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Rocky Mountain Front
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Monday, Jan. 7, 2013
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, the focus of the news is energy.

A New Jersey-based private equity firm is buying Utah-based EnergySolutions for $1.1 billion, with each share of common stock being sold for $3.75, an estimated 20 percent over the average closing price of the stock for the past month ending Jan. 4.

In Wyoming, where an estimated 20 companies are proposing adding more than 9,000 wells from more than 6,100 well pads on 1.1 million acres between Rawlins and Rock Springs, the Bureau of Land Management has added another 45 days to the public comment period.

Oregon and Alaska senators are leading the push for an Interior Department investigation into royalties paid on coal pulled from federal lands, as there have been reports that companies are paying such royalties based on what they would receive from selling the coal domestically, but then exporting the coal overseas and getting a much higher price.

And the Salt Lake Tribune examines Utah's contribution to the increase of oil production in the United States.

Rockies today

N.J. private equity firm to buy Utah-based EnergySolutions
Energy Capital, a New Jersey private equity firm that is one of the largest energy-focused private equity firms in the United States, will buy Utah-based EnergySolutions for $1.1 billion.
Salt Lake Tribune; Jan. 7

BLM extends public comment period on expansive drilling plan in Wyoming
The Bureau of Land Management will take public comment through March 6 on the Continental Divide-Creston Natural Gas Drilling project in Wyoming that would allow nearly 20 companies to drill up to 9,000 new wells on just over 6,100 well pads in a 1.1 million-square-mile area between Rawlins and Rock Springs.
Billings Gazette (Casper Star-Tribune); Jan. 7

Oregon, Alaska senators ask Interior Dept. to investigate coal royalties
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski have asked the Interior Department to investigate if the federal government and state governments are getting shortchanged by companies that are paying royalties on coal based on domestic sale prices, but selling the coal to overseas markets at higher prices.
Great Falls Tribune (AP); Jan. 5

Utah part of equation of rising oil production in United States
Better technology has helped increase oil production in Utah and in the United States as a whole, with oil production levels in the Beehive State rising to 85,000 barrels a day at the end of last year, the highest reported in the state since 1988.
Salt Lake Tribune; Jan. 7

Colorado's proposal on water tests near drill sites criticized
Critics said Colorado's proposed plan to protect water sources from oil and gas drilling operations is the weakest one in the nation because it allows companies to select where to pull samples.
Denver Post; Jan. 7

Whitebark pine research finds mountain pine beetles prefer lodgepole
Phil Townsend, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, who spent six years studying whitebark pine and mountain pine beetles in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, found that mountain pine beetles targeted lodgepole in mixed stands of lodgepole and whitebark pine trees at lower elevations, even though whitebark pines do not have a natural defense to the burrowing bugs, but in higher elevations, where there are just whitebark pines, the bugs will take them all out.
Billings Gazette; Jan. 7

Idaho, university launch 10-year study on grazing, sage grouse
The federal government is expected to make a decision on whether or not to list sage grouse as a protected species in 2015, but the University of Idaho and state Fish and Game are planning a decade-long study on how spring grazing affects that species.
Twin Falls Times-News; Jan. 6

Alberta national park focuses on enticing winter visitors
Banff National Park has become the epicenter of doing more with less in Alberta, and superintendent Dave McDonough said the park is trying to get more people to visit the park this winter season, and that he does not believe staff reductions, cuts in hours at the visitor's center, contracting out of some services and privatization of some facilities will greatly change visitors' experience at the park.
Calgary Herald; Jan. 5


Colorado's proposed rules on drilling setbacks stake out middle ground
Hearings begin today on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's proposed setbacks for oil and gas operations from homes and businesses, and given that environmental groups say the setbacks are too little, industry groups say they're too restrictive, it appears the commission has developed reasonable standards.
Denver Post; Jan. 7

Elimination of business equipment tax a priority for Montana Legislature
While there will no doubt be many divisive issues brought up during the Montana legislative session that begins today in Helena, there is one issue upon which all legislators should agree: It's time to end the business equipment tax.
Missoulian; Jan. 6

Journalists find new ways to cover energy's boom
The cycle of energy boom and bust is not a new one in the United States, but journalists have found a fresh way to engage readers with coverage of the booms that are taking place in Wyoming, North Dakota and Pennsylvania.
High Country News; Jan. 6

Beyond the region

Federal agencies to evaluate coal-fired power plant on Navajo Nation
The U.S. Departments of Interior and Energy, along with the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday a joint effort to reduce pollution at the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in Arizona just 12 miles from the Grand Canyon while maintaining the hundreds of jobs the plant provides.
Reuters; Jan. 7

U.S. to study impact of increased oil tanker traffic from British Columbia
With two proposed pipelines to carry Alberta oil to the British Columbia coast, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell proposed legislation that was signed into law by President Obama authorizing the Coast Guard to complete a risk assessment of transporting Alberta crude through the Salish Sea waterways, which includes U.S. and Canadian territorial waters between Vancouver Island and the mainland.
Toronto Globe and Mail; Jan. 6

Report released on route of Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska
The Nebraska department of environmental quality released a 2,000-page report on the rerouted leg of the northern stretch of the Keystone XL pipeline through that state that said the pipeline would have "minimal environmental impact."
Edmonton Journal; Jan. 4

Ships again have control of Shell oil rig that ran aground off Alaska's coast
The Shell oil rig that escaped ships' tethers last week during a fierce storm off Alaska's coast is now being towed to shelter in Kodiak Island's Kiliuda Bay.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Jan. 5

An illustration of where U.S. revenue comes from, where it's spent
As the United States turns its attention to its growing fiscal debt, here's an illustration that explains where the country gets its income and how it spends it.
Toronto National Post; Jan. 6

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"T hey are very proud of what they've done in terms of water conservation and they ought to be, but we always compare ourselves to ourselves in Canada. That's an unfortunate mistake because we are the second-largest per capita water users in the world. We're profligate wasters."

Robert Sandford, Canada's representative for the United Nations Water for Life initiative, about Okotoks, an Alberta community that has managed to keep its water use within limits, despite a 42% increase in population.
- Calgary Herald

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

at the

The University of Montana