Montana Public Radio

Environment

Montana news covering wildlife, public lands, natural resources and more.

The Kootenai River near Libby, MT.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Montana environmental regulators took the first step last week to tighten pollution rules for toxins flowing into Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River. The new rules are aimed at stemming pollution coming from British Columbia coal mines.

A federal judge in Montana has ousted President Trump's top public lands official.

The ruling blocks William Perry Pendley from continuing to serve as the temporary head of the Bureau of Land Management, a post he has held for more than a year.

The judge ruled in response to a lawsuit filed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock who argued it's illegal for Pendley to lead the agency because he had never been confirmed by the Senate.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is advising people to limit the amount of fish they eat from Piedmont Pond south of Whitehall after elevated levels of arsenic were detected in the water.

Long term exposure to arsenic can cause cancer and skin lesions, according to the World Health Organization. It’s also been linked to negative cognitive development and death in young children.

In a press release on Sept. 22, FWP said women of child bearing age and children younger than seven shouldn’t eat more than one small fish from the pond per month.

Talen Proposes Partial Excavation Of Colstrip Waste Ponds

Sep 22, 2020

The company that operates the Colstrip coal fired power plant is proposing to partially excavate waste ponds that have been contaminating groundwater for decades.

State regulators are now accepting comments on the plan.

Talen Energy’s report explores ways to prevent future groundwater pollution from the Units 1 and 2 coal ash ponds, which are leaking coal ash contaminants like boron and sulfate into groundwater.

The core of the Superfund deal itself, and how it proposes to solve Butte’s lingering environmental problems forever, is really important and complicated, both legally and technically. And no wonder. Three levels of government — the county, state and feds — plus a former oil company, all had to settle their differences, and agree on how to clean up, once and for all, the rest of the environmental bust left behind by Butte’s historic copper mining boom.

So today, we’re gonna try to get our arms all the way around it. And take a closer look at what’s actually in this very big deal and whether the Mining City believes that after all of its sacrifices, this is a big enough reward. This is Episode 9: Butte Never Says Die.

Talking about Montana's environment, our public lands and waterways, is one of the fastest ways for politicians to gain credibility here. After all, about a third of the land in this state belongs to you and me. Big, sprawling swaths of natural beauty are a defining feature of Montana. So much so, the preamble to the Constitution goes on at length about the state's landscape. The quiet beauty of our state. The grandeur of our mountains. The vastness of our rolling plains.

But when politicians talk about protecting our outdoor heritage in Montana, what exactly are they protecting and whose interests are they serving?

Daines' Forest Management Bill Hear In Subcommittee

Sep 21, 2020

Montana Senator Steve Daines on Sept. 16 stumped for legislation he helped draft, saying more forest management would protect communities from wildfires.

Republican Daines presented his Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020 to the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining.

The operator of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant submitted its cleanup plan for parts of the plant it shuttered early this year.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality accepted Talen Energy’s remediation plan for the now-defunct Units 1 and 2 and opened up public comment on that report this week.

Sara Edinberg with DEQ says the plan inventories what’s left inside the buildings.

A bill heard in a U.S. Senate committee on Sept. 16 proposes nearly 90 thousand acres of new wilderness and recreation areas in northwest Montana.

The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act stems from nearly a decade of collaboration between people representing wilderness, recreation and timber interests near Seeley Lake.

The Montana Department of Environmental quality is asking for public input on a draft plan to clean up contaminated sediment at the former Bonner Mill site near the Blackfoot River.

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