PPL Montana has agreed to install an estimated $10 million in new pollution controls at a Billings power plant if the company reverses its plan to close the facility in less than two years, state officials and company representatives said Monday. <READ MORE>
By Anne Hedges
Commenting on Ambre’s Decker coal mine expansion is shooting in the dark ... and that’s the way Ambre likes it.
When the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) asked for “feedback” on a proposal to lease 500 acres of coal-bearing land to the Decker West mine, the first question that came to mind was –what is the proposal exactly? The Decker Coal Company is owned by Australian coal giant Ambre Energy, a company leading the industry blitz to build West Coast coal export terminals so coal companies can make a killing selling undervalued U.S. coal to Asian markets. But if you want to find out more about Ambre’s proposal…fat chance!
BLM sent out a notice requesting public “feedback relevant to the issues that may influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including alternatives.” I also got a letter from BLM saying the most useful public comments are those that are “specific.”
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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A dispute over greenhouse gases from oil and gas drilling will head to federal court in Montana as attorneys for the government and the industry face off against environmentalists who say too little is being done to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change. <READ MORE>
By Derf Johnson
Last week brought some terrible news for those of us in Montana that care about reducing global warming emissions and stabilizing our climate. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that Montana’s energy related C02 emissions rate increased from 2000-2010 by 11.4%. Rather than recognizing and making efforts to address the very serious problem with continuing to emit heat-trapping gases, Montana has increased the amount of emissions that we spill out into our Big Sky every single year. In 2010 alone, Montana emitted over 34.9 million metric tons of C02 emissions.
Montana ranks low (41st) in the total emissions we released, when compared to other states. But when you look at the emissions that each individual was responsible for, per capita emissions, Montana moved up to 6th in the nation, only lagging behind Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, West Virginia, and Louisiana. The common theme being that all of these states are relatively rural, fossil fuel energy producing states. But the reason for Montana’s incredibly high ranking deserves some serious extra scrutiny (details on this later).
by Derf Johnson
Coal mining, especially underground coal mining, is a dangerous occupation that puts workers and citizens at risk, causes fatalities, and brings about life-long injuries. This holds true at Montana’s lone underground coal mine, the Signal Peak mine in the Bull Mountains, whose short but checkered history, epitomizes an industry that more closely guards its profits than its workers well-being.
The flagrant disregard the mining industry showed for its workers and miners ultimately prompted the U.S. Congress in 1977 to pass the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act (FMSHA), to enforce compliance with mandatory safety and health standards to make coal mines safer for workers and to improve conditions at mines. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is the federal agency that is charged with enforcing the FMSHA, including coal mining in Montana.
The state Public Service Commission is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to back off on proposed greenhouse-gas rules for new coal-fired power plants – almost one year after the comment period on the rule closed. <READ MORE>
The saga of the megaloads in Montana and Idaho reaches a milestone in Canada this weekend. All those loads of oil processing modules that caused such commotion down here for nigh on three years are assembled and ready to crank in far northeastern Alberta, Canada. <READ MORE>
HELENA — As soon as the news broke that six-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Max Baucus was retiring, all eyes in the Democratic Party turned to former Gov. Brian Schweitzer. <READ MORE>
Light shines on hundreds of pizza box-shaped containers stacked on rows of shelves when Jerry Zieg opens the door to a dark cavernous metal building in the mountain foothills north of this town. <READ MORE>