Rockies Today, March 15



Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Study tags precipitation, or lack thereof, to disappearing pika populations
Erik Beever, a U.S. Geological Survey research biologist from Bozeman, Mont., said decades of study now indicate that lack of snowpack or rainfall plays a role in the American pika's survival, as a new study published this week in the journal Ecology found that lack of moisture drove American pika away from otherwise suitable habitat.
Idaho Statesman; March 15

Montana senators introduce bill to let Congress approve KeystoneXL pipeline
On Thursday, Montana U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester introduced legislation that would approve TransCanada's construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, effectively removing approval of the project from the State Department.
Great Falls Tribune; March 15

Groups sue USFWS to force action on lynx recovery plan
Friends of the Wild Swan, Rocky Mountain Wild, San Juan Citizens Alliance and the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance filed a lawsuit in federal court in Montana over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's delay on a recovery plan for lynx, a delay due in part to lawsuits filed against the agency over its designation 39,000 square miles of lynx habitat identified in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota and Maine.
Flathead Beacon (AP); March 15

U.S. Senate committee approves bill reinstating ban on assault weapons
A party-line vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday sent a bill that would reinstate a ban on assault weapons along to the full U.S. Senate, where it will likely be considered in April along with a bill banning high-capacity gun magazines and another that would expand background checks for gun buyers.
New York Times; March 15

Colorado congressman introduces bill on oil, gas emissions
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis' BREATHE Act, would make sure wells drilled using hydraulic fracturing can be regulated by the federal government and adds hydrogen sulfide to the list of hazardous pollutants under the Clean Air Act, and the Colorado Democrat also co-sponsored legislation Thursday offered by Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, that eliminates the exemption for oil and gas companies to meet federal standards for storm water runoff under the Clean Water Act.
Boulder Daily Camera (Longmont Times-Call); March 15

Oil companies pull out of Montana as production fizzles
The Heath formation in central Montana was touted as a mini-Bakken just two years ago, but companies have not had success in tapping wells that produce enough oil to justify the costs of drilling them, and many have pulled out of the state.
Billings Gazette; March 15

Ambre Energy agrees to later deadline on Oregon port to export Wyoming coal
Neither Ambre Energy officials nor the head of the Wyoming Mining Association believe that a five-month delay for the company to submit information to the state of Oregon on the cultural and environmental effects of building a coal-export port on the Oregon coast will have much of an affect on the company's overall plan to begin exporting coal from Montana and Wyoming through that port next year.
Casper Star-Tribune; March 15

Wyoming DEQ ready to roll out plan to address ozone levels in western basin
Ozone levels in the Upper Green River Basin near Pinedale have exceeded federal limits for years, and on Thursday, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality released its plan to curb those emissions.
Casper Star-Tribune; March 15

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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