Rockies Today, Jan. 4




More Montana landowners end public access over Milk River Ranch buy
Another 13 landowners in Montana's Hill County have said they will no longer open their lands to the public for hunting and fishing as a way to indicate their opposition to the state's purchase of the Milk River Ranch, bringing the total number of landowners who have done so to 30.
Great Falls Tribune; Jan. 4

Oil spill in Montana river prompts federal review of pipelines, river crossings
After flooding caused an oil pipeline under the Yellowstone River in Montana to rupture, the federal Department of Transportation examined other such incidents caused by flooding, and found that, since 1993, 16 flood-related pipeline spills have occurred in California, Texas, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Kentucky, and that of the 2.4 million gallons of gasoline, oil and other hazardous liquids released in those incidents, less than 13 percent was recovered.
Flathead Beacon (AP); Jan. 4

Request to expand uranium mining on Wyoming ranch raises water concerns
Uranium mining has been ongoing in fits and starts on the Christensen Ranch in Wyoming for decades, and 25 years ago, the federal EPA and Wyoming agreed that the need for uranium was worth the cost of contaminating the aquifer under the ranch, but recent tests have found the groundwater contamination is higher than expected and has spread farther than anticipated.
Christian Science Monitor (ProPublica); Jan. 2

Four western states' health insurance exchanges get federal approval
On Thursday, the Obama administration approved plans for seven states to operate health care insurance exchanges required under the Affordable Care Act, including four Western states: Idaho, Utah, New Mexico and Nevada.
Washington Post; Jan. 4

Vestas to reduce work hours at Colorado wind-energy plants
A delay in extending the wind-energy production tax credit that reduced demand for wind farm components was cited by Vestas officials for reducing the work weeks at all four of its Colorado plants.
Pueblo Chieftain; Jan. 4

Paleontologist says some Alberta dinosaurs were similar to peacocks
Scott Persons, a University of Alberta PhD candidate and lead researcher on a paper published last week, said that the oviraptors that roamed Alberta 75 million years ago had tailfeathers that the dinosaurs used much as peacocks do today, to create a showy appearance.
Edmonton Journal; Jan. 2

Wyoming power plant questions ranking for toxic emissions
After the Environmental Integrity Project ranked the Laramie River Station, just east of Wheatland, as second in the nation for releases of carcinogenic metals, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, the plant's operator, questioned the ranking since 99 percent of the emissions were captured as ash, transported off-site and buried, not released into the atmosphere.
Casper Star-Tribune; Jan. 4

Amid smoggy skies, Utah residents question refinery's expansion plans
At a hearing Thursday before the Utah Division of Air Quality in Salt Lake City on Holly's proposal to more than double the output from its Woods Crossing refinery, area residents questioned how the expansion would affect already poor air quality conditions, but state regulators said emissions from the expanded refinery would not rise above actionable levels.
Salt Lake Tribune; Jan. 4

EPA's policy on clean up of abandoned mines a good step
Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall said he'll keep a close eye on how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's policy change that affords so-called "good Samaritans" who tackle clean up of abandoned mines some protection from liability under the Clean Water Act is implemented, and while the EPA's policy change is welcome news, federal law that codifies such protection would be a better approach.
Denver Post; Jan. 4

Groups buy 3,000 acres on Sierra Nevada crest slated for development
The Truckee Donner Land Trust and The Trust for Public Land paid $11.75 million for the 3,000-acres Royal Gorge property on Donner Summit on the Sierra Nevada crest that was slated for development.
Los Angeles Times; Jan. 2

Owner of drilling rig in Gulf of Mexico spill settles federal case for $1.4B
Transocean, the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, killing 11 workers and spilling millions of gallons of oil into the water, has settled criminal and civil claims with the federal government for $1.4 billion.
New York Times; Jan. 4

Wild horse advocates worry that Nevada horses may be slaughtered
The wild horses that roam state lands on Nevada's Virginia Range aren't protected under the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro and Preservation Act, and minutes from a state Agricultural Board meeting indicate that discussions have been had about building public support for rounding up the horses on state lands and selling them for slaughter.
San Francisco Chronicle (AP); Jan. 4

Federal budget deal contains retroactive tax credit for biodiesel
While a number of industries benefited from the federal budget deal worked out earlier this week, the biodiesel industry got a bonus: a retroactive, $1-a-gallon tax credit that goes back to January of last year when it expired.
New York Times; Jan. 4

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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