Open Spaces
4:29 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

April 11th, 2014

Listen to the whole show here.

Rare Earth Mine Permitting Gets Underway

They’ve been called the secret ingredient of everything. Rare earths are a group of elements that make much of today’s technology possible, from smartphones to wind turbines to precision-guided missiles. For decades, China has dominated the rare earth market, but amid questions about the wisdom of allowing one country to control the supply chain, a mining project in Wyoming is getting underway. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, if the mine opens, it would be only be the second one in the United States and the first new one in decades.

Pinedale Air Improves As State Toughens Industry Regs

Several years ago, there were days when air pollution in Pinedale was worse than in Los Angeles. Residents complained of respiratory problems, and visits to local medical clinics increased.  In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency said the area was violating federal air quality standards, and gave Wyoming three years to fix the problem. Since then, air quality has been better. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports, nobody knows whether the problem is really fixed, and some worry that the state is not doing enough to prevent similar problems from happening elsewhere.

Frac Sand Poses Potential Health Problem For Workers

It’s been called miner's phthisis, grinder's asthma, potter's rot. Silicosis is a disease of the lungs that’s caused by inhaling tiny particles of crystalline silica dust, basically sand. Those particles cut the lung tissue, causing inflammation and scarring that make it difficult to breathe. The disease is nothing new -- the ancient Greeks were the first to give it a name -- but concern about it is cropping up in new places, including the oil and gas industry. Wyoming Public Radio’s energy and natural resources reporter Stephanie Joyce joins us to talk about the problem, and what’s being done about it.

Cindy Hill Discusses Return To Office, Standards

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill will soon be returning to lead the Wyoming Department of Education.  Unless you’ve been under rock, you know that the Superintendent had her ability to oversee the department removed by the legislature and the governor last year.   The Supreme Court restored that power and legal and other negotiations are currently underway to restore her powers.  As she awaits her next move, Superintendent Hill agreed to tape an interview with Bob Beck what will happen when she returns to office and what she thinks of some current controversy concerning state standards.

UW President Reflects On Legislative Session

University of Wyoming President Dick McGinity wrapped up his first legislative session last month and he calls it quite a learning experience.  He joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck to review the session.

Wyoming Courts Adjust To Accommodate Non-English Speaking Clients 

Wyoming is a largely rural state with limited diversity. But as the population grows and the state attracts all sorts of newcomers. Wyoming is learning to accommodate the changing population. One of the areas where the state is making headway is interpretation services in its courts. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports.

UW Center Seeks To Improve Literacy

Last month the University of Wyoming opened a Literacy Research Center and clinic that should enhance literacy at all levels across the state.  It will allow face to face tutoring, train tutors and teachers, and use technology in interesting new ways.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.  

How The National Parks Can Save Our View Of The Stars

An exhibit opening this weekend at the University of Wyoming Art Museum is among the first major displays of astrophotography as art. ‘Starstruck: The Fine Art of Astrophotography’ is a dazzling exhibition, ranging from night skies and landscapes to deep space photography.