Irina Zhorov

Reporter

Irina Zhorov is a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She earned her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the University of Wyoming. In between, she worked as a photographer and writer for Philadelphia-area and national publications. Her professional interests revolve around environmental and energy reporting and she's reported on mining issues from Wyoming, Mexico, and Bolivia. She's been supported by the Dick and Lynn Cheney Grant for International Study, the Eleanor K. Kambouris Grant, and the Social Justice Research Center Research Grant for her work on Bolivian mining and Uzbek alpinism. Her work has appeared on Voice of America, National Native News, and in Indian Country Today, among other publications. 

In her off time, Irina is pursuing treasure hunters, leafing through photo books, or planning and executing quests.

Ways To Connect

The Supreme Court, in a five-four decision, upheld the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The justices ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional under the commerce clause, but can go ahead as a tax.

The individual mandate requires that all people must buy health insurance. For insurance companies, that means they’ll be getting a large, new pool of customers. In Wyoming, 17-percent of the population is currently uninsured, compared to a nationwide average of 16-percent.  

Wyoming’s personal income growth ranked twenty-second in the U.S., according to the national Bureau of Economic Analysis. The state’s growth for the first quarter of 2012 was point-9 percent, compared to 1.6 percent during the last quarter of 2011, and a national average of point-8 percent.

Irina Zhorov

HOST: Everyone is predicting a uranium boom internationally and Wyoming has the largest deposits in the U.S. The state has a legacy of uranium mining, as well. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov looks at the boom and its history.

Tristan Ahtone

During Wyoming Public Radio’s relationship with UW’s Master of Fine Arts program, we have also acquired some people who wanted to learn to be public radio reporters.  Three people have joined us, including this next writer.  Irina Zhorov is an accomplished photographer who wanted to develop her writing skills.  She recently graduated from the M-F-A program.  When Irina came to Wyoming from Philadelphia she had questions about her new state.  Today she tells us about her conclusions in her “Letter to Wyoming.”

University of Wyoming Trustees met today to discuss the construction of new College of Engineering and Applied Science facilities.  Lawmakers set aside matching money this year to get the project started.

UW Associate Provost Andy Hansen says the current facilities don't meet the students’ needs.

A new independent review of the E-P-A study on hydraulic fracturing in Pavillion confirms the link between water contamination and fracking. The review was requested by a conglomerate of environmental groups.

One of the criticisms of the E-P-A study was that it was poorly conducted science, and therefore, put forth unreliable conclusions. But the hydrologic consultant who did the review, Tom Myers, says the E-P-A did goodwork.

The Douglas oil well that started spewing gas into the atmosphere last Tuesday has been plugged up with mud and is reportedly under control.

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will sample soil and do rig inspections later this week to determine the cause of the accident. State Oil and Gas Supervisor, Tom Doll, says the state isn’t necessarily impacted monetarily by the gas loss because it's on private land, but does want to find out what happened at the site.

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission says that workers from Chesapeake energy are making progress in trying to control a gas leak near Douglas.  Commission Supervisor Tom Doll says that efforts will continue through the weekend.

On Tuesday at the oil rig caused the well to release an unknown quantity of gas into the air,and some residents were evacuated.  Weather conditions hampered containment efforts, but one evacuee, Kristi Mogen,is frustrated that the company is not acting faster. And she’s upset that the wells were drilled so close to her house in the first place.

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services says the unemployment rate for Wyoming fell to 5 point 3 percent as of March.

Wyoming’s jobless rate inched down from 5.4 percent in February to 5.3 percent in March, following a steady decline for the seventh consecutive month. Though the change isn’t significant monthly, it’s an employment gain of almost two percent from this time last year.   

David Bullard is a senior economist in the Research and Planning section of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services…

Water specialists at the Natural Resources Conservation Service say that snowpack throughout the state is well below what’s average at this time of year. The northwest corner of the state is closest to what’s considered normal, but the state-wide average is 54 percent of that.

Water specialist for the NRCS, Lee Hackleman, says this could mean drought. 

There are more new ports designed for coal export being proposed in the U.S. and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal producers are training their eye on the developments. With some of the most efficient economies of scale in the world, a larger percentage of PRB coal could be making its way across the ocean soon. What would that mean for Wyoming and the global community? Irina Zhorov reports.  

This morning, the Environmental Protection Agency released federal standards under the Clean Air Act that will control air pollution from hydraulically fractured natural gas and oil wells.

This is the first set of federal standards to control air pollution from fracking.

The regulations aim to decrease air pollution caused by volatile organic compounds and other chemicals… and will also reduce the amount of methane, which is a greenhouse gas, released into the air.

UW hosts energy forum

Apr 16, 2012

Four faculty members from the University of Wyoming participated in a forum last night to discuss how new technologies could contribute to cleaner, more diversified energy production. They discussed carbon sequestration, natural gas, nuclear energy and renewable energy.  Geology professor Carrick Eggleston, who participated in the forum, said there isn’t going to be just one solution. "There is no one technology that is going to solve all of our problems," Eggleston said.

Uranium prices are leveling off around fifty dollars per pound; the stabilization comes after prices dropped considerably in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant meltdown.
 The disaster one year ago caused uranium spot prices to drop from around $70 per pound to $50. However, experts say they expect the uranium market to be balanced once again in the next year.
 Ken Vaughn of Cameco Resources, says unstable prices over the last year have not changed the company’s plans to open three, new in-situ uranium mines in the state.

Irina Zhorov

Wyoming is host to two of the world’s most comprehensive weather modification studies. The studies are unique due to our geography, but they’re also more comprehensive than past research has been. And the water-hungry world is waiting for results. Irina Zhorov reports. 

Irina Zhorov

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The Wyoming Farm Bureau runs an Ag Books for Kids program to help kids better understand where their food comes from. Young ranchers are going into classrooms to spread the Ag gospel. Irina Zhorov went to a classroom in Laramie for the story. 

Irina Zhorov

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The town of Medicine Bow is currently planning for a DKRW proposed coal to liquids conversion facility. The plant would be a financial boom for the state and bring jobs to the county. But this isn’t the first time Wyoming is looking into a project that would add value to its coal so it’s undergoing close scrutiny.

February thirteenth will mark the start of Ag Literacy Week. It’s an effort to promote the Wyoming Farm Bureau’s Ag Books for Kids program, where young farmers go into classrooms to educate kids about agriculture.

Raenell Taylor is the State Vice-Chair of the Wyoming Young Farmer and Rancher Committee.  

Northwest College in Powell is reviewing a professor’s request to extend health insurance benefits to domestic partners.

The University of Wyoming extended domestic partner benefits to its faculty last fall, citing its need to stay competitive with other universities when hiring.

If Northwest Community College in Powell decides to provide similar benefits, Executive Director of the Wyoming Community College Commission, James Rose, says money to pay for those benefits would come out of a different pot of money than spousal benefits.

Officials are reminding winter recreationists that avalanche danger is high on the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests. There is an icy base layer and poorly bonded snow pack that make sliding and snow movement more likely.

The Forest Service’s Aaron Voos urges using the buddy system when entering the backcountry and taking precautions to stay safe.

Rocky Mountain Power - the utility that supplies electricity to more than 130,000 customers in Wyoming – proposed a rate increase in December.

The company wants an additional $62.8 million per year to cover upgrades and increased operating costs. The amount translates to about 9% for residential users and 12.5% for industrial users. Tuesday was the deadline to submit public comments and petitions against the rate increase. Robert Pomeroy represents Wyoming Industrial Energy Consumers. That group has requested to be involved in the hearing against Rocky Mountain Power.

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Laramie, Wyoming bears a painful heritage when it comes to gay rights for its residents. Yet it recently hosted its first Pink Prom – a prom for the LGBTQ community and their allies – and participated in the international staging of Standing on Ceremony, plays about marriage equality. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports on the changing attitudes.

Many pipelines carrying oil and other hazardous materials have been found to be at risk of failure throughout Montana and Wyoming.

The susceptible sites include seven major river crossings as well as hundreds of smaller crossings. Federal inspectors and state officials took note after an Exxon Mobil pipeline broke in July, spilling about 1,000 barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River.

Governor Matt Mead says the state is working with companies to figure out where the problems are.

On October 31 U.S. Senator and Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka proposed legislation that would give tribal courts jurisdiction over non-Indians who committed crimes on tribal lands.

The authority to prosecute non-Natives in tribal courts was stripped in a 1978 Supreme Court ruling. Supporters of Senator Akaka’s bill say that the 1978 ruling led to an increase in violence on reservations and has resulted in unprosecuted and unpunished offenders.

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Wyoming’s Powder River Basin produces about 40% percent of all coal in the U-S. The coal goes to power plants all over the country, encompassing both coasts. Now, there are expansions being planned in the Basin. While domestic use decreases, industry seems confident that China may increase its imports of Wyoming coal. Irina Zhorov reports.

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