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Lone Elk Lake Beartooth
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Monday, Jan. 26, 2015
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, sonar tests found that the oil pipeline that breached in Montana, spilling oil into the Yellowstone River, was exposed for about 50 feet under the river.

In another pipeline breach into that Montana river, this one in 2011, the federal agency charged with monitoring pipelines lowered the fine for Exxon Mobil's spill from $1.7 million to $1 million, and last Friday, a settlement in the civil lawsuit filed by property owners harmed by the 2011 spill was announced, with Exxon Mobil to pay $2 million to settle those claims.

In Montana, two communities whose economies are tied to a copper and silver mine, are bracing themselves for a hit when Revett Minerals shuts down its Troy mine in February, ending about 200 direct jobs and no doubt affecting many indirect jobs in Libby and Troy in Lincoln County.

In Butte, where a proposed gold mine in making its way through regulatory hoops, officials of Butte-Silver Bow aren't discounting the economic boost a mine would bring, but said their focus would remain on creating manufacturing jobs which pay well and aren't tied to a finite resource.

Such a philosophy seems to be working in Idaho, where Rupert officials have worked hard to attract manufacturing jobs to their town and succeeded with Calva and Frulact building plants there, and a trucking business that began there decades ago, WillTran, moving its headquarters back home.

In A Look Ahead, we provide a preview of a class on water in the American West that is sure to appeal to many of our readers.

The free, online college level course, offered by The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado will examine all aspects of water in the West.

Sign up now for this online class that you can complete at your own pace between April 1 and May 1.

Rockies today

Sonar reveals breached oil pipeline exposed in Montana riverbed
Bridger Pipeline Co.'s pipeline that breached more than a week ago, spilling 40,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana, was originally buried 8 feet under the river, a depth that was confirmed when inspected in September of 2011, but new tests found a 50-foot section of the pipeline exposed that includes the area where the break occurred.
Flathead Beacon (AP); Jan. 26

Federal agency fines Exxon $1M for 2011 oil spill into
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration reduced the fine levied against Exxon Mobil for the 2011 pipeline breach that released 63,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River in Montana by $700,000, leaving $1 million for the company to pay. Exxon Mobil also paid $2 million to settle claims of property owners who suffered damage due to the spill.
Flathead Beacon (AP); Jan. 26

Idaho town's focus on business development helps it grow
Rupert officials said the decision to work directly with companies to draw businesses to the Idaho community is paying off, with Calva, WillTran and Frulact all building operations in the town, and officials said the plan is to grow Rupert in such a manner to keep the amenities that drew residents to the small town.
Twin Falls Times-News; Jan. 26

Montana copper mine's shutdown blasts businesses in Libby, Troy
Revett Minerals was in the process of ramping up operations at its Troy Mine in Northwest Montana when global copper prices plummeted, turning the company's plans upside down, and for the communities of Libby and Troy and the businesses in those communities, the loss of nearly 200 mining jobs will flood through the local economies.
The Western News; Jan. 26

Gold mine could boost economy of Montana city, county
While Butte-Silver Bow County officials acknowledge that the proposed gold mine in the Highlands would bring needed, well-paying jobs to the Montana city and county, they want to grow manufacturing jobs, which also pay well and aren't handcuffed by a finite resource.
Montana Standard (AP); Jan. 26

Root Cellar Foods processes foods for local producers in Montana
Belgrade-based Root Cellar Foods provides the processing link between local vegetable growers in Montana and wholesalers by washing, cutting, dicing and slicing everything from beets to carrots to onions and beyond.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle; Jan. 26

Montana legislators propose bills to assure access to public lands
State Reps. Mitch Tropila and Tom Jacobsen both of Great Falls, said concerns about private landowners restricting public access in Montana prompted them to draft legislation to guarantee such access, with Troplia's House Bill 304 would increase the penalty for a private landowner gating a public road from $100 a day to $500 a day, and Jacobsen's House Bill 286 would put in place a process that would require a landowner wanting to close a public road to contact local officials and prove that the road should be closed. Any disputed road would remain open to the public until it was proven that it should be closed.
Great Falls Tribune; Jan. 25

U.S. Sen. Bennet: Federal gov't should copy Colorado's methane plan
After the White House released its proposed methane emissions reduction plan as part of its overall climate change initiative, some in Colorado said the plan doesn't go far enough, including U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who said President Obama should consider a methane emissions plan that follows Colorado's.
Durango Herald; Jan. 26

Federal methane plan prompts little reaction in Wyoming
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recent proposals on water, carbon dioxide and ozone have been met with resistance in Wyoming, but not so with the agency's proposed methane reduction plan, in part because the gas and oil industry is already doing what the plan proposes to do.
Casper Star-Tribune; Jan. 25

Low prices put natural gas wells on pause in Western Colorado
WPX Energy, the largest natural gas developer in Colorado, announced that it would put hydraulic fracturing operations at 20 wells in the Piceance Basin of Western Colorado on hold, until natural gas prices improve.
Denver Post; Jan. 26


Idahoans comment on Rep. Simpson's revamped Boulder-White Clouds bill
U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson's latest version of legislation he's been working on for more than a decade to protect lands in the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains in central Idaho has people talking, with many who had not yet taken a stance on a proposal for the president to designate the area a national monument, now taking a stand. This column has a map outlining the wilderness areas proposed under Rep. Simpson's latest bill. A Letters from the West column by Rocky Barker.
Idaho Statesman; Jan. 26

Beyond the region

President Obama proposes protection of 12M acres of Alaska refuge
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski made it clear that she would lead the fight to resist a proposal from the White House to protect nearly two-thirds of the 19-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as refuge.
New York Times; Jan. 25

Anheuser-Busch adds another craft brewer to its business
Anheuser-Busch, the U.S. arm of Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, has purchased Seattle-based Elysian Brewing Co., in its ongoing effort to offset its sagging domestic beer sales in the U.S.
Salt Lake Tribune (AP); Jan. 26

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"O ur local schools are dying. I don't know how else to put it. We can't keep teachers or attract new teachers - and I'm afraid that's getting down into our education system, where we can't attract college students to the profession. Nobody goes to college to get a degree where they qualify for public assistance."

Idaho state Sen. Jeff Siddoway, who chairs the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee, on why he believes starting teachers' pay needs to be increased before any tax cuts are approved.
- Idaho Statesman (Lewiston Tribune)

On The Bookshelf
Barbara Theroux reviews S.M. Hulse's "Black River"


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

at the

The University of Montana