Rockies Today, Dec. 3



Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

First of 3 megaloads leaves Oregon port headed to Alberta
After two protesters delayed the Sunday night start of a 450-ton piece of water-purification equipment headed from Oregon's Port of Umatilla to Alberta oilsands country, the megaload began its journey Monday night and will travel through Eastern Oregon, Idaho and Montana on its way to the Canadian province.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Dec. 3

Deadly derailment in Canada prompted temporary review of Bakken crude
After the July 6 derailment and explosion of a train carrying Bakken crude destroyed a portion of a small town in Quebec, reports that the light oil pulled from North Dakota was more flammable than other crude and both Canada and the U.S. did investigations into the volatility of the crude oil, and now several pipeline companies in the U.S. have received permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to decline shipments of the crude where sulfides exceed a certain level. Part of a series of articles about the July 6 derailment and how Bakken oil changed the industry.
Toronto Globe and Mail; Dec. 3

N.D. Bakken oil boom changed the route from well to refinery
Henry Bakken first discovered oil under his farm in North Dakota in 1951, but it wasn't until horizontal drilling methods make tapping the vast resource economical that production soared, outpacing pipeline capacity and ultimately, putting hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil each day into unit trains that hauled the crude to refineries, but industry regulations haven't kept up with the ever-increasing, and sometimes hazardous method of getting the crude from the wells to refineries. Part of a series of articles about the July 6 derailment and how Bakken oil changed the industry.
Toronto Globe and Mail; Dec. 3

Conservation groups ask USFS to rein in attractions offered at ski areas
The U.S. Forest Service is working on draft rules needed to implement the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act passed in 2011 that open federal lands leased by ski areas to a wider range of activities in the summer, and a coalition of conservation groups in Colorado is weighing on the proposed rules after seeing that the U.S. Forest Service defined banned amusement parks as two or more rides located close together, a definition the opposing groups said could allow "coasters," essentially a railcar ride through the forest.
Vail Daily (Aspen Times); Dec. 1

Objection prompts new review of USFS, Colorado county, city trail plan
The Hunter-Smuggler Cooperative Plan, devised by the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District of the White River National Forest, Pitkin County and the city of Aspen for 4,681-acre area covered by the trail management plan, will undergo a new review after the Wilderness Workshop questioned some of the U.S. Forest Service's findings on the Colorado plan, including the plan's apparent inaction to address the 4.2-mile Balcony Trail, an illegally built mountain bike trail that the group said should be shut down and reclaimed.
Aspen Times; Dec. 3

Oxbow Mining to idle its Elk Creek Mine in Colorado
Production halted at the Elk Creek Mine near Somerset last year when a fire started in the underground coal mine and has continued to burn, blocking attempts to retrieve expensive equipment needed to restart production, and Oxbow Mining officials said 115 of the 135 remaining workers at the mine would be laid off as the company procures a replacement longwall and other equipment.
Denver Post; Dec. 3

Idaho PUC OKs Idaho Power's $130M coal-plant upgrade
On Monday, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved Idaho Power Co.'s plan to spend $130 million on upgrades at the Jim Bridger coal plant in Wyoming, but declined to pre-approve a plan for the utility to ask ratepayers to help pay for those upgrades, which means Idaho Power would have to come back to the PUC for such approval.
Idaho Statesman; Dec. 3

NorthWestern Energy finalizes deal to buy Montana gas field, pipeline
On Monday, NorthWestern Energy announced it had completed its $70-million deal with Devon Energy Production Co. to buy the Oklahoma company's 900 natural gas wells in northern Montana, as well as its controlling interest in the Havre Pipeline Co.
Missoulian (Lee State Bureau); Dec. 3

Oilsands company asks Alberta to pay it $56M for canceled leases
Alberta's decision in July to cancel oilsands leases on 54,363 acres of land near Fort McMurray to allow the community roam to expand affected 10 companies, including Alberta Oilsands, which submitted $56 million in documented expenses for the canceled lease to the province.
Calgary Herald; Dec. 3

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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