Rockies Today, Sept. 22


Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News:

Interior secretary announces that sage grouse will not be put on ESA list

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined the governors of Colorado, Montana, Nevada and Wyoming at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge near Denver today, where she announced that management plans in place in 11 Western states afford enough protection for sage grouse, and that the species will not be listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Denver Post; September 22

Utah governor, congressman disagree with federal sage grouse decision
While the governors of Montana, Colorado and Wyoming joined Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today in Colorado for the announcement that the sage grouse will not be listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert was not on board, and said he would seek relief from both Congress and the courts, and U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop called the decision a "de facto listing."
Salt Lake Tribune; September 22

Panel finds Montana site too culturally important to drill
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) held a rare public hearing on Sept. 2 on energy leases held by Louisiana-based Solonex in the Badger-Two Medicine area of Montana, long held sacred by the Blackfeet Nation, and on Sept. 21, issued the decision that the area was too culturally important to allow energy development. Solonex has a pending federal lawsuit to get the suspension of those leases put in place lifted.
Flathead Beacon; September 22

BLM releases draft EIS on open-pit phosphate mine in Eastern Idaho
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will take public comment through Nov. 2 on its draft environmental impact statement on the proposed Rasmussen Valley Mine, a 440-acre open-pit phosphate mine near Soda Springs in eastern Idaho.
Boise Weekly; September 22

Tribe in Montana votes to oppose Tongue River Railroad plan
On Monday, the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council voted 9-0 to oppose the proposed Tongue River Railroad needed to transport coal from Montana's Otter Creek coal tracts to existing rail lines and, ultimately, to overseas markets.
Missoulian (Billings Gazette); September 22

Missoula City Council wants broader review of Tongue River Railroad in Montana
The Surface Transportation Board released its draft environmental analysis of the proposed Tongue River Railroad needed to access coal tracts in southeastern Montana in April, with the public comment period on the analysis to close on Wednesday, and on Monday night, the Missoula City Council approved a resolution asking the board to expand its analysis to cities that are located along the route coal shipped via the Tongue River Railroad.
Missoulian; September 22

Colorado high court to hear cases on hydraulic fracturing ban, moratorium
The Colorado Supreme Court will hear appeals of court decisions arising out of Longmont's ban on hydraulic fracturing operations and Fort Collins' five-year moratorium on the drilling operation. Both lower courts ruled that regulation of the drilling method was the under the control of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, both Longmont and Fort Collins appealed those decisions to the Colorado Appeals Court, which asked the high court to take the cases.
Denver Post; September 22

Suncor buys larger share in Alberta oilsands mining project
Alberta-based Suncor Energy, which has its U.S. headquarters in Denver, announced it was buying an additional 10 percent stake in the Fort Hills oilsands mining project from Fort Hills oil-sands mining project from Total SA for $234 million, upping Suncor's ownership share of the Alberta project to 50.8 percent.
Denver Post (Bloomberg News); September 22

Study: Cyclical drought, oilsands withdrawals endanger Alberta river
Dave Sauchyn, senior research scientist at the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina, spent the summer studying tree rings in Jasper, and found evidence of 36 long droughts over the past 900 years, including one in 1930, which caused levels of the Athabasca River in Alberta to fall drastically. Sauchyn said that current water use by oilsands companies from the river could be unsustainable in times of drought.
Edmonton Journal; September 22

Encana reports natural-gas well blowout in NW Alberta Monday
On Tuesday, Alberta Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd reported that tests in the area where an Encana natural gas well blew out on Monday found no trace of hydrogen sulfide, but was later updated with results of tests that found three parts per billion of hydrogen sulfide two-thirds of a mile from the blowout site. The Alberta Energy Regulator is working with the company to determine the cause of the incident.
Edmonton Journal; September 22

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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