Rockies Today, Feb. 20



Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

BNSF, industry dispute report on effect of more coal trains in Montana
A report that said an increase in shipments of coal through Montana to ports on the coast of the Northwest United States could increase shipping costs for other commodities and force communities along the path of rail lines to pay for expensive infrastructure, such as overpasses, but Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and coal industry officials disputed the findings of the report, and noted that an opponent of exporting coal backed the report.
Great Falls Tribune; Feb. 20

Report: More of BLM's wild-horse budget goes to holding facilities
In 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management spent 60 percent of its funds for wild-horse management on holding facilities for horses removed from public lands, and about 1 percent on contraception efforts to limit the size of those herds, which Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, said is a concerted effort by the agency to create a crisis to ease the way to again resume sending wild horses to slaughter.
Great Falls Tribune; Feb. 20

Study finds Yellowstone Park's thermal features emitting volumes of helium
A study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, and co-authored by Jacob Lowenstern, scientist-in-charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, details the findings that the thermal features in Yellowstone National Park are emitting copious amounts of helium, a light gas in short supply globally.
Billings Gazette (; Feb. 20

Proposed land exchange in Montana prompts spirited debate
An offer of David Killam to buy the 14,405-acre X Hanging Diamond Ranch in Fergus County and exchange that ranch for the 14,136 acres of Montana school trust lands located within the boundaries of the Texas billionaire's Dana Ranch near Great Falls drew a crowd of about 65 to a meeting on the proposed exchange, with many of the attendees critical of the proposal.
Great Falls Tribune; Feb. 20

Colorado judge puts 'Amazon' tax on hold
A Denver District Court judge granted the request of the Direct Marketing Association to suspend a Colorado law that requires online retailers to collect the state's 2.9 sales tax on goods sold to Colorado residents.
Denver Post; Feb. 20

Federal judge in Utah pulls plug on controversial Internet-based TV service
A federal district court judge in Utah ordered Aereo to stop streaming television programs to computers in the state until the U.S. Supreme Court makes a decision in a case it will hear in April regarding the controversial internet-streaming television service, and the Utah decision will also affect service in Colorado, as well as the other states in which the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction: Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Salt Lake Tribune; Feb. 20

Uranium waste plagues Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation has hundreds of abandoned uranium mines left behind after the Cold War, and the worst of the radioactive contamination lies near tiny Church Rock, N.M., where residents have had to leave their homes twice since 2007 during clean-up operations, and now they may have to permanently leave the community where seven generations have lived.
New York Times; Feb. 20

Utah city on short-list for Google Fiber
Provo announced last year that it would be the third city in the United States to get Google Fiber, a fiber-optic network that provides Web access at speeds that are up to 100 times faster than currently available, and this year another Utah city is in the running for Google Fiber: Salt Lake City.
Deseret News; Feb. 20

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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