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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Open Spaces
3:43 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

The film ‘Gasland’ made ‘fracking’ a household word - ‘Gasland 2’ premiers this weekend

‘Gasland’ is a documentary about the negative effects of natural gas drilling. The narrator in the movie is seeking answers about natural gas development in light of a growing play around his own home in the Delaware River Basin, and his inquiries take him on a road trip to communities around the U.S. that have already been drilled into and have something to say about it. When the movie came out, it made big waves, and ‘Gasland-2’ premiers this weekend. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports on what’s changed since the first movie came out in 2010.

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News
5:32 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Fracking chemical disclosure decision appealed to WY Supreme Court

Public interest groups that lost a suit about disclosing fracking chemicals are appealing that decision to the Wyoming Supreme Court. Groups like Earthjustice and the Powder River Basin Resource Council argue that the separate chemicals used in the fracking process should be public information under the Wyoming Public Records Act.  A Wyoming District court Judge sided in March with the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as well as industry when it ruled that not disclosing chemical identities when they are deemed a trade secret is permissible.

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News
3:56 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

EPA hesitates to allow waste water disposal in Madison Aquifer

The Environmental Protection Agency is asking for more information from Encana before it okays an aquifer exemption allowing the company to pump waste water into the Madison aquifer near Casper.

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News
5:14 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Oil and gas operators flaring more gas, paying no taxes or royalties

Credit Willow Belden

Oil development in the state is bringing up natural gas along with the oil, but some of the gas is getting burned off in flares and the state is missing out on taxes and royalty payments. The reason the gas is getting flared is that there are not enough pipelines in place to connect new wells to markets.

The President of the Wyoming Petroleum Association, Bruce Hinchey, says it doesn’t always make sense to build new pipelines for the relatively small quantities of gas coming up.

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Open Spaces
4:14 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Flared natural gas is a loss to the state in taxes and royalties

We recently reported that the federal government – and consequently Wyoming – might be getting shortchanged when it comes to royalty payments on coal going overseas. Turns out, the government is missing out on royalties in other ways, too. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that right here in Wyoming, companies are quite literally burning up both federal and state royalty money when they flare natural gas.

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News
5:15 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Two Wyoming mines recognized for reclamation efforts

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission is recognizing two Wyoming mines for their reclamation efforts. The IMCC represents environmental protection interests and awards one non-coal and one coal project each year. The M-I SWACO Bentonite Mine in Big Horn County won the non-coal award and the Bridger Coal Mine received honorable mention in the coal category.

Department of Environmental Quality spokesman, Keith Guille, says the IMCC only gives two awards each year and it’s significant that Wyoming was recognized for both.

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News
8:18 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Wind River jail releasing minor offenders due to construction

The jail on the Wind River Indian Reservation is being renovated, and while it’s under construction people brought in for minor offenses are let go with a notice to appear in court instead of being held like they normally would be. Minor offenses are mostly alcohol related, like public intoxication, simple assault, trespassing, and disturbing the peace. 

Chief Judge of the Shoshone and Arapaho Tribal Court, John St. Clair, says only about 10% of people who are issued a notice to appear actually appear.

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Open Spaces
3:54 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

March 15th, 2013

Emissions from drilling rigs and other production equipment can cause ozone to form.
Credit Willow Belden

DEQ releases ozone strategy for Sublette County
The Department of Environmental Quality has released a plan for tackling the ozone problem in Sublette County. Emissions from the energy industry there have combined to form a type of pollution called ozone, which can be a health hazard. Ozone levels have been so high that they violate federal standards, and the Environmental Protection Agency has given Wyoming three years to fix the problem.

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GeoKinetics
7:31 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Seismic exploration company fails to reclaim land damage

Seismic exploration company, GeoKinetics, has been fined for failing to properly reclaim land damaged during work it did with Fidelity Exploration and Production Company in southeast Wyoming.

Last May, the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission issued a fine for $20,000 for damages to ranchers’ land, but half of it was suspended pending successful reclamation. Now the remaining $10,000 has been re-imposed by the Commission.

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Industry News
6:42 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Encana allowed to pump wastewater into aquifer

Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission consider Encana request
Credit Irina Zhorov

During its hearing today/Tuesday, the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reaffirmed its earlier decision to grant Encana an exemption that permits them to pump produced water deep into the Madison aquifer. The injection well is located about 60 miles west of Casper.

The oil and gas development company asked for the exemption based on the Commission’s economic and technological impracticality criteria…which grants an exemption based on the idea that it’s impractical to use the aquifer for drinking water anyway.

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Industry News
6:42 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Encana allowed to pump wastewater into aquifer

Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission consider Encana request
Credit Irina Zhorov

During its hearing today/Tuesday, the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reaffirmed its earlier decision to grant Encana an exemption that permits them to pump produced water deep into the Madison aquifer. The injection well is located about 60 miles west of Casper.

The oil and gas development company asked for the exemption based on the Commission’s economic and technological impracticality criteria…which grants an exemption based on the idea that it’s impractical to use the aquifer for drinking water anyway.

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Open Spaces
5:08 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

March 8th, 2013

UW Economist Anne Alexander discusses the potential effects of the federal sequester on Wyoming
One thing everyone is trying to get a grip on is how the federal sequester will impact Wyoming.  Anne Alexander is an economist at the University of Wyoming.  She joined Bob Beck in the studio to discuss this.

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Open Spaces
4:47 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

WY future should include value-added energy projects, report says

A report released by a coalition including the Wyoming Business Council, the University of Wyoming, and the Idaho National Laboratory detailed why Wyoming should diversify its energy production methods and how the state could use its abundant natural resources in value-added projects.

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News
5:36 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Wyoming late to burn its slash piles this year

Slash piles around the state are still intact in Wyoming, which is unusual. Slash piles are made of accumulated debris from clearing forests or trimming trees and typically by this time in the year, they’ve been burned.

The Fire Management Officer for the Wyoming State Forestry Division, Ron Graham, says they’ve started burning piles in the Casper Mountain, Muddy Mountain, and Black Hills area, but low snow pack has delayed the burning.

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VAWA
4:29 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

VAWA passes Congress without Rep. Lummis' support

The Violence Against Women Act has now passed both the Senate and House of the US Congress.

The law seeks to address violent crimes against women, to aid in the prosecution of offenders, and to provide resources for victims. But Wyoming’s three congressional lawmakers all voted against renewing the bill.

Representative Cynthia Lummis says for her, the provision allowing tribal courts to prosecute non-Native people who abuse Native women on reservations was the deciding factor.

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Open Spaces
4:37 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Cloudseeding study comes to an end during a dry winter

Credit Irina Zhorov

The University of Wyoming is part of two weather modification studies. The first is the Wyoming Weather Modification Pilot Project, and the second, companion project is the Silver Iodide Seeding Cloud Impact Investigation, or ASCII. Both studies are trying to learn more about atmospheric processes and whether people can do anything to eke more moisture out of the skies. Professor Bart Geerts heads the ASCII campaign, which is finishing up its second and last year…

BACK ANNOUNCE:

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Medicaid
5:28 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

House considers increasing Medicaid fraud enforcement

A Medicaid fraud recovery bill has gotten initial approval from the House of Representatives. The bill would permit the state to investigate Medicaid fraud by medical providers and recipients without involving the federal government… Currently investigations only go forward when the federal government decides to investigate.

Representative Elaine Harvey says the bill is necessary to recover millions of dollars for the state.

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Coal
6:38 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Analysis: Coal is weakening without help from the EPA

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Coal is weakening its dominion over the energy market, and according to a presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, new EPA regulations are not to blame.

Wyoming lawmakers including Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Cynthia Lummis have pointed to what they call President Obama’s war on coal as the reason for declining coal production.

But David Schlissel of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis -- who led the presentation -- says other factors are responsible.

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Open Spaces
5:45 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

February 15th, 2013

Increased coal exports overseas bring up questions of royalty payments
Coal producers in the U.S. are looking to markets abroad to make up for decreasing demand at home. But a recent investigation by Thomson Reuters news service suggests there might be royalty underpayments on those shipments. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that royalty question is still unresolved.

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News
4:58 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Sen. Barrasso proposes bill to simplify natural gas exports

US Senator John Barrasso is sponsoring a bill meant to expedite the process of shipping liquefied natural gas, or LNG, abroad. Currently, the Secretary of Energy has to sign off on LNG exports to countries included in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as well as Japan, and open a comment period for exports to nations not part of NATO. The bill would allow the secretary to skip the comment period if the secretaries of state and defense agree that exports to a specific, non-NATO country are in the national security interest of the US.

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News
5:13 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Oil & gas inspectors not keeping up with growing energy development

The Western Organization of Resource Councils says inspections of active oil and gas wells in the West are falling behind the industry’s quick growth. The new report says the number of active oil and gas wells in Wyoming has risen from about 16,400 in 1999 to more than 37,000 in 2011. The number of inspectors increased from 6 to 12 in the same time period. Each inspector was responsible for more than 3,000 wells in 2011. 

Powder River Basin Resource Council Board Chairman John Fenton says that spreads each inspector thin.

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Lottery
6:11 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

House committee approved plans for a state lottery

A bill creating a Wyoming lottery has passed in the House Corporations, Elections, and Political Subdivisions committee. Supporters of the bill said that the lottery would bring money to the state for to-be-determined purposes.

Opponents testified that a small state like Wyoming would not make much of a profit. Wyoming Association of Churches representative Chesie Lee said that’s not including other societal costs.

“That’s not looking at all the negative costs to individual who do have addictions (sic) problems and the destruction of families,” Lee says.

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oil and gas
5:47 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Senate supports bill to protect land owners from seismic explorers

After nearly two hours of debate, the Senate gave initial approval to a bill that would require companies doing seismic exploration for minerals to post bonds or negotiate a contract with the surface owners.

Supporters of the bill say that seismic operators sometimes trespass onto private property, and current bond requirements are too low to encourage good-faith negotiations between surface owners and companies wanting to explore.

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News
5:21 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Court hears case on disclosure of secret fracking chemicals

Several environmental groups went to district court today in Casper to argue that the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission must disclose information about chemicals being used in hydraulic fracturing around the state. Wyoming was the first state to require companies to disclose such information, yet since that law went into effect, the Oil and Gas Commission has granted almost all secrecy requests from companies claiming that some of the chemicals are proprietary information.

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Legislative
7:15 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

House will debate bill raising the gas tax

A bill that would raise the gas tax by ten cents has passed the House Revenue Committee. Revenue from the increased taxes would fund highway construction and maintenance throughout the state, a sector that’s currently underfunded.

Chairman of the House Revenue Committee, Michael Madden, says the measure is supported by many groups.

"About every engine that makes our economy run, we had strong support for this bill. And the overall gist of the thing was that Wyoming runs on roads and it’s too important of an asset to watch deteriorate. "

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Legislative
7:11 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Senate approves Oil and Gas Supervisor changes

A bill that changes the qualifications for the position of Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Supervisor has unanimously passed the State Senate.

The bill changes the requirements for the Supervisor from a registered professional petroleum engineer or geologist, to an engineer or geologist with ten years of experience in his respective field of expertise.

Energy and Legislative advocate with the Wyoming Outdoor Council, Richard Garrett, says it may be valuable to consider applicants’ assets fully.

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Open Spaces
4:51 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

January 11th, 2013

Rep. Lummis appointed to US House Subcommittee on Energy
Wyoming’s Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis has been appointed to chair the U.S. House of Representatives’ Science Subcommittee on Energy. The subcommittee will oversee energy research, development and demonstration projects. Lummis spoke with Rebecca Martinez from the Capitol press room in Cheyenne this week.

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Superintendent
11:16 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Senate Ed. Committee passes bill to create governor-appointed position for Dept. of Education

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill

The Senate Education Committee quickly passed a bill that would create a governor-appointed director position for the education department, and reduce the powers of the current state superintendent. 

Committee Chairman Senator Hank Coe says tension between the Legislature, Superintendent, the Department of Education, and the State Board has been going on since 1985 and it was time to fix it.  

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