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Sunrise On The Rocky Mountain Front
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, the Interior Department indicates it will cancel long-suspended energy leases in Montana, the oil and gas and coal industries respond to Alberta's climate change plan; and a B.C. city loses its fight to halt the Trans Mountain pipeline.

In a court filing on Monday, the U.S. Interior Department recommended the cancellation of energy leases in the Badger-Two Medicine Area of Montana due to the cultural and spiritual importance of that area to the Blackfeet Nation.

That filing appears not to be the final word on the long-contested leases, as attorneys for the Louisiana company that owns the leases announced it would appeal the decision within the mandated 10-day period.

Alberta's climate change policy rolled out on Sunday calls for steep reductions in methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, as well as an end to coal-fired power, and those industries responded on Monday.

The oil and gas industry said the required emissions reductions will cost hundreds of millions of dollars at a time when the industry is already dealing with low prices, and the coal industry said the province should have focused on making burning coal cleaner and not slammed the door on the entire industry.

And in neighboring British Columbia, the City of Burnaby lost its fight against the Trans Mountain pipeline, with the province's Supreme Court ruling that the National Energy Board's rules take precedence over Burnaby's.

The city was ordered to pay court costs as well.

Rockies today

Interior Dept. to cancel Badger-Two Medicine leases in Montana
In a court filing Nov. 23, the U.S. Interior Department announced that it intends to cancel the oil and gas leases on the Badger-Two Medicine area in Montana considered sacred by the Blackfeet Nation and that the cancellation process will be completed by Dec. 11. The attorney for the Louisiana company that owns the leases, Solonex, called the decision "insane," and said the company will fight it.
Flathead Beacon; Nov. 24

USFS rolls out fire rehab plan for Nez Perce-Clearwater NF in Idaho
The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest in Idaho had nine fires this past wildfire season, the most in any national forest during the season, with 288 square miles burned in those wildfires, and on Monday, the U.S. Forest Service said it would spend more than $1 million to do rehabilitation work on 36.6 miles of trails and 306 projects on 38 Forest Service roads, nearly all of which are focused on preventing erosion damage.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Nov. 24

Coal industry takes umbrage at burden imposed by Alberta climate change plan
After Alberta rolled out its plan to address climate change that called for an end to coal-fired power production by 2030, the coal industry fired back, saying that the province should be focusing on developing technology to make coal burning cleaner rather than shutting down the industry.
Calgary Herald; Nov. 24

Oil, gas industry protests Alberta's methane reduction plan
Alberta's climate change plan released this week calls for the oil and gas industry to reduce methane emissions by 45 percent over the next decade, a move the industry said will add hundreds of millions of dollars to costs at a time when companies are struggling due to low prices.
Calgary Herald (Financial Post); Nov. 24

B.C. Supreme Court rules against Burnaby in pipeline fight
The City of Burnaby passed two bylaws designed to hamper the preliminary planning progress of the Trans Mountain pipeline through the Metro Vancouver city, and the British Columbia Supreme Court's decision issued affirmed earlier decisions by the National Energy Board and the Federal Court of Appeal that the National Energy Board's rules take precedence over the city's, and ordered Burnaby to pay court costs.
Vancouver Sun (Canadian Press); Nov. 24

Silverton, San Juan County officials vote to seek Superfund designation
On Monday, both the Silverton Town Board and the San Juan County Commission voted to seek a Superfund listing with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to address inactive mines that are leaking contaminated water north of Silverton.
Durango Herald; Nov. 24

Colorado oil, gas rule-making stalls on giving all a voice
After last week's rule-making hearings before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission failed to make any progress on new rules designed to give local authorities more control over drilling operations, the Commission set another session on Dec. 7, with plans for another session if needed later on, but it appears unlikely that the Commission will meet its goal of having the final rules ready for the Legislature when it convenes on Jan. 13.
Denver Post; Nov. 24

Wyoming wends its way toward protecting wildlife migration path
In 2010, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission designated wildlife migration corridors as "vital," and now the state agency has begun work to update that designation, but the agency's plan to list the areas of high use as candidates for a "no surface occupancy" area, has elicited concerns from the mining and oil and gas industry, as well as the director of the Office of State Lands. The Commission will again take up the designation at its meeting at the end of January.; Nov. 24

Businesses in E. Montana settle in for downturn
The 50 percent drop in oil prices has slowed down business a bit at businesses in Sidney, Glendive and Bainville in Eastern Montana, but owners of some of those businesses lived through a similar downturn in the 1980s, and others, like John Gilligan, who moved to Bainville from Arizona to build housing for newcomers to the area, said the area needed housing and that he's in the area for the long haul.
Missoulian; Nov. 24


Study of Clean Power Plan's cost to Montana unrealistic
By focusing on the most expensive alternative for Montana to meet the goals of the federal Clean Power Plan, NorthWestern Energy's study of the economic effects of the federal plan resulted in a dire analysis, but the study isn't worth the paper it's printed on and NorthWestern officials know that, and Montanans should treat the analysis as the garbage it is. A guest column by Anne Hedges, deputy director of the Montana Environmental Information Center in Helena.
Billings Gazette; Nov. 24

Idaho city taking right first steps to draw residents downtown
Twin Falls is growing and the Idaho city's $18 million project to upgrade its water system in the downtown area is an important step to laying the groundwork for apartments on second stories of downtown business buildings, and the opening of new eateries and businesses in the downtown area makes its more hospitable to those wishing to live there.
Twin Falls Times-News; Nov. 24

Beyond the region

Thousands in E. Washington still without power
Avista has 700 people on crews working around the clock to restore power to residents in Spokane and Eastern Washington after last week's windstorm that left more than 100,000 residents in the dark, and there are currently an estimated 25,000 still without power.
Spokane Spokesman-Review; Nov. 24

New wolf pack brings number in Washington state to 17
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed today that there is a new wolf pack in Washington state near Methow, called the Loup Loup Pack due to its home range the towns of Twisp and Omak.
Seattle Times; Nov. 24

Analysts: U.S. nears storage capacity for oil, creating 'super cantango'
A discount on oil prices paid for earliest months is known as a cantango, and with oil storage facilities in the United States, analysts are seeing what they called a "super cantango" on oil prices.
Calgary Herald (PDTECHINTEGRATION); Nov. 24

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"W e have already told the court that we believe the Secretary of the Interior has no authority to cancel these leases and we will certainly argue it again. To suggest that after all of this effort, after all the time and money invested in studying this to death, that somehow the law was violated, I just think it is insane. No reasonable person could make that argument."

William Perry Pendley, an attorney with the Mountain States Legal Foundation who is representing Solenex, about the Interior Department's decision to cancel leases held by the Louisiana company in the Badger-Two Medicine area of Montana.
- Flathead Beacon

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

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