Montana news roundup, March 9


What others are writing about Montana this week, as collected by Mountain West News:

Should Colstrip’s owners have to pay for closing it?

That’s the question Montana legislators are debating ahead of the impending closure of the older two of Colstrip’s four coal-fired units. One bill in the works calls for two of the plant’s owners, Puget Sound Energy and Talen Energy, to pay about $40 million between them to cover decommissioning costs and offset lost revenue to local governments and the state, among other things. One of the bill’s sponsors says $40 million is a “pittance” considering how much power the plant has provided the Northwest for some 40 years. But is it legal to require such a payment? And is it fair to demand compensation for closing uneconomic coal plants? (Great Falls Tribune, 3/5/17)

Zinke says Bears Ears has ‘smell of political agenda’
In a wide-ranging conversation with the Billings Gazette’s Tom Lutey, new Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke suggests the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, designated by President Obama in December, will be reviewed and its borders possibly changed. (Billings Gazette, 3/4/17)

The steep learning curve of owning a ski area
The new owners of Montana’s remote Maverick Mountain, Erik and Kristi Borge, explain how to own a ski area, step by step. (Powder, 3/7/17)

Zinke and the science behind lead poisoning wildlife
Curator of Natural Science Charles Preston of the Draper Museum in Cody, Wyoming, thinks it’s wise for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to take another look at the science behind lead ammo poisoning in wildlife. (Wyoming Public Media, 3/8/17)

What ‘repeal and replace’ could mean for Libby, MT
As one of Obamacare’s primary architects, former Montana Sen. Max Baucus built in three special provisions for residents of Libby, where asbestos from a vermiculite mine has killed more than 400 people and more than 2,000 others have been diagnosed with incurable, often fatal asbestos-related diseases. Those provisions include screening, automatic Medicare eligibility for those diagnosed, and a pilot program that provides wide-ranging medical care and home support not covered by Medicare. As Republicans look to repeal the Affordable Care Act, residents of Libby are paying especially close attention. (Montana Standard, 3/5/17)

Essay: A lesson about home in harsh places
…inspired by the Yaak Valley’s “World Famous Dirty Shame Saloon.” (High Country News, 3/6/17)

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit

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