Rockies Today, Jan. 9



Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Control of federal lands focus of Montana hearing
In 2013, the Montana Legislature ordered the Environmental Quality Council to study federal land management, and on Wednesday, the panel heard from Ken Ivory, a Utah state legislator who sponsored legislation to require the federal government to transfer lands to state control, and Tom France, an attorney for the National Wildlife Federation, as well as state Sen. Jennifer Fielder, who said surveys on the issue were sent to Montana counties where the federal government owned 15 percent or more of the land.
Great Falls Tribune; Jan. 9

Groups file lawsuit in Montana to halt drilling along Beartooth Front
The Northern Plains Resource Council and the Carbon County Resource Council filed a lawsuit in Yellowstone County District Court against the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation alleging the board violated state law when it did not hold a public hearing on an application to drill for oil in the Beartooth Mountains.
Great Falls Tribune (AP); Jan. 9

Utah approves air-quality plan despite EPA stance it's too soft on industry
At a contentious meeting on Wednesday, the Utah Air Quality Board voted 6-1 to approve a plan to limit how much fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, as well as the chemical precursors of PM2.5 industrial plans may emit, despite the Environmental Protection Agency's opposition to the plan's exemption of limits when plants malfunction, start up or shut down, although regulators did say they would address that exemption in future plans.
Salt Lake Tribune; Jan. 9

Lower loonie a win-win for Alberta, Calgary
The value of the Canadian dollar is at its lowest level in three years, which means Alberta-based energy companies, which are paid for their product in U.S. dollars, are bringing in more income, and Canadian businesses said their goods are now more inexpensive—and more attractive.
Calgary Herald; Jan. 9

Home sales in Denver in 2013 broke record set during housing boom
Metrolist's report issued Wednesday on housing sales in Denver in 2013 may be an indication that the boom is back, with sales in 2013 topping the record set in 2004, and average prices paid topping the amounts for that year as well.
Denver Post; Jan. 9

Report says interest in Utah's commercial real estate on the rebound
Nearly two-thirds of the $1.3-billion spent on commercial real estate in Utah in 2013 came from out-of-state investors, and had there been more office, retail, industrial and rental properties for sale, that amount would have been higher, according to a report released Tuesday at a conference of the Utah chapter of NAIOP, formerly known as the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.
Salt Lake Tribune; Jan. 9

Economist: Question in Alberta oilsands development isn't if, it's who
At the Montana Chamber of Commerce's annual "business days at the Capitol," John Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute, dismissed efforts to block the Keystone XL pipeline as a means to halt development of Alberta's oilsands as "silly," and said if the pipeline isn't built, Alberta will simply move refining operations from the U.S. Gulf states to China.
Helena Independent Record; Jan. 9

Megaload remains parked in Idaho due to weather, lack of Montana permit
A need to turn traffic lights in Hamilton and the wind-caused collapse of a building in Cut Bank where a megaload of equipment was to be reconfigured for its trip across the border into Canada were both cited by Omega Morgan as complications for the massive piece of equipment's trip through Montana on its way from Oregon to Alberta, so the megaload remains parked just 10 miles from the Idaho-Montana border, and with snow in the forecast, the shipment will likely remained parked for the next couple of nights.
Missoulian; Jan. 9

WAPA: Drought took a bite out of Missouri River power generation in 2013
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the hydroelectric dams on the Missouri River in Montana, the Dakotas and Nebraska generated 2.8 billion kilowatts less in 2013 than in 2012, and said the drought in 2012 forced the Corps to lower releases in 2013, and the Western Area Power Administration, which sells the power from those plants, was forced to buy electricity on the open market in 2013 to make up for the shortfall.
Great Falls Tribune (AP); Jan. 9

Mountain West News is a project of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at The University of Montana. It provides a daily snapshot of news and opinion in the Rocky Mountain region of North America, giving the changing mountain West a tool to understand itself and a platform for the exchange of ideas.

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