Items by Dan Whipple

New coal leasing needed? Interior says yes
Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus has announced a new coal leasing program that could increase Western coal production nearly tenfold by 1990 -- to 1.2 billion tons annually.
Carter water policy reforms face tough congressional test
With stiff opposition from Western states, Congress is gearing up to debate some of the key elements in President Jimmy Carter's new water policy, which may force states to share in the costs of federal water projects.
Slurry carries coal, water and controversy
New coal slurry pipeline proposals are raising major regional questions concerning water use priorities, Indian water rights, interstate cooperation and competition, and perhaps even the scale of future Western coal development.
Ute tribe threatens to withdraw from CUP
The Utes are threatening to withdraw their support -- and 471,000 acre-feet of Ute water rights -- from the controversial Central Utah Project if the state does not authorize an Indian-rights compact.
Wilderness loses in RARE II opinion poll
The U.S. Forest Service's poll of 360,000 people on the subject of wilderness and roadless lands reveals a great deal of anti-wilderness sentiment as the agency retires into secrecy to develop its final proposals for the second Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE II).
Congress, Carter lock horns on water projects
Despite President Jimmy Carter's warning that he will veto any appropriations bill that includes six contested water projects, Congress has included those projects in the 1979 Public Works Appropriations bill.
Gillette water pipeline project -- a half-told story
Gillette, Wyo., has experienced rapid energy development and population growth, leading to plans for a pipeline to import water. But the project, both in design and promotion, apparently has been tainted by errors of omission and commission.
Lame ducks and a question mark lead Wyoming
Sen. Malcom Wallop's shifty and compromising environmental record is an indication of politics in Wyoming, where "conservative" and "conservation" and still uneasily linked.
Environmentalists, backlash, and the 'New Right'
Political attacks against Arizona Congressman Morris Udall are one example of recent political backlash against environmentalism, and may be part of a larger shift toward conservatism.
USFS roadless land oil policy set
The U.S. Forest Service has issued policy guidelines for access and drilling on oil leases in roadless lands identified by the second Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE II). The policy guidelines will be particularly important for national forests that lie over the Overthrust Belt.
Colstrip 3 and 4 mired in confusion
Montana's Colstrip coal-fired power plant units 3 and 4 were recently about to break ground, but a state court has ruled that the plants must comply with certain provisions of the Clean Air Act, potentially delaying or permanently stopping construction.
IJC urges Canada to halt Poplar River Project
The Saskatchewan government has rejected a recommendation by the International Joint Comission -- an independent organization that arbitrates boundary disputes between the U.S. and Canada -- to halt construction of the 300 megawatt Poplar River power plant currently under construction eight miles north of the Montana border.
Dealing with environmental backlash: a proposal
A new term has cropped up on the political scene recently -- "environmental backlash." The same people who are warning about environmental backlash are the same people who seem to be against effective environmental protection in the first place.
Oil development threatens forests
The discovery of a potential major oil and gas deposit in the heart of the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming is creating a conflict between two highly valued resources: oil and wilderness.
Shale firms bypass Colorado permit process
Two Colorado environmental groups are charging that the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board is violating the law by not requiring two oil shale projects to obtain mining permits for their current phases of operation.
In situ gas from coal: bane or boon?
An experimental burn of an underground coal seam near Hanna, Wyo., is the latest in a series of tests by the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration to determine the feasibility of making burnable gas from coal while it's still in the ground.
Court halts Western coal leases
A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that the Interior Department must not resume federal coal leasing until new environmental studies have been made and a complete reevaluation of the leasing program is conducted.
Firms buy out opposition
ANG Coal Gasification Company quieted opposition to its plans for a facility in North Dakota by purchasing land owned by members of the community who opposed the project.
Building political power -- future of a movement
HCN editor Dan Whipple takes stock of the environmental movement and its quest for clout in the political system.
Canadian project may pollute U.S.
A massive Canadian energy complex along the U.S.-Canadian border in Saskatchewan is becoming one of the most complicated legal controversies the West has ever faced.
Severed mineral estate haunts Western ranchers
When Congress passed the Stock-Raising Homestead Act in 1916 to further encourage development of the west, it didn't foresee the stress it would put on ranchers by reserving the mineral rights on that land for the federal government, creating "split-estate."
Congress may save stream valleys from stripping
One of the most controversial parts of the federal strip mining bill would regulate strip mining on alluvial valley floors, but it is often a subjective judgement to determine where the alluvial floors begin and end.
Cheyenne's health, timber depend on clean air
Montana's Northern Cheyenne Indian tribe is seeking Class I air quality designation for its reservation, saying that good air quality is necessary to protect its timber resources.
Without subsidies, synfuel interest in West waning
The concept of producing synthetic fuel from coal in the West isn't dead yet, but it seems at least to be in a coma. Companies promoting the technology are increasingly pessimistic about the possibility or realizing their plans.
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