Stephanie Joyce

Energy and Natural Resources Reporter

Phone: 307-766-0809
Email: sjoyce3@uwyo.edu

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.

Pages

Open Spaces
5:23 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Landowners Connect To Negotiate With Pipeline Companies

Credit Hiland Crude, LLC.

There’s a huge, mostly invisible web of pipelines crisscrossing the country that make it possible for our stoves to light and our cars to turn on. Those pipelines run from oil and gas producing regions to refineries and processing plants, crossing miles of private property along the way. The people whose land they cross don’t often benefit, but a new strategy may help.

Read more
News
12:21 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Enzi, Hardy To Face Off In General Election

Credit Senator Mike Enzi (R)

After winning Tuesday's primary, incumbent Republican US Senator Mike Enzi will face off against Democrat Charlie Hardy in the November general election.

The Republican race was once expected to be tight, with Enzi facing a challenge from Liz Cheney, but Enzi won in a landslide after Cheney dropped out earlier this year. His four lesser-known challengers collectively took less than 20 percent of the vote. Going into the general election, Enzi says he won't be campaigning against Democrat Charlie Hardy, but instead promoting his record.

Read more
News
10:41 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Lummis Secures Party Nomination For US House

Representative Cynthia Lummis (R)

Incumbent US Representative Cynthia Lummis easily secured her party’s nomination in Tuesday's primary election, and likely also a fourth term in the House. The AP reports her general election challenger, Democrat Richard Grayson, has not been campaigning.

Read more
News
10:45 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Investigators Continue To Search For Clues Into Opal Explosion

The Williams Opal natural gas plant exploded in April.
Credit Rachel Anderson

State investigators have ruled out inadequate maintenance as the cause of an explosion at a natural gas plant in southwestern Wyoming in April, but are still looking into what did happen. The explosion at the Williams Company gas plant forced evacuation of the nearby town of Opal.

John Ysebart heads up Wyoming’s Office of Occupational Safety and Health. He says the state sent two investigators to look into the incident, and so did the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. Ysebart says that agency doesn’t normally get involved.

Read more
Open Spaces
5:16 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

August 15th, 2014

In Jackson, Seasonal Workers Struggle To Find Affordable Housing

The town of Jackson has long struggled to find enough affordable housing for its seasonal workers. Right now, the average rental property there is going for 2800 dollars a month.  But lately, the popularity of house sharing websites have transformed the housing problem into a housing crisis. And that’s got local business owners looking in new places for their for seasonal hires.

Read more
Open Spaces
4:36 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Wyoming Looks To Exports For Energy Markets

Energy reporter Stephanie Joyce talks with Speaker of the House, Tom Lubnau, Shawn Reese, head of the Wyoming Business Council, and Roger Coupal who’s an economist at the University of Wyoming during the forum on coal and foreign exports.
Credit Leigh Paterson

In the last few years, the United States has undergone a radical transformation, from energy importer to energy exporter. Liquified natural gas terminals that were built to process natural gas from abroad are being converted for export. The first tanker full of unrefined US crude oil to leave our shores in decade set sail from Texas late last month. Coal companies are increasingly relying on foreign markets to pad their balance sheets. Wyoming Public Radio held a forum recently to discuss how increased foreign exports could affect the state.

Read more
Open Spaces
8:13 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

As Pipelines Multiply, Pigs Are Paramount

A "pig launcher" at the Eighty-Eight Oil tank farm in Guernsey, Wyoming.
Credit Stephanie Joyce / WPR

The pipeline tool known as a pig is versatile. In the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, Bond used a pig to blow up a pipeline. In the 1987 Bond film The Living Daylights, defecting Soviet spy Georgi Koskov used a pig as an escape route. In the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, a pig was used to smuggle a nuclear weapon.

Read more
Open Spaces
7:15 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

August 8th, 2014

Credit wypols.com

Washington Gridlock Hurting Educators In Wyoming

This summer there's been a big push by the nation's powerful teacher unions to completely revamp the nation's standardized tests mandated under No Child Left Behind and then revamped with the new Common Core standards. Wyoming Public Radio’s congressional reporter, Matt Laslo, has the story on how the state’s congressional delegation is fighting for the state’s interests on the issue.

Read more
News
6:17 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Report Finds No Problems With Pavillion Gas Wells

There’s no link between gas wells and groundwater contamination near Pavillion, according to a draft study out Wednesday from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. It’s the first of three reports looking into what caused the contamination, which some blame on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The reviewers looked at the gas wells themselves to determine if they were leaking or otherwise damaged.

Read more
News
2:29 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Oil Producers Turn Attention To Powder River Basin

Oil well outside of Wright, Wyoming.
Credit Stephanie Joyce

Wyoming’s Powder River Basin is getting renewed attention from oil and gas companies. The region has been producing oil for decades, but now companies are looking to tap some of the Basin’s old reserves using new techniques, like horizontal drilling and fracking.

As analyst Raoul LeBlanc, with IHS Energy, explained in a video blog last week, his firm thinks the Basin could have as much potential as some of the much better-known plays in North Dakota and Texas.

Read more
Open Spaces
5:54 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Leaky Barrels, German U-Boats And 2.6 Million Miles Of Pipe

Barrels were used in the early days of oil to move it from one place to another. Often, the barrels were loaded onto barges and floated down Pennsylvania's major rivers to refineries in Pittsburgh, where it was turned into kerosene.
Credit American Oil and Gas History Association

There’s an invisible network connecting every corner of the United States. Without it, cars wouldn’t start and lights wouldn’t turn on. At 2.6 million miles, if it were stretched out, it would reach around the Earth more than a hundred times. Chances are, you’ve never noticed it. The nation’s sprawling pipeline network is buried underground, out of sight and out of mind.

Read more
News
6:02 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Effort To Curb Pinedale Ozone Moves Forward

Credit Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has proposed new rules for controlling emissions from oil and gas operations in the Upper Green River Basin, and they're getting push-back from all sides.

The area around Pinedale is out of compliance with federal air quality standards for ozone, a harmful pollutant, because of nearby gas fields. Half a dozen groups have submitted written comments on the proposed rules for cutting emissions from existing oil and gas sites.

Read more
News
7:10 am
Thu July 24, 2014

New Rules Target Crude Train Safety

An oil train waits to be loaded at the Upton Logistics Center, in Upton, WY.
Credit Stephanie Joyce / WPM

The federal government has released new rules for trains transporting crude oil. They come in response to a number of dramatic crude train derailments over the last year, including one that destroyed the town of Lac Megantic, Quebec. 

The draft rules make a number of recommendations, the biggest of which is phasing out a type of tank car called DOT-111s over the next two years. Those cars have been disparagingly called "Coke cans" because they're thin-walled and often rip open in derailments, but they're the most common way to transport crude oil by rail.

Read more
Open Spaces
6:50 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

July 11th, 2014

Federal Highway Money Remains At Risk

The federal pot of money that’s supposed to keep local roads and bridges intact may soon be empty, yet lawmakers on Capitol Hill are miles apart from each other. It remains unclear if they’ll be able to bridge the gulf. Matt Laslo reports from Washington on how the Wyoming delegation is weighing in on the debate that’s sucking the air out of Washington this summer.

Read more
Open Spaces
5:47 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Booming Oil And Gas Production Taxes Pipeline Network

The "pig trap" for a pipeline at a tank farm in Guernsey, Wyoming.
Stephanie Joyce

In the first quarter of 2014, the United States surpassed both Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer. It already hit that mark for natural gas late last year. All of that oil and gas has to be transported from the fields where it’s drilled to refineries and processing plants, and most of that is done by pipeline, but the nation’s pipeline infrastructure isn’t currently up to the task.

Read more
News
1:26 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

State Will Release Draft And Final Pavillion Reports

The state says it will release both the draft and final versions of reports investigating water contamination in Pavillion. The clarification comes after landowners wrote a letter to Governor Matt Mead protesting the state’s plan to release the draft to Encana, the oil and gas company some accuse of polluting the water, before releasing it to the public.

Mead's spokesperson, Renny MacKay, says by releasing both copies, and the comments provided by Encana, the Environmental Protection Agency and an independent expert, the public will be able to see the evolution of the document.

Read more
News
4:07 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Jury Awards Injured Oil And Gas Worker $5.1M

A Wyoming jury has awarded $5.1 million dollars in damages to an oil and gas worker who was injured on the job in 2011.

Then 22-year-old Horr was part of a crew working on a Merit Energy oil well when built-up pressure escaped, sending a piece of rubber through his left arm and shattering it. Attorney Bryan Ulmer with the Spence Law Firm says Horr has lost use of his arm as a result.

Read more
News
3:53 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Alberta Smoke Creates Wyoming Haze

Credit National Weather Service

Smoke from wildfires in northern Alberta has drifted down into Montana and Wyoming in recent days.

"The smoke has worked pretty hard to reduce visibility in the last couple of days," says Kelly a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Riverton. "It’s not having a whole lot of effects otherwise in terms of particulates in the air or other health effects because the smoke is coming from so far away.”

Read more
News
8:58 am
Sun June 22, 2014

Secrecy Prevails With Crude-By-Rail Data

Railcars carrying crude oil display this placard

Hundreds of thousands of tank cars full of crude oil snake across the nation each year, and the number is only increasing.  In the last five years, the number has jumped 14-fold. Along with that, there’s been an increased number of accidents, derailments and spills.

Read more
News
5:08 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

American Bird Conservancy Files Suit Over Eagle Take Permits

An environmental group is suing the federal government over eagle take permits. The permits allow wind farms to kill a certain number of protected bald and golden eagles annually without penalty. In December, the Fish and Wildlife Service changed the duration of the permits from five to 30 years in response to industry lobbying.  Wind companies said the shorter period didn’t provide enough certainty for investors.

Read more
News
8:37 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Wyoming Senator John Schiffer Remembered For Service, Dedication

Senator John Schiffer

Longtime Wyoming state senator John Schiffer passed away Wednesday at the age of 68. Schiffer, a Republican, had represented District 22 in Sheridan and Johnson counties since 1993. He was diagnosed with liver cancer last month.

State Treasurer Mark Gordon was Schiffer’s long-time friend and business partner. He says the state lost one its best advocates.

“Completely selfless, wanted to make sure the best thing for Wyoming would happen," Gordon says. "It didn’t matter if he got the credit.”

Read more
News
6:10 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Republican Governors Urge EPA To Scrap Carbon Pollution Rule

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead

Governor Matt Mead joined his counterparts in eight other states Monday in asking the Environmental Protection Agency to scrap its new carbon pollution rules. The rules call for a 30 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from US power plants by 2030.

In a letter to the agency, the governors say that effectively bans coal-fired power. The EPA disagrees, projecting that coal will still provide 30 percent of the nation’s electricity after the rules are implemented, down from almost 40 percent today.

Read more
Open Spaces
5:08 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Laramie County Sees Surge In Oil And Gas Development

A Patterson drilling rig set alone against the Wind River Mountain range.
Credit Robert Flaherty

For years, southeastern Wyoming has been expecting an oil boom that’s never arrived. Just across the border in Colorado, drilling has reached breakneck pace, but Wyoming has been relatively quiet -- until now. The discovery of a new, more promising oil reserve has led to a surge of interest in oil and gas development in Laramie County over the last few months.

In May of 2013, oil and gas companies applied for nine permits to drill in Laramie County. In May of 2014, companies applied for 132.

Read more
News
3:11 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

State Begins Plugging Orphaned Wells

Credit NETL/DOE

The state has started plugging some of the thousand-plus orphaned wells in the Powder River Basin. The wells are relics of the coal-bed methane bust, when many companies went bankrupt and walked away without closing their wells. The state has taken on responsibility for plugging them, using a combination of revoked bonds and funds from a production tax.

Oil and Gas Supervisor Mark Watson says they had hoped to start plugging wells a little bit sooner, but that there were scheduling conflicts to take into account.

Read more
News
10:03 am
Wed June 11, 2014

Wyoming Regulators Evaluating EPA Carbon Rule

Jim Bridger Power Plant near Rock Springs, WY

In the week since the Obama administration unveiled new rules to curb carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants, Wyoming regulators have been digging in, trying to figure out exactly what they’ll mean for the Cowboy State. So far, they have more questions than answers.

Read more
News
6:54 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

State Promises Union Pacific Confidentiality For Crude Train Data

Credit Nat Hamilton/WHYY

In the wake of recent derailments and explosions of crude oil trains, state officials will start receiving information about when those trains are moving through their states. The federal Department of Transportation issued an emergency order in early May, requiring the railroads to share information with states about the routing of any shipments of Bakken crude oil over a million gallons. It goes into effect Saturday.

Read more
Open Spaces
6:15 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

June 6th, 2014

Democrats Try To Improve Their Legislative Numbers 

Wyoming Democrats have been in the legislative minority for a long time, but it’s been really tough lately.  Only eight of the 60 Wyoming Representatives are Democrats and only four reside in the Senate.  While the party has hopes of grabbing a few more seats this year, there are not enough candidates to make serious gains.  The problem started back in 1991.

Read more

Pages