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Lodge Grass
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map Mountain West News is running its online Fall fundraiser this week, and we're asking our readers to help keep us rounding up the news of the region.

We've been tracking the rise of the United States' domestic oil production, which has driven oil companies to ask Congress to lift the 40-year-old ban on exporting oil.

The rapid spread of cheatgrass, and the extremely flammable grass species' role in wildfires, has been on our radar for more than a decade, as the Bureau of Land Management estimated in 2004, it had taken over 25 million acres--the New York Times reports today it has colonized more than 98 million acres in the West.

We want to continue tracking the issues that affect the Rocky Mountain West, and we need reader support to do so.

Please consider making your tax-deductible contribution today.

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Rockies today

Oil industry's lobbying to allow U.S. exports pays off
Plummeting oil prices that took oil companies' profits down with them pushed those companies to lobby Congress to end the 40-year ban on exporting oil, but armed with the arguments that lifting the ban would lower the price of gasoline domestically, as well as ensure oil industry jobs, the companies have gained ground, with a U.S. House measure to lift the ban to be passed within the next few weeks, and two Senate committees have endorsed lifting the ban.
New York Times; Oct. 6

USDA researcher finds soil bacteria that is the scourge of cheatgrass
Cheatgrass is the single worse invasive species in the American West, colonizing so many acres that it can be seen from space, but a U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher has found, after three decades of research, soil bacteria that can attack cheatgrass at its roots, and now the challenge is finding a delivery system of the live bacteria that works for the hundreds of millions of acres where cheatgrass rules.
New York Times; Oct. 6

Montana DEQ cleanup of Mike Horse Dam on schedule
The earthen Mike Horse Dam that holds back decades of mining waste in Montana in the headwaters of the Blackfoot River was totally breached last week, a milestone in the years-long effort of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to clean up the area. The mine partially breached in 1975, sending mine sediment into the Blackfoot River, killing fish.; Oct. 6

Colorado proposes new limits on pesticides used on marijuana
Under current Colorado law, marijuana growers can use 200 pesticides on their crops, but the state is considering new rules that would limit use of pesticides by the marijuana industry to just those used on plants for human consumption, which would winnow the list down to about 75.
Denver Post; Oct. 6

Montana miners file countersuit against U.S. Forest Service
Two Lincoln landowners, who are facing federal charges of illegally cutting down trees, building a garage, opening a road and gating a road on their mining claims in the Helena National Forest, filed a countersuit last week against the U.S. Forest Service, charging the federal agency is harassing them and hindering them from mining their three claims.
Missoulian (AP); Oct. 6

Anti-fracking conference in Denver draws 230 protesters from 30 states
On Monday, opponents of the drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing gathered in Denver, where they protested in front of offices for Saddle Butte Pipeline, the Environmental Protection Agency, Halliburton and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, as well as the Governor's Mansion. They also worked together on language for ballot measure that would hydraulic fracturing in Colorado.
Denver Post; Oct. 6

Utah files lawsuit against Bluffdale firm for dumping cement on river banks
In January, Utah ordered Owell Precast to stop dumping cement slurry on the banks of the Jordan River, but the company continued to do so, and now the state has charged the company and two executives for violating the Utah Water Quality Act, charges that could result in prison terms for the executives if they are convicted.
Salt Lake Tribune; Oct. 6

Colorado beef producers see profit in TransPacific Partnership
The trade agreement hammered out between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations this week will aid Colorado beef and oilseed producers, open up new areas of trade, as well as provide new avenues for foreign investors in the state, according to supporters of the deal, while opponents say the lack of a provision on currency manipulation will cause wage stagnation in the U.S.
Denver Post; Oct. 6

British Columbia expects net gains in exports under TransPacific trade deal
The TransPacific Partnership trade agreement, which must still be approved by the governments of the 12 Pacific Rim nations that are parties to the pact, will help British Columbia, according to those familiar with the provisions, as the negative aspects for Canada are primarily in the dairy, egg and vehicle manufacturing industries, of which B.C. has few.
Vancouver Sun; Oct. 6


Idaho warns boaters, anglers about toxic algae in Lake Lowell
The toxic, bluegreen algae that has bloomed in Lake Lowell is a threat to human and pet safety, and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued a warning to those who may be boating, fishing or recreating in the area.
Idaho Statesman; Oct. 6


Wyoming, Chinese province must work together on coal
In September, a delegation from the University of Wyoming traveled to China's Shanxi Province to attend a conference on clean coal and coal conversion, both important issues for the coal-rich state and province, which are struggling with reduced demand for their abundant resource, and Wyoming was invited to apply for a grant under China's domestic program to expand use of coal in new technologies, the only non-Chinese entity to receive such an invitation. A guest column by Mark Northam, director the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources.; Oct. 6

Colorado must work to meet new federal ozone limits, no matter how tough it will be
Given the science-based evidence of how lowering ozone levels to the new federal standards of 70 parts per billion, Colorado must buck up and do what it takes to meet the new standards, no matter how tough it is. The future health of Coloradans depends upon it.
Durango Herald; Oct. 6

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"I t's not a matter of if it works or not. The question is, can we take what she has done at a small scale and do it at 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 acres?"

Mike Gregg, a biologist with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, discussing USDA researcher Ann Kennedy's work that has discovered two strains of soil bacteria that thwarts the spread of cheatgrass, an invasive species that has colonized an estimated 98.6 million acres in the American West.
- New York Times

On The Bookshelf

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


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

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The University of Montana