Rockies Today, Jan. 7




Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Whitebark pine research finds mountain pine beetles prefer lodgepole
Phil Townsend, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, who spent six years studying whitebark pine and mountain pine beetles in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, found that mountain pine beetles targeted lodgepole in mixed stands of lodgepole and whitebark pine trees at lower elevations, even though whitebark pines do not have a natural defense to the burrowing bugs, but in higher elevations, where there are just whitebark pines, the bugs will take them all out.
Billings Gazette; Jan. 7

BLM extends public comment period on expansive drilling plan in Wyoming
The Bureau of Land Management will take public comment through March 6 on the Continental Divide-Creston Natural Gas Drilling project in Wyoming that would allow nearly 20 companies to drill up to 9,000 new wells on just over 6,100 well pads in a 1.1 million-square-mile area between Rawlins and Rock Springs.
Billings Gazette (Casper Star-Tribune); Jan. 7

N.J. private equity firm to buy Utah-based EnergySolutions
Energy Capital, a New Jersey private equity firm that is one of the largest energy-focused private equity firms in the United States, will buy Utah-based EnergySolutions for $1.1 billion.
Salt Lake Tribune; Jan. 7

Oregon, Alaska senators ask Interior Dept. to investigate coal exports
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski have asked the Interior Department to investigate if the federal government and state governments are getting shortchanged by coal companies that are paying royalties on coal based on domestic sale prices but selling the coal to overseas markets at higher prices.
Great Falls Tribune (AP); Jan. 5

Utah part of equation of rising oil production in United States
Better technology has helped increase oil production in Utah and in the United States as a whole, with oil production levels in the Beehive State rising to 85,000 barrels a day at the end of last year, the highest reported in the state since 1988.
Salt Lake Tribune; Jan. 7

Colorado's proposal on water tests near drill sites criticized
Critics said Colorado's proposed plan to protect water sources from oil and gas drilling operations is the weakest one in the nation because it allows companies to select where to pull samples.
Denver Post; Jan. 7

Idaho, university launch 10-year study on grazing, sage grouse
The federal government is expected to make a decision on whether or not to list sage grouse as a protected species in 2015, but a University of Idaho and state Fish and Game are planning a decade-long study on how spring grazing affects that species.
Twin Falls Times-News; Jan. 6

Alberta national park focuses on enticing winter visitors
Banff National Park has become the epicenter of doing more with less in Alberta, and superintendent Dave McDonough said the park is trying to get more people to visit the park this winter season, and that he does not believe staff reductions, cuts in hours at the visitor's center, contracting out of some services and privatization of some facilities will greatly change visitors' experience at the park.
Calgary Herald; Jan. 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.

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