President Biden’s Interior Department approved about 2,500 permits to drill on public and tribal lands in the first six months of the year, according to an analysis of government data. That includes more than 2,100 drilling approvals since Biden took office January 20. Approvals for companies to drill for oil and gas on U.S. public lands are on pace this year to reach their highest level since George W. Bush was president. Biden campaigned on a pledge to end new drilling on federal lands.
Flathead County has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases in the past several weeks, with 117 active cases as of last week, according to the Flathead City-County Health Department. Investigations of the new cases show that many of the infections are occurring in clusters.
Wild fires across the west have air quality in the Flathead Valley and other parts of Montana rising to unhealthy levels. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality reports that prevailing winds are ushering in smoke from large fires in Idaho, Washington and Oregon. High pressure remaining in place through the rest of the week will cause hot, dry and smoky conditions to continue.
Up to 85 bison may be released within a year in the Chief Mountain area of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. The bison will be free to wander into Glacier National Park. Bison used to live on the land that’s now Glacier National Park.
The 1908 Speakeasy bar has opened in Bigfork. It’s an bar that celebrates good gin and local history with a menu of handcrafted cocktails in a Prohibition-style setting. The rock walls and concrete floors help set the tone. The bar is located downstairs at Showthyme Act II at 548 Electric Ave. in Bigfork.
Federal wildlife workers shot a bear which pulled a California woman from her tent and killed her last week. The bear was shot near the site of the fatal attack in Ovando.
The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission has decided on criteria it will use to draw the congressional map and will reconvene on July 20 to study the impact of statistical deviations, The commission is tasked with drawing the congressional and legislative maps with the 2020 Census data. The commission was scheduled to determine the legislative criteria in this meeting but to wait until the July 20 meeting.
The Lone Mountain Land Company has announced the purchase of the Crazy Mountain Ranch east of Clyde Park. A subsidiary of the company that owns the Yellowstone Club bought the 18,000-acre ranch at the foot of the Crazy Mountains. The company said that it has no plans to develop residential subdivisions or a commercial heliskiing operation on the property.
House Bill 314 is a straightforward bill sponsored by Braxton Mitchell, R-Columbia Falls. If passed, it would add language to existing law stating that the utility-regulating PSC “shall consider all economic impacts at the state and local level when evaluating the acquisition, sale, expansion or closure of a coal-fired generation plant.”
American GulfCoast Select (AGS) is the name of the new American shale oil benchmark. The new benchmark was designed to rival the landlocked U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures contract, which is based on delivery to Cushing, Oklahoma, and which has typically been used to reflect the value of a barrel of Bakken crude oil. American GulfCoast Select is based on Gulf Coast delivery instead of a land-locked location. This will better reflect shale oil’s value in the world market, and should prevent market distortions due to lack of storage infrastructure.
Continental Resources’ Harold Hamm was heard on a news report recently talking about the possibility for $100 oil. The price might go that high given the restrictive policies the Biden administration has implemented such as banning oil and gas leasing on federal lands. Executives from Exxon, Shell and TotalEnergies have all recently voiced the possibility of $100 per barrel oil.
Montana State University is the recipient of a $3.4 million grant from the Department of Energy. The project that looks at micro-organisms that can extract useful metals from pyrite is the recipient grant. The MSU project was begun after researchers realized that microbial cells can extract iron and sulfur from pyrite, and convert the metals to enzymes key to bio-technology.
Gallatin County’s residential real estate market saw higher prices and lower inventory in May compared to last year. Additionally, sellers received more than 100% of their list price in both the single family and condo/townhome markets. The number of new listings decreased 16% in May compared to last year, from 206 to 173. Pending sales were down 24.7%, from 190 to 143. The number of closed sales increased 9.4% from 117 to 128. The average days on market decreased 46.2%, from 52 to 28. The median sales price increased 39.2%, from $475,000 to $661,000. Sellers received 101.6% of their list price, up from 98.5% last May. The inventory of available homes decreased 60.9%, from 402 to 157, while the months’ supply of inventory dropped 68.8%, from 3.2 to 1.0.