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.

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News
4:45 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Coal exports expected to be down from 2012

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released its “Today in Energy” brief today, which details, among other things, coal exports from the U.S. According to the report, March had the highest number of coal exports yet. The top importing countries were China, the Netherlands, the UK, South Korea, and Brazil. The top five ports were all in the southern and eastern United States. Those ports exported over two and half times more coal in March alone than the Northwest ports did for all of 2012. Powder River Basin coal mostly ships from the Northwest.

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News
11:02 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Livestock numbers down in Wyoming and across the U.S.

The number of cattle nationwide is at its lowest since the 1950s. Wyoming’s population is just under 1.3 million, down 5% from last year and the lowest since the early 1990s. Drought has caused many ranchers in the state to sell off cattle.

Executive Vice President of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Jim Magagna, says some older ranchers with smaller operations liquidated their herds altogether and he predicts those cattle will not be replaced for close to a decade.  

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Coal Revenue
6:23 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Report: US government getting shortchanged by undervalued coal lease sales

Credit creative commons

The US government isn’t getting the full fair market value from coal lease sales on public lands. That’s according to a report released today by the Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General.


The report says recent lease sales potentially undervalued the coal by $62 million. The Bureau of Land Management appraises the leases instead of using the DOI’s Office of Valuation Services like its rules say it should, and the BLM does not take into account increased exports of coal abroad.

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Uranium waste
6:16 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Tribes and Dept. of Energy sign cooperative agreement

Credit US Department of Energy

The Department of Energy and the Tribal Joint Business Council have signed a cooperative agreement for one year to address the work being done on the contaminated uranium mill tailings site on the Wind River Indian Reservation.


The Riverton Site is where a uranium and vanadium ore processing facility operated until the 1960s. The DOE is responsible for long-term management of the site, but the Tribes have pushed for more involvement in the process.

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Open Spaces
5:09 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

May 31st, 2013

Uranium yellowcake powder

Wyoming missed out on last uranium boom, but planning for the future

Wyoming Public Radio has for years reported that the state is on the verge of a uranium boom. It turns out the state missed the peak of that boom, and is now betting on slower, more conservative growth. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports.

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Open Spaces
4:57 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Wyoming missed out on last uranium boom, but planning for the future

Uranium yellowcake powder

Wyoming Public Radio has for years reported that the state is on the verge of a uranium boom. It turns out the state missed the peak of that boom, and is now betting on slower, more conservative growth. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports. 

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News
4:45 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Energy Fuels to acquire smaller uranium company

Energy Fuels Inc. plans to acquire Strathmore Minerals Corporation, a move that will establish Energy Fuels as one of the biggest uranium companies in the U.S. The organizations have signed a letter of intent, under which Strathmore shareholders will end up owning about 20% of Energy Fuels shares.

CEO of Strathmore, David Miller, says the companies are a good match for each other. Both organizations have Wyoming projects.   

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News
7:57 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Report says coal exports may not be the solution for waning domestic market.

As demand for coal has dropped domestically, producers have turned to exports abroad as a way to make up for market losses at home. 2012 was a record year for coal exports out of the US.

The demand for coal in China and other Asian markets, has raised hopes for coal producers in the Powder River Basin. They’ve helped develop plans for expanded port facilities in the Northwestern US and some coal companies, including Arch Coal, have invested money in the proposed ports.

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News
6:12 am
Wed May 22, 2013

Groups want Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to address development issues.

A coalition of Wyoming groups has filed a rulemaking petition to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to address oil and gas development in the state.

The petition focuses on three main issues: increasing the setback of drilling rigs from homes, schools and businesses, adequate enforcement in the case of accidents and spills…and reducing the practice of flaring. Powder River Basin Resource Council’s Jill Morrison says flaring has been a recognized problem for some time.

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Open Spaces
12:41 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

The Wind River Casino is doing well, but some tribal members expect more

The Northern Arapaho Tribe opened the doors to its full-scale casino in 2005. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that eight years into the venture, the casino is making money but some wonder where it’s going. 


IRINA ZHOROV: The Wind River Casino has been open for almost a decade but it’s still a novelty to walk into; whirring slot machines, dimmed lights, card tables, all on the edge of Riverton on a piece of prairie.


[sound of machines]

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Open Spaces
6:31 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Efforts to grant tribes more authority are met with resistance from non-tribal lawmakers

The extent of sovereignty for Native American tribes has long been like a tug-of-war between tribal and non-tribal governments in the United States. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that the issue of sovereignty trickles down to everything, even the issuance of traffic tickets, and lawmakers are moving nowhere fast to fix problems caused by disagreements over self-government for tribes.  

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Open Spaces
6:27 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

New Northern Arapaho Business Council resolves to fix tribe’s poor financial management

The Northern Arapaho Tribe is a mess, financially. They’re behind on their audits, past audits have not been flattering, and change has been slow to come. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov has been looking into why the audits are less than ideal and the status of the Tribe’s future financial solvency.   


BOB BECK: To start, why is a federal governmental agency even auditing a tribe, if the tribe is supposed to be pretty much sovereign?

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News
6:13 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Proposed federal fracking rules released

The U-S Department of Interior released an updated draft proposal of fracking rules for federal and tribal lands on Thursday. The rule-making process started in 2010, and the latest draft incorporates feedback from more than 177-thousand public comments submitted.

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Baseline Testing
5:41 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

WY Oil and Gas Conservation Commission prepares to draft rules for baseline groundwater testing

Credit The University of Wisconsin

Wyoming’s new energy policy places a central focus on requiring oil and gas developers to conduct baseline groundwater testing, and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has been tasked with drafting the new rules for the testing.

 The Gov. Matt Mead’s Natural Resource Policy Advisor, Jerimiah Rieman, told the legislature’s Joint Minerals Committee today that the initiative is like a cheap insurance policy for industry.

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News
8:27 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Wyoming may have missed the Uranium boom

The uranium market is slowing after a brief boom in the years after 2005. Increasing costs for the industry and uncertainty are making operators reconsider projects.

Cameco Resources’ President Paul Goranson told the legislature’s Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee that Cameco will now aim to increase production to about 36 million pounds of yellowcake by 2018…rather than the previously announced 40 million pounds.

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News
8:22 am
Wed May 15, 2013

State looks at regulating uranium

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has started work on a study to determine the feasibility of regulating a larger share of uranium mining in the state.

Currently the industry is regulated by both federal and state agencies, which some operators say is burdensome, repetitive, and increases the time necessary to receive a permit. The legislature passed a bill this session commissioning the study about becoming what’s called an agreement state.

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News
8:12 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Delays with the Moneta Divide EIS frustrate supporters

Encana’s Moneta Divide Natural Gas and Oil Development Project outside of Casper is still waiting for an Environmental Impact Statement, but it is slated to receive a record of decision in 2016. The proposed four thousand well development has brought up questions surrounding water management and air quality. But at the legislature’s Joint Mineral, Business, and Economic Development Interim Committee meeting yesterday, Natrona County Commissioner Rob Hendry said he wants the project to go ahead.  

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Open Spaces
5:22 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

May 10th, 2013

Pollutants including benzene and diesel-range organics have shown up in water wells like this one in the Pinedale Anticline for several years.
Credit Courtesy Linda Baker

Pollutants detected in water wells in Sublette County’s gas fields
Sublette County has been in the news a lot because of its air quality problems, which largely stem from natural gas production. But there’s another issue too: Pollutants have been showing up in water wells. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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Open Spaces
4:25 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Arts and Sciences Dean to retire after 43 years at UW

Oliver Walter came to the University of Wyoming in 1970 to teach political science and became dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1989. This summer, he’ll be retiring. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov sat down with him talk about his tenure at UW and the future for both the school and himself. He started out talking about some changes he witnessed in his decades as dean.

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News
5:45 am
Fri May 10, 2013

UW Arts and Sciences Dean is wrapping up his career

The Dean of the University of Wyoming’s College of Arts and Sciences will retire this summer, after more than 40 years at the University. Oliver Walter came to U-W in 1970 to teach political science, and became dean in 1989. He says he’s seen a lot change during his time at U-W, including growing emphasis on research, more technology on campus, and increasing diversity.  But, for him, a highlight has been the growth of the study abroad program and international relationships.

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Water waste
6:16 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Energy group says fracking water report is sensational

An energy group says a recently released report overstated issues of water use by the oil and gas industry. The Western Organization of Resource Councils released the report last month and said regulators need to consider the quantity of water the energy industry uses, in addition to the quality.

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News
4:52 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Albany County to vote on property tax increases to fund new high school

Voters in Albany County School District One will have the chance to vote on May 7th about funding for a new Laramie High School. The state has already allocated nearly $63 million for the school, and the county wants to raise an additional $25 million for enhancements like a pool, tennis courts, and a theater expansion. The money would come from increased property taxes, about three additional dollars per month for every $100,000 of property.

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Open Spaces
5:06 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

April 26th, 2013

Cost of substance abuse in Wyoming is higher than expected
As it addressed issues concerning substance abuse, one thing the state never had were Wyoming specific numbers on the financial impact of substance abuse.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports that a recent study has found that the cost of alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse is staggering.

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Open Spaces
4:28 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Report says oversight of oil and gas development is insufficient; agencies says it’s not that simple

Oil and gas development in Wyoming has burgeoned in the last decade. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality…the Bureau of Land Management…the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission…and sometimes other agencies are all responsible for inspecting the sites. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that some stakeholders say they’re not doing a good enough job monitoring operators. But agencies say it’s not that simple. 

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Indian Sanitation
6:13 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Wyoming tribes have 33 sanitation development projects in need of attention

There are about $2.9 billion worth of sanitation development projects in tribal communities across the US, and Wyoming has 33 projects that add up to just under $16.5 million dollars, according to the US Indian Health Service.

   Ronald Ferguson directs the IHS Division of Sanitation Facilities. He says Wyoming is in a better position than some other areas.   

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News
5:40 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

'Gasland 2,' a documentary about fracking issues, premiers this weekend

‘Gasland 2’, a sequel to the 2010 documentary ‘Gasland,’ premiers this weekend in New York City. The original film focused on land owners alleging that oil and gas development on their land contaminated their water sources. The movie is thought to have brought the terms ‘fracking’ into the mainstream. The films’ director, Josh Fox, says the sequel investigates how government and regulatory agencies have dealt with what affected land owners say is contamination by industry.

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Open Spaces
4:12 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

April 19th, 2013

Wyoming's Senators Help Defeat Gun Control
After weeks of intense lobbying on Capitol Hill gun control advocates suffered a stinging defeat this week…in part because of opposition from Wyoming’s two Republican senators. Matt Laslo reports from Washington. 

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Open Spaces
3:53 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Technical and long-term questions remain about Encana’s aquifer exemption request

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission recently okayed an aquifer exemption that would permit Encana Oil and Gas to pump waste water from their oil and gas projects in the Moneta Divide into the Madison Aquifer, about 60 miles outside of Casper. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that the exemption isn’t exactly a rarity, but it does bring up some big questions.

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Open Spaces
3:50 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

DEQ’s engine emissions study shows mixed compliance in oil and gas fields

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has been running an Engine Emissions Study for almost two years now. For the most part, Wyoming oil and gas fields are not connected to the grid and so they end up running on engines, which emit pollutants into the air. The study set out to evaluate emissions from these generators around the state. Results from the study show that a large percentage of the engines fail the tests. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov spoke with the DEQ Air Quality Engineer in charge of the study, Jon Walker, about why that is.

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