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Spokane lawmaker helped plot Malheur takeover

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Rockies Today

December 20 · Issue #55 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

Spokane lawmaker helped plot Malheur takeover
Washington state Rep. Matt Shea planned and participated in domestic terrorism against the U.S. before and during the armed takeover at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, an investigation commissioned by the Washington state House found. The report’s been forwarded to the FBI and Washington House Republican leaders expelled Shea from their caucus.
Washington Rep. Matt Shea engaged in domestic terrorism against U.S., says state House report Washington Rep. Matt Shea engaged in domestic terrorism against U.S., says state House report
Unfamiliar with Shea and the Patriot Movement? Let reporter and podcaster Leah Sottile bring you up to speed:
Something's brewing in the deep red West
The preacher and the politician
That second story 👆 is part of Sottile’s National Magazine Award-nominated series and podcast “Bundyville”:
Bundyville: The Remnant Bundyville: The Remnant
Fracking the North Fork Valley
As coal declined, this valley turned to sustainable farming. Now fracking threatens its future. As coal declined, this valley turned to sustainable farming. Now fracking threatens its future.
This community once relied heavily on coal mining jobs. Now it is developing a path toward a sustainable local economy based partly on organic agriculture and local renewable energy. It also must find ways to navigate challenges like global warming—and the growing threat of new fossil fuel development.
About eight years ago, the federal government proposed major oil and gas drilling in the North Fork Valley, and the plan roared to life this past summer, just as the organic food industry was really starting to take off. New drilling would take up land and threaten to bring more air pollution and potentially groundwater contamination that could put organic crops in jeopardy, while also contributing to climate change.
As Bitterroot magazine reported earlier this month, the drilling push also threatens outdoor recreation in the valley:
A Colorado valley built a post-coal economy. Now the BLM is pushing drilling
Climate crossfire
NorthWestern says it's running short on power. Climate activists say we're running out of time. NorthWestern says it's running short on power. Climate activists say we're running out of time.
About 30.9 million metric tons of CO2 from burning fossil fuels were emitted in Montana in 2016, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Approximately half that amount is attributable to energy generation. The Colstrip power plant — which transmits much of its output to West Coast states — produced 14.4 million metric tons of CO2 in 2016, nearly half the Montana total.
NorthWestern’s Montana energy operation, which currently owns 10.6% of Colstrip’s total generating capacity, was responsible for about 3.4 million metric tons of CO2 in 2017. That includes both the utility’s in-house generation and its market power purchases.
Public pressure on power utilities, legislative mandates, advances in renewable energy technology, and cheap natural gas from North America’s fracking boom are driving Pacific Northwest utilities away from their aging coal plants at an accelerating pace. In addition to Washington state’s anti-coal legislation, adopted in spring 2019, a 2016 bill requires Oregon’s two largest utilities, Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp, to eliminate coal energy imports by 2035.
By NorthWestern’s count, power companies in the northwest plan to shut down seven coal-fired generating units, totaling more than 3,600 megawatts of generating capacity, by 2032. Among those scheduled closures are two of Colstrip’s four generating units operated by Talen Montana, which accelerated its Colstrip closure timeline this summer, citing the company’s inability to make the units economically viable.
That shift is welcome news for climate-concerned consumers and activists, and an existential challenge for built-on-coal communities like Colstrip, where well-paid jobs at the plant and associated mines drive the local economy.
For NorthWestern energy managers, it’s also a headache.
More energy and climate news:
Xcel, Western utility moves seen as big boost for renewables
Rural utilities want their own piece of Colorado’s low-carbon future. That could mean breaking up big power providers.
Colorado begins new phase of reining in emissions from oil and gas
ExxonMobil announces expansion plans in two Wyoming counties
Gov. Mark Gordon backs investigation into Wyoming's leading utility company
Enhanced oil recovery project, pipeline slated for southwest North Dakota
New federal ‘net zero’ emissions target looms over oilsands’ future
Inside another kind of ‘war room’ — meet the Alberta climate activists who say they’re not scared of Jason Kenney
Young Indigenous activists lead climate justice action in Alaska
'Stripped for Parts'
A rebellion at The Denver Post ‘instigated’ an upcoming film about a national crisis in journalism A rebellion at The Denver Post ‘instigated’ an upcoming film about a national crisis in journalism
Last spring’s Denver Post editorial page revolt against its hedge-fund owner, which garnered national headlines and became known in media circles as the Denver Rebellion, led an intriguing figure to trek to Colorado from California.
Rick Goldsmith, a well-known documentary filmmaker who had already produced two Academy-Award-nominated films about journalism, embarked on a new project: Stripped for Parts: American Journalism at the Crossroads. And while the film, which is still in production, has a national focus, “it was definitely the Denver Rebellion that instigated this,” Goldsmith says.
For more than a year, he and a film crew have been in and out of Colorado interviewing subjects. Their cameras have been rolling at public events about the news. “We do cover the Denver Rebellion,” he told me this week about the documentary. “We cover the fight against [Post owner] Alden Global Capital, and it broadens out into the crisis in journalism— and local journalism specifically — today that’s happening all around the country.”
Our nation’s local news crisis is certainly ripe for documentary treatment, and as a fan of Goldsmith’s film, The Most Dangerous Man in America, about Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, I can’t wait to see the final product. In the meantime, you can now watch the trailer for Stripped for Parts:
TRAILER: Stripped for Parts: American Journalism at the Crossroads on Vimeo
Wolves and CWD
How might wolves in Colorado affect chronic wasting disease? How might wolves in Colorado affect chronic wasting disease?
Meanwhile…
CWD found in southwestern Montana
More wildlife news:
To save grizzlies, Yellowstone bear biologists want more beds for tourists
Grizzly bear managers voice concerns for Weyerhaeuser's sale of Montana timberlands
Glacier National Park's mountain goats seek 'air conditioning' on hot summer days
What else we're reading today
Ruling puts hold on gold exploration plans in eastern Idaho
Dysfunction on Hill hamstrings firefighting — GAO
How Bozeman should be built: City drafting new growth policy
‘We do not like the Mexican.’ New research reveals forgotten chapter of Idaho history
Visit Billings takes down parts of tourism campaign after blog calls it racist
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