Edward O'Brien


Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.

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Colstrip power plant.
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

It’ll take a little longer than expected to settle at least one lawsuit – perhaps two – involving the coal-fired power plants at Colstrip. Two environmental groups argue Colstrip’s pollution control equipment could be inadequate.

Montana’s gubernatorial candidates sparred over several issues, including stream access and Syrian war refugees, during their first debate. Democratic incumbent Steve Bullock and Republican challenger Greg Gianforte squared off Sunday in Big Sky. Watch and listen to the debate below.


 The Northern Region of the U.S. Forest Service has a new director of Fire, Aviation and Air.

Ralph Rau will oversee fire management programs spanning 25 million acres of forests and grasslands in Montana, northern Idaho, North Dakota and part of South Dakota.

Weyerhaeuser closed its lumber and plywood mills in Columbia Falls last week.
Eric Whitney

Wednesday’s announcement that Weyerhaeuser will close its Columbia Falls lumber and plywood mills, along with its administrative offices, brought an avalanche of reaction -- none of it good.

Montana Counties To Receive $30 Million In PILT Funds
flickr user 401(k) 2012 (CC-BY-SA-2)

Fifty-five Montana counties are set to receive over $30 million in so-called PILT funds this fiscal year.

PILT is shorthand for Payment In Lieu of Taxes.

Montana "Most Improved" In Child Well-Being Rankings
Josh Burnham

More Montana kids are insured, fewer are dying and the teen birth rate continues to drop. This is according to the 2016 National Kids Count Data Book released this week.

Nurses across Montana campaign to prevent workplace violence for healthcare workers and emergency responders.

 Missoula registered nurse Caitlin Shipp will never forget her overnight shift last July 15.

"(It) started like any other day – or night," she remembers. "I was expecting a patient to come up from the emergency department to be admitted.”

The patient was drunk.

I-182 campaign supporters will submit over 40,000 signatures to county election officers across the state this week.
Katherine Hitt (CC-BY-ND-2.0)

Medical marijuana advocates say they’re confident a proposed initiative they support will qualify for November’s ballot.

Absaroka Range
Courtesy Rick and Susie Graetz

After languishing for over two decades in the U.S. House, a sweeping wilderness bill now gets its first shot in the Senate.

Mineral County Sheriff’s Department staff are back at work and a mediation session is scheduled for next Wednesday. Sixteen employees, including dispatchers, deputies and detention officers, have been on strike since May 30.