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Week in Review

Mountain West News is taking a spring holiday.

Our next daily edition will publish Wed., April 23.

Top stories April 14 thru April 16:

In News to Track,Time magazine examines the Bureau of Land Management's dispute with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy; what led to the federal agency's decision to round up Bundy's cattle on federal lands; the subsequent release of those cattle as hundreds of protesters from near and far gathered to support the rancher; and how Bundy's declaration of victory in the "Battle of Bunkerville" could affect future disputes involving federal lands.

And as more and more oil hits the rails in the United States, communities are demanding more information about just how those trains are routed through population areas.

On Tuesday, a new oil training loading facility opened in Fort Laramie, Wyo., and Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos. are proposing an oil-train terminal at the Port of Vancouver in Washington state that would be the largest such facility in the Pacific Northwest if it's built as proposed.


Mountain West Perspective

New report highlights opportunities in the Colorado River Basin

On the Bookshelf

Barbara Theroux of Fact & Fiction reviews Goliath Staggered:  How the people of Highway 12 conquered Big Oil
April 15, 2014

  • Idaho author Steve Bunk and two principals of the Montana resistance to the megaloads, Robert Gentry and Zack Porter, will speak Tuesday, April 22 at Fact & Fiction, 220 N. Higgins, at 7:00 p.m.

Mountain West Voices

We invite readers to listen to Mountain West Voices, a radio program that profiles an individual or community in the Rocky Mountain West, introducing listeners to the compelling stories that are part of the human landscape of our region.

On Sunday morning, Yellowstone Public Radio will broadcast this week's edition of Mountain West Voices at 7 o'clock.

If you miss the broadcast, you can listen online via Mountain West Voices website.

News to Track

Nevada rancher's standoff with BLM re-energizes old debate
Time Magazine examines the Bureau of Land Management's conflict with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and what precedent the federal agency's decision to call off the gathering of Bundy's cattle illegally grazed on federal lands for the past two decades will set.; 4/15/2014

Little is known about routes of oil, hazardous materials on U.S. rail lines
High-profile fiery railroad accidents in Canada and the United States brought more scrutiny on the labeling and routing of oil trains, and while some new testing and labeling has been required in the U.S., the routing of the trains is still secret, due in part to security concerns.
New York Times; 4/16/2014

Increase of oil shipments by rail ignites debate in Texas
The shipment of oil by rail has increased in the United States from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to 407,642 carloads of crude oil in 2013, an increase that is igniting concerns about public safety in states across the nation, including in Texas, where a new terminal opened in December at the Port of Beaumont to handle oil shipments.
New York Times; 4/12/2014

New oil train loading terminal opens in Wyoming
On Tuesday, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and business leaders were in Fort Laramie to celebrate Eighty-Eight Oil LLC's new transloading facility, which will load oil from the Powder River Basin into rail tanker cars for shipping to out-of-state markets.
Casper Star-Tribune; 4/16/2014

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; 4/15/2014


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; 4/15/2014

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; 4/15/2014

Majority of B.C. community's voters reject Northern Gateway pipeline
Enbridge officials took a philosophical approach to the results of Saturday's vote in Kitimat, where 58.4 percent of the voters opposed the company's Northern Gateway pipeline, which would bring Alberta crude oil to a port on the B.C. coast, by saying the results of the non-binding vote means that the company has more work to do to convince residents to support the pipeline.
Calgary Herald (Vancouver Sun); 4/14/2014

USGS to deploy seismographs around central Idaho
To learn more about the recent spate of earthquakes in Central Idaho, the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center will put three portable seismographs in that area of the state.
Idaho Statesman (AP); 4/16/2014

Wyoming health official cites lack of vaccinations to increase of disease
Whooping cough is making a comeback in Wyoming, and the incidence of measles is on the rise across the United States, a trend Kim Deti, spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Health, said is linked to the anti-vaccination movement.
Casper Star-Tribune; 4/14/2014


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; 4/15/2014

Oil pipeline proposed to move Utah oil raises water concerns
All three proposed routes of the 135-mile Uinta Express Pipeline to move oil from the Uinta Basin to Salt Lake City follow the south fork of the Provo River, which feeds into Jordanelle Reservoir, a critical water source for several Utah counties.
Salt Lake Tribune; 4/16/2014


Some B.C. Nations, company team up on oil pipeline project

On Monday, Eagle Spirit Energy and the Aquilini Group proposed an alternative to Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline, which would ship synthetic oil, not bitumen, from Alberta to British Columbia's west coast that also changes the location of the terminus of the pipeline from Kitimat to Prince Rupert.
Vancouver Sun; 4/16/2014

Utah university, Ute Tribe reach deal on use of name
The University of Utah has reportedly reached a deal with the Ute Tribe that will allow the university to continue using the name and the feather-and-drum logo for its athletics teams.
Salt Lake Tribune; 4/15/2014


U.N. climate panel urges countries to make next decade count
On Sunday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a new report that said only an intensive effort around the world to limit carbon dioxide emissions within the next fifteen years will keep planetary warming within acceptable levels, but the good news is that political will to address emissions appears to increasing as well.
New York Times; 4/14/2014

Report: Canada's energy operations top producer of greenhouse gases
On Friday, Environment Canada released a report that said for the first time ever, energy operations in that nation edged out transportation to be the top producer of greenhouse gas emissions.
Calgary Herald (Canadian Press); 4/14/2014

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; 4/14/2014

Montana FWP cancels meeting on bison plan
The second round of meetings of a group Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks convened last September to discuss development of a statewide bison conservation plan scheduled for April 14-15 in Lewistown were canceled by the state, in part because of the acrimonious relationship between pro- and anti-bison groups that changed little since the September meetings, and a growing discord about the makeup of the group.
Helena Independent Record; 4/14/2014

Public Lands
National parks offer free entry this weekend
You can visit the lower elevations of Glacier National Park in Montana for free this weekend, as the National Park Service offers free entry to all 401 parks to kick off National Parks Week.
Missoulian; 4/15/2014

Wyoming residents have plenty of questions about rare-earth work
At the U.S. Forest Service's meeting Monday night in Sundance on a proposal to mine rare-earth minerals in northeastern Wyoming, residents had questions about how the work would affect air and water quality, and concerns about radioactive dust.
Casper Star-Tribune; 4/16/2014

Utah's Paradox Canyon offers bounty of beauty, energy
The Paradox Canyon near Moab is aptly named these days, as the area that first offered up uranium and oil in the 1950s, then became a playground for recreationists, is again seeing interest from energy companies and potash companies, setting up a clash between tourism and industry. First in a two-part series on clashing interests in southeastern Utah.
Deseret News; 4/13/2014

Congressman, county, BLM all have draft land-use plans for Utah county
Grand County officials have three land-use alternatives for the Utah county, one of which will be rolled in U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop's "Grand Plan" for southeastern Utah's red rock country, and the Bureau of Land Management is also working on a leasing plan for a million acres it manages in that county and adjacent San Juan County. Second in a series on the future of Utah's red rock country.
Deseret News; 4/14/2014

Human-caused wildfires keep B.C. firefighters busy

Since April 1, 32 wildfires have been reported in the Kamloops area of British Columbia, nearly all of them caused by humans, and 10 of those have been reported since Friday.
Vancouver Sun; 4/15/2014

USFS air-tanker contract dispute continues as wildfire season approaches
Wildfire season in the United States is to officially start April 28, although Montana-based Neptune Aviation did have one of its Korean War-vintage P2-V air tankers dropping water on a fire in New Mexico last week, but with the 10-year contract for two new air tankers awarded to Neptune Aviation on hold, the U.S. Forest Service's proposal to add next-generation tankers to their air fleet is stalled.
Missoulian; 4/12/2014

Idaho files lawsuit against timber companies. contractor over fatal wildfire
The lawsuit filed Monday by the state of Idaho in state district court against Potlatch Land and Lumber, Potlatch Forest Holdings, Clearwater Paper Corp., Potlatch Corp., and DABCO Inc., a Kamiah-based logging contractor, alleges that a logging crew using equipment that didn't meet U.S. Forest Service requirements started the 2012 Steep Corner Fire near Orofino, where a USFS wildfire fighter was killed by a falling tree.
Idaho Statesman (Lewiston Tribune); 4/16/2014


Wyoming counties' zoning laws protect property, too
Two high-profile land-use cases in Wyoming's Natrona and Converse counties provide strong evidence that well-written, and enforced, zoning laws protect property owners, and as oil production ramps up across the state, more rural landowners will enjoy the protection afforded by such regulation.
Casper Star-Tribune; 4/16/2014

Wyoming way works for sage grouse
Former Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal deserves kudos for taking the lead on protecting sage grouse and the species' habitat, once again proving that the state benefits when it takes the lead on energy and conservation issues.
Casper Star-Tribune; 4/14/2014

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; 4/15/2014


U.S. senators have small brewers' back in FDA skirmish
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Charles E. Schumer are among the senators who are helping microbrewers fend off a regulation proposed by the Food and Drug Administration that would put an end to those brewers donating or selling for minimal costs the leftover grain to livestock producers.
New York Times; 4/12/2014

Interior Secretary Jewell reviews her first year in office
The Salt Lake Tribune's Thomas Burr spends some time with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who just completed her first year in that post, and Burr gets feedback from members of Congress on how they view her first year in office.
Salt Lake Tribune; 4/13/2014


Utah legislators to let Gov. Herbert's 3 vetoes stand
While legislators disagreed with Gov. Gary Herbert's vetoes of three bills, the Legislature lacked the numbers to override those vetoes and legislative leaders said they'll address the issues in the next session.
Salt Lake Tribune; 4/15/2014


Alberta Energy Regulator's new rules on flaring take effect June 16
The Alberta Energy Regulator has issued new rules on the practices of flaring, venting and burning off gas to address growing concerns about odors and emissions in the Peace River area of the province.
Calgary Herald (Canadian Press); 4/16/2014

Company cites low prices for closure of 2 coal mines in British Columbia
U.S.-based Walter Energy announced Tuesday that it would halt production at two coal mines in northeastern British Columbia due to low prices, a move that idles 700 workers.
Vancouver Sun and Financial Post; 4/16/2014

B.C. exempts ski resorts, sweet gas facilities from environmental review
British Columbia officials said that, since the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations already reviews ski resorts' plans, and the Oil and Gas Commission can handle the sweet gas industry, the province will no longer require reviews of ski resorts and sweet gas facilities by the province's Environmental Assessment Office, a move with which conservation groups immediately took exception.
Vancouver Sun; 4/16/2014

Another uranium mine gears up in Wyoming
Last year, Ur-Energy opened its Lost Creek mine in Wyoming's Sweetwater County, and this week Uranerz announced it has begun in-situ uranium mining at its Nichols Ranch facility in Johnson and Campbell counties.
Casper Star-Tribune; 4/16/2014

Unemployed in Montana's Lincoln County find few options
In the late 1980s, the economy of Lincoln County was chugging along, fueled by the W.R. Grace Co.'s vermiculite mine, Noranda Minerals was developing the Montanaore project, Asarco's Troy mine was producing copper and silver, and hundreds of people were working at Champion Mills' lumber mills, but in 1990, the vermiculite mine closed and work ceased on the Montanaore project, and in 1993, the Troy Mine closed, as did most of the lumber mills after Champion sold them to Stimson, and most of those hundreds of jobs have not returned.
Flathead Beacon; 4/16/2014

Beyond the region

Oklahoma rattled by 157 earthquakes in a month
In the past month, 157 earthquakes larger than 2.5 in magnitude have been reported in Oklahoma, with 48 of those reported in the week ending Saturday, an increase that some residents are attributing to the drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing and energy companies disposal of wastewater in deep injection wells, speculation that the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) did not rule out.
USA Today; 4/14/2014

Ohio finds connection between hydraulic fracturing, seismic activity
State geologists in Ohio have linked five small tremors last month near Youngstown to hydraulic fracturing activity in the Utica Shale formation.
New York Times (AP); 4/12/2014

City in E. Washington eyes marijuana industry to fill vacant warehouses
Spokane Valley officials aren't fans of legalized marijuana, but the promise of an industry that could fill long-empty warehouses in the Eastern Washington state city has made them more amenable to the legalized weed, and later this month, city officials are likely to ease zoning restrictions that could fill more of those warehouses with production and processing operations for the marijuana industry.
Spokane Spokesman-Review; 4/14/2014

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"I t comes as quite a shock for people to go to work and find out they no longer have a job. Certainly, we’ve been nervous over the last few months because the price of metallurgical coal had been declining. It's 400-plus jobs. That’s an enormous hit to a community of 4,000 people."

Tumbler Ridge Mayor Darwen Wren, responding to the news that U.S.-based Walter Energy was suspending operations at two coal mines in northeastern British Columbia.
- Vancouver Sun and Financial Post

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