I have worked on a pond or two, they were by search pond, instead of turning left into search pond you keep going straight. The contractor was out of Washington and when I asked him if these would ever leak, he said “well eventually ,” I laughed it off and shook my head.  I didn’t know then what they were for but none of the employees of the company would not even go near the ponds that were all ready filled. The forms of energy have changed over…

On the very last day of 2013 Mike Dennison wrote a story for the Billings Gazette about the sale of Pennsylvania Power and Light (PPL) hydroelectric dams in Montana to Northwestern Energy. It was a wonky energy piece that most people might skip over. However, the article had a very interesting piece of information. In documents filed with the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC), NorthWestern Energy made it abundantly clear that they did not want to buy PPL’s coal fired power plants at Colstrip. Not only did they not…

If you lived in Montana in the 1980’s, chances are you owned a three-wheeler or had friends who owned three-wheelers.  We had a couple three-wheelers and my Grandpa Frank bought my sister and I a kid’s three-wheeler. Yes, you read correctly. They made three-wheelers for children. This was a bad idea. Driving three wheelers without helmets. Bad idea. Wearing shorts while driving said three-wheeler. Bad idea. We tipped it over too many times to count. Somehow we are both still alive.  

Once upon a mine, in a land far, far away, called Canada, a big mining company named Noranda started a small mining company called Crown Butte Mines. Crown Butte wanted to mine deep into the Beartooth Mountains in Montana for gold, silver and copper.  But the place they wanted to mine was special to people and right next to Yellowstone National Park. The People became very angry. Then it went a little something like this.* Once Upon A Mine: Act I [Enter The People and President Bill Clinton]…

Liam, my two-and-a-half year old nephew ran up the stairs. Lena, my Border Collie was right behind him. I was a couple seconds behind her. When I got to the top of the stairs, they were staring at each other, Lena blocking the stairway. Three seconds of eye contact. One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three.  I stepped around Lena and scooped Liam up.  “Don’t let Lena eat me.” Lena sat down at my feet. I tried not to smile.  “Ok honey. I won’t let her eat you but you can’t go…

“We don’t have a right to ask whether we’re going to succeed or not. The only question we have a right to ask is ‘what’s the right thing to do? What does this earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it?’” Wendell Berry. If you want to understand the history and politics of coal in Montana you should read Last Stand At Rosebud Creek by Michael Parfit.  The book is about coal. It is about people. It is about power. It is a…

Those of you following the efforts of Tongue River Railroad Company to construct a coal rail line in southeastern Montana might be interested in a couple of quick updates. 1. The Surface Transportation Board is expecting to release the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in late summer 2014. Earlier today, the STB held a Section 106 Historic Preservation conference call and Vicki Rutson, who runs the Office of Environmental Analysis at the STB, stated they expect to release the draft EIS in late summer 2014. She did make sure…

2013 was a good year. People from Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and countless other states came together for events, public hearings and community gatherings to help stop the proposed Otter Creek coal mine and Tongue River Railroad in southeastern Montana. I’ve pulled together some photos that exhibit the depth of the love that people have for southeastern Montana and some of the amazing moments of the last year. Thanks to Beth Raboin, Paul K. Anderson, Janis Spear and Vanessa Braided Hair for their…

The other day, I was splitting wood for winter. I couldn’t hear much over the sounds of the splitter or my ear protection so I was startled when I looked up and there was an old green Ford pickup parked right next to me. A random guy: “You in charge here?” Me: (5 second hesitation) “Why?” I’ll stop the story here and tell you that “why” is my standard answer for three questions I’m frequently asked: Am I in charge? Am I Tom’s daughter? And, are those your…

If you haven’t noticed people are obsessed with their smart phones, you are probably obsessed with your smart phone. Better check my phone. I wonder if she has texted me and I didn’t hear it? Maybe my ringer is shut off. Better check. Oh good, ringer’s still on. {30 seconds later} Oh! Who liked my status on Facebook? I wonder if I have any new emails. Why are these birds so angry? I bet if I catapult them into a pyramid of pigs, they won’t be so angry….