EPA mine spill could have been prevented
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Government investigators squarely blame the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a 3 million gallon wastewater spill from a Colorado gold mine, saying a cleanup crew rushed its work and failed to consider the complex engineering involved, triggering the very blowout it hoped to avoid.
The Interior Department probe concludes that the spill that fouled rivers in three states would have been avoided had the EPA team checked on water levels before digging into the mine.
The Associated Press obtained the investigation’s findings on the Aug. 5 spill prior to their public release on Thursday. The 132-page report has implications across the United States, where hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines have yet to be cleaned up.
Committee discuss suicide prevention for Indian youth
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The state health department is trying to determine the best way to spend a $250,000 appropriation to help prevent suicide among Native American youth.
The agency is asking tribes how they would like to see the money spent. The tribes have until Nov. 10 to submit final recommendations.
The Montana Suicide Review Team says 21 Native Americans in Montana completed suicide last year.
The Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation is working to prevent suicide by getting its youth involved in their culture and the land.
Jay Eagleman with the Chippewa Cree’s suicide prevention task force says the goal is to produce activities that create wellness.
State-Tribal Relations Interim Committee members said Thursday the Chippewa Cree effort is a good example for other tribes to follow.
Gun belonging to man shot by officers had not been fired
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The lead investigator in the shooting death of a Billings man wanted for burglary said the man did not fire his gun before six officers began shooting at him.
But several witnesses told a coroner’ s jury they heard officers order 48-year-old John Barry Marshall to stop and drop the gun several times before he was shot on Jan. 31 outside Billings Clinic.
Forensic pathologist Michael Bennett testified Wednesday that Marshall died of gunshot wounds to the chest. The injuries were consistent with someone who was on the ground and had turned to face officers.
A clinic employee testified that he saw Marshall fall while holding a gun and that officers yelled at him to stay down. Steve Theis said it looked like Marshall was trying to get back up when he was shot.
The coroner’s inquest continues Thursday.
Governor, industry reps head to Asia on trade mission
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock will lead a delegation of 16 state officials and industry representatives on a trade mission to South Korea and Taiwan.
The Democratic governor will depart Friday with leaders from educational, agricultural, high-tech manufacturing and tourism organizations for seven days in Taipei and Seoul.
Bullock says the delegation will meet with government leaders and individual businesses to expand investment in Montana products.
He says the trip will build on a similar trade mission to China last year.
The trip will cost an average $4,500 per person. Montana is paying for four people, including Bullock.
South Korea is the state’s second largest trading partner and Taiwan is the seventh largest. Last year, the state exported nearly $250 million in goods to the two countries.
Boy struck by car still hospitalized, charges unlikely
(Information in the following story is from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com)
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A Great Falls boy who suffered life-threatening injuries when he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle remains in the hospital.
The Great Falls Tribune reports that the 12-year-old was taken to the hospital Tuesday after he was hit near the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art.
Officer Katie Cunningham says charges are unlikely in the crash because the driver had the right of way. She says the car was traveling at a slow rate of speed because the light had just turned green when the boy crossed the street in front of the driver.
Cunningham says the boy was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
Timber sales resume following grizzly bear habitat agreement
(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Logging projects in northwest Montana have resumed and are expected to provide millions of dollars to school trust beneficiaries under a recently approved settlement over grizzly bear protection.
The Missoulian reports that an estimated 14 million board feet of timber will be harvested in the Coal Creek and Stillwater state forests near Whitefish. The proceeds of any timber sales on those lands will go toward schools and other endowed institutions.
The timber projects are now allowed to resume because of a settlement agreement between the Montana Department of Natural Resources and several conservation groups. A U.S. District Court judge approved the settlement Oct. 9.
The agreement ensures protection for more than 22,000 acres of grizzly bear habitat and prohibits permanent road construction within seven bear security zones.
Group objects to deal allowing Wyoming coal permit renewal
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A landowner group is objecting to a deal that would enable a coal company seeking bankruptcy reorganization to renew a Wyoming mine permit despite not meeting the state’s reclamation bonding requirements.
The Powder River Basin Resource Council says the agreement falls short of securing the almost $200 million that would be needed to reclaim Alpha Natural Resources’ Eagle Butte mine near Gillette.
Instead, the agreement between Wyoming and the company would give the state priority access to $61 million in case the mine closed and needed to be reclaimed.
The permit renewal comes up as Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources seeks Chapter 11 protection. A bankruptcy judge approved the agreement between Wyoming and the company two weeks ago.
State officials say the agreement will help to keep the mine operating.