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Kneecapping NEPA

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Rockies Today

January 9 · Issue #59 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

Kneecapping NEPA
Trump plans to change environmental regulations to speed up approvals for pipelines; highway and airport expansion Trump plans to change environmental regulations to speed up approvals for pipelines; highway and airport expansion
President Trump on Thursday proposed a change to 50-year-old regulations that would speed the development of new mines, pipelines and hundreds of other projects around the country, including some that could harm the environment and accelerate climate change. The move also could prevent communities from having as much say about what gets built in their backyards.
The proposed rules would narrow the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal agencies to assess the impact of a major project before a spade of dirt is turned and to include the public in the process.
And it would mean that communities would have little say about what is built in their neighborhoods. Environmental groups, tribal activists and others have used the law to delay or block a slew of infrastructure, mining, logging and drilling projects since it was signed by President Richard Nixon in 1970.
More from E&E News:
Trump's NEPA ambitions hinge on his reelection
Smoke signals
As wildfires get worse, smoke spreads, stokes health worries As wildfires get worse, smoke spreads, stokes health worries
Researchers and health officials are confident more people will get sick and many will die as regions such as the U.S. West see bigger, more intense wildfires.
An estimated 20,000 premature deaths now occur annually in the U.S. due to chronic wildfire smoke exposure. That’s expected to double by the end of the century, according to scientists funded by NASA, as tens of millions of people get exposed to massive “smoke waves” emanating from blazes in Western states.
But while those forecasts help illustrate the profound impacts of a warming climate, they can’t predict which fires will prove deadly and which individuals will develop lung ailments or other illnesses.
One of relatively few long-term studies on the issue is under way at the California National Primate Research Center. Fifty rhesus monkeys living in outdoor pens year-round were exposed to a prolonged period of wildfire smoke as infants in 2008. They’ve developed lungs 20% smaller than another group of monkeys born a year later, researchers found.
“It’s the closest animal model to replicate what happens with kids,” said Lisa Miller, the center’s associate director of research.
Particles lofted from Australia bush fires will circle the globe
The dam divide
Discussion on Snake River dams draws crowd Discussion on Snake River dams draws crowd
A bit of background:
Snake River dam differences run deep, study finds
Welcome to colorful Colorado
Before voters get the chance to decide on 'em, a wolf pack may have already moved into Colorado Before voters get the chance to decide on 'em, a wolf pack may have already moved into Colorado
What does that mean for the reintroduction debate?
More wildlife news:
Montana pays record amount for livestock killed in 2019
Teton goat cull called off because of weather
Trickle-down xenophobia
North Dakota was an immigrant haven — until Trump was elected North Dakota was an immigrant haven — until Trump was elected
BISMARCK, N.D. —  For decades, this conservative, predominantly white capital city has played host to refugees from around the world.
Immigrants greet shoppers at Walmart, process beef at the Cloverdale Foods plant, run the register at Arbys, clean the Holiday Inn and drive for Uber.
Nobody used to pay them much mind.
“Life was getting better,” said 20-year-old Tresor Mugwaneza, who settled here four years ago after fleeing war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and eventually enrolled at the University of Mary.
Things started to change with the 2016 election of President Trump, who has suggested that many refugees are criminals and has extolled his belief in putting “America first” by drastically reducing the number allowed to enter the United States.
The rhetoric has trickled down from Washington into smaller, quieter parts of the nation, as citizens and local politicians embrace it and places such as Bismark start to reassess their relationship with the newcomers.
Now, because of a federal policy announced in September, the 49 states and 600 counties that have welcomed refugees – only Wyoming has never taken part in federal resettlement efforts – each have the power to decide whether to continue doing so.
Refugees: A North Dakota county accepted them, but a Trump policy is creating debate nationwide
What else we're reading today
‘The border is this imaginary line’: why Americans are fighting mining in B.C.’s ‘Doughnut Hole’
Court should nix ‘slapdash’ climate study for oil and gas leases, groups say
Industry wants in on enviro suit over oil and gas lease plan
Utah development offers solar storage and a glimpse of the power grid of the future
Electric cars will challenge state power grids
On-farm solar grows as farmers see economic rewards—and risks
Mountain snowpack grows less reliable as the world warms
Can new bus lines chart a course to better travel options in the West?
Montana AG Report: Hemp is growing across the state
Interior's FOIA overhaul continues with creation of legal team
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