Monday, October 17, 2016

Bigamy's matchmaking answer to Tinder (and more News of the Weird)

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Extreme Hobbies
John Weigel and Olaf Danielson are engaged in a frenzied battle of “extreme birdwatching,” each hoping to close out 2016 as the new North American champ of the American Birding Association, and a September Smithsonian piece had Weigel ahead, 763 to 759. Danielson is perhaps better known for doing much of his birding in the nude (and is the author of the provocatively titled volume, “Boobies, Peckers and Tits”—all common names of popular birds). The old one-year record was 749, and the association attributes the larger numbers this year to El Nino, which has disrupted food supplies and driven birds into different locations.

Fine Points of the Law

Compelling Explanation: Senate bill 1342, passed in the Idaho legislature earlier in 2016, authorizes schools to use the Bible as a reference in classrooms (despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s having specifically condemned a previous version of the bill ever since 1964). The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sage Dixon, said he thought his law was nonetheless constitutional because, “The little Supreme Court in my head says this is OK.” (Even so, Gov. C.L. Otter vetoed the bill.)

Nebraska voters in November will be asked whether to keep the state’s longstanding death penalty for murder—even though retaining it will require them to vote “repeal.” The legislature replaced death row last year with mandatory life sentences, and the referendum is to “repeal” or “retain” that legislation. Hence, to abolish the death penalty, voters must select “retain.” The state attorney general, and election officials, declined to challenge the confusing arrangement, instead suggesting that Nebraskans are smart enough to figure the whole thing out.

The Arizona legislature passed a child-molestation law recently that made any adult contact with children’s genitals a criminal act, but unlike in other states’ similar laws, neglected to include a requirement that the outlawed contact be for “sexual” purposes. Consequently, in principle, parents may be criminally liable, for example, for bathing a baby or changing its diaper. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled in September that it is up to the legislature to change the law, but some lawmakers professed indifference, confident that district attorneys will use good judgment about whom to prosecute.

Fun With Pennies
Robert Napolitan, 34, was arrested in Taylor, Pennsylvania, in September and charged with theft of a drum containing 300,000 pennies from his employer, Pyne Freight Lines. That steel drum weighs several tons and, of course, netted Napolitan only $3,000. (By contrast, in New York City’s Diamond District in September, a brazen thief made off with a 5-gallon drum containing 86 pounds of something else—gold flakes, valued at more than $1 million—and is still at large.)

For some reason, according to a High Point, North Carolina, TV report, Larry Hall of Randolph County took seven-plus weeks out of his life recently and glued pennies to cover (except for windows and chrome) his 2000 Chevrolet Blazer (a total of 51,300 coins).

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Rockies Today, October 14

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 3:13 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit

Sen. Tester seeks to block mines near Yellowstone

Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, has asked the Obama administration to block a pair of mining proposals outside Yellowstone National Park, and announced that he’s considering legislation to accomplish that.

In a letter (PDF) sent Thursday to the heads of the Interior Department, USDA, Forest Service, and BLM, Tester wrote, in part:

Mining has long played an important role in Montana’s history and our economy, but there are some places where it simply isn’t appropriate. The doorstep of Yellowstone, which was established as our first national park 144 years ago, is one of those places. The approximately 31,400 acres of public lands proposed from withdrawal adjacent to Yellowstone and the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness in the Custer Gallatin National Forest deserve special consideration because of their unique character, exceptional beauty, and ecological value.

The Billings Gazette recently reported that the proposals highlight “the growing pains of the New West — an old economy of resource extraction versus a cleaner, but often lower-paying, service industry; recreation versus industry; wildlife and the remaining areas of undisturbed habitat versus development,” and produced the following video.

Tester has also come out against the contentious Black Butte copper mine proposal, which could pollute the Smith River, saying the river “represents one of the best places to float, fish, and camp, and one of the last places you can escape civilization and truly experience Montana as our ancestors did.”

Attorneys general: no legal footing for land grabs

A new report (PDF) by the Conference of Western Attorney Generals, based on two years of work, casts doubt on many of the arguments Utah and other states have put forward in their push to gain control of millions of acres of federal land. CWAG, made up of the top law officers in 15 western states and three U.S. territories, voted 11–1 to approve the report at their annual meeting in Idaho this summer.

The report’s conclusion, in part:

Equality of sovereignty is an important constitutional principle that can help prevent federal intrusions upon the sovereignty and independence of the states. Court precedents, however, provide little support for the proposition that the principles of equal footing or equal sovereignty may compel transfer of public lands to the western states.

A photographer gets engulfed in ‘sagebrush sea’

David Showalter celebrates the sage grouse in his recent book Sage Spirit. Journalist Todd Wilkinson recently interviewed Showalter on what he learned as he toured the country speaking about sage grouse and the government’s controversial decision not to list the species.

I never really wanted my book to be a grouse book; it’s far more important that we view this sagebrush sea as the fabric that holds the West together. Sage-grouse are an umbrella species for 300-plus western wildlife species that rely on sagebrush for survival and sage-grouse offer a window into this remarkable, singular sagebrush ecosystem.

Fine dining in Weed Country

Pairing food with marijuana in Colorado.

The marijuana industry is trying to move away from its pizza-and-Doritos roots as folks explore how to safely serve marijuana and food. Chefs are working with marijuana growers to chart the still-very-unscientific world of pairing food and weed. And a proliferation of mass-market cheap pot is driving professional growers to develop distinctive flavors and aromas to distinguish themselves in a crowded market.
“We talk with the (marijuana) grower to understand what traits they saw in the marijuana … whether it’s earthy notes, citrus notes, herbal notes, things that we could play off,” said Corey Buck, head of catering for Blackbelly Restaurant, a top-rated farm-to-table restaurant that provided the meal.

Coal miner opts to export through B.C.

Lighthouse Resources, which operates mines in Montana and Wyoming, says it’s exporting coal to South Korea through British Columbia’s Westshore Terminals, and abandoning the stalled coal terminal proposal at Port of Morrow in Boardman, Oregon.

“I imagine Lighthouse doesn’t see a future for coal exports on the Columbia,” said Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky with Columbia Riverkeepers. “I see their attempt to export coal through Canada as a backdoor way to avoid the environmental standards that Oregon and Washington have put in place to review — and in Oregon’s case deny — coal exports.”

South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, plans to build 19 new coal-fired power plants by 2022, and ranks among the top coal importers globally.

Scorched trees featured in Boise art exhibit

Sicilian-born artist Giuseppe Licari has spent the last month and a half collecting, disassembling and then reconfiguring burned trees — many of them from Idaho’s massive Pioneer Fire—for a new art exhibit called “Contrappunto,” which means counterpoint.

“So in a way, metaphorically, this burning landscape somehow reflects the burning political situation we are in and the results we are seeing also in contemporary society,” says Licari. “Not just in the States or in Europe, but in the world.”

Quantifying the hunting economy

About 13.7 million people, or 6 percent of the U.S. population over age 16, consider themselves hunters. Below are some figures from the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation 2011 report, the latest available.

National effort to save monarch butterfly builds

On Thursday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock took the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, committing the city to “sustainable practices” that will help a butterfly whose numbers in North America have declined drastically.

Denver’s effort will include creating a monarch-friendly demonstration garden at City Hall, converting abandoned lots to monarch habitat and changing mowing schedules to allow milkweed to grow.

A recovery will require much more than milkweed:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Devil’s Hump Red Ale wins gold

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 2:56 PM

The stakes: Competition was thick in Denver last week. Judges at the 30th annual Great American Beer Festival waded through 7,227 entries from more than 1,750 breweries to select a mere 286 award-worthy brews. In other words, hundreds of brewers across the nation had simultaneously crossed their fingers. When the buzz cleared, one Missoula brew came away with a gold medal.
  • Photo by Alex Sakariassen
The winner: Devil’s Hump Red Ale, which claimed top prize in the Irish-style Red Ale category, is a whole lot lighter than the name might imply. The Missoula Brewing Company flagship weighs in at a drinkable 5 percent alcohol-by-volume. Taste-wise it tends to start out a bit on the sweet side, before the heavier malt body gives way to a crisper hops finish. And if that first sip triggers some deja vu, don’t be surprised.

The backstory: Though the name is new, Devil’s Hump has actually been kicking around western Montana since 2008. MBC owner Bob Lukes introduced the recipe after acquiring the rights to the Highlander beer label, and it won Best of Montana at the Garden City BrewFest in 2009. Formerly available only in bomber bottles and on select taps, the red-ale reimagining of one of Montana’s oldest brews finally enjoyed a wider release, including six-packs, shortly after MBC opened the doors of its taproom in 2015.

Fellow winners: MBC wasn’t the only Montana brewery to snag an award at last week’s festival. Philipsburg Brewing won a bronze medal for its 5 Phantoms Pumpkin Spice Barleywine. Billings-based Uberbrew claimed two gold medals, a silver and a bronze, and was also singled out as Small Brewing Company of the Year.

Find it: If you’re in the mood for a little Devil’s Hump, stop by Missoula Brewing Company at 200 International Dr., off Reserve Street.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email

Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): A study published in the peer-reviewed Communications Research suggests that only 28 percent of us realize when someone is flirting with us. I hope that figure won’t apply to you Aries in the coming weeks. According to my analysis of the astrological situation, you will be on the receiving end of more invitations, inquiries and allurements than usual. The percentage of these that might be worth responding to will also be higher than normal. Not all of them will be obvious, however. So be extra vigilant.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The ancient Greek sage Socrates was a founder of Western philosophy and a seminal champion of critical thinking. And yet he relied on his dreams for crucial information. He was initiated into the esoteric mysteries of love by the prophetess Diotima, and had an intimate relationship with a daimonion, a divine spirit. I propose that we make Socrates your patron saint for the next three weeks. Without abandoning your reliance on logic, make a playful effort to draw helpful clues from non-rational sources, too. (P.S.: Socrates drew oracular revelations from sneezes. Please consider that outlandish possibility yourself. Be alert, too, for the secret meanings of coughs, burps, grunts, mumbles and yawns.)

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): The Helper Experiment, Part One: Close your eyes and imagine that you are in the company of a kind, attentive helper—a person, animal, ancestral spirit or angel that you either know well or haven’t met yet. Spend at least five minutes visualizing a scene in which this ally aids you in fulfilling a particular goal. The Helper Experiment, Part Two: Repeat this exercise every day for the next seven days. Each time, visualize your helper making your life better in some specific way. Now here’s my prediction: Carrying out The Helper Experiment will attract actual support into your real life.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): New rules: 1. It’s unimaginable and impossible for you to be obsessed with anything or anyone that’s no good for you. 2. It’s unimaginable and impossible for you to sabotage your stability by indulging in unwarranted fear. 3. It’s imaginable and possible for you to remember the most crucial thing you have forgotten. 4. It’s imaginable and possible for you to replace debilitating self-pity with invigorating self-love and healthy self-care. 5. It’s imaginable and possible for you to discover a new mother lode of emotional strength.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): It’s swing-swirl-spiral time, Leo. It’s ripple-sway-flutter time and flow-gush-gyrate time and jive-jiggle-juggle time. So I trust you will not indulge in fruitless yearnings for unswerving progress and rock-solid evidence. If your path is not twisty and tricky, it’s probably the wrong path. If your heart isn’t teased and tickled into shedding its dependable formulas, it might be an overly hard heart. Be an improvisational curiosity-seeker. Be a principled player of unpredictable games.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Some English-speaking astronomers use the humorous slang term “meteor-wrong.” It refers to a rock that is at first thought to have fallen from the heavens as a meteorite (“meteor-right”), but that is ultimately proved to be of terrestrial origin. I suspect there may currently be the metaphorical equivalent of a meteor-wrong in your life. The source of some new arrival or fresh influence is not what it had initially seemed. But that doesn’t have to be a problem. On the contrary. Once you have identified the true nature of the new arrival or fresh influence, it’s likely to be useful and interesting.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Rockies Today, October 11

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 5:07 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit

Climate change doubles Western wildfire extent

A new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concludes that human-induced climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires in the West over the last 30 years.

Fires in western forests began increasing abruptly in the 1980s, as measured by area burned, the number of large fires, and length of the fire season. The increases have continued, and recently scientists and public officials have in part blamed human-influenced climate change. The new study is perhaps the first to quantify that assertion. “A lot of people are throwing around the words climate change and fire — specifically, last year fire chiefs and the governor of California started calling this the ‘new normal,’ “ said lead author John Abatzoglou, a professor of geography at the University of Idaho. “We wanted to put some numbers on it.”

Gold King: To contain mine drainage or funnel it out?

The EPA is wrestling with whether to try to contain toxic mine drainage inside the mountains, or funnel it out and clean it perpetually at huge expense.

Colorado and federal authorities want to resolve the issue as soon as possible because today’s untreated flow into Animas headwaters — averaging 3,750 gallons a minute — may be hurting not only the environment but human health, officials said recently.
All it would take inside this abandoned Red and Bonita Mine tunnel is a turn of the blue screw on that bulkhead plug to stop hundreds of gallons of the sulfuric acid from leaking. But if the EPA crew does turn that screw, shutting a valve, the blockage could cause new toxic blowouts from other mountainside tunnels, veins, faults and fissures.

Massive transmission project nears final approval

The BLM has released its final environmental impact statement for the two segments of the Gateway West project proposed by Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power. Should it win final approval, the 1,000-mile transmission line would run through southern Wyoming and southern Idaho, potentially tapping into Wyoming’s wind energy.

Why save Idaho farmland?

As growth and development spread across the Treasure Valley, the Treasure Valley Food Coalition is starting a conversation about preserving farmland in places like Canyon County.

Boise State has released a new survey that shows 24 percent of respondents think agriculture is the most important economic sector in the Treasure Valley.

Wyoming’s water war continues

Environmentalists and Wyoming ranchers agreed last month to end their two-year legal fight over whether a field worker trespassed when measuring water pollution on public grazing allotments. The real conflict, both sides agree, was never really as much about “trespassing” as it was about who was trespassing.

…the “settlement” between the 17 Wyoming ranchers who brought the lawsuit and Western Watersheds, the Idaho-based environmental watchdog, is like a ceasefire in Syria — more posturing than fact — rather than an actual end to hostilities.

Utah’s largest utility approves new solar fixed fees

Provo city leaders have approved a new fee for rooftop solar customers, arguing, as many utilities do, that net metering amounts to a subsidy paid by customers without solar panels. Matt Pacenza, executive director of HEAL Utah, a renewables advocacy group, said that instead of making it easier to install solar, “four council members decided to stick a knife in its back.” Rooftop solar is generally booming in Utah.

From Utility Dive:

The utility in an open letter to customers on its Facebook page said the “new Grid Access Fee is not intended to raise revenue but is intended to cover the fixed cost of the distribution system accessed by solar customers and not transfer these cost to customers that do not have the opportunity to install solar panels.”

Wildfire no longer exclusively a Western problem

Nationally, nearly a third of new homes built since 2000 are in the wildland-urban interface.

More than half the wildfires between 1992 and 2013 occurred in southern states such as Texas, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina. Fires there typically are smaller — with an average size of 27.6 acres. Fires in Western states are roughly six times larger.
But as climate change continues to bring warmer, drier conditions to most of the country, many experts agree that wildfires will be both larger and more frequent.
And those frequently tasked with battling the flames — local fire departments — often don’t have the training to fight wildfires.

Dakota Access pipeline construction to resume

The U.S. Court of Appeals has now joined the Federal District Court in denying the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s motion for an injunction to stop construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Colorado looks to push tourists to new areas

As travelers increasingly descend on Colorado, how to “push the right travelers to the right places”?

Tourism is booming in Colorado. Last year the state lured 77.7 million visitors who spent $19.1 billion, setting a fifth record for an industry that generated $1.13 billion in state and local taxes. Since the depth of the Great Recession, Colorado has seen a 31 percent rebound in visitation — almost double the national rate of recovery.
This year is pacing toward a sixth consecutive record number of visitors, and along the way, tourism leaders say they are hearing a consistent lament from Colorado’s most popular destinations: We are too busy.

The New Yorker pays tribute to the Craigheads

Jordan Fisher Smith, who came to know the Craigheads while working on a book about John and Frank’s collision with the National Park Service, writes about “the most recognizable faces in American wildlife conservation” in the ’60s and ’70s.

They wore flannel shirts and lived in log cabins, but were presciently unsentimental about what was “natural” or “unnatural” — a distinction that, with climate change and other human injuries to the planet, has become harder and harder to make. They thought only about what would give wild creatures a chance.

Uncle Bill's Sausages closes in midst of Brooks Street renovation

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Missoula deli cases will soon be missing a familiar homegrown brand. Bill Stoianoff, the beret-wearing mascot and owner of Uncle Bill’s Sausages, is retiring after more than 30 years in the local food business. He’s run his eclectic storefront, The Joint Effort, even longer. He says the decision to close up shop was prompted in part because The Joint Effort’s lease expires in November, since its Brooks Street location has been bought by Southgate Mall with plans to demolish it. Oct. 29 will be his final farmers market appearance.

After about 30 years of making sausage, Bill Stoianoff is closing up shop. - KATE WHITTLE
  • Kate Whittle
  • After about 30 years of making sausage, Bill Stoianoff is closing up shop.

“I thought about another store, but god, I’m damn near 70 years old, I should retire,” Stoianoff says. “So whether I like it or not, that’s what’s happening. I’m not telling anybody what I’m doing. I’m just gonna go live some life.”

He’s not the only Brooks Street tenant to decide to close—his neighbor, Pet Nebula, is also calling it quits. Pet Nebula owner Jenny Lundberg DeNeut says she’s known about the lease expiring for a while.

“We actually caught wind of it last summer,” she says. Lundberg DeNeut decided to take the opportunity to spend more time at home with her two young kids.

The property manager, Jerry Ford with Lambros Real Estate, says Southgate Mall recently bought 1918 Brooks with plans to raze it. He says he wasn’t told what might be planned to go into the space.

Uncle Bill's Sausages ended production in late September, and his store is nearly empty. Local grocery stores should still have plenty of stock left, he says. - KATE WHITTLE
  • Kate Whittle
  • Uncle Bill's Sausages ended production in late September, and his store is nearly empty. Local grocery stores should still have plenty of stock left, he says.

As for Uncle Bill’s Sausages, Stoianoff also alludes to some kind of conflict with the Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center, where he’s rented kitchen space for years.

“Well, that’s another whole story I don’t wanna get into,” Stoianoff says.

The food processing center’s director, Jan Tusick, responds that they wish Stoianoff nothing but the best.

“We’re going to miss Bill,” Tusick says. “He had a great product line.”

Tusick does say that across the country, small businesses like Stoianoff’s are facing increasing scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Recently passed regulations require additional food safety precautions and a new $800 training course, which can be daunting for small businesses trying to stay on top of the rules, she says.

“[The USDA inspectors] are becoming more and more present, is the best way to say it, so we’re also seeing more stringent inspections happening every day,” Tusick says. The food processing center is liable if it’s tied to any illness outbreaks.

"We’re almost like mini regulators in a sense, but we have to be,” she says.

Stoianoff says he’ll always be proud of his gourmet sausages. The recipes are secret—“goddamn right, they are”—at least until he finds an interested buyer who offers the right price. He says he learned about cooking during his extensive world travels, and he still makes chorizo the way he was taught in Oaxaca, Mexico.

“It’s been a damn fun run,” he says.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cop arrests woman for stealing his french fries (and more News of the Weird)

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Frontiers of Science
Large kidney stones typically mean eye-watering pain and sudden urinary blockage until the stone “passes” (often requiring expensive sound-wave treatment to break up a large stone). Michigan State University urologist David Wartinger told The Atlantic in September that he had recently happened upon a pain-free—even exciting!—way to pass stones before they become problems: the centripetal force from a roller coaster ride. In a 200-trip experiment preparing for a validating “human” trial, he successfully passed stones in his hand-held, silicone model kidney (using his own urine) about two-thirds of the time when sitting in a rear seat at Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.


With about 30 states having adopted some form of “stand your ground” defense to assault (or murder) charges, five membership organizations, charging up to $40 a month, have signed up a half-million gun owners concerned that law enforcement treat them fairly should they someday be forced to shoot—providing instructions and a “hot line” to coach members on what to tell police, plus liability insurance and help getting a lawyer. Critics say such organizations are also useful to those who might be prone to shooting people and want advice on how best to get away with it. The U.S. Concealed Carry organization’s wallet-sized card, to give to police, asks that the shooter under suspicion be given the same consideration as the officers might give to their own colleagues under suspicion.

In a dozen YouTube videos recently released, Syria’s Tourism Ministry praised the country’s sandy, fun-filled beaches as ideal vacation spots and its many World Heritage Sites as renowned tourist exhibits—attempting to distract world travelers from the country’s daily bloodshed (and the wartime destruction of those priceless historical sites). Before civil war broke out in 2011, Syria was a fashionable, $8 billion-a-year destination (and the now-devastated city of Aleppo was known worldwide for its food).

Diego the giant tortoise, believed to be more than 100 years old, now lives in semi-retirement on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos, but from 1976 to 2010, Diego brought an almost-extinct species back to life by fathering about 800 babies in the captive breeding program on Espanola, another of the Galapagos Islands. Biologists did not realize Diego’s prowess until 2010 when DNA tests identified him as the father of 40 percent of all tortoises on the island. Even on Santa Cruz Island, Diego keeps busy, with a “harem” of six females. (Another Galapagos tortoise species did die out in 2012 when the last male, the centenarian Lonesome George, maintained his celibacy until death.)

Continue reading »

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Rockies Today, October 6

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 2:26 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit

The ozone problem

Researchers in Colorado and around the country are starting to take a closer look at how air pollution from oil and gas development, particularly ground-level ozone, affects public health.

Some researchers are starting to draw a straight line between ozone and oil and gas development. In a study published in September in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers in Pennsylvania found that exposure to oil and gas air pollution was associated with exacerbated asthma attacks. It was the first scientific study of its kind.
Another report this summer linked asthma attacks and oil and gas development. It was written by an environmental advocacy coalition, the Clean Air Task Force, and said tens of thousands of childhood asthma attacks here in the future would be caused by oil and gas development. The report was not peer-reviewed. The oil and gas industry in Colorado rejected the study.
Another recent study was the first to quantify the contribution of the oil and gas industry on the amount of ozone on Colorado’s Front Range.
“Oil and gas contributed seventeen percent to ozone production locally,” said Erin McDuffie, who is a scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Overlooking ozone stymies Utah gas project

A federal judge has invalidated the BLM’s approval of 16 gas wells in Utah’s Uinta Basin, saying the agency didn’t sufficiently analyze how the wells would contribute to the rural region’s worsening air quality.

The ruling illustrates how ozone could be the Achilles’ heel for future development in the hydrocarbon-rich Uinta Basin, already saddled with transportation bottlenecks that render its 30-million-barrel output of crude less valuable than oil produced elsewhere. Although the basin is rural, it has been plagued with an unusual wintertime ozone problem that is largely attributed to the region’s oil and gas boom. Emissions and leaks from drill rigs, wells, pipelines, tanks and compressors react with sunlight to form ground-level ozone during cold-weather inversions.

How scientists track North Dakota’s spewing gases

Airborne methane is difficult to track using conventional analysis, but the “crisp signal” of ethane serves as evidence that the Bakken is leaking raw natural gas, including huge amounts of methane.

What they found in the skies over the Bakken that May was the equivalent of 1 to 3 percent of the world’s estimated emissions of ethane floating over a relatively tiny place. It was evidence that the Bakken was leaking raw natural gas, including huge amounts of methane, which is 86 times more potent as a global warmer than carbon dioxide during the first nine years of its life. Then it decays into carbon dioxide, which can last for centuries.
The study concluded that the Bakken was leaking methane at a rate of 275,000 tons per year. That meant finding and closing the leaks would have about the same impact on climate change as removing 1.45 million cars from the nation’s highways for a year. The ethane leak, of similar size, was so big that it was detected in Europe.

Paris climate accord now official

The most comprehensive international climate agreement ever will take effect next month after the European Union on Wednesday pushed the pact past the threshold required for it to be enacted.

The Paris agreement commits rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns. It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Canada also ratified the agreement on Wednesday.

Plight of Yellowstone River forges alliances

Biologists, business owners, and river recreationists come together to discuss adapting to the new normal.

Scott Opitz, the FWP fisheries biologist on the Yellowstone River, said there have been significant changes to the way snowpack feeds the Yellowstone. Runoff is starting earlier and ending sooner, reducing available habitat for fish in the hot months of July and August.
“Now we see below average flows more often than we used to in that mid-summer, early fall time frame,” Opitz said.
He said that’s a time when fish are looking for deeper holes or cooler spots in the river, a place of refuge from high temperatures. Portions of the Yellowstone saw temperatures above 70 degrees this summer, well above the ideal temperature for trout.

The scheme to nullify Missoula’s gun ordinance

Will Montana’s conservative attorney general write an opinion to nullify the state’s first local law requiring background checks for most gun sales and transfers?

How Trump is recoloring the West’s politics

Donald Trump’s ridicule of Republican Party leaders, his calls for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and for a ban on Muslim immigration, and the vitriol and violence evident at his rallies raise major questions about our nation and our democracy. But how are they playing out in the West? In this episode of West Obsessed, the writers and editors of High Country News discuss Trump’s run for president and the impact its having in the region.

U.S. crude reaches $50 a barrel

For the first time since late June, U.S. crude passed $50 a barrel, partly due to data suggesting the market is beginning to work through its supply glut.

U.S.-traded oil prices climbed after the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest data Wednesday showed U.S. crude supplies fell by 3 million barrels in the week ended Sept. 30, down for the fifth straight week. The surprise drop brought total inventories to 499.7 million barrels, the lowest since January, though they were still 38.7 million barrels higher than a year ago.

Opinion: Wyoming needs to stop stalling wind

It makes sense for the state and federal government to impose severance taxes when oil, gas, precious metals and other minerals are permanently taken from the land. But taxing energy production from renewables such as wind and solar as if they, too, were not renewable, makes no sense. Nor does it make sense to single out a specific form of energy production that has the capacity to meet consumer demand and help reduce carbon emissions.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Duck, duck, quail: city considers expanding livestock beyond chickens

Posted By on Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 10:26 AM

Except for the stray “quack” occasionally ringing through the air, it’s unlikely that passersby would notice the ducks trotting around the backyard of a South Fifth Street home. That’s where Kevin Pierce keeps his two Swedish blue duck hens, along with four chickens.

“They’ll bond and imprint on you, and they’re as friendly as dogs or cats,” Pierce says. He hasn’t officially named his ducks, though. He admits he usually just calls them something like “Wiggles” and “Waddles.”
Two Swedish blue ducks are responsible for inspiring a new proposal to allow urban duck-keeping. - KATE WHITTLE
  • Kate Whittle
  • Two Swedish blue ducks are responsible for inspiring a new proposal to allow urban duck-keeping.

Wiggles and Waddles ran afoul of the law when an anonymous caller reported Pierce to Missoula Animal Control last fall. Urban livestock regulations permit residents to own up to six female chickens, but not any other kind of domestic egg-layer, as Pierce discovered. He says almost everyone he encountered thought the duck citation was funny, except for the animal control officer who wrote the ticket and the city attorney’s office.

“They acted like I was some kind of criminal,” he says. “I mean, it’s just a couple ducks.”

Pierce ended up paying an $85 fine and found a legal loophole that lets him keep his ducks, though he prefers not to discuss it on the record. But for other residents who might be facing the same kind of fowl trouble, Pierce reached out to his neighbor, Councilwoman Michelle Cares. The Ward 6 representative agreed that ducks should be allowed, and she’s now sponsoring an amendment to the city’s urban chicken ordinance that would include ducks and quail under similar restrictions. She personally keeps chickens, but has never raised ducks.
Ducks can be shy of strangers, and thus difficult to get a good picture of. - KATE WHITTLE
  • Kate Whittle
  • Ducks can be shy of strangers, and thus difficult to get a good picture of.

Chickens were a controversial topic in Missoula in 2007, when city council went through a six-month process and lengthy public debates over whether to permit residents in the urban core to keep hens. (The whole thing even inspired the Indy's Cluck-Ups awards for "dubious accomplishments" that year.)

Cares is aware of the history, but she thinks ducks and quail will go over without much fuss. She’s heard from people who’d like to include turkeys, geese and guinea fowl, as well, but those go a feather too far for her.

“No bird farms,” she says.

Care’s proposal limits each license holder to six ducks, six chickens or 10 quail. Residents of single-family homes are eligible, as well as multi-family apartment renters as long as they get permission from all residents and the landlord. Cares is also suggesting reducing the $15 annual cost of bird licenses to a one-time-only fee.

At a committee discussion Sept. 28, most other council members expressed support for her measure.

“From what I’m seeing, it’s fine, chickens are not ruining our town,” Cares says. “Hopefully this will also continue to improve our town.”

Council’s public hearing for the duck and quail proposal is set for Oct. 17.

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Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.

ARIES (March
 21-April 19): At a recent party, a guy I hardly know questioned my
 authenticity. "You seem to have had an easy life," he jabbed. "I bet you haven't suffered enough to be a truly passionate person." I didn't choose to engage him, but mused to myself, "Not enough suffering? What about the time I got shot? My divorce? My five-year-long illness? The manager of my rock band getting killed in a helicopter crash?" But after that initial reaction, my thoughts turned to the adventures that have stoked my passion without causing pain, like the birth of my daughter, getting remarried to the woman I divorced, and performing my music for excited audiences. I bring this up, Aries, because I suspect that you, too, will soon have experiences that refine and deepen your passion through pleasure rather than hardship.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): It's theFrank and Focused Feedback Phase, Taurus — prime time to solicit insight about how you're doing. Here are four suggestions to get you started. 1. Ask a person who loves and respects you to speak the compassionate truth about what's most important for you to learn. 2. Consult a trustworthy advisor who can help motivate you to do the crucial thing you've been postponing. 3. Have an imaginary conversation with the person you were a year ago. Encourage the Old You to be honest about how the New You could summon more excellence in pursuing your essential goals. 4. Say this prayer to your favorite tree or animal or meadow: "Show me what I need to do in order to feel more joy."

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Many of my readers regard me as being exceptionally creative. Over the years, they have sent countless emails praising me for my original approach to problem-solving and art-making. But I suspect that I wasn't born with a greater talent for creativity than anyone else. I've simply placed a high value on developing it, and have worked harder to access it than most people. With that in mind, I invite you to tap more deeply into your own mother lode of innovative, imaginative energy. The cosmic trends favor it. Your hormones are nudging you in that direction. What projects could use a jolt of primal brilliance? What areas of your life need a boost of ingenuity?

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Love wants more of you. Love longs for you to give everything you have and receive everything you need. Love is conspiring to bring you beautiful truths and poignant teases, sweet dispensations and confounding mysteries, exacting blessings and riddles that will take your entire life to solve. But here are some crucial questions: Are you truly ready for such intense engagement? Are you willing to do what's necessary to live at a higher and deeper level? Would you know how to work with such extravagant treasure and wild responsibility? The coming weeks will be prime time to explore the answers to these questions. I'm not sure what your answers will be.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Each of us contains a multiplicity of selves. You may often feel like there's just one of you rumbling around inside your psyche, but it's closer to the truth to say that you're a community of various characters whose agendas sometimes overlap and sometimes conflict. For example, the needy part of you that craves love isn't always on the same wavelength as the ambitious part of you that seeks power. That's why it's a good idea to periodically organize summit meetings where all of your selves can gather and negotiate. Now is one of those times: a favorable moment to foster harmony among your inner voices and to mobilize them to work together in service of common goals.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Pike's Peak is a 14,115-foot mountain in Colorado. It's not a simple task to trek to the top. Unless you're well-trained, you might experience altitude sickness. Wicked thunderstorms are a regular occurrence during the summer. Snow falls year-round. But back in 1929, an adventurer named Bill Williams decided the task of hiking to the summit wasn't tough enough. He sought a more demanding challenge. Wearing kneepads, he spent 21 days crawling along as he used his nose to push a peanut all the way up. I advise you to avoid making him your role model in the coming weeks, Virgo. Just climb the mountain. Don't try to push a peanut up there with your nose, too.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): "It isn't normal to know what we want," said psychologist Abraham
Maslow. "It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement." He wasn't referring to the question of what you want for dinner or the new shoes you plan to buy. He was talking about big, long-term yearnings: what you hope to be when you grow up, the qualities you look for in your best allies, the feelings you'd love to feel in abundance every day of your life. Now here's the good news, Libra: The next ten months should bring you the best chance ever to figure
out exactly what you want the most. And it all starts now.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Practitioners of the Ayurvedic medical tradition tout the healing power of regular self-massage. Creativity expert Julia Cameron recommends that you periodically go out on dates with yourself. Taoist author Mantak Chia advises you to visualize sending smiles and good wishes to your kidneys, lungs, liver, heart, and other organs. He says that these acts of kindness bolster your vigor. The coming weeks will be an especially favorable time to attend to measures like these, Scorpio. I hope you will also be imaginative as you give yourself extra gifts and compliments and praise.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): The coming weeks will be one of the best times ever for wrestling with God or tussling with Fate or grappling with karma. Why do I say that? Because you're likely to emerge triumphant! That's right, you lucky, plucky contender. More than I've seen in a long time, you have the potential to draw on the crafty power and unruly wisdom and resilient compassion you would need to be an unambiguous winner. A winner of what? You tell me. What dilemma would you most like to resolve? What test would you most like to ace? At what game would you most like to be victorious? Now is the time.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Are you grunting and sweating as you struggle to preserve and maintain the gains of the past? Or are you smooth and cagey as you maneuver your way towards the rewards of the future? I'm rooting for you to put the emphasis on the second option. Paradoxically, that will be the best way to accomplish the first option. It will also ensure that your motivations are primarily rooted in love and enthusiasm rather than worry and stress. And that will enable you to succeed at the second option.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Do you believe that you are mostly just a product of social conditioning and your genetic make-up? Or are you willing to entertain a different hypothesis: that you are a primal force of nature on an unpredictable journey? That you are capable of rising above your apparent limitations and expressing aspects of yourself that might have been unimaginable when you were younger? I believe the coming weeks will be a favorable time to play around with this vision. Your knack for transcendence is peaking. So are your powers to escape the past and exceed limited expectations.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): In one of your nightly dreams, Robin Hood may team up with Peter Pan to steal unused treasure from a greedy monster – and then turn the booty over to you. Or maybe you'll meet a talking hedgehog and singing fox who will cast a spell to heal and revive one of your wounded fantasies. It's also conceivable that you will recover a magic seed that had been lost or forgotten, and attract the help of a fairy godmother or godfather to help you ripen it. 

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