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Rocky Mountain Front
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Friday, Jan. 11, 2013
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, Parks Canada is moving forward with its plan to transfer management of hot springs in two Alberta and one B.C. national park to private companies.

The federal agency, which is dealing with a $29-million budget cut and the loss of 600 workers, believes the marketing and customer service expertise a private operator will provide will help boost business, and revenue, at the hot springs in Jasper and Banff national parks in Alberta and Kootenay National Park in British Columbia.

Also north of the border, Kinder Morgan Canada says it has lined up commitments from oil producers in Alberta to allow the company to nearly triple the capacity of its TransMountain XL pipeline that runs from Edmonton to both Vancouver, B.C. and Washington state.

Company officials are planning to submit the proposal to the National Energy Board later this year.

In Montana, the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission approved a policy to address brucellosis in elk populations that keeps the commission in a hands-on capacity for the next few years.

The federal government is expected to publish its proposal to list the Gunnison sage grouse as a threatened species today, and designated 1.7-million acres in Colorado and Utah as critical habitat for the species.

The publication of the decision will open a 60-day comment period.

And finally, in our In-depth section, the Missoula Independent takes us on a tour of Blue Marble Materials' biorefinery in the Montana city, giving readers a glimpse of the processes the company uses to create natural chemicals used in the food and cosmetics industries.

Rockies today

Parks Canada's plan to privatize hotsprings in Alberta, B.C. moves forward
Banff Upper Hot Springs in Banff National Park and Miette Hot Springs in Jasper National Park in Alberta and Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park in British Columbia will all be transferred to private operators under Parks Canada's plan.
Edmonton Journal; Jan. 11

Kinder Morgan proposes nearly tripling capacity of Alberta-B.C. pipeline
On Thursday, Kinder Morgan Canada released a list of oil producers in Alberta who had committed to shipping their product via the 60-year-old Trans Mountain XL pipeline to support the company's proposal to increase the capacity of the pipeline that runs from Edmonton to Vancouver, B.C. and Washington State from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 bpd.
Edmonton Journal; Jan. 11

Montana FWP adopts policy on brucellosis, elk
At the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission's meeting on Helena, commissioners heard from many stakeholders, who voiced a wide array of opinions on the state's plan to address brucellosis in elk, which was approved unanimously by the commission.
Helena Independent Record; Jan. 11

USFWS proposes listing of Gunnison sage grouse as endangered
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to publish today a notice that the Gunnison sage grouse is endangered and proposing that 1.7 million acres in southwest Colorado and southeast Utah be set aside as habitat for the species; the publication will open a 60-day comment period on the proposal.
Denver Post; Jan. 11

Opponents of proposed rail line to Montana coal fields seek larger review
The Tongue River Railroad has been proposed to carry up a daily average of 7.4 full and empty coal trains from a proposed strip mine near the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana to existing rail lines, but opponents of the project said there are additional coal mines planned in the area and that the number of trains would exceed the number proposed.
Billings Gazette; Jan. 11

EPA again expands time limit for Wyoming groundwater investigation
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it would extend, for the third time, the public comment period on the federal agency's investigation of groundwater contamination in the Pavillion-area of Wyoming, angering not only the energy operators in the region, but also the landowners who have claimed that drilling operations have contaminated their wells.
Casper Star-Tribune; Jan. 11

Protesters decry Utah governor's energy summit's focus on fossil fuels
On Thursday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert welcomed about 1,400 attendees to his annual Energy Development Summit, where state leaders announced the state was open for business and celebrated the report that energy production is at a 24-year high and growing, while outside 150 or so protesters criticized the forum for being too focused on coal and oil.
Salt Lake Tribune; Jan. 11

Outgoing Montana governor signs off on remediation plans
On Jan. 3, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer signed off on two remediation plans that allocate the remaining $100 million in settlement funds from the Atlantic Richfield Co. for environmental damage, including $32 million for work under the Butte Area One Final Restoration plan.
Montana Standard; Jan. 11


Wyoming county's pro-active stance on loss of PILT funding a wise one
The future of federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes payments to rural counties where federal ownership of lands curbs their property tax revenues is uncertain, and Natrona County officials, who had already begun to anticipate life without that chunk of funding before Congress extended PILT for one year last year, should be commended for continuing their work to find ways to fill the revenue gap the end of PILT will create.
Casper Star-Tribune; Jan. 11

Montana legislators must put 90-day biennial session to best use
There are just 90 days for Montana legislators to get the state budget completed and pass other legislation, and a quick review of the hundreds of bills already in the hopper indicate that some lawmakers are already proposing legislation outside the purview of the state.
Billings Gazette; Jan. 11

Beyond the region

Federal judge lifts temporary injunction on Nevada wild-horse roundup
On Thursday, U.S District Judge Miranda Du said that wild-horse advocates had not proved that the Bureau of Land Management did not have the authority to remove wild horses on the Owyhee Range in Nevada near the Idaho border, but the judge said that she had continuing concerns about the methods used during the roundups and that her order lifting the temporary injunction on the roundups may contain some restrictions on the BLM's methods.
Great Falls Tribune (AP); Jan. 11

Around the world, extreme weather events are more intense, more frequent
Floods, drought, extreme heat or extreme cold spells, as well as more intense hurricanes are becoming commonplace across the globe.
New York Times; Jan. 11

California national monument now nation's 59th national park
On Thursday, President Obama signed a bill into law making the Pinnacles National Monument in California a national park.
San Francisco Chronicle; Jan. 11

Solar-generated power in California equal to that of 2 power plants
California's push to advance solar-generated power has resulted in such systems now generating 1-gigawatt of power, the equivalent of that produced by two conventional generation plants annually, and although the state's incentives for solar systems are decreasing, applications for such installations are increasing.
San Francisco Chronicle; Jan. 11

Vice President Biden, NRA at odds on early results of gun control talks
After this week's talks with a number of groups on the issue of changes in the nation's laws on guns, Vice President Joe Biden said that he saw signs of agreement on a couple of issues, including the ban of high-capacity magazines and uniform rules on background checks for gun buyers, but representatives of the National Rifle Association said their meeting with Biden on Thursday was less about protecting schoolchildren than it was about promoting measures restricting Americans' Second Amendment rights.
Christian Science Monitor; Jan. 11

In depth

Montana company concocts natural chemicals at Montana biorefinery
The scientists at Blue Marble Biomaterials use natural materials to create a wide range of renewable specialty chemicals for the cosmetic, personal care product and food industries at the company's biorefinery in western Montana.
Missoula Independent; Jan. 11

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"T hey've got to be realistic. Some of the things they are protesting aren't in our control. We can't control that Utah has great coal and oil deposits and wind is not so good here."

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

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