Montana Public Radio

Jenny Harbine

Montana energy regulators Tuesday set contract terms for what NorthWestern Energy pays small generation facilities, like wind and solar, for the energy they produce.

Regulators on the Montana Public Service Commission lengthened potential contracts from a maximum 15 years to 20 years flat.

Emigrant Peak in Montana's Paradise Valley. The valley is north of Yellowstone Park near the location of two gold mines proposed in 2015.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana's Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that canceled state regulator approval of mining on private land north of Yellowstone National Park.

The unanimous ruling found that state lawmakers violated the state Constitution with a 2011 law that prevented district court judges from blocking projects approved by regulators, even if environmental harms were expected.

The Montana Supreme Court Monday, Aug. 24 sided with solar power developers who accused regulators and the state’s largest utility of trying to block renewable energy projects.

Justices upheld a lower court ruling that said state regulators knew their actions would hurt solar development when they suspended a federal law requiring companies to buy power from alternative energy sources.

An Arctic grayling run
Michael (Josh) Melton / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. wildlife officials on Wednesday rejected special protections for a rare, freshwater fish related to salmon that's been at the center of a long-running legal dispute. The decision cited conservation efforts that helped increase the Arctic grayling’s numbers in a Montana river.

The Associated Press obtained details of the decision not to protect the fish under the Endangered Species Act in advance of a public announcement.

The moratorium on major new coal leases on federal land that the Obama administration announced today, is either long-overdue or the latest offensive in the ongoing war on coal. That depends on whom you ask.
BLM

A judge threw out a lawsuit Friday from a coalition of states, environmental groups and American Indians seeking to revive an Obama-era moratorium against U.S. government coal sales on public lands in the West.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said President Donald Trump's administration had fixed its initial failure to consider the environmental impacts of ending the moratorium.

Solar panels. Stock photo.
(PD)

The Montana Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday over how the Public Service Commission should set the rates NorthWestern Energy has to pay for power it's required to buy from small solar projects.

USDA NRCS

The Trump administration said Wednesday a resumption of coal sales from public lands that had been blocked under former President Barack Obama will result in a negligible increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

USDA NRCS

A federal judge in Great Falls Friday said the Trump administration failed to consider the environmental effects of its decision to resume coal sales from federal lands that the Obama administration stopped. But the judge stopped short of halting future sales.

The 2017 order by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke that lifted the Obama-era moratorium on federal coal leasing.
Department of the Interior

A federal judge in Great Falls Thursday heard arguments over whether the Trump administration lawfully lifted a ban on coal leasing federal lands.

The Department of the Interior lifted the Obama-era moratorium on federal coal leasing in early 2017, fulfilling Trump’s campaign promise to end the so-called war on coal.

A pile of coal.
Flickr user oatsy40 (CC-BY-2)


A federal judge in Great Falls will hear arguments on Thursday that could stop the Trump Administration from selling coal from federal lands. Four states, an Indian tribe and environmental groups are challenging the president overturning a ban on new coal leases put in place by the Obama administration. 

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