Coal-export terminal backer appeals denial of state sublease
LONGVIEW, Wash. (AP) — Developers of a proposed coal-export terminal in southwest Washington have challenged the state’s denial of an aquatic lands lease for the project.
The Daily News reports that Millennium Bulk Terminals and Northwest Alloys appealed the state’s decision in Cowlitz County Superior Court Feb. 2.
Before leaving office, Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark rejected a request from Northwest Alloys — originally made in 2010 — to sublease the state’s aquatic lands to Millennium for the project.
The companies say the decision infringes on their property rights. They’re also challenging Goldmark’s assertion that they didn’t provide adequate information about Millennium’s financial standing.
A Department of Natural Resources spokesman declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
The proposed terminal in Longview that would handle up to 44 million metric tons of coal a year. The coal would arrive by train from Montana, Wyoming and other states to be stored and loaded on ships for export to Asia.
Montana energy uncertainty comes as large solar farm planned
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Plans for a Billings solar farm are heating up just as renewable energy politics cool at the Montana Legislature.
The MT Sun solar farm would produce 80 megawatts of electricity, enough energy to power 14,400 homes. At 480 acres, it would be Montana’s largest solar project and the first on public land.
The state of Montana signed a lease with MT Sun last September and expects to begin the environmental work on the project in the coming months.
However, the Montana Legislature is debating whether to weaken state laws supporting the development of solar and other renewable energy resources.
The Billings Gazette reports that there are dark skies forming over Montana solar projects. Last week, the state Senate began changing the contract terms for renewable energy qualifying facilities, or QFs.
Havre man pleads not guilty to beating, locking up woman
HAVRE, Mont. (AP) — A Havre (HAV’-ur) man has pleaded not guilty to charges of repeatedly beating his girlfriend and keeping her locked in a room for days.
The Havre Daily News reports Rick Valdez is charged with partner or family assault, kidnapping and destroying or tampering with a communications device.
He entered his plea Wednesday.
Charging documents say a woman told Hill County sheriff’s deputies she had been kept against her will in a room at Valdez’s home and beaten repeatedly for four days in January. She said Valdez had accused her of stealing a prescription medicine, which she denied.
The woman said she escaped Jan. 18 while Valdez was in the bathroom.
Authorities say her face was swollen and bruised and she had two black eyes.
The Latest: Governor declares emergency after storm
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock has declared a state of emergency for parts of northwestern Montana dealing with the aftermath of a storm that dumped up to 4 feet of snow in places.
Friday’s emergency declaration is for the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Glacier County and Lincoln County.
The governor authorized the National Guard and the use of state money to assist with health and safety.
Bullock says the storm has been damaging to the state’s roadways, railways and for Montanans who rely on their communities’ infrastructure.
Desperate immigrants risk perilous winter trek to Canada
TORONTO (AP) — Seidu Mohammed’s lost all his fingers to frostbite when he made a perilous trek in sub-zero temperatures to cross the border illegally into Canada.
He is one of a small but growing number of immigrants risking the northern border crossing out of fear of being deported from the U.S.
America’s neighbor to the north is increasingly being seen as a haven for asylum seekers turned away by the U.S. And some are willing to risk a walk across the border in dangerous cold and snow to get there.
In Manitoba, on the border of Minnesota and North Dakota, authorities say the pace has quickened since Donald Trump became U.S. president and banned travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.
Montana panel defeats tax increase on state’s wealthiest
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana legislative committee has defeated a Democratic-led effort to increase taxes on the state’s wealthiest.
The proposal before the House Taxation Committee on Friday would have increased income taxes on people making more than $400,000 a year.
The party-line vote underscored the philosophical divide over taxes and spending that could hamper a deal to balance the state’s budget as required by law.
Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock has proposed a mix of cuts and new taxes. Bullock is proposing increased tax revenue from wine, cigarettes and medical marijuana.
He is also proposing a new tax bracket on personal incomes over $500,000 a year. But the proposal is likely to meet fierce opposition from some Republicans philosophically opposed to tax increases.