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.

Ways To Connect

Blastcube

This week, Wyoming Public Radio aired a series of stories on workplace fatalities in the oil and gas industry. The series looked North Dakota’s high oil and gas fatality rate, Wyoming’s response to its own rising death toll, and whether there are lessons to be learned from the commercial fishing industry in Alaska, which has cut fatalities in half in the last decade. Emily Guerin of Prairie Public Radio and Stephanie Joyce of Wyoming Public Radio share some of their takeaways after reporting the series.

Stephanie Joyce

The red smokestacks of the Comanche power plant outside of Pueblo, Colorado can be seen from miles away. The plant supplies power to communities along the Front Range, including Denver, and consumes hundreds of tons of coal an hour in the process. That coal arrives in mile-long trains from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin and is stockpiled at the plant. Normally, that pile would be a hundred feet tall, according to Xcel Energy fuel supply manager Craig Romer. But right now, it’s less than a third of that.

Lauren Rosenthal / KUCB

Click here to read Part 3 of the Dark Side Of The Boom series.

The dangers of the Bering Sea crab fishery have been made famous by the reality TV show Deadliest Catch. But, in the last 15 years, that industry has become much safer, in large part thanks to collaboration between industry, scientists and regulators. We wondered: are there lessons that the oil and gas industry could learn from the crab industry’s safety gains?

An oil and gas worker pours a defoaming agent into the drill string.
Stephanie Joyce

The federal government has given its blessing for an underground coal gasification (UCG) test project in Wyoming. UCG involves gasifying --  basically, incompletely burning -- coal seams deep underground to produce syngas, which can be converted to diesel and other liquid fuels. Linc Energy’s project needed Environmental Protection Agency approval because it will pollute an aquifer (the company says it will restore the aquifer to its original quality after the test burn).

Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, Wyoming’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission got its first glimpse at a rule that would increase the buffer between houses and drilling. They postponed any final action on the so-called setback rule until next month, but there was plenty of discussion. Ben Storrow of the Casper Star-Tribune covered the Commission’s meeting and joined Wyoming Public Radio’s energy reporter, Stephanie Joyce, to talk about it.

Ambre Energy

Wyoming isn’t only duking it out with Oregon on the football field this week. On Monday, the state filed an appeal of a recent decision by Oregon to deny permits for Ambre Energy’s proposed coal export terminal.

Stephanie Joyce

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will get its first look at a draft rule for oil and gas well setbacks next week.

Ambre Energy

Wyoming’s largest coal company is selling its stake in a Montana mine for less than its original asking price. In a deal announced Thursday, Cloud Peak will give up its 50 percent ownership of the Decker coal mine in exchange for Ambre Energy taking on $67 million in reclamation and lease bonding. The deal also promises Cloud Peak capacity at Ambre Energy’s proposed Millennium Bulk coal export terminal in Washington state.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

Pages