Ear Mountain, Rocky Mountain Front
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Monday, Aug. 13, 2012
produced daily by Shellie Nelson
In the Rockies today, John Miller of the Associated Press examines how Idaho's renewable energy sector has changed in the past year.
In 2011, the Idaho Department of Commerce published a magazine touting the future role solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy would play in the economy--but a year later, solar plants are being mothballed, wind projects are going begging for investors, and geothermal developers are uninterested in taking a risk on Idaho projects.
Also in the news, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designates more than 50,000 acres in western Colorado to protect three rare wildflowers, the Outdoor Industry Association tells Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to back off a campaign to put federal lands under state control or risk losing the association's annual trade show, and in Idaho, where 2,300 firefighters are battling 11 large wildfires, one U.S. Forest Service firefighter is killed by a falling tree.
Renewable energy's role in Idaho's economy dims
In 2011, a 37-page magazine published by the Idaho Department of Commerce touted the bright future solar, geothermal, wind and biomass energy would play in the state's economy, but those hopes have dimmed and, with Idaho's power prices second lowest in the nation and the lack of a state mandate that utilities have a certain percentage of alternative energy in their portfolios, wind, geothermal and solar projects are either languishing or being canceled.
Idaho Statesman (AP);
Outdoor gear industry delivers ultimatum to Utah governor
The outdoor gear industry's annual trade show brings thousands of visitors to Utah as well as $40 million into the economy each year, and last week, the industry told Gov. Gary Herbert to back off his campaign to wrest control of federal lands or the 4,000-member Outdoor Industry Association will take its trade show elsewhere.
Denver Post (AP);
Chesapeake Energy leads the way in tapping Niobrara play in Wyoming
The Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission has issued 430 drilling permits to tap into the Niobrara oil shale play in Converse and Campbell counties so far this year, and at a meeting with investors last week, Chesapeake Energy reported that it had successfully tapped oil resources in the formation.
Arizona company wants to mine silver, zinc in Montana
Tucson-based International Silver, Inc. has asked the Butte-Silver Bow Commission to lease hundreds of acres of land to the company to allow it to develop silver and zinc resources in the Montana city and county.
Canada eyes Alberta's carbon standard as province considers changes
Alberta's 12-percent-per-barrel carbon reduction requirement imposed on large energy companies is being considered by Canadian officials as a starting point for a national carbon emissions reduction plan, although the province is already studying new options that would require 20 and 30 percent reductions.
Toronto Globe and Mail;
'True Cost of Coal Act of 2012' will curb Wyoming's export plans
U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, a Washington state Democrat who opposes Wyoming and Montana's plan to export coal to Asia via ports on the nation's West Coast, has proposed a $10-per-ton tax on all coal mined in the United States to fund mitigation measures in communities through which coal trains would pass on their way to those ports, but with Powder River coal now selling at $9 a ton, such a tax is ridiculous.
Beyond the region
USDA drops projections for corn, soybean yields
The continuing drought that has gripped a large portion of the United States prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to slash estimates of corn yields to the lowest level in 17 years and soybean yields to the lowest in nine years.
New York Times;
Evacuees from Idaho wildfire allowed to return home
Residents of Hansen who were ordered Thursday evening to evacuate their homes in the path of the Minidoka Complex wildfire in southern Idaho were allowed to return home on Monday morning, as the 144-square-mile fire was 57 percent contained.
Idaho Statesman (AP);
"N ew projects are non-existent. There's no support for renewables in this state.
Mountain West Perspectives
Mountain West Voices
Hear weekly stories from the Rocky Mountain West as gathered by Clay Scott