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Contact Information

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
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

Railroad easement delayed; price tag spikes

The developer of the proposed 121-mile Tongue River Railroad said the estimated cost of the line to service operations in coal fields in southeastern Montana has nearly doubled to $600 million, an estimate that will no doubt increase as the railroad's request for an easement through a state-owned hatchery was declined by the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department on Wednesday. Read the entire story from the Billings Gazette.

Montana Land Board sets hearings on coal leases

The Montana Land Board is holding public hearings this week over whether to lease for development state land near Ashland that contains roughly 600 million tons of coal. Any mine would need a long-stalled railroad along the Tongue River to be built, so the coal could be brought to market. Read the full story from the Billings Gazette .

“No Easy Answers” for Wyoming Economy

Wyoming remains among the least economically diversified states in the nation. That needs to change, says Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Thomas Hoenig.  Read the full article from NewWest.Net.

Report: BLM under-inspects oil and gas wells

An environmental group has released a report finding U.S. Bureau of Land Management environmental inspections have not kept pace with oil and natural gas development in five energy-rich Western states. While the study found the agency has improved, council member Peggy Utesch said its inspections of oil and natural gas wells is "still woefully underfunded and inadequate." Read the full story from the Aspen Times .

Wyoming environmental groups want EPA's ear

Energy and environmental stakeholders who are sometimes at odds seemed to agree that this week's visit by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson is a good thing for Wyoming. However, some have complained that Jackson might have more face time with representatives of energy companies in Wyoming rather than with citizens with concerns about how energy development has been managed in recent years. Read the full story from the Casper Star-Tribune .

Saving sage grouse

A funny-looking bird that fluffs its feathers to dance an elaborate mating rite just might be able to accomplish what well-funded environmental groups have been struggling to do for decades: bring about regional protection of vast swaths of Western lands. The sage grouse might turn out to be the Great Basin's equivalent of the northern spotted owl, the bird whose near-extinction slowed timber cutting in the Northwest and saved millions of acres of old-growth forests after it was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Read the full story from the Salt Lake Tribune .

Wyoming high court rules against ranchers in CBM-water case

The Wyoming Supreme Court has ruled against two ranching families who argued the state should do more to regulate water produced by coal-bed methane wells.  Powder River Basin ranchers Bill and Marjorie West and L.J. and Karen Turner contended that the Wyoming State Engineer's Office and the Wyoming Board of Control had failed to manage CBM water produced from natural gas production. Read the full story from the Casper Star-Tribune .

Test can trace methane water

A University of Wyoming researcher has developed a test to trace co-produced coal-bed methane water even after it flows into rivers and mixes with other water sources. Until now methods have been insufficient to distinguish coal-bed methane co-produced water from subsurface or shallow ground water in the Powder River basin, according to professor Shikha Sharma, who developed the test. Read the full story from the Missoulian .

Sage Grouse Offers Opportunity for Compromise in WY Land Use Battles

Slowly and surely, Wyoming’s residents are getting a chance to see firsthand that energy revenues don’t come without a cost to wildlife habitat. There’s no animal that currently exemplifies these impacts as vividly as the Greater Sage Grouse, which experts say could land on the Endangered Species list in less than a year. That possibility doesn’t make environmentalists or energy company executives very happy. Read the full story from NewWest.net .

Questions about carbon capture and storage

President Obama should be applauded for taking climate change seriously, recognizing that the phenomenon can be traced to the burning of fossil fuels and intensifying the search for viable solutions. In one of its centerpiece initiatives, however, the administration may be digging a very expensive dry hole. Read the full story from the Washington Post .

The Powder River Basin is Alive, Make No Mistake About It

There is a myth about Powder River Country. Those who have never seen it will tell you that it is a semi desert, with endless flats, barren and treeless, broken only occasionally by buttes. In reality it is beautiful, productive land with an abundance of timber, streams, rivers, wildlife, culture and history. Read the full story from NewWest.net .

Group asks EPA to intervene in CBM water permits

A conservation group has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to stop the state of Wyoming from issuing some coal-bed methane water discharge permits. The Powder River Basin Resource Council made the request Thursday after a report found the state is using a scientifically flawed formula to set pollution limits on discharged water for agricultural use. Read the full story from the Casper Star-Tribune

Scientists find ammonia in CBM water

Some coal-bed methane water flowing into the Powder River of northeast Wyoming contains potentially dangerous levels of ammonia, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey. Read the full story from the Casper Star-Tribune .

Wyoming the epicenter of sage grouse population

From 2000 to 2005, sage grouse populations amid coal-bed methane activity in the Powder River Basin declined by 86 percent, whereas populations outside of coal-bed methane development areas declined by 35 percent, according to a 2007 study by University of Montana professor Dave Naugle, and other researchers. Read the full story from the Casper Star-Tribune .

'60 Minutes' video: America's coal dilemma

The future of our climate might be summed up in one question: what do we do about coal? Coal generates nearly half the electricity in the United States and the world. But it's the dirtiest fuel of all when it comes to carbon dioxide, or CO2, the leading greenhouse gas. The fact is, America runs on coal and here's one of the reasons why: the Powder River Basin that stretches across Wyoming and Montana may be the largest coal reserve on Earth. We've got 200 years worth of reserves--cheap, and right under our feet. No wonder coal generates half of our electricity. See the video or read the transcript from CNET News , the CBS News Interactive website.

Wyoming landowners cite flawed science in CBM water request

According to soil scientists from the University and Wyoming and New Mexico, several coalbed-methane water discharge permits issued by Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality were based on a flawed calculation and bogus science, and now a group of Wyoming landowners are asking the state to withdraw those permits and adjust their calculations to protect agricultural land in the Powder River Basin. Read the story from the Casper Star-Tribune.

Study: Aquifers hurt by CBM drilling

Drilling for coalbed methane will lower aquifers in southeastern Montana and reduce groundwater flows to rivers and springs, a recently published study said.  And it could take as long as 200 years for aquifers to recover after drilling stops. Read the full story from the Billings Gazette .

Appraisal sets value of Montana coal reserves at $1.4 billion

The coal reserves owned jointly by Montana and Great Northern Properties in the southeastern corner of the state were appraised to be worth $1.4 billion, and while the Montana Rural Education Association and private industry are pushing for development of those reserves, environmental groups and others are fiercely resisting such development. Read the full story from the Billings Gazette.

Consultants: Wyoming needs do more on CBM discharge water

Environmental consultants hired by Wyoming to assess its methods of regulating discharge water from coalbed methane operations released a preliminary report on Tuesday that evaluated the three proposed options for "agricultural use protection" designed to protect agricultural lands and found that the state must do more to manage and monitor surface discharges of the saline-laden water and the effect those discharges have on Wyoming soils. Read the full story from the Casper Star-Tribune .

Energy Development has Negative Impact on Sage Grouse

West Nile disease has become a major threat to sage grouse in the Powder River Basin. Many critics believe the preponderance of mosquito-breeding, coal-bed methane discharged water reservoirs in the basin is the biggest reason. Read the full story from The Gillette News-Record.