BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A representative of a company seeking to mine for gold near Yellowstone National Park says a halt on new mining claims in the area appears designed to sink the project.
U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Monday announced a two-year ban on new mining claims across more than 30,000 acres of public land north of the park.
Jewell said the move does not directly impact two mining projects under consideration on private land.
Shaun Dykes with the company Lucky Minerals says the government action could prompt potential investors to take their money elsewhere.
Dykes says the mineral reserves target by his company near Emigrant, Montana, hold up to 10 million ounces of gold and mining could be a boon to the region’s economy
Wyoming and Montana file legal challenge to BLM methane rule
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming and Montana are pushing to block a rule that President Barack Obama’s administration issued last week seeking to restrict how oil companies burn off natural gas on public lands.
In the federal lawsuit filed Friday in Cheyenne, the states argue that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management lacks authority over air quality issues.
Energy companies frequently “flare,” or burn off, large volumes of natural gas at drilling sites because it makes less money than oil.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead says his state already has effective limits on venting and flaring of natural gas.
The federal rule seeks to reduce waste and harmful methane emissions to address climate change. Although the incoming Republican administration of President-elect Donald Trump could rescind the rule, doing so would likely take months.
Commissioner rejects ethics complaint against Gov. Bullock
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The state commissioner of political practices rejected an ethics complaint against Gov. Steve Bullock, saying it was filed too late, did not state a potential violation of ethics law and that its illegal release was clearly an attempt to embarrass the governor as he sought re-election.
Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl on Monday rejected the complaint Republican Rep. Brad Tschida (CHEE’-duh) of Missoula. It alleged Bullock and Commerce Director Meg O’Leary misused the state plane by flying to a Paul McCartney concert in Missoula in August 2014 and violated ethics laws by accepting concert tickets.
Motl said the complaint was filed past the two-year statute of limitations and that it didn’t say how accepting the tickets might cause Bullock or O’Leary to depart from their official duties.
A spokeswoman for Bullock called the complaint ridiculous while Tschida’s attorney called Motl’s decision a whitewash.
Grizzly bear mauls, seriously injures Montana elk hunter
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Montana wildlife officials say a female grizzly bear protecting her two cubs attacked and seriously injured an elk hunter.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Capt. Dave Holland tells the Great Falls Tribune (gftrib.com/2fjTaEz) that an initial investigation indicates it was a surprise encounter, with the bear defending her cubs.
The man didn’t fire any shots at the bear, which ran off after the attack Sunday. It occurred on private property near the small northwestern city of Choteau.
The injured man, whose identity hasn’t been released, was part of a hunting party and was taken by private vehicle to a clinic in Choteau, then flown by helicopter to a hospital in Great Falls.
State officials plan to visit the site Monday.
Man convicted of continually stalking woman gets prison
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A Bigfork man has been sentenced to four years in prison for felony stalking, including cutting off a GPS monitor and traveling to Colorado where he was arrested within a mile of the woman’s house.
The Daily Inter Lake reports (bit.ly/2fi9su5) District Judge David Ortley sentenced Severin Gislason on Nov. 15 to 15 years in prison with 11 years suspended.
Prosecutors said Gislason was on probation for burglary and had been court-ordered not to contact the woman, but continued to text her, even using a phone app to disguise his number.
He was charged with felony stalking in 2015 and was released from jail with a GPS monitor. After his arrest in Colorado, Gislason called the woman from jail. Prosecutors say he acted as his own attorney to confront the woman during his trial before pleading guilty.
Kansas gun case pits federal law against state’s rights
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The convictions of two men who relied on a Kansas law to protect them from prosecution for federal firearms violations have raised questions about the legal basis for gun control.
The National Firearms Act is a part of the Internal Revenue code enacted under Congress’ power to levy taxes. The prosecution of Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler raises the question of whether that taxing authority can be used to regulate firearms that stay within state borders.
A jury found them guilty of federal firearms violations in a case with Second Amendment and state rights implications that even the judge overseeing it expects to ultimately end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Their defense attorneys contend their clients believed the Kansas law made their activities legal.