Possible pathways emerging for Montana to meet carbon cuts
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Industry officials and state regulators are looking at how Montana can reach federal carbon-cutting goals by 2030.
The state faces the nation’s most stringent cuts under President Barack Obama’s climate change plan to reduce emissions nationwide by 32 percent.
Coming up with a realistic scenario at this point is difficult because much about Obama’s Clean Power Plan is unknown. As a result, studies by the state Public Service Commission and utility NorthWestern Energy come with caveats.
The commission analyzed combinations of power plant closures, efficiency programs and renewable resource development to reach Montana’s target.
The study funded by NorthWestern Energy envisions closing the second-largest coal-fired plant west of the Mississippi River.
The studies have added fuel to a politically charged issue expected to be a factor in the 2016 elections.
Advocacy groups in Montana, Idaho sue over forest plan
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Snowmobile clubs and advocacy groups from Montana and Idaho are suing over a U.S. Forest Service plan that bars motorized access in areas of the Kootenai National Forest.
The forest plan designates 115,000 acres as recommended wilderness areas that eliminate mechanized and motorized means of transport.
The Daily Inter Lake reports the lawsuit filed earlier this month alleges the plan fails to follow agency guidelines for recommended wilderness areas and did not allow enough public input before making the decision.
Kootenai National Forest officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs in the case are the Ten Lakes Snowmobile Club, Montanans for Multiple Use, Citizens for Balanced Use, the Glen Lake Irrigation District, Backcountry Sled Patriots, the Idaho State Snowmobile Association and the Blueribbon Coalition.
Despite saving lives, air ambulance companies under fire
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Despite their lifesaving capabilities, air ambulance companies are under scrutiny in Montana.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that lawmakers in Helena are looking into whether the state might regulate air medical services.
In April, the Legislature tasked the Economic Affairs Interim Committee to study the air ambulance industry. Lawmakers have heard complaints of people taking emergency flights getting stuck with huge bills because insurance companies aren’t covering the total costs.
Yet air ambulances provide a needed service in rural areas with lots of backcountry, and the cost of flights, pilots, nurses and paramedics is expensive.
Hunter, elk harvest numbers up on Rocky Mountain Front
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department reports more hunters and more elk harvested on the Rocky Mountain Front during the 2015 general big-game rifle season than average.
The season ended Sunday.
About 4,000 hunters were expected to be out this fall, numbers that are 5 to 10 percent above average.
And 445 elk had been checked at the game station since opening day Oct. 24, which is 30 percent above the 10-year average.
Wildlife biologist Brent Lonner tells the Great Falls Tribune that cows harvested accounted for most of the increase.
Lonner says hunters were given the ability to take more cows this year.
While the regular big-game rifle season is over, special antlerless elk “shoulder seasons” will begin Monday in four north-central Montana hunting districts.
Man injured trying to save dogs from fire in Billings
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A fire at a Billings residence has killed two dogs and injured a man who tried to save the dogs.
The Billings Fire Department says the fire occurred about 12:30 a.m. Sunday in a small backyard shed.
Officials say the injured man suffered minor burns.
The shed was destroyed and damages were estimated at about $1,000.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.