Derailed oil train explodes, burns in North Dakota
A grain car that derailed toppled tanker cars carrying Bakken crude on Monday afternoon about a mile from Casselton, causing several explosions and a fire that sent a toxic plume over the North Dakota community, where a number of the 2,400 residents of the town heeded voluntary evacuation orders.
Denver Post; Dec. 31
Federal scientists say mercury levels around Alberta oilsands rising
At an international toxicology conference in Nashville last month, Environment Canada scientist Jane Kirk said that measurements taken by a team of the agency's scientists indicated that mercury contamination from Alberta's oilsands affected roughly 7,336 square miles of the province.
Canada.com (Postmedia News); Dec. 30
Nevada, Alaska among sites selected by FAA to test drone aircraft
The Federal Aviation Administration named six institutions to conduct tests of drones in eight states, including the State of Nevada, the University of Alaska and the North Dakota Department of Commerce.
New York Times; Dec. 31
FAA decision on drone program disappoints Colorado university team
University of Colorado officials said they planned to meet with personnel from the Federal Aviation Administration to find out why the Colorado university didn't make the final cut.
Boulder Daily Camera; Dec. 31
GAO finds problems with EPA's tracking of pesticides
The Government Accountability Office found fault with the Environmental Protection Agency's tracking of pesticides from conditional to full registration, a process that allows companies to move forward with commercial sale of such pesticides without having full testing data, has environmental groups questioning the approval of clothianidin, a type of neonicotinoid, several versions of which have been banned in Europe because of concerns about the drugs' effect on honeybees.
Washington Post; Dec. 31
Home electricity use in the U.S. fell again this year
The Energy Information Administration said more energy-efficient appliances and homes pushed electricity use down for the third-consecutive year in 2013, and that usage rates this past year fell to a level not seen since 2001.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Dec. 31
Census: Western states among top in population growth
The Census Bureau released its population growth estimates on Monday that put North Dakota at the top in the nation in population growth, with a 3.1 percent increase between July 1, 2012 and July 1 this year; the District of Columbia ranked second; Utah third with 1.6 percent; followed by Colorado, which tied with Texas at 1.5 percent; Nevada had a 1.3 percent growth, and Idaho ranked next with 1 percent.
Idaho Statesman; Dec. 31
Real estate firm reports some interest in Montana ranch prepped to be resort
Hall and Hall, a real estate company that specializes in the sales of working and fishing and hunting ranches, is handling the sale of the Maclay Ranch in Montana's Bitterroot Valley, which was lost by the Maclay family at auction after a decade of trying to build a year-round resort on the property that included a ski area.
Missoulian; Dec. 31
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.