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Know the West

The Latest Bounce

  The Department of Labor has denied a whistleblower’s complaint that the BLM fired him in retaliation for exposing violations of federal law in a mine-cleanup project in Yerington, Nev. (HCN, 12/20/04: Conscientious Objectors). Earle Dixon supervised the cleanup of the abandoned copper mine for the BLM, and repeatedly complained publicly about inadequate efforts to deal with radioactivity at the site. The BLM says it fired Dixon last October for failing "to maintain positive, effective working relationships with partner agencies."

Moose, take notice: You’re not immune to chronic wasting disease. The Colorado Division of Wildlife announced that a bull moose recently tested positive for the disease (HCN, 6/10/02: No magic bullet for wasting disease). The animal was killed in September by a bow hunter north of Rocky Mountain National Park. Since 2002, wildlife officials in Colorado have tested nearly 300 moose for the disease, which, until now, had been found only in deer and elk. This is the first incidence of a moose testing positive for chronic wasting disease anywhere in the world.

In Colorado, wind-generated electricity is about to become cheaper than electricity from coal and natural gas. High natural gas costs have forced Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest energy provider, to ask the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for permission to raise electric rates by about 33 percent (HCN, 5/2/05: Winds of change). Customers who buy electricity generated at Xcel’s two Colorado wind farms currently pay about $6 more per month than customers who buy "regular" electricity. But by December, after the hike, wind customers will be paying about $9.75 a month less than their non-eco-groovy counterparts.

A federal court has nixed the Bureau of Reclamation’s 10-year plan for the Klamath River (HCN, 6/23/03: Sound science goes sour). Three judges in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the plan allows area farmers to divert so much water from the river that there won’t be enough left to keep endangered coho salmon alive in eight of the 10 years.