Nicky Ouellet

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter.

The Columbia Falls Aluminum Company says it’s started reimbursing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Friday for costs associated with assessing contamination at the CFAC Superfund Site.

CFAC says it sent a check to the EPA for a little more than $300,000 to cover travel costs, laboratory costs and hourly wages for government officials to review the assessment.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and other federal officials are distancing themselves from a multi-million dollar contract between a small Montana company and Puerto Rico's electric utility.

In a statement released today, Zinke said he had, “nothing to do" with the controversial $300 million contract awarded to Whitefish Energy for power restoration work in Puerto Rico.

Department of the Interior

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and other federal officials are distancing themselves from a multi-million dollar contract between a small Montana company and Puerto Rico’s electric utility.

Jackie Yamanaka / YPR

An investment firm backing a Montana company that won a major contract to restore power in Puerto Rico has ties with the U.S. Secretary of Energy, whose department has been involved in power restoration on the island since before the lights went out.

Texas-based HBC Investments invested in Whitefish Energy this past August, a month before Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico and left the U.S. territory in the dark.


An investment firm backing a Montana company that won a major contract to restore power in Puerto Rico has ties with the secretary of Energy, whose department has been involved in power restoration on the island since before the lights went out.

Texas-based HBC Investments invested in Whitefish Energy this past August, a month before Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico and left the U.S. territory in the dark.

Last week, the small Montana company Whitefish Energy announced it had signed a $300 million contract with the Puerto Rican electric utility to help restore power after two hurricanes swept over the U.S. territory last month.

The size and undisclosed details of the contract are drawing attention from Congress and the Puerto Rican government. The mayor of San Juan went so far Wednesday as to call for the contract to be voided. The company asked her on Twitter if they should send crews home.

Chris Chiames is a spokesperson for Whitefish Energy Holdings. I spoke with him on his cell phone in San Juan.

A section of the iconic road that traverses Glacier National Park will re-open Saturday after being closed in late August due to wildfire.

Going-to-the-Sun Road will open to vehicles from West Glacier to Avalanche by noon Saturday. Drivers should expect delays due to road construction. Some hiking trails will be closed at times for maintenance work.

A small company in Whitefish has won a major contract to restore power to Puerto Rico following widespread outages from Hurricane Maria. Nicky Ouellet reports there’s some confusion over why the Montana company was chosen.

 Editor's note: We've corrected part of this story. Read below.

Coal mines in Canada have been sending a harmful heavy metal downstream to northwest Montana for years, but state, tribal, federal and Canadian agencies all have different standards for how much is too much. Those agencies are meeting this week, and speaking with the public to try to come up with common standards.

A group that tracks water quality in northwest Montana is holding meetings this week about potential contamination in Lake Koocanusa and nearby rivers.

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