires increase debate on funding wildfire fights.
There are more than 20 large wildfires burning across California, including one 100 miles north of San Francisco that burned across 54,000 acres on Sunday, providing fuel to the argument that the federal government needs to change how it pays for wildfire fights. A federal wildland firefighter from South Dakota died Friday while fighting a wildfire in California.
Christian Science Monitor; Aug. 3

Select GOP presidential candidates meet donors at Koch retreat
Charles G. and David H. Koch hosted a invite-only event this past weekend between six Republican presidential candidates and potential donors in California, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas; former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina; Senator Marco Rubio of Florida; and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin attending, and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky declining.
New York Times; Aug. 1

Oil price drops to six-month low
Analysts said Iran's looming re-entry into the oil export market and another report that confirmed China's slowing economy both contributed to the drop in international oil prices.
Calgary Herald (Bloomberg News); Aug. 3

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"O ur outdoor industry is worth billions. We have the most miles of free-flowing rivers and the second-largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states. If the OR show is looking to relocate, Idaho would be a perfect place to host it because of our heritage in outdoor recreation."

On The Bookshelf
Barbara Theroux of Fact & Fiction reviews "The Oregon Trail: An American Journey"


Mountain West Perspectives
Montana's two-year colleges revamp education to meet changing workplace demands


A Look Ahead
June 19-Aug.4: National Geographic, University of Montana offer a free, online course for educators on watershed education

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

7/31/2015:  Good Career
5/14/2015:  MOVING ON, BUT NO WAY GONE: Coal in America
4/3/2015:  Prom Dress Mecca
2/27/2015:  Remembering Iwo Jima
1/28/2015:  Cowboy For Hire

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

at the

The University of Montana