Harvesting Clean Energy conference begins in Montana
The Butte-based National Center for Appropriate Technology is hosting its 13th annual Harvesting Clean Energy Conference in Montana this year, and on Tuesday in Helena, John Padalino, Rural Utilities Service administrator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, opened the conference with a speech likening the campaign to develop renewable energy to the nationwide effort to provide electricity, and said rural electric co-ops could again be the drivers in the renewable campaign.
Helena Independent Record; Feb. 5
GAO report on coal leasing sparks different reactions in Montana, Wyoming
The Government Accountability Office's report on the federal government's sale of coal leases recommends the Bureau of Land Management make some changes in how the value of the coal is computed, and conservation groups in Montana and Wyoming said the report proves the federal system is broken, while supporters of the coal industry said the report underscores the important role of coal in the states' economies.
Great Falls Tribune; Feb. 5
Alberta NDP says 646% increase in 'fracking' licenses demands review
After learning that the number of hydraulic fracturing licenses granted by Alberta increased from 203 in 2012 to 1,516 in 2013, the Alberta NDP called for a review of the drilling method, which uses a cocktail of water, sand and chemicals introduced underground under high pressure to release oil and natural gas from rock formations.
Calgary Herald (Edmonton Journal); Feb. 5
Federal audit finds U.S. coal-leasing program out of date
The Government Accountability Office's audit of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's coal leasing policies found that the policies are out-of-date, varies from office to office, and often violate the agency's own policies, but this audit did not estimate the amount of royalties lost to undervalued leases, but Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey said his staff's computations put lost revenue at $200 million.
Casper Star-Tribune; Feb. 5
Farm Bill provides funding for collaborative forest projects
Contained within the massive, nearly-billion-dollar Farm Bill are provisions that requires U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to approve states' collaborative forestry projects up to 3,000 acres in size, that could be fast-tracked by the Forest Service using "categorical exclusions" under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Idaho Statesman; Feb. 5
Utah's senators split vote on Farm Bill that keeps PILT program funded
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch voted in favor of the new Farm Bill that will provide $140 million in Payment in Lieu of Taxes funding for rural counties, while his Utah colleague, Sen. Mike Lee, voted no.
Salt Lake Tribune; Feb. 4
BLM takes public comment on second wild-horse sanctuary in Wyoming
The 900-acre Double D Ranch on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming has applied to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to be an eco-sanctuary for as many as 250 wild horses, and the BLM is taking public comment on the proposal through March 4.
Casper Star-Tribune (AP); Feb. 5
Alberta reports highest grizzly bear deaths since 2006
Grizzly bears were listed in Alberta as a threatened species in 2006, when it was discovered that there were fewer than 700 big bears in the province, but the plan to recover the species has yet to be implemented, and the death of 31 bears last year has increased pressure to put that plan in place.
Calgary Herald; Feb. 5
Utah approves $5.35M settlement with Chevron over pipeline leak
Three Utah agencies have settled claims arising out of Chevron Pipe Line Company's pipeline leak that released 27,500 gallons of diesel fuel spill at Willard Bay State Park last March for $5.35 million, with $4.45 million to be used for mitigation projects.
Salt Lake Tribune; Feb. 5
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.