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Rocky Mountain Front
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Monday, Nov. 26, 2012
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, new research indicates that the world's forests have a narrow safety margin when it comes to surviving drought, and that many of the Earth's forested areas could become grasslands in future decades.

The U.S. Senate will likely vote today to approve the "Sportsmen's Act of 2012, which contains nearly two dozen separate bills dealing with hunting, fishing and conservation, but environmental groups are opposed to some of those measures, including one that protects lead in ammunition from being banned by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The oil boom in North Dakota and Montana is providing new business for railroads in the Northwest, as companies are shipping the oil from those states to Washington state via railcars, and there are plans to increase capacity for such shipments in the future.

Today in A Look Ahead, we offer our readers a preview of the Montana Organic Association's 10th Annual Conference which begins Thursday in Helena.

Rockies today

Longmont's ban on hydraulic fracturing at odds with Colorado law
The residents of Longmont voted 60 to 40 percent to impose a ban on the drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing within the Colorado town's limits, putting at the forefront of a state and national dispute on the practice.
New York Times; Nov. 25

Research indicates trees have narrow safety margin for water supplies
A new study released last Thursday indicates that the world's forests are exceptionally vulnerable to drought, and that if climate change models prove to be true, those forest lands will be replaced by grasslands.
New York Times; Nov. 23

Some components of 'Sportsmen's Act' concern environmental groups
Today, the U.S. Senate will vote on, and likely pass, Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester's "Sportsmen's Act of 2012," a grab bag of bills dealing with hunting, fishing, conservation and public access measures, but environmental groups said there are problems with some of the measures, including one that would preclude the EPA from banning the use of lead in ammunition.
Washington Post; Nov. 25

N.D., Montana oil booms fuel business for railroads in the West
North Dakota is second to only Texas in U.S. oil production, and with more oil being pulled out of the Bakken formation in Montana as well, railroads are hauling more oil to Washington state, where refiners are ramping up capacity.
Seattle Times; Nov. 26

BLM approves drilling plans in two Wyoming counties
Last week, the Bureau of Land Management released a final record of decision for the East Converse, Highland Loop Road and Spearhead Ranch exploratory areas located in portions of Wyoming's Converse and Niobrara counties, which could result in as many as 444 new oil and gas wells in those areas.
Casper Star-Tribune; Nov. 26

Elk hunter in Wyoming national park kills charging grizzly bear
In what is being categorized as a first, elk hunters shot and killed a charging grizzly bear in Grand Teton National Park on Thanksgiving morning.
Jackson Hole Daily; Nov. 24

Federal budget options have little good news for National Park Service
At this point in federal budget negotiations, the National Park Service has three options, and none are particularly good, and in Wyoming, the gateway communities to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, are concerned about the fiscal fallout about all of those options.
Casper Star-Tribune; Nov. 26

Mississippi company to build oilsands components in Montana plant
Yates Construction, a Mississippi-based company, has announced plans to build a factory in Bynum to make components needed by oilsands operators in Alberta, giving Montana a second manufacturing facility tied to oilsands production.
Great Falls Tribune; Nov. 24


Future of nuclear waste in Idaho up in the air
A lot has changed since 1996, when 60 percent of Idaho voters backed Idaho Gov. Phil Batt's deal with the federal government to stop shipping nuclear waste to the state and to get rid of all that was already in the state by 2035, and it could be that the Gem State may become a nuclear waste storage option for the nation. A column by Rocky Barker.
Idaho Statesman; Nov. 26

Bill to protect Colorado's Thompson Divide deserves support
The Thompson Divide Coalition's drive to buy out oil and gas leases in that area of Colorado has the support of local governments in Pitkin, Garfield and Gunnison counties, and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is sponsoring legislation to protect unleased portions of the area, as well as to promote the buyout of existing oil and gas leases, deserves the support of all Coloradans.
Denver Post; Nov. 26

Beyond the region

Keystone XL pipeline protesters pepper-sprayed in E. Texas
Since September, protesters have locked themselves to construction equipment on the Keystone XL pipeline in East Texas, but last week, for the first time, protesters who did so were pepper-sprayed.
New York Times; Nov. 23

California counties learn clean energy projects can cost them
Desert counties in California are magnets for solar-power projects, as well as for habitat for desert species power companies are setting aside to mitigate the effects of the solar projects, but officials of those counties say that the benefits of such projects don't pay for the required upgrades of infrastructure the projects require.
Los Angeles Times; Nov. 25

Effects of acidic ocean waters show up decades early
Years ago, researchers warned that, by 2038, an increasingly acidic ocean could dissolve the shells of pteropods, shelled animals known as sea butterflies that are an important source of food to marine life, but researchers in Washington state have found that pteropods are already being affected.
Seattle Times; Nov. 26

In depth

Disintegration of conditions in world's oceans among under-reported news stories
Project Censored has been documented under-reported news stories since 1967, and this year's Top 25 such stories include the declining conditions in the world's oceans and the fallout from the nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011.
Missoula Independent (AP); Nov. 26

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"T here's a swim beach, there's sailing, and there will be eight well pads. You come out here to relax. You don't come out here to have your air polluted."

On The Bookshelf
Barbara Theroux provides a preview of coming book attractions for 2016


Mountain West Perspectives
The TransPacific Partnership could affect Rocky Mountain States' local measures


A Look Ahead

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