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Know the West

The Latest Bounce


President Bush officially approved the high-level radioactive waste dump at Yucca Mountain on Feb. 15 (HCN, 2/4/02: Yucca Mountain debate goes nuclear). Later the same day, Nevada filed a lawsuit - its fifth - alleging that the energy department's reliance on man-made barriers, rather than Yucca Mountain's natural geology, to contain radioactivity violates the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

A class-action lawsuit against 29 Enron executives could target Lou Pai's Taylor Ranch in southern Colorado's San Luis Valley (HCN, 8/16/99: Taylor Ranch sells). The lawsuit, now headed by the University of California, alleges insider trading by the executives and may seek seizure of assets purchased with profits from their sale of Enron stock. Pai purchased the 77,500-acre ranch, which includes Culebra Peak, one of Colorado's 14,000-foot-plus summits, between 1997 and 2000.

Economics have left the Blackfeet Tribe's wind-power project twisting in the breeze (HCN, 8/13/01: Blackfeet bet on wind). The tribe partnered with San Diego-based SeaWest WindPower to build a 55-megawatt turbine project and sell the power to the Bonneville Power Administration. Construction was expected to start this summer, but the nationwide drop in energy prices, high transmission costs and the end of a federal wind-power tax credit have made the project less economical. A final decision may come from BPA in the next few weeks.

Arsonist Mark Warren Sands was sentenced to 18 years in prison and ordered to pay $2.8 million after he set fire to eight luxury homes in Phoenix and Tucson (HCN, 7/2/01: Luxury homes torched in Tucson). The former marketing director told The New York Times that he burned the first house because it blocked access to his favorite jogging trail and only later conceived a plan for his fiery campaign against sprawl.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission named Steve Huffaker head of the state's wildlife agency after Rod Sando resigned Jan. 23 under pressure from the commission and Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (HCN, 2/18/02: Predator politics gets ugly in Idaho). Idaho Wildlife Federation head Jack Fisher calls Huffaker, an 18-year veteran of the department, "a good selection." Meanwhile, a coalition led by the Wildlife Federation is moving forward with a voter initiative to strengthen public control of the Fish and Game Commission.