Rockies Today, Dec. 13



Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Western governors offer federal government more wildfire help
At the Western Governors' Association's winter meeting in Las Vegas, governors told federal officials in attendance that they were prepared to do more to fight wildfires, an offer that appeared to surprise the Agriculture and Bureau of Land Management representatives in attendance.
Flathead Beacon (AP); Dec. 13

Employers in Montana's Yellowstone County compete for workers
Yellowstone County's unemployment rate in November was 3.5 percent, the lowest it's been in the Montana county since 2007, and employers said good, skilled workers are hard to find and that they must offer incentives to hire and keep qualified employees.
Billings Gazette; Dec. 13

Montana, Wyoming tribes critical of Cobell land buy-back program
At a hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Wednesday, members of tribes from Wyoming and Montana testified that work done thus far in the $1.9-billion land buy-back program, which is part of the $3.4-billion Cobell settlement of claims that the federal government mismanaged funds and lands held in trust for tribes, benefited primarily the federal government and not the tribes.
Great Falls Tribune; Dec. 13

Montana company gets next-generation air tanker contract with USFS
The U.S. Forest Service awarded Missoula-based Neptune Aviation a four-year, $8.7-million contract for two, jet-powered air tankers for wildfire fights, with an option for five, one-year extensions of the contract for the Montana company.
Missoulian; Dec. 13

NAFTA board asks Canada to respond to complaint on oilsands operations
The Commission for Environmental Co-operation, an organization through which the United States, Canada and Mexico, the three members of the North American Free Trade Agreement address environmental issues, notified Canada on Wednesday that it had 60 days to respond to complaints that it had violated the Fisheries Act by allowing waste from tailings ponds at oilsands operations in northeastern Alberta to leak into underground and surface waters.
Calgary Herald (Canadian Press); Dec. 13

Enbridge defends plan to build hydroelectric projects in Alberta, B.C.
The company that wants to build the 731-mile-long Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C., said its efforts to build hydroelectric plants in the two provinces are part of Enbridge's investment in "green" energy, but some question if the company is building the plants to power lift stations along the as-yet-unapproved pipeline.
Vancouver Sun; Dec. 13

Survey finds Alberta cities' power costs among highest in North America
The annual Hydro-Quebec survey that compares power costs in 22 cities in North America found that Calgary's power costs ranked third highest in Canada and the seventh highest in North America, and Edmonton was ranked fourth and eighth, respectively, a finding that critics of Alberta's deregulated power market jumped on as evidence that deregulation was costing Albertans.
Calgary Herald; Dec. 13

Former Interior secretary, billionaire philanthropist form conservation PAC
Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and billionaire philanthropist Louis Bacon have formed the bipartisan America's Conservation political action committee, which will work for land conservation efforts, including replenishing funding for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Denver Post; Dec. 13

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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