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Articles written by Matthew Brown

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Study: Drought-breaking rains more rare, erratic in US West

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Rainstorms grew more erratic and droughts much longer across most of the U.S. West over the past half-century as climate change warmed the planet, according to a sweeping government study released Tuesday that concludes the...

 

Biden environmental challenge: Filling vacant scientist jobs

Polluting factories go uninspected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Leadership positions sit vacant at the U.S. Geological Survey's climate science centers. And U.S. Department of Agriculture research into environmental issues important t...

 

Sage grouse review done, but scant time for Trump's changes

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration has completed a review of plans to ease protections for a struggling bird species in seven states in the U.S. West, but there's little time to put the relaxed rules for industry into action before Pre...

 

Oil companies lock in drilling, challenging Biden on climate

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — In the closing months of the Trump administration, energy companies stockpiled enough drilling permits for western public lands to keep pumping oil for years and undercut President-elect Joe Biden's plans to curb new... Full story

 

Study: Wildfires produced up to half of pollution in US West

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Wildfire smoke accounted for up to half of all health-damaging small particle air pollution in the western U.S. in recent years as warming temperatures fueled more destructive blazes, according to a study released Monday....

 

Trump administration moves ahead on gutting bird protections

The Trump administration moved forward Friday on gutting a longstanding federal protection for the nation's birds, over objections from former federal officials and many scientists that billions more birds will likely perish as a result. The U.S....

 

Judge removes Trump public lands boss for serving unlawfully

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge ruled Friday that President Donald Trump's leading steward of public lands has been serving unlawfully, blocking him from continuing in the position in the latest pushback against the administration's...

 

Drilling, mines, other projects hastened by Trump order

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration is seeking to fast track environmental reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 pandemic, including oil and gas drilling, hazardous fuel pipelines, wind farms...

 

Trump administration cuts oil, gas fees in hundreds of cases

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration has awarded energy companies hundreds of breaks on payments for oil and gas extraction from U.S. lands and the Gulf of Mexico during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a government database and...

 
 By Matthew Brown    Regional    May 27, 2020

Judge strikes down US energy leasing rules in bird habitat

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. judge has dealt another blow to the Trump administration's efforts to increase domestic oil and gas output from public lands, saying officials failed to protect habitat for a declining bird species when it issued energ...

 

First piece of disputed Keystone XL pipeline finished

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Canadian company has built the first piece of the disputed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline across the U.S. border and started work on labor camps in Montana and South Dakota. But it has not resolved a courtroom setback that...

 
 By Matthew Brown    Regional    May 6, 2020

US, Wyoming urge rejection of ruling that blocked bear hunts

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Attorneys for the U.S. government and the state of Wyoming urged an appeals court Tuesday to throw out much of a judge's ruling that blocked the first grizzly bear hunts in the Lower 48 states in almost three decades. The...

 

Yellowstone slaughters wild bison to shrink park's herds

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park is done capturing wild bison for the year after rounding up almost 550 of the wild animals and sending most to slaughter as part of a population control program, park officials said. The culling is c...

 

Scientists seek rare species survivors amid Australia flames

Australia's unprecedented wildfires season has so far charred 40,000 square miles (104,000 square kilometers) of brushland, rainforests, and national parks — killing by one estimate more than a billion wild animals. Scientists fear some of the...

 

Scientists seek rare species survivors amid Australia flames

Australia's unprecedented wildfires season has so far charred 40,000 square miles (104,000 square kilometers) of brushland, rainforests, and national parks — killing by one estimate more than a billion wild animals. Scientists fear some of the...

 

Montana coal power plant closing two units built in 1970s

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — One of the largest coal-fired power plants in the western U.S. will close two of its four units in coming days as the Montana facility edges toward an eventual total shutdown. Colstrip Units 1 and 2 — built in the 1970s...

 

Native tribe recognized by US government after long fight

An American Indian tribe whose members were scattered after being denied a homeland more than a century ago has been formally recognized by the U.S. government. Recognition of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians was included in a defense spend...

 

Feds agree to review grizzly protections in contiguous US

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal officials will review whether enough is being done to protect grizzly bears in the contiguous U.S. states after environmentalists sued the government to try to restore the fearsome animals to more areas, according to...

 

Court rules Trump EPA unlawfully ignored dangerous chemicals

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration unlawfully excluded millions of tons of some of the most dangerous materials in public use from a safety review, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Cou...

 

Trump's land boss pledges to steer clear of ex-clients

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration's top steward of public lands has recused himself from work involving dozens of former clients following conflict of interest allegations from Democratic lawmakers and environmental advocates,...

 

Man's confessions in 1998 murder met doubt, now faces life

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — More than 17 years after he slashed the throat of a teenage clerk while robbing a Montana video store, Zachary O'Neill says guilt overcame him and he tried to tell authorities. But it was another three years after he first...

 

Appeals court upholds Trump move to drop mine pollution rule

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. appeals court panel sided with the Trump administration Friday in a mining pollution dispute, ruling that state and federal programs already in place ensure that companies take financial responsibility for future...

 

New climate study ordered for Colorado, Utah energy leases

DENVER (AP) — U.S. officials must consider climate change effects from leasing about 250 square miles (648 sq. kilometers) of public lands in Colorado and Utah for oil and gas drilling, under a federal court ruling issued Wednesday. The order from...

 

Exxon agrees to $1 million penalty for Montana oil spill

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Exxon Mobil Corp. agreed to pay a $1.05 million penalty to settle alleged federal water pollution violations from an oil pipeline break into Montana's Yellowstone River, according to court documents filed Friday. Approval of...

 

Judge: Resumption of US coal sales by Trump needs review

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday ruled that the Trump administration failed to consider potential damage to the environment from its decision to resume coal sales from U.S. lands, but the court stopped short of halting future...

 

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