Rockies Today, Dec. 19



Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Study of Montana river finds high mercury levels, prompts advisory
Geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone National Park were cited as the source of the mercury found in the Madison River and its tributaries, as well as Hebgen Lake, the reservoir in which the river flows, and Montana issued an advisory on consuming fish from those waterways.
Helena Independent Record (Billings Gazette); Dec. 18

Interior, BIA roll out $1.9B program to buy back Indian lands
Contained within the $3.4-billion settlement of the class action lawsuit over the federal government's management of Indian trust lands and assets known as the Cobell lawsuit was $1.9 billion to buy fractional interests in tribal lands from individuals and transfer ownership to tribes, and on Tuesday, the Interior Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs released information on that program and scheduled public meetings to gather tribal comments on Jan. 31 in Minneapolis; Feb. 6 in Rapid City, S.D.; and Feb. 14 in Seattle.
Flathead Beacon (AP); Dec. 19

Report says climate change is already affecting Western landscapes
A report, "Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecoystems and Ecosystem Services," issued Tuesday provided details on how climate change is already affecting states in the Intermountain West.
Deseret News; Dec. 19

British Columbia bans drilling in First Nations' 'Sacred Headwaters'
A moratorium on drilling in an area of northern British Columbia at the confluence of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena Rivers known as the Klappan expired on Tuesday, when the B.C. government announced a deal with Shell Canada and the Tahltan Central Council under which Shell withdraws its plans to drill for natural gas permanently.
Calgary Herald (Canadian Press); Dec. 19

Expansion of coal mines in B.C. sparks water-quality concerns in Montana
Proposals to expand coal mines in the Elk River drainage in British Columbia have prompted discussions between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the British Columbia government as selenium levels in the Elk River where it flows into Lake Koocanusa in Montana are reaching the 5 micrograms per liter limit for water crossing the international border.
Missoulian; Dec. 19

Idaho PUC nixes Idaho Power's proposed wind curtailment
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission ruled Tuesday that Idaho Power cannot curtail wind power production during times of low demand, that renewable energy credits for projects either go to the developer or be split between the developer and the utility, and kept power contracts at 20 years, rather than the five-year term Idaho Power sought.
Idaho Statesman; Dec. 19

Interior Department: Oil, gas leases in West account for 95% of 2012 sales
The Interior Department sold $221 million in oil and gas leases on federal lands in five Western states in 2012, with most of the activity occurring in New Mexico, although the January sale of leases in Montana was the largest.
Denver Post; Dec. 19

Disparity in oil pricing takes a bite out of Alberta's bottom line
Last week, Bloomberg News reported that the price Alberta producers get for their oil had fallen to a record low and was $37 less per barrel than the American benchmark.
Edmonton Journal; Dec. 19

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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