Senate panel questions Interior secretary nominee
President Obama's nominee to be Interior secretary, Sally Jewell, appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday, where she provided generally noncommittal answers to the polite questions offered by the panel members, but she did say "Leaning into oil and gas development is an important part of the mission of the Bureau of Land Management and also of the Department of Interior."
New York Times; March 8
Federal agency says $580 million spent last year fighting largest wildfires
The National Interagency Fire Center released a summary of last year's wildfire season that said $580 million was spent fighting the largest of those wildfires, and that 80 percent of the 51 largest fires were caused by lightning.
Idaho Statesman (AP); March 8
Environmental groups urge investigation into grizzly disappearance in Montana
Two weeks after federal researchers captured and radio-collared a male grizzly bear on the Montana-Idaho border near the U.S. Sheep Research Station, the 392-pound bear disappeared late last summer, with its radio collar found shortly after that buried under a rock, and the Cottonwood Environmental Law Center filed notice this week demanding that if the federal government does not take steps to protect bears on the 16,000-acre research station, the group will move to stop grazing on the station.
Flathead Beacon (AP); March 8
Wyoming DEQ cites four companies for air pollution violations
Four oil and gas companies were cited last week by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality for uncontrolled emissions from wells, inaccurate records tracking pollutants and other violations.
Casper Star-Tribune; March 8
Two Elk to begin building waste-coal-to-energy project in Wyoming next year
The waste-coal-to-energy project near Wright has been on the drawing board since the 1990s, but Two Elk Power Co., a subsidiary of Colorado-based North American Power Group, says it's now ready to begin construction on the $750-million, 300-megawatt plant in Wyoming early next year.
Casper Star-Tribune; March 8
Full-court press from Colorado moves federal watershed funds along
With the threat of early summer rains causing floods along the wildfire-scorched hillsides in Colorado looming large in state and local officials' minds, dozens lobbied Congress to provide Colorado money from the Emergency Watershed Protection fund, and the U.S. House approved funding, with Colorado expected to get $17 million of the $20 million it requested.
Denver Post; March 8
Colorado, USFWS probe reasons for decline on bighorn sheep numbers
Ten bighorn sheep were recently radio-collared by federal and Colorado officials in an attempt to figure out why the number of bighorn sheep in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness has decreased so dramatically over the past 15 years.
Aspen Times; March 8
Wyoming works on a plan to clear Yellowstone Park roads
Gov. Matt Mead and other Wyoming officials are working with representatives of gateway communities around Yellowstone National Park to come up with the funds to clear the park's roads as cuts due to sequester may force the park to delay doing so.
Jackson Hole Daily; March 8
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.