Tag Archives: energy development

Feds unveil 10-state sage grouse conservation plan

The federal government rolled out their sage grouse conservation plan to considerable debate . . .

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell revealed plans Thursday to preserve habitat in 10 Western states for an imperiled ground-dwelling bird, the federal government’s biggest land-planning effort to date for conservation of a single species.

The proposal would affect energy development. The regulations would require oil and gas wells to be clustered in groups of a half-dozen or more to avoid scattering them across habitat of the greater sage grouse. Drilling near breeding areas would be prohibited during mating season, and power lines would be moved away from prime habitat to avoid serving as perches for raptors that eat sage grouse.

Some will say the plans don’t go far enough to protect the bird, Jewell said. “But I would say these plans are grounded in sound science — the best available science,” she said at a news conference on a ranch near Cheyenne.

Read more . . .

A response to Senator Daines’ resource development letter

Sen. Daines wrote Montanans on December 19, 2014 asking for feedback on “what Congress should do to increase development of traditional and renewable resources in our state while ensuring we remain good stewards of the environment.”  He also sought feedback on what to do about Montana Wilderness Study Areas. Signed by six prominent conservation groups, the following level-headed response was sent to him last Friday. It’s a lengthy letter, but worth the read. (It is also available for download as a PDF.)


January 23, 2015

The Honorable Steve Daines
US Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Daines:

We the undersigned groups are sending this letter in response to your December 19 letter seeking feedback on “what Congress should do to increase development of traditional and renewable resources in our state while ensuring we remain good stewards of the environment.” While we appreciate your effort to seek Montanans’ input, we were discouraged by the one-sided framing of issues in your letter. Presenting current government policies as outdated, burdensome and placing severe limits on all energy development does not accurately describe the status quo in our view, nor is this extreme characterization likely to bring diverse Montanans together behind the “balanced solutions” your letter seeks.

Indeed, Montanans across the political spectrum value outdoor spaces and public lands that preserve our natural heritage and enhance our recreation economy, while also promoting responsible resource extraction. The debate on energy and public lands in Montana has progressed beyond the either/or choice between fossil fuel extraction or conservation and recreation. A 2014 Conservation in the West poll confirms this shift, a majority of Montana voters believe we need a balanced approach between energy development and conservation on public lands compared to 27% who think public lands energy development should be strictly limited and 20% who think public lands should be generally open to drilling.

Since your letter specifically requested perspectives on possible release of Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs), we wanted to make sure you are also aware of the consistent and broad support in the state for our wildest lands. Montanans are outdoors people who are proud of our protected Wilderness Areas — from the Bob Marshall to the Cabinets, Rattlesnake and Beartooth Plateau. In the June 2014, University of Montana state wide poll, 78% of respondents said permanently protecting some public lands in Montana as Wilderness has been a good thing for the state. While 51% support designating additional lands as Wilderness, that support level jumped to 66% in the poll if those designations are “crafted here in Montana with community input and the support of local groups.”

Continue reading A response to Senator Daines’ resource development letter

Reports says sage grouse needs 3-mile buffer from energy projects

A recent government report calls for a 3-mile buffer from energy development activities to protect sage grouse. This is not just a drilling restriction, it also applies to other activities such as solar arrays and wind farms . . .

A government report with significant implications for the U.S. energy industry says a struggling bird species needs a 3-mile buffer between its breeding grounds and oil and gas drilling, wind farms and solar projects.

The study comes as the Obama administration weighs new protections for the greater sage grouse. The ground-dwelling, chicken-sized birds range across 11 western states and two Canadian provinces.

A 3-mile buffer for the birds represents a much larger area than the no-occupancy zones where drilling and other activity is prohibited under some state and federal land management plans.

Read more . . .

Two more energy companies agree to retire North Fork leases

From an Associated Press article posted this afternoon . . .

Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester say two more energy companies have agreed to retire their leases in the North Fork watershed of Montana’s Flathead River.

Louisiana-based Allen and Kirmse, Ltd. will relinquish its interest in 50,889 acres of land in the region, which borders Glacier National Park and extends into British Columbia. Texas-based Anadarko will relinquish its interest in 24,111 acres.

Read the full article . . .

Flathead Lakers to present Stewardship Award to Gov. Schweitzer and BC Premier Campbell

From today’s Daily Inter Lake . . .

The Flathead Lakers will present their annual Stewardship Award to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell at their annual meeting on July 15.

The award will recognize the landmark agreement the two leaders signed in February banning mining and oil-and-gas development in the North Fork Flathead watershed, headwaters to Flathead Lake.

Read the entire article . . .

North Fork protection may come as a treaty

From this week’s Hungry Horse News . . .

A deal to permanently protect the North Fork of the Flathead from mining and energy exploration could ultimately be resolved in a treaty between the two countries.

President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Monday that they were directing their federal agencies to look at ways of solidifying a deal struck between Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and British Columbia Prime Minister Gordon Campbell in February.

Read the full article . . .

North Fork mining ban deadline ‘in doubt’

From todays’ Flathead Beacon, more fussing about the July deadline for implementing the provisions of the memorandum of understanding signed by Montana Gov. Schweitzer and BC Premier Campbell during the Winter Olympics . . .

The historic agreement banning natural resource development along the North Fork Flathead River, signed by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell earlier this year, contains language saying the retirement of oil, gas and mineral leases must be completed by July.

It is a deadline, Schweitzer acknowledged last week, “in doubt.”

Read the full article . . .

Schweitzer says deal to protect Flathead still holding together

From today’s Missoulian. Recommended reading . . .

An agreement to protect the American and Canadian sides of the Flathead River Basin from mining and energy extraction is holding together, even though snags have developed in financing the deal.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer met with British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell in Victoria on Wednesday and returned with assurances their memorandum of understanding on the Flathead’s protection would survive a July deadline.

Read the full article . . .

B.C. Premier Campbell & Montana Gov. Schweitzer sign agreement banning mining & energy development in Flathead basin

They did it. In the promised follow-up to last week’s announcement that British Columbia was halting all resource extraction activities in the Canadian Flathead, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell and Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer met today in Vancouver, B. C. to sign an agreement banning mining and energy development throughout the transboundary Flathead Valley.

The Missoulian has the best coverage . . .

With an exchange of bolo ties and Olympic mittens, Gov. Brian Schweitzer and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell signed an agreement in Vancouver to ban mineral and energy extraction in the cross-border Flathead River Basin on Thursday morning.

“I’m not taking credit for this,” Schweitzer said after the ceremony. “There are people who’ve spent their lifetime working on this goal. I’ve run one lap. And now I’m handing the baton along to the congressional delegation. They have a tall order to convince their colleagues this is the right thing and the right time to do it.”

Read the full article . . .

For those of you who like to read source documents, here is the full text of the “Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation on Environmental Protection, Climate Action and Energy” signed today by Premier Campbell and Governor Schweitzer and witnessed by Kathryn Teneese, Chair of Ktunaxa Nation Council and Michel Kenmille, Council Member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Baucus & Tester plan legislation banning mining & energy development in North Fork

Not to be outdone by the folks north of the 49th parallel, U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester will introduce legislation banning mining and energy development on federal lands in the North Fork Flathead drainage.

The Missoulian has the story . . .

Two days after British Columbia placed the area north of Glacier National Park off limits to mining, Montana’s leadership announced it would do the same on federal lands here.

“We need to show the Canadians we’re working in good faith on our side of the border, as well,” said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

Read the entire article . . .