climate change

Pope Francis Raises Challenging Moral Questions For Coal Country

Sep 23, 2015
Congregants of Cheyenne, WY's Cathedral of St. Mary sing during Sunday Mass, June 21, 2015
Dan Boyce, Inside Energy

Pope Francis is visiting the U.S., this week. On Thursday he will make a historic address to Congress.

Some conservative Catholics say Pope Francis is meddling in American politics with his recent encyclical on the environment, the biggest papal statement ever on the subject and one which included a call for action on climate change. Meanwhile, for the faithful in western coal country, he is raising moral questions.

Kevin and Marti Murphy and their children at their home in Colstrip.
Amy Martin

Kevin Murphy has worked at the Rosebud coal mine for 15 years, running a bulldozer which works in tandem with a dragline – a machine as big as a ship with a giant boom that extends 300 feet up into the air. The dragline perches on the lip of an open pit, scraping away hundreds of feet of rocky soil to reveal the black seam of compressed prehistoric peat that humans have been burning for fuel for millennia.

'Clean Coal' Development A Top Priority For China

Aug 27, 2015
The vice administrator for China’s National Energy Administration says development of 'clean coal' is a top priority for China.
Flickr user Erin Kinney(CC-BY-NC-ND-2)

China is not likely to give up using coal anytime in the near future. That was the message from a top energy official during a conference on clean coal technology this week in Billings.

Chris Kennedy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (CC BY 2.0)

If you are like me, you will probably hear hundreds of pikas before you ever see one. For years, I heard their shrill calls while hiking high ridges and peaks, but no matter how still I stood or how hard I gazed at those rocky mountain slopes, I never saw a real, live pika.

A proposed ballot initiative would require electricity suppliers to obtain at least 20 percent of retail sales from renewable energy such as wind, solar, geothermal or hydroelectric sources by 2020.

Montana officials are reviewing a proposal that aims to put global warming mitigation to a statewide vote in 2016.

John Soderberg today submitted a ballot initiative to curb climate change by reducing the amount of CO2 released when generating electricity.

On a clear day, standing atop a windswept ridge on the southern border of the United States, one can see a hundred miles into Mexico. From the southern horizon, the Sierra Madre range extends north to meet the Rockies along the continent’s spine.

Voices For, Against Coal Royalty Reform Heard In Billings

Aug 12, 2015
Commenters line up to speak during a Billings meeting on coal royalty reforms, Tuesday, August 11.
Jackie Yamanaka - Yellowstone Public Radio

An overflow crowd packed the Montana/Dakota’s BLM state office in Billings to speak on the federal coal program Tuesday. The agency is seeking comment on possible changes to make sure it’s obtaining the full economic value for the mining of federal coal. Comments ranged from whether the government is getting enough revenue, to climate change, to the "war on coal."

What's the connection between poachers killing African elephants, and promoting tourism in Seeley Lake, Montana? Find out in this episode of "Home Ground Radio".
Flickr user Bitterroot (CC-BY-ND-2)

What's the connection between poachers killing African elephants, and promoting tourism in Seeley Lake, Montana? Find out in this episode of "Home Ground Radio".

The plan the White House unveiled today to reduce carbon dioxide emissions nationwide is meeting with strong and broad criticism in Montana.

Gov. Steve Bullock. File Photo
Christopher B. Allen

Governor Steve Bullock issued the following statement on the Clean Power Plan President Obama announced today:

07/12/2015 - Climate change is impacting much more than the environment. It’s also slowly changing the political landscape – in Washington and beyond. What’s the best way to move our economy towards a renewable future? More environmental regulation or less? More financial oversight or freer markets? And with mega economies like China and India creating ever-increasing carbon pollution, how do we bring our international friends – and foes – along with us?

Flathead Lake Biological Station research boat, Jessie-B.
Courtesy Flathead Lake Biological Station

Researchers at the Flathead Lake Biological Station are studying how climate change may affect the lake’s chemistry and temperature. Corin Cates-Carney reports from a research presentation at the station Thursday night.

The bullet point is Flathead Lake is an extremely complex body of water; and it’s changing.

One easy way to start an argument these days is to bring up climate change. Yet when several dozen farmers and researchers gathered to talk about it last Friday in Great Falls, there was virtually no argument. That’s because the group that sponsored the event, the Montana Farmers Union, accepts climate change as a fact and because the event, called Plowing Forward, was not focused on placing the blame for it, but rather on its effects, especially on agriculture.


Montana farmers will have to take the changing climate into account, even planting different species to accommodate warmer temperatures. That was part of the message delivered at a gathering in Great Falls Friday, sponsored by The Montana Farmers Union. 

Forest Service Predicts Above-Average Fire Season For Western U.S.

Jun 9, 2015
File photo of fire fighters building fire line.
BLM (CC-BY-2.0)

The Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior and the U.S. Forest Service chief expect above average wildfire activity this year, especially across the Western U.S.

The three held a telephone briefing with reporters yesterday afternoon on the upcoming 2015 wildfire season.

06/14/2015 - Climate change, you've heard of that. But climate justice? The Global Justice Ecology Project describes it: "Climate justice is the understanding that we will not be able to stop climate change if we don't change the neo-liberal, corporate-based economy which stops us from achieving sustainable societies. The historical responsibility for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions lies with the industrialized countries of the Global North.

Workers at Smartlam's Columbia Falls plant work on cross-laminated timber or CLT.
Corin Cates-Carney

A young company in Columbia Falls is finding success in developing new construction material, and they’ve just received a federal grant to help push that success to the next stage.

Western Glacier Stonefly
U.S. Geological Service

A lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Center for Biological Diversity could force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make a decision on whether protect an insect only found in Glacier National Park.

Snow Fleas: 400 Million Years Old And Still Springing

Apr 3, 2015
Flickr user, Robbie Sproule

""Oooo...the poor snow fleas," says my fiancée, Paige, crouching on the ice to see them closer. "It's a snow flea massacre, a snow flea disaster!" she exclaims, throwing her hands in the air.

I smile. This is why I'm marrying her later this year - she reminds me to stop and look at the snow fleas.

It's 48 degrees on the 26th of January in western Montana, and the fleas, no more than specks of dirt to the naked eye, are streaming down rivulets in the icy road and pooling in inky masses that look like miniature peat bogs.

Eric Whitney

Backcountry skier Ryan Swantner is willing to work hard to get in his turns, but lately he’s had to work harder than usual.

Eric Whitney

About 80 climate change activists rallied in Missoula this morning.

Led by Jeff Smith of the group 350Missoula, they gathered in front of Senator Steve Daines’ office here. There were there to, they said, “protest the senator’s denial of climate change science and his support for fossil fuel projects like coal exports, the Otter Creek Coal Mine, and the Keystone XL pipeline."

Randy Stiles

As part of a plan to address climate change, a proposed 2014 EPA rule would reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants nationwide by an average of 30% by 2030. (Montana's proposed target is 21%.) The EPA's Clean Power Plan has directed states to develop strategies to reduce CO emissions.

01/04/2015 - Talks about protecting the climate are peppered with Megawatts and BTU’s; parts per million and fugitive methane; wind velocity and crop yields. All these terms can make your head spin – even if you understand and accept that humans are frying the Earth. But behind the numbers are hearts and minds. And that’s what we’re talking about today. How do people think about climate change? Why aren’t more Americans engaged and actively addressing the most pressing issue of our times? And how do social groups shape individual attitudes toward climate disruption?

Southeastern Montana's Crow Nation says President Obama’s pending climate plan would wreak economic havoc on the already-impoverished reservation.

Under the administration's proposal, states must reduce their carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is going up to bat for the Crow Nation. Fox says he's troubled by how the President is unilaterally guiding this climate proposal.

Eric Whitney

The start of the 2015 Legislative session is still seven weeks away, but a group of Democratic lawmakers, scientists, and activists is already working to frame a possible legislative debate on climate change. 

Among those who spoke at a climate change-focused news conference on Thursday was Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation. He says even without the EPA pressuring the state to cut its carbon emissions by 20 percent in 15 years, slowing or reversing climate change would still be a priority, to save the state’s hunting and fishing industry.

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

As the State of Montana grapples to find ways of reducing its carbon dioxide emissions under proposed new federal rules, a collection of business people, scientists, and Democratic lawmakers is pushing the incoming legislature to put more renewable energy to work as part of the solution.  The group is nudging the Republican-controlled legislature to take small steps.

10/20/2014 - Many people see the crisis posed by climate change clearly but governments, largely influenced by money coming from coal, oil and natural gas corporations, do not act. Huge demonstrations from New York to more than 150 cities all over the world indicate that people want action on climate change now. Germany is leading the way with solar technology. Prices are coming way down. China is investing more in renewable energy than the U.S. And in an extraordinary development, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is divesting from fossil fuel companies.

Cheri Trusler

A meeting to talk about reducing Montana’s carbon dioxide emissions drew more than 150 people to a Missoula hotel last night.

Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality invited people to hear about and comment on their “white paper,” which shows five different strategies for the state to reduce Co2 emissions to meet a new federal target. That target for Montana is to reduce Co2 emissions by 21 percent by the year 2030.

Kudos to Governor Bullock and the MT DEQ for their work on carbon pollution at power plants.

Cheri Trusler

Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality was in Missoula Thursday night to talk about reducing carbon dioxide emissions. It was the last in a series of three public meetings around the state. The agency was explaining the options it’s come up with to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Montana, so the state can meet goals set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

It was also taking public comments. Missoula resident Jan Holm said, "If we’re really serious about reducing pollution and addressing climate change, we have to stop burning coal."