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Coal company to pay $90M to unload Wyoming mines

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Rockies Today

September 19 · Issue #4 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

Deal in the works for idle Wyoming coal mines
A potential buyer has emerged for two of the nation’s largest coal mines that closed in July when their operator, Blackjewel, unexpectedly filed for bankruptcy and left hundreds of Wyoming miners out of work. Under the agreement, Contura Energy Corp. will pay Eagle Specialty Materials $90 million to take over the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte coal mines, absolving Contura of reclamation obligations and certain liabilities. This after Contura, during its own bankruptcy in 2017, paid Blackjewel $21 million to unload the mines. Though Wyoming regulators blocked the transfer of the mine permits, leaving Contura on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in mine cleanup costs. A roundup of stories on the deal:
Deal in the works for idle Wyoming mines Deal in the works for idle Wyoming mines
Contura makes deal to reopen Eagle Butte, Belle Ayr mines
Contura finds new potential owner for idling Wyoming coal mines
What Contura Energy’s proposed transfer means
Mapping reveals extent of Western oil and gas leasing
The Wilderness Society and the Center for Western Priorities have released a new geospatial analysis that offers a data-driven look at oil and gas leasing on public lands in the West. Check out the story map:
America’s Public Lands Giveaway
Big game species like elk, pronghorn, and mule deer traverse hundreds of miles between their summer and winter ranges each year, navigating by instinct and memory.
But energy development is creeping into critical breeding habitat. The oil and gas leasing process has failed to safeguard the West’s wildlife. Nearly one-quarter of Western oil and gas leases offered since the start of the Trump administration lie in big game migration corridors or priority areas.
How a major highway limits wolverine movement
MSU research shows impact of major transportation corridor on wolverine movement MSU research shows impact of major transportation corridor on wolverine movement
After a multi-year study conducted by a Montana State University scientist, a team of researchers has shown for the first time that a major highway limits the movement of female wolverines, suggesting that roads throughout the rare species’ North American range could be impacting wolverine populations.
Tony Clevenger, wildlife research scientist at MSU’s Western Transportation Institute, and collaborators examined the effects of the Trans-Canada Highway on male and female wolverines in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks from 2010 to 2014. The study was part of Parks Canada’s widening of the highway from two to four lanes in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
“This was a really unique opportunity to look at how a major roadway similar to U.S. interstate highways would impact wolverine movement and genetic connectivity,” Clevenger said. Few studies have explored road effects on wolverines in North America, and none have focused on a major transportation corridor, he said.
Clevenger, along with co-authors Mike Sawaya, a research ecologist at Sinopah Wildlife Research Associates in Missoula, and Michael Schwartz of the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station, published their results in the journal Biological Conservation earlier this summer.
The genetic analysis showed that plenty of males were crossing, according to Sawaya, who was lead author on the published paper. “But for females it was almost complete isolation.”
Kids across Mountain West prepare for climate strike
Why these Colorado kids are striking for climate action
Colorado children, activists to stage rallies across state as part of youth-led Global Climate Strike
Wyomingites to join global climate strike as sun sets on coal
Montana students prepare for week-long climate change strike
Idahoans prepare to join global climate strike
Judge blocks South Dakota’s 'riot-boosting' law
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol suggested that Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference “could have been liable” had a “riot-boosting” law existed during their protests in Birmingham, Alabama. 
A judge just blocked South Dakota’s 'riot-boosting' law, but anti-protest measures keep spreading
A judge on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of South Dakota’s new “riot-boosting” law, which passed earlier this year to deter pipeline protests. The law threatens heavy penalties for any person or group that encourages a “riot,” which is defined broadly enough to include many forms of public protest.
US District Judge Lawrence Piersol granted the injunction in response to a motion filed by the ACLU, which is representing four organizations and two Indigenous individuals in a suit alleging that the law is unconstitutional for its troubling vagueness and “chilling effect” on free speech. The Sierra Club, one of the organizations challenging the law, said that it would make the group “hesitant” to challenge the Keystone XL pipeline through protected forms of speech like rallies and online campaigns due to the risk of costly fines—up to three times the cost of any damages incurred by a related protest.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem drafted the law in consultation with police and TC Energy, the company behind Keystone XL. Construction of the pipeline, which would run through South Dakota, is slated to begin next year.
Background:
South Dakota pushes bills to prosecute ‘riot-boosting’ ahead of pipeline construction
More stories we're reading today
Birds are vanishing from North America
Dems fault Trump's WOTUS rule: 'Get some damn data'
Trump administration wants to vet worries about development near parks from regional offices
A race to rescue Yellowstone's frozen artifacts
In Utah, these entrepreneurs are creating their own version of Eden
'Down from the Mountain' with Bryce Andrews
3 hunters injured in 2 Montana grizzly attacks
How North Dakota's oil and gas industry is turning the Bakken into their steady Eddie
Why Steve Bullock refuses to drop out of the 2020 race
The climate issue
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O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812