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National Wildlife Federation Tribal Lands Conservation Program Billings, MT Office 406-252-2886 Bonogofsky@nwf.org
Montana Wildlife Federation P.O. Box 1175
Helena, MT 59624
Phone: 406-458-0227
Fax: 406-458-0373
Toll Free: 800-517-7256
mwf@mtwf.org
http://www.montanawildlife.com Wyoming Wildlife Federation P.O. Box 106 Cheyenne, WY 82003 Phone: 800-786-5434 Fax: 307-637-6629 info@wyomingwildlife.org www.wyomingwildlife.org/

Powder River Basin News

Oil and Gas Drilling Plans Must Accommodate Grouse to Avoid ESA Listing -- Study

Projected oil and natural gas development in the West could significantly reduce greater sage grouse populations, according to a new study that recommends aggressive steps to shift drilling activity away from sensitive habitat areas. The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE, is one of the few to examine drilling's effects on a specific species, and it comes as the Obama administration nears a February deadline to decide whether the sage grouse should be listed as an endangered species -- a move many believe would greatly disrupt the West's natural resource-dependent economy.Click here for the story from the New York Times

Judge overturns Montana water rules for gas drilling

BILLINGS, Mont. -- A federal judge has overturned water quality rules that were meant to protect southeastern Montana cropland from natural gas drilling but were assailed by Wyoming as a threat to energy production. The rules covered the Tongue and Powder rivers, which flow north from the rich gas fields of northeastern Wyoming into primarily agricultural land in Montana. Drafted by Montana and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, the rules limited how much salty water -- a byproduct of drilling -- could enter the rivers. State officials said the EPA had not yet begun to enforce the rules, in part because of a pending lawsuit. Click here for the full story from the Casper Star-Tribune

EPA Unhappy With DEQ's Water Policy for the Cowboy State

Lander, WY (WYNS) - The Environmental Protection Agency has weighed in on state water policy regulating groundwater pumped up during coalbed methane production, and the EPA says it appears the state is not following Clean Water Act law. The federal agency takes issue with the case-by-case approach of the state Department of Environmental Quality on whether it's acceptable to dump the water on the surface. Click here for the full story from Sheridan Media

EPA raises concerns about proposed CBM water rule

CHEYENNE-- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has joined critics of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality's proposed rule for ensuring the quality of water discharged from coal-bed methane wells. Meanwhile, the state Environmental Quality Council posponed any decision on the rule until Nov. 16.  The council had been scheduled to decide on the rule this week.  The council is a governor-appointed board that approves state environmental rules and regulations.  last week, the Department of Environmental Quality withdrew its proposed coal-bed methane water rule from consideration by the council.  Click here for the full story from the Casper Star-Tribune

Wyoming Group Drilling Contamination Puts Water at Risk

Oct 02, 2009

According to Clark Resource Council, a citizens' environmental group, Windsor Energy Group, LLC recently put its assets up for bid and has explained, at a recent public meeting, that the benzene contamination created by a gas well blowout three years ago has exceeded regulatory levels in a nearby creek. The council is concerned that the company may declare bankruptcy and discontinue work on the cleanup. For the full story, click here.

Water worries threaten U.S. push for natural gas

PAVILLION, Wyoming, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Louis Meeks, a burly 59-year-old alfalfa farmer, fills a metal trough with water from his well and watches an oily sheen form on the surface which gives off a faint odor of paint.He points to small bubbles that appear in the water, and a thin ring of foam around the edge.Meeks is convinced that energy companies drilling for natural gas in this central Wyoming farming community have poisoned his water and ruined his health. A recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency suggests he just might have a case -- and that the multi-billion dollar industry may have a problem on its hands. EPA tests found his well contained what it termed "contaminants of concern." View the full article at Reuters

Montana Land Board hears arguments on coal leases

The state Land Board heard familiar arguments Monday for and against developing 572 million tons of state-owned coal in southeastern Montana's Otter Creek Valley, as state officials are preparing a draft proposal to put the coal up for bid. Read the full story from the Helena Independent Record.

Big Coal Carriers Navigate a Risky Climate Track

Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad this summer started to walk away from its rail expansion project in the Powder River Basin, the largest source of coal in the country, citing the flagging U.S. economy and regulatory uncertainty. Read the full story from the New York Times.

Railroad drops condemnation case against Wyoming landowners

The Dakota Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp. has been trying for 15 years to extend its railroad line 278 miles across northeastern Wyoming to access coal mines in the Powder River Basin, but on Wednesday the railroad dropped its condemnation lawsuit filed against 19 landowners in Converse, Weston, Campbell and Niobrara counties to gain access for that railroad. Read the story from the Casper Star-Tribune .

Coal Mine Expansion proposal open for public comment

The South Gillette Area Coal Final Environmental Impact Statement is out right now for the public with a 30 day comment period, ending September 16th. If you would like to see a copy you can go onto the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management's website at http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/HighPlains/SouthGillette.html. To read the story and watch the news video, visit CBS Channel 5.

Conservation group ask Wyoming BLM to stop methane project

Some conservation and sporting groups have asked the Bureau of Land Management to reconsider the approval of a methane project in northwestern Wyoming's Fortification Creek elk range. Jill Morrison with the Powder River Basin Resource Council says the drilling could have substantial impacts on the range's elk herd and that it could harm fragile soils and vegetation in the region. Read the full story from the Billings Gazette.

FTC approves Arch Coal's purchase of Rio Tinto's Wyoming mine

Arch Coal Inc. cleared a major hurdle this week toward its pending acquisition of Rio Tinto Energy America's Jacobs Ranch mine in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. The acquisition would create a mega-mine with a capacity of more than 130 million tons of annual production -- 12 percent of total U.S. coal production. Read the article from the Casper Star-Tribune .

Group blames coalbed methane work for drop in Wyoming groundwater

Some areas of the Powder River Basin have experienced significant groundwater drawdown -- as much as 625 feet between 1993 and 2006 in some areas, according to a new report. The Powder River Basin Resource Council issued a statement Tuesday suggesting the monitoring data proves the actual groundwater drawdown -- largely from the development of coal-bed methane gas -- far exceeds predictions made by federal officials in 2002. Read the full article from the Casper Star-Tribune .

Proposal could curb drilling in Powder River Basin

Montana's Northern Cheyenne Tribe is proposing water pollution restrictions that could force companies in the resource-rich Powder River Basin to spend more on cleanup efforts or face limits on where they can drill. Read the full story from the Casper Star-Tribune.

Uranium One on buying spree in Powder River Basin

Uranium One Inc. is buying several uranium facilities in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, including mining and processing plants in Campbell and Johnson counties, the company announced this week. Read the full story from the Casper Star-Tribune .

CBM operators feel the squeeze

The CBM industry was given a pass early on when coalbed methane first emerged as a commercial enterprise in the basin. In the late 1990s, the industry was allowed to dump production water on the surface with minimal management requirements. "The industry is just being asked to pay the costs that society has borne for them either through the government or private landowners," said Steve Adami, board member of the landowner group Powder River Basin Resource Council. Read the full story from the Billings Gazette.

Low prices paralyze CBM industry

Coal-bed methane drilling has dropped off so dramatically in the Powder River Basin that officials are not even bothering to count rigs this summer. It's a dramatic shift from an average of 300 new wells per month in 2008. Read the full story from the Caspar Star-Tribune .

Recession, restrictions hamper Wyo. gas industry

The recession and drilling restrictions are making for a "double whammy" on Wyoming's coal-bed methane industry this year, forcing companies to slow future drilling plans, halt drilling and shut down wells, industry officials said Tuesday. Read the entire story from the Charleston Daily Mail.

Montana Considers Cashing In On 1.2B Tons Of Coal

Montana officials are on track to seek bids this fall to mine a massive reserve of state-owned coal near the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.  Yet its prospects are uncertain given market trends and the turbulent politics surrounding an industry seen as a main contributor to global warming. Read the full story from cbs4Denver.com .

Montana coal ash dump on EPA's high-hazard list

The Environmental Protection Agency released a list Monday of 44 coal ash waste dumps that had a high potential for loss of human life should a dam failure occur that includes the coal ash waste dump at the Colstrip Steam Electric Station in Montana. Read the story from the New York Times .

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