August 30th, 2013

Regulatory agencies have weak controls for bad oil and gas operators

We recently reported that an oil and gas company operating in Wyoming was fined by the federal Office of Natural Resource Revenue for not submitting production reports. Turns out, the company has a history of poor behavior in the state, fiscally and environmentally. Although Pure Petroleum’s gross neglect of its responsibilities is somewhat of an exception, it does point to big flaws in the oil and gas industry’s reclamation system.

Institute builds advanced oil recovery savvy in Wyoming

Wyoming has been producing oil for more than a hundred years, which means the state has a lot of mature oil fields -- fields that stopped producing a long time ago. Since its founding in 2004, the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute has been working to get those fields back into production using innovative techniques for recovering the oil. Now, the Institute has new equipment that it hopes will improve its existing capabilities, and encourage more investment in the approach.

Workshop aims to help Wyoming scientists communicate with the rest of us

Science can be fascinating, even to non-scientists. But when experts use a lot of industry jargon to explain their research, it can be hard to understand. Now that funding for research is harder to come by, scientists need to do more to win over the public’s hearts and minds to back their work. The National Science Foundation will be hosting a workshop at the University of Wyoming to help scientists, engineers and other academics to communicate with the rest of us about their research.

New Director of the WY Humanities Council talks funding and programming plans

Shannon Smith is the new Executive Director of the Wyoming Humanities Council. Smith comes to the Council after years working at a non-profit focusing on advancing higher education through the use of information technology. She’s served on the Board of a non-profit that promotes the legacy of western historian Mari Sandoz and sat on the Nebraska State Historical Society Board of Trustees. Smith has also taught at the Oglala Lakota College and is an author and historian. She wrote Give me Eighty Men: Women and the Myth of the Fetterman Fight, which won the 2009 Non-fiction Book Award from the Wyoming State Historical Society. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov spoke with Smith about her vision for the Council.

Wyoming considers increasing the Beer Tax

Wyoming is not a big tax state, so it might not be much of surprise to learn that Wyoming’s Beer Taxes are the lowest in the country.  Beer is taxed two cents a gallon and according to the Tax Foundation that amounts to a penny a six pack for a consumer.  There have been several efforts to raise the tax in recent years, but those proposals are typically dead on arrival.  In a few weeks the Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee will re-vist the issue as Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.

Despite possible revenue loss, coal leasing reforms not likely to be forthcoming

Last week, we reported that the federal government might be selling Powder River Basin coal for less than it’s worth. As reform advocate Tom Sanzillo described the sales: “There’s no competition, the appraisals by all accounts—including the Inspector General for [the Department of the Interior]—are flawed, and there’s been no audit in 30 years. So there’s no accountability for the program, no oversight.” This week, we take a look at the money the state might be missing out on as a result, and what policymakers think should be done about it.

Ron Carlson’s “Return to Oakpine” is a story of friendship and nostalgia in the West

Author Ron Carlson new novel “Return to Oakpine” tells the story of four high school buddies reuniting in their fictional Wyoming hometown, now that they’ve reached middle age.  One character, Jimmy Brand, is dying of AIDS, and he and his friends get their high school garage band back together one last time. Carlson tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez that this is a “quieter” book, in which the reader keeps company with these characters.

StoryCorps: A career in burlesque

This summer, StoryCorps set up a booth in Cheyenne to record Wyomingites interviewing one another and sharing their stories. Today, we’ll hear from a burlesque performer. Her stage name is Stella Fox, and she talks with her fiancée, Jonathan Green, about her burlesque career.