Madelyn Beck

Reporter, Inside Energy

Phone: 307-766-2928
Email: mbeck@insideenergy.org

Madelyn is from small-town Montana, earning her journalism degree from the University of Montana in Missoula. She worked as a news anchor for Montana Public Radio, reported on the Montana Legislature for the Montana Broadcaster's Association, and reported on cops and crime for KRBD Rainbird Radio in Ketchikan, Alaska. She also has print experience, reporting for the Tioga Tribune in North Dakota, E&E Publishing in Washington, D.C., and the Idaho Mountain Express in Ketchum, Idaho. She enjoys getting outside as much as possible, though is easily distracted by a good book.  

Ways to Connect

Two of Wyoming’s coal mines are changing ownership. Contura Energy has sold Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines to a private company called Blackjewel LLC.

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

Clean coal is a term President Donald Trump has used a lot, both before and after he was elected.

But what is clean coal? Congress first used the term in the late 70’s early 80’s when discussions about acid rain became a bit more heated. Along came some big changes to the Clean Air Act in 1990 which cracked down on the emissions that cause acid rain, such as sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide.

Stephanie Joyce

At the site of Wyoming’s fraudulent Two Elk coal research project, another advanced coal facility wants to move in.

Wyoming New Power, Inc. is a company that plans on bringing clean coal technology to the state and selling that cleaner coal. That technology involves taking coal and removing moisture and pollutants to make it easier to ship and cleaner and more efficient to burn. This has been tried before in the state, but with little success.

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

 

It’s a mixture you wouldn’t usually think of: black suits, pop country music, Japanese officials and the slight smell of manure. All these things came together at the CAM-PLEX event center in Gillette, Wyo., on Sept. 21 for a discussion about coal.

Madelyn Beck / Inside Energy

Laramie sees a lot of wind, but it’s about to see a lot more wind politics. The University of Wyoming’s Center for Energy Economy and Public Policy and the Ruckelshaus Institute are hosting a wind conference next week called Wyoming’s Wind Energy Future.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

Washington rejected a key permit for the proposed Millennium Bulk coal terminal Tuesday. The terminal would have allowed coal from Wyoming and Montana to more easily reach other countries like China and Japan.

The Washington Department of Ecology rejected the terminal based on environmental impacts that came from the transportation and storage of coal.  

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

Over 80 percent of new wind power last year went up in states that voted for President Donald Trump. It may sound strange when Trump’s aim is to bolster coal, not wind, but what red states usually promote is individual choice and a smart use of money. Now, wind power large and small is literally changing Wyoming’s energy landscape.  

Wind Farmer and Rancher

Some of that changing landscape will be around Chugwater, Wyo., population 212. Chugwater claims the state’s oldest operating soda fountain. But finding farmer Gregor Goertz was more of a challenge.

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

  

The U.S. used to be the world’s number one uranium producer, and most of it came from Wyoming. But since the 1980s, production has fallen off a cliff. Prices are at rock bottom. That may be about to change — uranium’s biggest customer is the nuclear energy industry. In coming years, hundreds of new nuclear reactors are planned for China and India. Uranium companies in the U.S. are hoping to gear up for a boom.

Elements of the Market

publicdomainpictures.net

The solar eclipse has long been a research opportunity for astronomers and physicists. Now, energy researchers are taking part, too.

That's because the eclipse will disrupt U.S. solar energy production. It won't be a big disruption because solar still takes up a relatively small amount of the energy grid, but it'll happen when energy use is at its peak, and it’ll do so in a very predictable way across a huge area.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

West Virginia wants to use federal dollars to subsidize Appalachian coal. Some think that’s picking favorites — not just over natural gas and renewables, but over other coal states. 

Madelyn Beck

When Alpha Natural Resources went into bankruptcy in 2015, it formed a new company called Contura Energy with some of Alpha’s best coal assets - mines in Wyoming and Appalachia.

Earlier this summer, Contura announced it was going to go public, hoping to expand in the U.S. and beyond. Usually, companies go public and sell shares to raise money and grow their business.  

Now, Contura is backing out of that plan.

The company said it’s because of "capital market conditions."

Madelyn Beck

An accident in Colorado brings the total coal mine deaths this year to 11: more than in all of 2016.

Blue Mountain Energy, Inc. released a statement Aug. 3 saying a worker at their Deserado Mine died the night before. 

"The accident occurred above ground inside the coal processing building, as the worker was attempting to remove a portion of a steel beam," it said.

The employee's name had not been released as of August 4. That accident is now under investigation.

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

A changing climate may be bad PR for fossil fuels, but it could help their bottom line.

Two major coal companies released earnings reports in late July stating how higher temperatures mean coal stockpiles are being eaten up. Both Arch Coal and Cloud Peak Energy are hoping for a long, hot summer so that trend continues.

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

Wind energy projects are being built all over the U.S. and a new report shows just how fast they're cropping up. 

The American Wind Energy Association found that, since last year, the amount of wind energy under construction or nearly under construction increased 40 percent. That increase is enough to power more than 1.6 million homes on average.

Now, not all of the wind energy planned last year has come online this year, but more than half of it has.

Energy Information Administraion

The fracking boom is propelling shale-rich states to the top of the nation’s list of energy suppliers, but a new report shows Wyoming still takes the lead despite a struggling coal industry.

Wyoming has been spreading more energy around the nation than any other state since the 80s. But its supply of energy to other states has been sliding since 2008, mirroring a decline in coal production.

A new report from the Energy Information Administration shows that as Wyoming slides downward, other states have ramped up oil and gas production.

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

Millions of gallons of salty wastewater are produced each day wherever there’s oil and gas production. Most states inject wastewater deep underground.  In Wyoming, above-ground wastewater ponds are still used.

They aren’t what people would expect, though — especially the fountains. A little larger and they’d be perfect to put in front of Las Vegas casino, fanning out in all directions.

The fountains aren’t just for looks, though. They help evaporate the water and hold off bacteria, keeping the smell down.

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

The entrance to the community center in Rawlins, Wyoming smells like an old musty, floral perfume. The smell doesn’t match the view: several burly men are lined up to fill out name tags and sign in. Younger men mill around, waiting on their fathers and grandfathers. A few women dot the crowd.

About 100 people have shown up to hear about free training to be a wind turbine technician.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR

Wyoming legislators killed a proposal June 29 that could have given a tax break to the state’s uranium industry. The vote wasn’t close.

Eleven of 12 present lawmakers voted no to a tax break during a meeting by the Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee.

The Wyoming Mining Association was hoping to secure a tax break for uranium companies. The industry has been struggling, seeing layoffs and an 85 percent price drop since 2007.

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

One of the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturers is hosting meetings in Wyoming next month to encourage people to join its free wind turbine technician training.

Goldwind is a Chinese company with an interest in expanding U.S. wind operations. It made an agreement late last year to provide and maintain wind turbines for a Viridis Eolia Corp., which is constructing a wind farm near Medicine Bow, Wyo. 

Now, Goldwind hopes to train locals to become wind turbine technicians.

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

 

The Gillette Workforce Center had a front row seat for the town’s coal woes.

The office has cream-colored walls, decorated with motivational posters and pictures of coal mines. Vermona Petersen is the manager of the center, which helps people find a new job.

“At the height of the layoffs last year, we were seeing between 250 and 300 people a day,” she said. 

Wyoming coal mines laid off more than 450 workers last March amid financial troubles exacerbated by low natural gas prices and debt.