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

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.

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.

Shane Reetz / Prairie Public Broadcasting

From the roof of the Confederation of Danish Industries building in downtown Copenhagen, Denmark’s energy past and future are within view. Smokestacks from several coal-fired power plants share space on the horizon with a fleet of wind turbines.

But most of those smokestacks are coming down soon. Denmark is transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy—the culmination of a decades-long effort that began with the energy crisis of the 1970s.

Despite the recent downturn in prices, oil production in the US has continued to climb.

The Energy Information Administration's most recent figures, from April, show production that month reached 9.7 million barrels a day—the most oil the US has produced since 1971.

Stephanie Joyce

New data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, sheds light on the most dangerous areas of oil and gas.

NIOSH started collecting detailed data on oil and gas worker fatalities in 2014. The agency will be issuing a report based on what the data shows later this summer, but Kyla Retzer, a NIOSH epidemiologist, previewed some of it at a recent safety conference in Cheyenne.

Willow Belden

According to a new study from the Environmental Defense Fund, in 2013, Wyoming burned, vented and leaked $76 million worth of natural gas from federal and tribal lands.

“That’s a big waste of what could be going into federal and tribal royalty coffers,” said EDF spokesman Jon Goldstein, pointing out that the money also ends up with states and local communities through royalty sharing.

Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

In an eleventh hour decision, a judge has delayed implementation of new rules regulating fracking on federal lands. The rules were scheduled to go into effect Wednesday.

Among other things, they require the disclosure of fracking chemicals and more tests to ensure wells aren't leaking.

National Park Service

Fire Reforms Heat Up Congress

Pine beetles and drought is leaving Wyoming and other states more susceptible to wildfires than at any point in recent memory, yet the federal fire policy doesn’t seem to be keeping up with the new climate. Wyoming lawmakers are trying to solve the problem.

Shane Reetz / Prairie Public Broadcasting

Across the nation -- and even in Wyoming -- power companies are adding more renewable energy to their systems. That creates new challenges for the electric grid… challenges that this country is just beginning to grapple with. In Denmark, the transition is happening more quickly - by 2030 the country’s power system is supposed to be 100 percent renewable. So already, industry and universities have been trying out potential solutions in the real world -- on a test island in the middle of the Baltic Sea.