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Rocky Mountain Front
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, the U.S. Forest Service has decided not to pursue the merger of the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming with the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Idaho, saying the proposed merger just didn't pencil out in cost savings or management efficiencies.

Climate change is again in the news, with a new Greenpeace study that ranks the growth of fossil fuel development in terms of an increase in carbon emissions, with coal development in China and Australia ranked first and second for increasing such emissions.

A Utah legislator wants state lands managers to consider climate change when assessing wildfire potential and determining what steps to take to reduce that potential.

And in Montana, a state lawmaker has proposed a resolution to sue the federal government over watershed damage in the state caused by wildfires on federal lands.

Today in Western Perspective, Larry Swanson of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, of which Mountain West News is a program, writes about a two-year study of job growth trends in the Big Sky State.

While state legislators continue to focus on the importance of natural resource jobs, the study found that growth in that sector of the state's economy has remained relatively flat over the past two decades, even as the rest of the economy has grown and diversified.

The largest sector of jobs in the state is in "professional, technical, financial, and business services," which includes stockbrokers, attorneys, accountants and information technology," while the fastest-growing segment was in health care, not surprising given the state's aging population.

And tonight on Montana Public Radio, you can hear the latest edition of Mountain West Voices.

Tune in at 8:25 p.m. to listen to Clay Scott share his personal stories of health care, both in the U.S. and abroad.

If you miss tonight's broadcast, you can listen online via the Mountain West Voices website.

Rockies today

USFS drops plan to merge Wyoming, Idaho national forests
The proposed merger of the Bridger-Teton and Caribou-Targhee national forests in Wyoming and Idaho has been dropped after Forest Service officials determined that the merger would not be cost effective and would impair forest management.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; Jan. 23

Greenpeace study: Alberta oilsands fifth in global carbon emissions
Using International Energy Agency data, Greenpeace ranked what it considered to be the top 14 growth areas for fossil fuel production, and ranked those areas on their estimated carbon emissions, and leading the pack were coal development projects in China and Australia, where those projects would emit an additional 1,400 million tons and 720 million tons, respectively, of additional greenhouse gases within the next seven years.
Calgary Herald (Canadian Press); Jan. 23

Utah legislator introduces bill on climate change, wildfire
State Rep. Kraig Powell's HB77 would require mangers of Utah's state lands to consider how climate change is affecting wildfire behavior when making management decisions on how best to curb wildfires.
Salt Lake Tribune; Jan. 23

Montana legislator wants to sue over watershed damage caused by fires
On Thursday, Montana state Rep. Pat Connell will present a resolution to the House Natural Resources Committee urging the state to sue the federal government seeking damages to watersheds caused by wildfires.
Ravalli Republic; Jan. 23

Wyoming judge hears arguments in hydraulic fracturing 'trade secrets' case
Wyoming state District Court Judge Catherine Wilking heard arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit about the state law that allows companies to withhold information about some of the chemicals used in the drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, and said she'll issue her ruling within the next couple of months.
Casper Star-Tribune; Jan. 23

Bill would require groundwater testing in Wyoming before drilling
Wyoming state Sen. Floyd Esquibel's Senate File 157 would require baseline groundwater tests before all oil and gas development in the state, and would give citizens the right to challenge trade secret exemptions claimed by operators that use hydraulic fracturing to tap oil and gas resources.
Casper Star-Tribune; Jan. 23

Groups sue BLM over drilling plan near Utah's Desolation Canyon
The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and other environmental groups filed a lawsuit last week in federal court challenging the Bureau of Land Management's approval of gas wells in an unroaded area of Utah near Desolation Canyon, alleging that the plan would add more air pollution to an area where air quality is already a problem.
Salt Lake Tribune; Jan. 23

Bill to allow bison in Montana to be shot on sight inspires vigorous debate
Montana Rep. Alan Doane said his House Bill 249, which would allow private property owners to shoot bison that wander onto their property, is a private-property bill, but opponents of the bill said it wrongly classifies bison as vermin.
Helena Independent Record; Jan. 23


Wyoming should use 'rainy day' funds to fix roads
With Wyoming's economy slowly recovering and residents still hard pressed to make ends meet, now is not the time to raise fuel taxes by a dime a gallon, and legislators should instead dip into the state's rainy day fund to pay for transportation projects.
Casper Star-Tribune; Jan. 23

Bill revising citizen's initiatives would shackle Idaho's rural voters
Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee Chair Curt McKenzie wants to make it even harder for citizen's initiatives to make it to the ballot, but the process is already onerous enough and making it harder would unfairly affect rural voters.
Idaho Mountain Express (Sun Valley); Jan. 23

Beyond the region

Nebraska governor gives rerouted Keystone XL pipeline the green light
In a letter to President Obama on Tuesday, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved the revised route of the Keystone XL pipeline through his state, moving the approval process of the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline back to the federal government.
Great Falls Tribune (AP); Jan. 23

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Cabela's withdraw from Penn. gun show
After the organizer of the Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show, which has been billed as Pennsylvania's largest outdoor sports show, banned the display and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, Montana-based Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Nebraska-based Cabela's declined to participate.
Ravalli Republic (AP); Jan. 23

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"C oal is the biggest threat globally."

Keith Stewart, one of authors of a Greenpeace report that ranked fossil fuel projects on estimated greenhouse gas emissions.
- Calgary Herald (Canadian Press)

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


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