Leigh Paterson, Inside Energy

Reporter, Inside Energy

Email: lpaterson@insideenergy.org; leighpaterson@rmpbs.org

Leigh Paterson was raised in New Jersey, graduated from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, and then taught English at a culinary high school in France. Leigh then got her Master's in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and then moved to Washington D.C. in 2009. After spending two years as a producer at CanadianTV's Washington bureau, Leigh left to freelance. Since then, as a one woman show, she has reported for TV and radio from across the country for BBC News, BBC World Service, PRI's the World, ABC-Univision, Agence France Presse, and CBC News.

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President Donald Trump has just finished his first 100 days in office. When it comes to energy and the environment, he has already taken some aggressive steps toward fulfilling major campaign promises. Inside Energy reporter Leigh Paterson joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to review President Trump’s energy policy in his first few months. 

Pete Souza - Official White House Photo

Listen to the full show here.

Wyoming Lawmakers Worry About Last Minute Obama Regulations

With President Obama heading out of office soon Wyoming lawmakers fear he’s preparing a slew of executive orders that could hurt the economy out west. Matt Laslo has the story from Washington.   

 

Leigh Paterson/Inside Energy

  

In a hotel ballroom, at the base of the Steamboat Ski Resort, candidates for the US House and Senate, and their surrogates, tick through talking points.

“There are two issues I know of Scott Tipton cares very, very deeply about. One of them is water. The other one is energy,” Chuck McConnell, of the Routt County Republicans, said.

The Lincoln County coroner has determined that head trauma caused a worker's death at a natural gas processing plant in southwestern Wyoming last week. 

County Corner Michael Richins says 36-year-old Michael Smuin was thrown into a cement structure at the Williams plant in Opal and died instantly from a cranial fracture. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the incident, including what caused Smuin to be lifted off his feet. Richins found burns on the body, that he said were likely caused by a ruptured pipe.  

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

The Two Elk power plant has been mired in controversy for years over issues including its use of millions of dollars in federal stimulus funding, as well as long construction delays. But the project may have hit a final roadblock. 

Stephanie Joyce

Some states are better positioned than others to weather the downturn in coal, oil, and gas according to data from the credit ratings agency Moody’s.

Analysts considered factors like economic diversification, budget structure, and how much savings states set aside.

Amy Sisk

Opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline continues to grow beyond its North Dakota roots, with solidarity protests Tuesday in dozens of cities across the country and the world.

Trevor Houser of the Rhodium Group

Hillary Clinton’s energy strategy would move the U.S. away from fossil fuels. But one of her closest energy advisers has roots in a top fossil fuel producing state. Trevor Houser grew up in coal-rich Wyoming. He's a partner with the Rhodium Group and leads the firm's energy and natural resources practice.

Aaron Schrank

Amid a wave of historic coal bankruptcies, states like Texas and Colorado have taken proactive steps to make sure coal companies are on the hook for their future cleanup costs while in Wyoming, over $1 billion of these cleanup costs have gotten tied up in bankruptcy court.

Why are there different outcomes in different energy-rich states?

Carbon emissions from burning natural gas are projected to surpass emissions from coal by around 10 percent this year. 

Rebecca Jacobson / Inside Energy

The federal government released new standards today aimed at increasing fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions from large vehicles like heavy-duty pickup trucks, semis and tractors. 

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

  

Chris Goodwin's pitch opens with the same question every time: “Are you a Colorado voter?”

He has been wandering the streets of Boulder, asking that question over and over. Many people say no or ignore him  until he brings up the f-word: fracking.

The High Plains wind farm, near McFadden, Wyoming.
Leigh Paterson

  

Wind turbines are pretty sleek-looking from a distance, but there’s a lot going on behind those spinning blades.

Bryan Boatright, a wind energy technology instructor at Laramie County Community College, took me up into a deconstructed nacelle. A nacelle is a big rectangular box that holds generation components like the generator and drive train. Each one looks like an RV.

A federal bankruptcy court judge gave Peabody Energy the go-ahead on Wednesday to pay nearly $30 million in property taxes in four states while the company makes its way through bankruptcy.

Peabody Energy can now make payments to counties in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Indiana. One missed payment of around $1 million hit a small Colorado school district particularly hard. The state had to dip into its emergency fund to bail out the South Routt School District after taxes were not paid in June.

According to federal regulators, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality did not take appropriate action against Alpha Natural Resources when it was in violation of coal mining regulations. 

The issue, outlined in a letter sent by the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) to DEQ, was that the bankrupt company was mining coal without enough reclamation bonding in place to cover its hundreds of millions dollars in reclamation liabilities.  

If new carbon regulations go into effect, U.S. coal production will fall by around 25% by 2040, according to updated projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The Clean Power Plan is the first-ever federal rule that would limit carbon emissions from power plants. The rule is now on hold while legal challenges against it are resolved. 

A judge in Richmond, VA approved coal giant Alpha Natural Resources' plan to get out of bankruptcy Thursday. The approval went through, in part, because Alpha agreed to put up real financial assurances to cover future reclamation costs, which totaled hundreds of millions of dollars. 

"The terms of the settlement provide a managed route for the company to restructure and continue operating, while also taking responsibility for mine land reclamation as a result of former disturbances of private and federal lands," a Department of the Interior representative wrote in a statement. 

The Bureau of Land Management

 

Regulators heard from all sorts of people, from firefighters to business owners to coal miners, at a meeting in Grand Junction, CO today on potential reforms to the federal coal program. 

American taxpayers are receiving less than they should from the sale of publicly-owned coal according to a report released by the White House today.

When coal companies mine federal coal, they pay a fee on each ton, a royalty payment. 

 A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate today by Senator Maria Cantwell (D- WA) would ensure coal mine cleanup costs would get more expensive for coal companies. Under current regulations, some companies pay little to nothing to make sure coal mine cleanup – or reclamation – gets done. This bill would change that. Confused? Let me explain!

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