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Montana

Half Of Rural Hospitals Are Operating At A Loss

In a little more than two years as CEO of a small hospital in Wyoming, Dave Ryerse has witnessed firsthand the worsening financial problems eroding rural hospitals nationwide. In 2022, Ryerse’s South Lincoln Medical Center was forced to shutter its operating room because it didn’t have the staff to run it 24 hours a day. Soon after, the obstetrics unit closed. Ryerse said the publicly owned facility’s revenue from providing care has fallen short of operating expenses for at least the past eight years, driving tough decisions to cut services in hopes of keeping the facility open in Kemmerer, a town of about 2,400 in southwestern Wyoming.

How To Privatize A Mountain

We had followed the trail for a half mile when it ran headlong into a fence. Signs nailed to the trees blared messages of unwelcome: ​“Private Property” and ​“No Forest Service Access.” They were emphatic: The trail ends here. Our map — the official map of the Custer Gallatin National Forest — said different: The trail continued for another seven or eight miles, a substantial orange line winding through the foothills of Montana’s Crazy Mountains. The signs, though, had the desired effect. On the other side of the fence, the trail grew faint. This trail, known as the Porcupine Lowline, had been marked on U.S. Forest Service maps for nearly a century — the earliest I’ve seen is dated 1925.

Tribes To Consider Asserting Primary Jurisdiction Over Yellowstone Bison

West Yellowstone, MT - As the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service considers the need to list Yellowstone Bison as a threatened or endangered species, there is a growing momentum among the interested Tribes to assert their inherent jurisdiction over wild buffalo and usher in a new era of stewardship over America’s national mammal. According to Nez Perce environmental scientist James Holt, the executive director of Buffalo Field Campaign, such an historic agreement between sovereign nations working with federal stewards would represent nothing less than the beginning of “true reparations” for the long-standing practice of cultural genocide, or ethnocide, that is still being perpetuated by the cattle industry to preserve their monopoly on public lands forage in the West.

Blackfeet Nation Statement On Badger-Two Medicine Court Settlement

Browning, Montana - The Blackfeet Nation has, since time immemorial, remained committed to protecting our sacred cultural lands in the Badger-Two Medicine. This area has forever been Blackfeet traditional territory, a place of refuge for our People. For decades, we have opposed plans to industrialize our cultural homeland. We want to acknowledge our many Blackfeet elders at the forefront of this struggle, who no longer are with us and who did not live to see the Badger-Two Medicine protected from development. We are grateful for their leadership. After these many years of struggle, our People are relieved that agreement finally has been reached between the U.S. government, tribal and conservation partner organizations, and the leaseholder—Solenex, LLC—to retire the last Badger-Two Medicine oil and gas lease.

Montana Youth Turned The Tables And Won An Unprecedented Climate Victory

Over the first eight months of 2023, the catastrophic impacts from climate change have become tangible for millions of people. From massive Canadian wildfires to 100-degree ocean waters off Florida, to a rare hurricane hitting California, the signs of an overheating globe are everywhere. Amid such devastation, youth climate activists in Montana have scored a precedent-setting victory: for the first time in U.S. history a court has ruled young people have the right to a livable climate. In Held v. State of Montana, District Court Judge Kathy Seeley ruled the state must safeguard 16 young plaintiffs’ right to a ​“clean and healthful environment,” which is protected by Montana’s constitution.

Montana Youth Activists Win Historic Climate Change Lawsuit

A Montana court ruled in favor of 16 young people who put their state government on trial in June in the first constitutional climate trial in U.S. history. In an order issued Monday, Judge Kathy Seeley in the First Judicial District Court of Montana found that the state had violated youth plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, including the right to a clean and healthful environment, because of Montana’s pro-fossil fuel policies, which require the state to disregard climate change and greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews. “As fires rage in the West, fueled by fossil fuel pollution, today’s ruling in Montana is a game-changer that marks a turning point in this generation’s efforts to save the planet from the devastating effects of human-caused climate chaos,” Julia Olson, chief legal counsel and executive director of Our Children’s Trust, said in a statement.

Young Montana Residents Bring Climate Change Case To Court

A groundbreaking climate change trial will begin on Monday in a courtroom in Montana’s capital city, involving 16 young residents who allege state officials violated their constitutional rights to a healthy environment. Filed in March 2020, the lawsuit, Held v Montana, will mark the first-ever constitutional climate trial in US history. “We’re asking the government and the courts to do their job and protect us, along with the rest of Montana’s citizens and our incredible home state; this case is one big opportunity for the state to become a leader in preserving a safe, beautiful and prosperous future for Montana,” Grace Gibson-Snyder, a 19-year-old plaintiff, said.

Montana TikTok Ban A Sign Of Intensified Cold War With China

There is an emerging consensus in US foreign policy circles that a US/China cold war is either imminent or already underway (Foreign Policy, 12/29/22; New Yorker, 2/26/23; New York Times, 3/23/23; Fox News, 3/28/23; Reuters, 3/30/23). Domestically, the most recent and most intense iteration of this anti-China fervor is the move to ban the Chinese video app TikTok, which is both a sweeping assault on free speech movement and a dangerous sign that mere affiliation with China is grounds for vilification and loss of rights. Several TikTok content creators are suing to overturn “Montana’s first-in-the-nation ban on the video sharing app, arguing the law is an unconstitutional violation of free speech rights,” on the grounds “that the state doesn’t have any authority over matters of national security” (AP, 5/18/23). TikTok followed up with a lawsuit of its own (New York Times, 5/22/23).

Montana Transgender Lawmaker Silenced For Third Day

As Republican leaders in the Montana legislature doubled down on forbidding Rep. Zooey Zephyr from participating in debate into a second week, her supporters on Monday interrupted proceedings in the House by chanting "Let her speak!" Zephyr, a first-term Democrat from Missoula, wanted to speak about a proposal that would restrict when children could change the names and pronouns they use in school, with their required parents' consent. When lawmakers voted to continue subjecting Zephyr to a gag order, denying her the chance to speak, the gallery, made up mostly of her supporters, erupted, forcing legislative leaders to pause proceedings and clear the room.

Montana Judge Cancels Gas Power Plant Permit Over Climate Concern

Climate concerns motivated a Montana judge to cancel the air quality permit for a controversial natural gas power plant. The 175-megawatt NorthWestern Energy plant would have emitted more than 23 million tons of greenhouse gases over its 30-year or more lifespan — the equivalent of adding 167,327 new cars to the roads each year — something that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) did not fully consider when it issued the permit, Montana 13th Judicial District Court Judge Michael Moses ruled Thursday. “DEQ’s failure to analyze this issue violated the clear and unambiguous language of MEPA [the Montana Environmental Policy Act],” Moses wrote.

Montana Repeals State Energy Policy As Climate Trial Nears

Montana has repealed its 30-year-old energy policy – including a 2011 amendment that prioritized fossil-fuel development. The move comes as a June trial date approaches for a youth-led climate lawsuit against the state. In the lawsuit, Held v. State of Montana, sixteen Montana children and teenagers say that by actively promoting a fossil-fuel based energy system that is dangerous to the climate, state officials are violating the “right to a clean and healthful environment” for present and future generations under the state Constitution. It is the first constitutional climate case to go to trial in the United States.

In Montana, An Avalanche Of Wealth Is Displacing Workers

Archie Martinez goes to bed with stained hands and wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to meet the person he pays to pick him up at the Bozeman homeless shelter. They drive to the shop of a painting company in Belgrade, eight miles away, where Martinez climbs into one of the company vans for the hour-long drive up the mountain to the resort town of Big Sky. As Martinez watches hayfields swim by in the dawn, a billboard blossoms out of the half-light beyond the van windows: ​“Dreaming of Your Own Equestrian Property?” Another advertises ​“Montana Life Real Estate.” The mountain sides along the highway glitter with the plate glass and stained wood of houses that weren’t there a few years ago.

A Looming Court Case Threatens Native Sovereignty

In mid-January, Montana state Senator Keith Regier floated the idea of a bill that would call on federal lawmakers to investigate alternatives to the tribal reservation system, created by federal legislation in 1851 in an effort to silo Native American people, remove them from their traditional way of life and create space for white settlers. Regier claimed he was motivated by genuine concern for the ​“lives and well-being” of Native Americans and all Montanans, asserting the system was built on race and that reservations are not ​“in the best interests of either the Indians inside our borders or for our common Montana citizen.”

Tired Of Being Told To ‘Adapt,’ An Indigenous Community Wrote Its Own Climate Action Plan

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes live among some of the most spectacular landscapes in the country. Their home, the Flathead Reservation, covers 1.2 million acres dotted with soaring mountains, sweeping valleys, and lush forests. Flathead River bisects the land and drains into Flathead Lake, the largest body of fresh water west of the Mississippi River. Long before anyone called this place northwest Montana or considered it a tourist destination, it sustained the tribes and they sustained it. “We have a proven track record of sustainability,” says Shelly Fyant, former chair of the CSKT Tribal Council. “We can trace it back 14,000 years.”

Judge Reinstates Obama-Era Coal Leasing Moratorium On Federal Lands

Great Falls, Montana - A federal judge in Montana District Court ruled today to reinstate a moratorium on new coal leasing on public lands, halting all coal leasing on federal lands until the Bureau of Land Management completes a more sufficient environmental analysis. The original moratorium set by the Obama administration in 2016 was overturned by Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in 2017. The Biden administration revoked the Zinke order last year, but did not reinstate the moratorium. “The Tribe has fought and sacrificed to protect our homelands for generations, and our lands and waters mean everything to us. We are thrilled that the court is requiring what we have always asked for: serious consideration of the impacts of the federal coal leasing program on the Tribe and our way of life,” said President Serena Wetherelt of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.
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