Stephanie Joyce

Energy and Natural Resources Reporter

Phone: 307-766-0809

Stephanie Joyce reports on energy and natural resources for Wyoming Public Radio. Before joining WPR, she was the news director at a public radio station in the Aleutian Islands, where she covered oil, fish and sometimes pirates. She's also an alumni of the Metcalf Institute Science Reporting Fellowship. When not reporting, she's listening to public radio, often while running or skiing.

Ways To Connect

Dan Boyce / Inside Energy

A federal judge in Wyoming has temporarily blocked implementation of new rules governing fracking on federal lands.

The new rules would require the disclosure of fracking chemicals and more mechanical integrity testing for wells, among other things. But U.S. District Court judge Scott Skavdahl argues in the injunction that federal agencies cannot regulate fracking.


In recent years, solar energy has gone from the fringe to mainstream. Solar costs have dropped dramatically while solar installations have similarly increased. Solar still provides less than 1 percent of the nation’s power, and in states like Wyoming, it’s virtually nonexistent. But many predict solar power will play a much larger role in the future.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

Driving around the Powder River Basin in northeast Wyoming with Jeff Gillum and Jeff Campbell is like playing an extended game of “Where’s Waldo?”

Where most people would see a yard full of heavy machinery or an unassuming patch of prairie, Campbell and Gillum are constantly spotting coal bed methane wells. They point out the signature tan well houses everywhere as we drive around Gillette: in people’s front yards, in a storage company’s parking lot, even at the end of the driving range at the golf course.

Wyoming Department of Workforce Services

Wyoming saw a large year-over-year increase in worker deaths in 2014. Thirty-seven workers died on the job last year, according to newly released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up from 26 in 2013, and is also higher than the three-year average.

The numbers are preliminary, so the Bureau did not calculate fatality rates that could be used to compare Wyoming to other states.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

As the list of orphaned wells in Wyoming continues to grow, state regulators are looking to strengthen oil and gas bonding requirements.

Oil and gas companies are required to post bonds before they begin drilling, in order to ensure compliance with regulations during drilling and cleanup. But current bonding requirements have been criticized for failing to discourage abandonment, and for not being sufficient to cover the costs of plugging orphaned wells.

Wyoming Workforce Services

A change in reporting requirements means Wyoming employers will have to notify the state’s workplace safety regulators after the hospitalization of any worker.

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services is currently only notified about fatalities and catastrophes—incidents when three or more workers are hospitalized—but new rules from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration now require employers to report when anyone gets hurt on the job and lands in the hospital.

Crews managed to extinguish a fire at a Chesapeake Energy well site near Douglas after it burned for more than a week.

The fire started Sunday, September 6 and quickly spread to all six wells on the site. Chesapeake brought in Boots and Coots, a firm that specializes in well control, to fight the fire and cap the wells. The final well was capped on Tuesday.

While the fire was burning, some residents of Douglas reported an oily residue coating houses and cars. The company Chesapeake contracted to monitor air quality says the residue doesn’t pose a public health threat.

Wyoming Workforce Services

Wyoming saw a spike in workplace fatalities in 2014. Thirty-four people died on the job last year, up from 21 in 2013, according to a new report from the state.


Transportation-related accidents accounted for almost half of the deaths, and also for the largest increase.


The state of Wyoming and bankrupt coal giant Alpha Natural Resources have reached an agreement over the company's reclamation bonding obligations. But as it covers just a small fraction of what the state estimates it would cost to clean up Alpha's mines.

The state projects it would cost $411 million dollars at most for Alpha to clean up its coal mines in Wyoming. Earlier this year, the Department of Environmental Quality asked the company to pay up on that obligation, in the form of a bond. But when Alpha declared bankruptcy in August, it still hadn't put up the money. 

A controversial wind project near Glenrock is inching closer to final approval. Wasatch Wind initially proposed the Pioneer Wind Park in 2011, but it faced significant opposition from the get-go and the company ended up spending the last several years defending the project in court and hearings.

Now, a new company has taken over and is hoping to start construction soon. Utah-based s-Power bought the Pioneer wind project in early August. s-Power owns a number of other renewable energy projects across the country.

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Wyoming’s Industrial Siting Council dealt a potentially fatal blow to the Two Elk power plant Monday when it decided not to extend the deadline for the company to begin construction on the project.

The power plant was originally proposed in 1997 to burn “waste" coal from nearby mines. The project developer, North American Power Group, has had its permit extended half a dozen times since then, but almost nothing has been built at the site. By not extending the deadline again, the Council rendered that permit invalid.

Leigh Paterson/Inside Energy

While states like West Virginia and Kentucky have been hit hard by the coal industry's decline, the picture for coal mining out west has been somewhat brighter. In Wyoming and Montana, it's mostly been business as usual—which is why some coal miners from West Virginia and Kentucky have decided to try their luck in Big Sky country. Here's one of those miners, in his own words.

Leigh Paterson

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is starting to look at how to better quantify emissions from oil and gas wastewater disposal facilities. The facilities treat the water that flows up the well along with the oil and gas.

US Department of Energy

New sampling could shed light on contamination at the site of a former uranium mill on the Wind River Reservation. The mill operated for less than a decade in the 1950s and 60s, but left behind huge piles of toxic tailings. The tailings were removed in the 1980s and the remaining contaminants were expected to slowly dissipate over the course of a century.

Aaron Schrank

Pope's Environmental Message Can Be Challenging For Coal Country Catholics

Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment is getting a thorough reading here in Wyoming—the country’s top coal-producing state. The letter presents a moral framework for approaching issues like global climate change. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank reports, it’s a difficult subject for Catholics in the Cowboy State.   

Office of the Governor

Energy has always been an important topic in Wyoming, but it’s increasingly becoming an important global conversation, especially in the context of climate change. Wyoming, as the second-largest energy producing state in the nation, is central to that conversation. Decisions made today will likely affect the state and the country for years and decades to come. In an interview with Wyoming Public Radio’s energy reporter Stephanie Joyce, Governor Matt Mead started by saying he thinks it’s time to move past the debate about climate change.

One of Wyoming’s largest coal producers has purchased a stake in a controversial export terminal in the Pacific Northwest. Cloud Peak Energy announced Thursday that it now owns 49 percent of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal in Washington.

If built, the terminal would be used to ship coal from the Powder River Basin to Asia. It's one of the few remaining terminals proposed; a number of others have been scrapped because of weak international coal prices and local opposition. 

Leigh Paterson/Inside Energy

Third-generation coal miner Kent Parrish was blown away the first time he saw a Wyoming coal mine.

“Seventy-five to a hundred-foot coal seams!” he said, recounting the experience on a recent evening while peering down in the huge black pit of the Eagle Butte coal mine, north of Gillette. “If we hit a six-foot seam back home, we thought we hit the motherlode.”

Office of the Governor

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says the state will draft a plan to comply with new federal regulations for carbon emissions from power plants.

The Obama administration released the final version of its Clean Power Plan last week. It requires Wyoming to reduce its carbon emissions more than 40 percent by 2030.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

On Monday, the Obama administration released the centerpiece of its climate change agenda: the Clean Power Plan. The rule aims to reduce carbon emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants and increase the country’s use of renewable energy.

Wyoming Public Radio’s energy reporter Stephanie Joyce joined Morning Edition host Caroline Ballard to talk about the details of the plan and what it means for Wyoming.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Polar bears are one of the species that’s been hardest hit by climate change. But scientists have long thought the bears might be capable of effectively hibernating in summer, to save energy during a longer open water season. New research from the University of Wyoming disproves that hypothesis though. Merav Ben David is a professor of wildlife ecology and one of the authors of the new study. She told Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce that without hibernation, it’s an increasingly long and hungry summer for the bears.

Stephanie Joyce

The losses are continuing to mount as more coal companies report their second quarter earnings.

Cloud Peak Energy announced a $53 million loss for the quarter Wednesday, while Arch Coal reported a $168 million dollar loss Thursday, following on the heels of Peabody Energy's $1 billion loss on Monday.

Peabody Energy / Wikimedia Commons

Peabody Energy suspended its shareholder dividends Tuesday after announcing a $1 billion dollar second quarter loss—the latest in a streak of bad earnings reports.

Peabody is the world’s largest coal miner, with operations in Australia and across the US. Like many of its peers, it's been hammered recently by low natural gas prices, slumping demand for metallurgical coal and uncertainty surrounding new environmental regulations.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

Wyoming’s largest utility pledged Monday to cut its carbon emissions and invest in renewable energy.

Coal and gas from Wyoming’s mineral-rich land powers much of the nation. Now, the state even has a power switch—the same circle and line button seen on household electronics, tilled into a field in Sublette County. The 100 foot diameter Power Switch is the creation of three artists from the Pinedale area. It’s an example of land art, which uses elements of nature to harmonize with its location. And because it’s natural, it changes with the seasons.

Stephanie Joyce

The New York Stock Exchange suspended trading of Alpha Natural Resources Thursday amid concerns about bankruptcy. 

Alpha owns the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines in Wyoming, and is one of the nation’s largest coal producers. The company has struggled in recent years because of low coal prices and considerable debt, and the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that it's in talks about bankruptcy financing.

Black Hills Corporation

Black Hills Corporation is expanding its footprint in Wyoming. The South Dakota-based company announced Sunday it is purchasing Source Gas, which supplies natural gas to roughly half a million customers in Wyoming, Colorado, Arkansas and Nebraska.

Black Hills already owns several utility companies in Wyoming, including Cheyenne Light Fuel and Power.

“By moving to 1.2 million customers through our service territory, we will do a good job of holding costs down with respect to customers rates and providing great service,” said Black Hills Chief Operating Officer Linn Evans.

In April, for the first time ever, the US got more of its electricity from natural gas than coal, according to new data from the Energy Information Administration. The numbers show 32 percent of electricity generated that month came from natural gas, while just 30 percent came from coal.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

On a 500 square mile ranch in Carbon County, Wyoming, one of the world's largest renewable energy projects is unfolding, backed by an unlikely entrepreneur.