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PAVILLION CONTAMINATION

CHEYENNE — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found high levels of benzene and other chemicals in its latest groundwater samples from a Wyoming gas field. A variety of chemicals and high levels of methane turned up in two wells drilled specifically to test for pollution in the central Wyoming community of Pavillion. The carcinogen benzene measured as high as 50 times the EPA limit. By Mead Gruver.

ABORTION PROTEST-JACKSON

CHEYENNE — A lawyer has argued before the Wyoming Supreme Court that the town of Jackson violated anti-abortion protesters’ rights when it secured a court order prohibiting them from appearing on the town square. A district judge in May blocked activists from Operation Save America from appearing within two blocks of the square where about 200 Boy Scouts were gathering for an auction of elk antlers. The town didn’t alert the protesters before seeking the court order. By Ben Neary.

NATIVE AMERICANS-CRIME

WASHINGTON — A high-level Justice Department official says tribal courts should have authority to prosecute people who are not American Indians in reservation domestic violence cases. Associate attorney general Tom Perrelli says the lack of that authority often leads to law officers on reservations mistakenly believing they can’t arrest non-Indians in such cases. A 1978 Supreme Court decision stripped courts of authority over non-Indians. By Suzanne Gamboa.

WILDERNESS RULES

HELENA, Mont. — The Obama administration is calling for 18 new wilderness and conservation area declarations in nine Western states, according to a report released Thursday by the secretary of the Interior that he hopes will result in new legislation from Congress establishing the new land protections. Most of the areas proposed for new protections are in the West, where the administration previously came under fire for a scuttled proposal to name new land protections as part of a presidential declaration. The administration says the new proposals have “significant local support.” By Matt Gouras.

GAS DRILLING-ENVIRONMENT

WASHINGTON — A federal advisory panel is warning that “serious environmental consequences” could result from the gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing if steps aren’t taken to reduce its impacts. The seven-member committee said in a report released Thursday that progress by the federal government and the oil and gas industry on 20 recommendations it issued in August has been less than it hoped. It said if actions were not taken to avoid “excessive environmental impacts,” a public outcry could delay or stop the gas drilling boom. By Dina Cappiello.

LODGE GRASS-PURSUIT

BILLINGS, Mont. — A Wyoming shooting suspect caught after a standoff with law enforcement officers on southeast Montana’s Crow Reservation was being detained Thursday in Big Horn County on a prior warrant for armed robbery and aggravated kidnapping. Authorities allege Carlos Sanchez, 34, tied up a man and robbed a recycling plant in Hardin in October, shot a man twice in Washakie County, Wyo., this week and fled to Montana, where he was caught Wednesday. By Matthew Brown.

SENATE-EPA

WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled Senate on Thursday rejected a Republican bid to block new controls on power plant pollution that blows downwind into other states. By a 56-41 vote, senators defeated a resolution by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who said the step was needed to rein in what he called the Obama administration’s overzealous job-killing approach to environmental protection. By Dina Cappiello.

LIVING WITH GRIZZLIES

CODY — Green eyes bobbed in the night, reflected by beams from a headlamp. Cody hunter Dan White stared across a creek two years ago and knew a grizzly bear waited in the woods. Wet tracks led from the stream to his camp before they turned away. No big deal, White told himself. He’d been hunting in the Shoshone National Forest for decades and had seen countless grizzlies. His camp was clean; the bear had no reason to cause problems. By Christine Peterson of the Casper Star-Tribune.

SCHOOL DIRECTOR

RAWLINS — Cue the car wreck. “This is it, right now,” said Aaron Willden in the sound and lighting booth of Rawlins High School’s Fine Arts Auditorium. “Go. Go. Go.” Steve Sanger pressed play on the CD Willden prepped, but instead of a cartoonish screech and boom, country rock filled the seats. “I’ve got new neighbors who are apparently very, very appreci-astic of music,” said freshman Spencer Somervold, on stage as “Stanley,” father of the female protagonist in the high school fall play, “The Matchmakers.” By Nicholas DeMarino of the Rawlins Daily Times.

CEMETERY DOGS

DOUGLAS — The Pioneer Cemetery north of Douglas was originally a resting place for around 90 people, but as times have changed many of the original residents have been moved or lost to time. However, the Douglas Historic Preservation Commission has overseen efforts which have revealed many of the cemetery’s unmarked graves. On Oct. 23 trained dogs were taken to the cemetery where they indicated 81 locations with the smell of human remains. By Collin McRann of the Douglas Budget.

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