Montana Sets Wolf Hunt Quota at 186

first_img Email HELENA – Montana wildlife regulators on Thursday set this year’s wolf-hunt quota at 186, more than doubling 2009’s quota, with the aim of reducing the state’s wolf population for the first time since they were reintroduced to the Northern Rockies in 1995.Advocates for the wolf hunt hailed the decision, although some said they would still like to see a bigger number.But whether a hunting season actually happens may be in the hands of a federal judge. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy is expected to make a ruling after hearing arguments last month in a lawsuit brought by environmental groups seeking to restore Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho.Opponents of the wolf hunt argued the FWP commission should end the hunt before the courts act.“We think any wolf hunt is premature,” said Matt Skoglund, with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We don’t think the wolf population has recovered yet.”The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission also created an archery hunt for 2010 and increased the number of management areas from three to 13 to have more control over the number of wolves killed in a given region.Licenses go on sale next month for this fall’s hunt, which is slated to run until Dec. 31. Montana wildlife chief Ken McDonald says if hunters meet the quota of 186, state numbers could drop from 524 wolves to between 411 and 488.Ranchers and hunters say the wolf population has grown too high, which has led to more attacks on livestock and game.Victor hunter Steve Wilson said a much larger hunt is needed to bring wolf population numbers down to around 150. He argued that elk in some Bitterroot Valley areas are in danger of being wiped out.After the federal government gave Montana and Idaho control over wolf management in those states last year, they held their first hunting seasons. Montana’s hunt ended with 73 wolves killed and Idaho’s with 185 killed, short of the quota of 220.Wildlife officials in Idaho also are considering a higher quota for this year’s hunt.Federal protections remain in place for wolves in Wyoming, where the state law is considered hostile to the species’ survival.The quota does not include wolves killed by the wildlife officials responding to complaints of attacks on livestock. Another 145 wolves were killed that way in 2009.Wildlife officials are predicting the those depredation kills could increase this year, and the commission loosened its policy earlier this year to give federal wildlife officials greater authority to trap and shoot wolves that kill livestock.Ben Lamb of the Montana Wildlife Federation said his group supports the 186 target set by wildlife officials, but added that his group would like to let individual hunters help out with the hunts of wolves that kill livestock.“Why not have guys up there that are willing to hunt wolves, rather than spending taxpayer money to do it?” he said.Models run by wildlife biologists at the agency predict that depredation kills could increase 20 percent to 50 percent. The highest kill rate could result in the lowest predicted total wolf population of 411.Commission chairman Bob Ream said he does not envision wolf numbers dropping anywhere near that far, although he does expect there will be a drop in overall population figures. Ream said that the hunting quota set by the commission is defensible, and believes that hunting will always be a necessary management tool for a wolf population that has grown rapidly.“I think it’s going to be part of the scenario into the future,” he said. Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.last_img read more

Songs, Poems and Storytelling in ‘Native Anthropology’

first_imgBlackfeet Nation poet-singer Jack Gladstone recently released his 15th album, and at least one of the songs on it took nearly 15 years to complete. The song, “Remembering Private Charlo,” is about the short life but long history of Louis Charlo, a Marine from Montana who died during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. Charlo was part of the first American flag raising on Iwo Jima, Gladstone recounts, but his story begins back when Lewis and Clark first encountered Indians in the early 1800s. “Remembering Private Charlo” began ruminating in Gladstone’s mind in 1997 after a visit with another WWII veteran who was also engaged in the first flag raising. The idea sat for another nine years, until in 2006 when Gladstone began work on the song in earnest. The resulting epic is a 10-minute-long history lesson, beginning back in 1805 when Lewis and Clark first made their trek through what is now Montana. The song is deepened with various instruments, including a shakuhachi flute from Japan, and several cameos, one from a barking, retired Marine colonel and one from former-President Franklin Roosevelt. “There is nothing like this that I’ve done,” Gladstone said, describing the song as the cornerstone of his new album, “Native Anthropology: Challenge, Choice and Promise in the 21st Century.” Gladstone’s latest effort, released Aug. 1, follows his style of integrating traditional Blackfeet Nation stories with current events, as well as analyzing history through song and poetry. Called Montana’s Blackfeet Troubadour, Gladstone is a mainstay for many in Montana. His powerful voice is recognizable to those familiar with his summer “Native America Speaks” series in Glacier National Park, which he has been performing for nearly three decades. The works in “Native Anthropology” cover a broad range of subjects, from global warming to war to the love a man can feel for a strong cup of coffee. Throughout the album, Gladstone handily takes on the role of wordsmith, something he refers to as being the “matador of metaphor.” “It is designed to inspire introspection,” Gladstone said. “I think this is a really critical time in human history.” Several songs on the album deal with fossil fuels and the culture of consumption in America. Gladstone admits to often playing the trickster character in these songs, giving listeners a tongue-in-cheek performance. In “Fossil Fuel Sinner,” Gladstone sings with a local gospel choir cobbled together for this track. The initial plan was to use a choir from Tennessee, but when that didn’t work out, they improvised. “We ended up just doing a pick-up gospel choir in the studio and they sound great,” Gladstone said. The resulting “Fossil Gospel Choir” consists of Denise Sterhan, Sandy Matheny, McKinley “Saxman” Cunningham, Craig Barton and Rob Quist. Though the song is playful, Gladstone insists the subjects of over-consumption and global warming should not be taken lightly. The point is to start taking serious inventory of American lifestyle, he said. Jack Gladstone’s most recent album “Native Anthropology.” “We do what we can do because this is our responsibility, not so much for ourselves but for the generations that depend upon our actions for their wellbeing,” Gladstone said. The ballad, “Chapel of Sea,” written on a trip to Greece, also portrays the immense beauty of the earth, Gladstone said. “It’s the most gorgeous ballad I’ve written,” Gladstone said. To help bolster the album’s musical achievements, Gladstone enlisted the help of multiple industry heavyweights. It was produced and arranged by Gladstone, Phillip Aaberg and David Griffith, as well as Michael Atherton. Gladstone also brought R. Carlos Nakai on board to play the native flutes and Will Clipman to play native drums and percussion. Both are at the top of their profession, Gladstone said. Also featured on the album are the Glacier High School “Echoes” Choir and the Thomas Jefferson Elementary School Honors Choir from Helena. While discussing “Remembering Private Charlo,” Gladstone emphasizes the unique connection between the United States and the American Indian nations. He tries to take on the role of cultural bridge-builder with this and other songs, he said. “The moral of the story is that we have separate identities in this country, but we also have a common identity,” Gladstone said. For more information on Jack Gladstone and a list of concert times in Glacier National Park, visit www.jackgladstone.com. Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Emaillast_img read more

Schweitzer Cooking Up New Plan for Cheap Drugs

first_img Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Email HELENA – Gov. Brian Schweitzer, cooking up a new plan to get cheaper prescription drugs for state residents, said he wants to let every Montanan get discounted medicine through Medicaid.It’s the latest idea from Schweitzer to either import cheaper name-brand prescriptions or to otherwise bypass what he sees as exorbitant prices charged by “drug cartels.” Previous plans have been shot down by the federal government as either illegal or impracticable.Schweitzer, who has been critical of the health care overhaul passed by his fellow Democrats in Washington D.C., said he is drafting a federal request to let any Montanan voluntarily sign up for a special Medicaid prescription drug program.He said Tuesday his program would let those people buy the drugs at the cheaper rate the state pays through prices negotiated by Medicaid. He will ask the federal government for an official Medicaid state plan amendment in a few weeks that he believes will cost the government nothing because it will just be passing along the discounted drugs it gets.The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it cannot comment until it receives a formal Medicaid state plan amendment request.“These things often change forms more than once before finally coming to us,” said agency spokeswoman Mary Kahn.The governor made the comments Thursday in a meeting with a maker of generic drugs, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, about ways that company could help the state use more of the cheaper medicine in favor of expensive brand-name alternatives.The company told Schweitzer that Montana ranks well by using 71 percent generics in its state-run programs, but it pointed out Montana ranks behind leader Massachusetts, which uses 77 percent generics.But Schweitzer’s bigger plan is to put the spotlight on the big money the pharmaceutical industry makes by charging Americans more for its products. He said Congress is partly too blame, and he aims to point it out by requesting that every Montanan be allowed to pay the same price Medicaid does for medicine.“They can’t turn me down or they will look like they are bought and paid for by the drug lords,” Schweitzer said.Schweitzer has previously been shot down with plans to get federal approval to bring in cheaper drugs from Canada and to buy cheaper medicine given to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.last_img read more

GOP Newcomer Outraises Ex-senator in PSC Race

first_img Email GREAT FALLS – A first-time Republican candidate for one of two Public Service Commission seats up for election has received more than double the campaign contributions of his Democratic opponent.The Great Falls Tribune reports Travis Kavulla has raised more than $43,000 total during the campaign. Kavulla is a 26-year-old Fife-based writer and editor for the conservative magazine National Review.His opponent, former Democratic state Sen. Don Ryan, has raised $18,000.In the state’s other PSC race, Democratic incumbent Ken Toole of Helena has outraised his Republican opponent, Helena attorney Bill Gallagher, by $79,000 to $36,400.The five-member PSC regulates gas, electric and other public utilities in the state. Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.last_img read more

Holmquist Readies for Commission Seat

first_imgOn the Thursday after the Nov. 2 election, county commissioner-elect Pam Holmquist was out collecting her political signs before the ground got too cold to pluck them out. Then, she said, she’s taking a breather from politics and she’s going elk hunting. “Right now I’m just taking a few days off,” Holmquist said. “But when I get back, of course I’ll prepare myself as best I can so that Jan. 3 I can hit the ground running.”Holmquist ousted incumbent Democrat Joe Brenneman for the District 2 seat by a margin of almost two votes to one, 20,195 to 10,458. Her addition on the commission makes it an all-GOP board.“I went into the night feeling good about it, but I didn’t think I’d get that kind of percentage,” Holmquist said. “It was very humbling and I just thank the voters for their support, for believing in me.”Holmquist’s victory followed the political trend in Flathead County, where GOP candidates squeezed out all Democratic competition, even in areas like Whitefish. But while Holmquist, a business owner in Evergreen, said she thought national sentiments may have played a part in the Flathead elections, she hoped the 20,195 voters who cast their ballots for her did so because they truly wanted change.“I think it had something to do with the national level. It was a good year to be a Republican that’s for sure,” Holmquist said. “Voters in county races, I would like to think they voted for me because I would be the best one to represent them.”She won’t take the commissioner’s seat until Jan. 3, and until then Holmquist said she is going to take a little time off and then start digging in to the county’s issues so she can be as prepared as possible. The biggest priority during the campaign was job creation, and it will be her main focus when she gets in office, she said, as well as making the county more business friendly. And since the commission is in the process of streamlining the county subdivision regulations, Holmquist said she expects to get a ground-level understanding of the regulations as they are scrutinized. “That’s something I’ll be looking at,” Holmquist said. “They’re just getting started so that’s good.”There’s also time for her to square away her business responsibilities. During her campaign, Holmquist said that if elected, she would work full-time as a commissioner and stop working at her family’s business, Rocky Mountain Marine. That is still the plan, she said, but her family needs to figure out the logistics before January.“I’m just anxious to get in there and get to work and see how it all goes. I’ve always worked hard,” Holmquist said. “There are going to be a lot of challenges I’m sure.”“It’s a big deal for me to move into something different than what I’ve been doing,” she added.Other adjustments must be made as well, such as shifting from a private business owner to a public official. Holmquist admits she hasn’t given the transformation a lot of thought. For the last several months she was focused on earning more ballots that her opponent.“I’m sure there are some differences. But you know it’s being able to work with people, which I’ve done all my life,” Holmquist said. “That’s my philosophy, that’s just who I am. I hope that people will share their concerns with me; I’m sure they will.”As the sole Democrat on the commission, Brenneman said he would not approach the next two months with a lame-duck attitude. Rather, he’ll focus on tying up loose ends and ensuring his responsibilities are covered. “Certainly county-wise the plans are obviously I continue to do all I can for the county until the end of my term,” Brenneman said. “Just because the election is over doesn’t mean I don’t have a responsibility to do my job, so I’ll continue to do that.”And it’s a job that comes with a hefty to-do list before January, he noted. Before Holmquist takes over, Brenneman would like to get some work done on the subdivision regulations, as well as iron out the county’s interlocal agreement with Whitefish, otherwise known as the “doughnut” issue.He would also like to ensure the various committees and groups he is part of – especially the Bigfork Stormwater Committee and the Flathead County River Commission – have adequate representation when he leaves the office.Water quality was a big part of Brenneman’s reelection campaign. He also touted the county’s financial solvency during the recession, an advantage the county has on others in Montana because of austere planning and cooperation from county employees, Brenneman said. Once he leaves county government, Brenneman said his focus would return to his dairy farm.“My commitment to the farm has remained,” Brenneman said. “I’ve done a lot of work on the farm in the last six years.” He will also continue as an EMT, a job he says gives him a realistic perspective on politics. “Life goes on,” Brenneman said. “There’s a lot of things more traumatic happening to people every day than losing elections.” Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Emaillast_img read more

Flathead’s Unemployment Rate Tops 10 Percent

first_img Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Montana’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in October while Flathead’s rose for the first time since last spring and now stands at 10.8 percent. The county’s non-seasonally adjusted jobless numbers had fallen for six straight months.Flathead’s jobless rate rose a full point since September, but is still well below March’s record-breaking number. It is tied with Mineral County for the fifth-highest rate in the state. Neighboring Lincoln and Sanders counties have the highest unemployment rate at 13.9 percent. Meanwhile, Montana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped from 7.4 percent to 7.3 percent in October due to a slight decline in the labor force.Department of Labor Commissioner Keith Kelly says both employment and labor force estimates declined slightly from September to October.The U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.6 percent.Payroll employment estimates fell by 200 jobs in October following a decline of about 1,000 jobs in September.Flathead unemployment rates by month:October 2010: 10.8%September 2010: 9.8%August 2010: 10.2%July 2010: 10.8%June 2010: 11.4%May 2010: 11.5%April 2010: 12.2%March 2010: 13.8%February 2010: 13.3%January 2010: 13.2%December 2009: 10.9%November 2009: 10.1%October 2009: 9.3%The Associated Press contributed to this story. Emaillast_img read more

Judge to Consider Plea Deal for Barkus

first_img Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Email A judge will decide on Jan. 20 whether the punishment in a plea deal for state Sen. Greg Barkus is appropriate for felony charges stemming from an Aug. 27, 2009 boat crash on Flathead Lake. Barkus pleaded no contest to felony criminal endangerment as part of the deal at a hearing in Kalispell Thursday. Malta District Judge John McKeon will review the proposed agreement, released Nov. 9, between Barkus and Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan. McKeon said he would not impose a sentence until he can review a presentence investigation report. If the judge rejects the agreement, or imposes a sentence different from what’s in the deal, Barkus then has the opportunity to withdraw his plea and go to trial. Barkus, 64, faces three felony charges: one for criminal endangerment and two for negligent vehicular assault after the boat he was piloting crashed into a rocky outcropping near Wayfarer’s State Park, injuring all five passengers. Prosecutors say Barkus’ blood alcohol content was 0.16, twice the legal limit, when taken two hours after the accident. Under the deal, Barkus pleaded no contest, in exchange for the dismissal of the other two charges. The agreement also imposes a three-year deferred sentence that could end after 18 months if there are no violations, and he would pay the state $4,000 in restitution. “I will not entertain any dismissal of counts two and three until I consider the plea agreement,” McKeon said. The judge questioned Barkus at length – on his mental state, medications he was prescribed and whether he had consumed any alcohol recently – to ensure that he understood the implications of pleading no contest to a felony, a charge that can carry a maximum sentence of 10 years. Barkus pleaded not guilty to the charges in Oct. 2009.McKeon referenced evidence, presented by Corrigan at the beginning of the hearing from the investigative report, that the boat was traveling at least 40 miles per hour when it struck the rocks, based on the testimony of Kristin Smith, a passenger who said she saw the tachometer at 4,000 rpms shortly before crashing. Corrigan also noted the boat was not using any headlights and that Barkus was navigating from a GPS unit. An accident reconstruction specialist hired by the prosecution corroborated Smith’s assertion of the boat’s speed. “Do you agree, with that evidence, the jury would find you guilty?” McKeon said. “Yes, I suppose,” Barkus replied.The crash occurred in the evening following a reception at The Docks restaurant in Lakeside. Barkus, a Kalispell Republican, was driving the boat east toward Bigfork, where passengers U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., and the congressman’s two staff members, Smith and Dustin Frost, were staying that evening. Barkus’ wife, Kathy, was also on the boat. While Kathy Barkus and Smith sustained less severe injuries in the crash that left the boat lodged on rocks above the waters of Flathead Lake, Frost was in a coma for a week, Rehberg suffered a broken ankle and Barkus broke his pelvis. At the hearing Thursday, McKeon asked Corrigan whether the victims were consulted on the plea deal. Corrigan said he has spoken with Frost, Rehberg’s state director at the time of the accident who now runs a political consulting firm, and that Frost accepts the deal but considers it too tough on Barkus.“Mr. Frost has provided me with a letter in which he implored me to reduce these charges to a misdemeanor,” Corrigan told McKeon. “He’s of the opinion it’s probably a little harsher than it should be.” Smith also accepted the deal, according to Corrigan. And though he said he had not spoken directly with Rehberg, who was reelected to a sixth term last month, Corrigan said he talked to the congressman’s wife, Jan, “She did express a desire to get this matter resolved without trial.” Corrigan added that he had received an e-mail from Rehberg’s attorney, “expressing a high regard for everyone involved,” with confidence that the correct outcome would be reached through the justice system. In considering sentencing, McKeon will also likely look at Barkus’ criminal history. The judge discussed briefly with Corrigan a 2004 incident in Lake County where Barkus was pulled over for drunken driving, a charge reduced to reckless driving. Barkus said at the time his driving was due to worry over the health of his mother. He has also received several minor traffic violations. last_img read more

Making a Deal

first_imgThe standoff between Kalispell and the firefighters’ union over wages ended in compromise – a surprising resolution to an often-tense negotiating session. Who reaches a “compromise” anymore? That’s so boring.In February, an arbitrator called in to settle a contract dispute between the two sides ruled in favor of the Local 547 chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters. The cash-strapped city responded that the financial impact of the decision would result in several layoffs at the Fire Department. From there, the clash escalated.Neither side could agree with the other’s calculations. City Manager Jane Howington said the department would lose seven firefighters to pay for increased wages and benefits. The firefighter’s union responded forcefully, and negotiations reached a tipping point.Union leaders called Howington a “bean counter from Ohio” who “failed to do her job.” Kalispell Mayor Tammi Fisher and the majority of council members responded in a letter that said the firemen had sank to an “all-new low” and the personal attacks had resulted in “threats against (Howington’s) personal safety.” Relations between the union and city, it seemed, were beyond repair. Fliers began landing on neighborhood doorsteps and the campaign to sway public had begun. This is how these negotiations – especially between a union and municipality – are supposed to end these days, with high drama and hurt feelings.Instead, the firefighters’ union offered concessions that limits how many days they work. Basically, despite a favorable ruling, employees at the department agreed to forgo pay raises so their colleagues could keep their jobs. It’s a rare concept that has worked before. In late 2008, when the economy began hammering profits across every sector, management at the Troy Mine warned that its 180 employees may lose their jobs if they didn’t work harder, smarter and for less money. And they did.As mines across the country closed, the one in Troy produced more with less. And about one year later, many of its employees had their pay re-established to previous levels.There are other examples. Despite cuts to several departments in Kalispell over the last two years, those remaining have had their pay frozen, haven’t complained about it and have continued to provide essential services. That’s not to suggest more cuts won’t be needed, only to point out that the Flathead Valley is not Wisconsin. Disagreements between Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the public employees’ union led to Democratic lawmakers there leaving the state to prevent votes on controversial legislation. Walker was able to pass a bill limiting unions’ collective bargaining rights anyway. A judge will now determine the law’s fate. When Montana’s union leaders began taking a hard line and making compensation demands late last year, I argued that they should tread lightly. I still think that’s the case, even after the Legislature’s Republican majority ditched an agreement reached between the state’s workers and Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer that would have called for a 4 percent raise for the state’s workers over the next two-year budget period.The union must now weigh whether a fight over pay raises is worth the black eye it might sustain in public opinion. A lot of those working in the private sector aren’t getting raises and a lot of them are out of work altogether. Perhaps Republican leaders in Helena can sit down with the employee unions and hammer out a compromise. That’s not such a crazy proposition. Is it? Email Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.last_img read more

Southern Entrance to Yellowstone Opens Friday

first_imgYELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. – The southern entrance to Yellowstone National Park opens on Friday.The National Park Service says opening the southern entrance will allow spring visitors from the Jackson area to visit Old Faithful and other attractions.The northern and western entrances to the park opened on April 15 and the eastern entrance opened May 6.The Park Service says spring visitors to the park should be prepared for cold temperatures, high winds and snow. Deep snow may make walking on trails difficult or impossible for several more weeks. Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Emaillast_img read more

EPA Objects to Proposed Oil Pipeline from Canada

first_img Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency is raising new objections to a proposed pipeline that would carry oil from western Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.In a letter to the State Department, the EPA said it remains concerned about the risk of oil spills that could affect drinking water and sensitive ecosystems, as well as the effect of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline.The EPA said that despite two lengthy reports, the State Department still has not done sufficient analysis of the project’s impact on the environment. The letter urged State to conduct a more thorough analysis of oil spill risks and alternative pipeline routes.Until those concerns are addressed, the EPA said it will rate the project as “environmental objections — insufficient information.”“Pipeline oil spills are a very real concern,” Cynthia Giles, EPA’s assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance, wrote. Giles cited major pipeline spills last year in Michigan and Illinois, as well as two leaks last month in the Keystone pipeline, a 1,300-mile line owned by the same company that wants to build Keystone XL. The U.S. pipeline safety agency briefly blocked Calgary-based TransCanada from restarting the Keystone pipeline last week because of safety concerns.The recent leaks “underscore the need to carefully consider both the route of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and appropriate measures to prevent and detect a spill,” Giles wrote in the letter dated Monday.Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has authority over Keystone XL because the 1,900-mile project crosses the U.S. border.The new pipeline would carry crude oil extracted from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico, traveling through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma before reaching refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas. The project would double the capacity of the existing Keystone pipeline, which runs from North Dakota to Oklahoma and Illinois. Supporters say the two projects could significantly reduce U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil.Environmental groups cheered the EPA letter, which they said highlighted the possible environmental destruction the pipeline could cause.“With this rating, the EPA is standing up for the people who would be hurt by the Keystone XL pipeline, including Midwest farmers and low-income people around Texas refineries,” Alex Moore, dirty fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth, an environmental group, said Tuesday.“All eyes are on Secretary of State Clinton,” Moore added. “Will she comply with the law and ensure that these impacts are studied or not?”U.S. officials have pledged to decide on the pipeline project by the end of the year, although the State Department said this week it would hold public meetings on the proposal in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington, D.C.The State Department released a second environmental study on the project in April, concluding that no new issues had been revealed since a similar report was completed last year.Environmental groups said the report glossed over crucial issues such as pipeline safety and the risks posed by the proposed route over the massive Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to people in eight states.The American Petroleum Institute, the oil’s industry top lobbying group, said Keystone XL would create thousands of jobs and prevent China and other nations from tapping into the vast resources of the Alberta tar sands.“Other nations will aggressively develop this key strategic resource for their future energy needs if we fail to act,” API chief executive officer Jack Gerard said in a letter to Clinton.Republican lawmakers and other project supporters have warned that if the pipeline is not built, Canada will construct alternative routes to the West Coast and ship oil sands crude to China and other parts of Asia. Emaillast_img read more