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Bitumen on Canada's ballot

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Rockies Today

October 16 · Issue #17 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

Bitumen on Canada's ballot
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thinks Canada can be both an oil superpower and a climate pioneer. As Bloomberg reports, the election on Monday will show if voters disagree.
A fortune lies in Canada’s oil sands. Many voters want to leave it there A fortune lies in Canada’s oil sands. Many voters want to leave it there
At the Fish Place diner in Fort McMurray, booths are filled with oil workers in baseball caps and the parking lot is lined with pickup trucks sporting six-foot (1.8 meter) neon safety flags, a hallmark of the mining industry.
Fort McMurray is the regional hub for the oil sands that produce two-thirds of Canada’s crude, a status that puts the city carved out of Alberta’s wilderness at the heart of the Oct. 21 federal election. 
Robbie Picard, who heads an oil-sands advocacy group, calls it “the most important election we’ve ever had.” Over a breakfast of eggs and cheese in the diner, Picard said that a second term for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would cause “anxiety, depression and despair” in the city. “I’m terrified for our future,” he said. 
In a campaign that’s been uncharacteristically personal in tone for Canada, energy and the environment is arguably the key policy area that will decide the election—and most agree the outcome of the vote will in turn be crucial for Canada’s energy sector. 
Not only will it determine the future of carbon taxes, pipeline approvals and environmental regulations, it’s also a referendum on a dispute central to the country’s identity: Is Canada a global oil superpower or is it a leader in fighting climate change?
More from Bloomberg on Fort McMurray specifically, published last week:
From binge to bust: A Canadian oil town lines up at the food bank
The Economist reported last week that “the election’s main consequence may be to determine whether Canada remains credible as a global cheerleader in the campaign against climate change”:
Climate change dominates Canada’s election
The opinion of one oil and gas veteran:
Opinion: Vote like your life depends on it—because it does
The BLM's dispersing staff, consolidating power
Acting BLM director William Perry Pendley tells Bloomberg Environment’s Bobby Magill that National Environmental Policy Act decisions should be made at Interior Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., a shift in how decisions affecting public lands have traditionally been made.
Public lands decisions best made in D.C., acting BLM chief says Public lands decisions best made in D.C., acting BLM chief says
Critics and retired BLM officials say Pendley’s statements show that the Interior Department aims to consolidate federal land management decisions among political appointees in Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s Washington office, even as the agency moves BLM headquarters to Grand Junction, Colo.
The agency says the 200 headquarters staff members being moved to locations in the West should be closer to the land they manage.
Pendley said he supports that rationale but argued that decisions made under the National Environmental Policy Act should be made in Washington.
Consolidating decisions among top administration lands officials could lead to more oil, gas, and other development on federal lands throughout the West, said Kit Muller, a strategic planner for BLM in Washington until he retired in 2018.
At the same time, BLM is systematically updating its local land management plans to allow for more oil, gas, coal, and timber production while, in some cases, proposing to remove protections for some natural areas.
More reporting on Pendley:
BLM chief's financial ties to law group run deep
And more public land issues in the news:
Trump administration wants to open up more public trails to e-bikes. No one knows exactly what that means.
Grand County, Moab unite against plan to allow ORVs in Utah’s national parks
Trump administration proposes lifting restrictions on logging, road building in Tongass National Forest
EVs find appeal in North Dakota
Can EVs find allies in rural America? Look at North Dakota Can EVs find allies in rural America? Look at North Dakota
Meanwhile…
EV owners in Mountain West hit with 'punitive' fees, study finds
And more energy news:
Lessons from Centralia: Washington coal town shows how Montana's coal country might endure
Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine: What you need to know
Wyoming utility regulator copied, sent coal lobby letter
Solar power deal involving Idaho homeowners reached
New study blames some Permian Basin earthquakes on fracking
What else we're reading today
How do you hold back a ‘Wild and Scenic’ river?
How cyclists are helping Montana's roadkill research
Colorado mountain biking program teaches girls to conquer trails, with an eye toward helping in other parts of life
Back-scratching grizzly spotted north of Upper Priest Lake in Idaho
Mountain West states green-light wildlife crossings
Opinion: Oregon’s glaciers are dying and we’re not paying attention
Rockies Today is edited by Matthew Frank, Fellow in Regional Journalism at the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.
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O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812