Open Spaces
4:52 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

December 6th, 2013

Credit Courtesy Linda Baker
Listen to the whole show here.

Study shows Pinedale water contamination mostly unrelated to gas drilling

Pollutants have been showing up in water wells in the Pinedale Anticline gas field since 2006. Until recently, no one knew where the contamination was coming from. Now, the Bureau of Land Management and Department of Environmental Quality have released a report indicating that most of the problem was not caused by energy production. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

Wyoming’s little talked about pollution source: trona mines

Wyoming’s biggest export is soda ash, which comes from trona mines in Sweetwater County. Last year, the trona industry produced 17 million tons of soda ash for which the state received nearly $90 million in various taxes and royalties. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov report, the industry has a dirty side, too.

State Superintendent Cindy Hill discusses her dispute with the legislature

It’s been a long year for State Superintendent Cindy Hill.  After legislators determined that she was undermining some of their education reform efforts, they voted to take away her ability to run the state department of education and assigned her to less essential tasks.  Later a report suggested mistreatment of employees, possible misuse of the state aircraft, and misuse of Department of Education money.  That last piece is being investigated by a legislative committee who is trying to determine if impeachment charges should be brought against Hill.  For those who think Hill was incompetent…recent test scores show that students actually improved during her time running the Department of Education.  Hill says her problems started when she objected to some federal initiatives.

New Wyoming Travel App Raises Cash for Conservation

More than half the U.S. population uses smartphones and apps. And as the appetite for mobile information continues to grow, some Wyoming entrepreneurs are poised to cash in, for the sake of conservation. Wyoming Public Radio's Rebecca Huntington has more.

Governor Matt Mead defends his opposition to Medicaid expansion and other topics

Last week Wyoming governor Matt Mead released his proposed budget for the next two years.  The governor joins us to discuss something he did not recommend and discusses other topics, such as whether he will run for re-election. 

Bark beetles turn forest into carbon source

Pine and spruce beetles have killed millions of trees across Wyoming and the West. To many, the dying forests are visually unattractive. But there’s a bigger issue. Researchers in the Medicine Bow National Forest are finding that beetle kill has had a major impact on how the forest processes carbon dioxide. Wyoming Public radio’s Willow Belden reports.

Beetle-kill logging project raises questions about value of dead trees

More than 40 million acres of trees have been killed by bark beetles in the Rocky Mountain West over the last two decades. Those trees are an eyesore, and as we heard in the last story, a source of carbon dioxide. But a new project is trying to find an upside to the epidemic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given researchers at five western universities, including the University of Wyoming, $10 million to see if those dead trees can be converted into gasoline.

The project has been hailed as a win-win-win for the atmosphere, the ecosystem and the economy. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, skeptics question whether making gasoline is really the best use of the West’s dead timber.

Governor proposes budget increase for local government

In the governor’s budget last week, one area that didn’t get a lot of attention is a proposal to increase funding to communities and counties by $175 million.  That would be a $40 million increase over his previous proposal.  40 percent of that money would go for infrastructure, such as roads, but the rest would go into operations.  If approved, it would come at a time when most local governments are dealing with less revenue.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.

Jackson gallery offers views of protected private lands

A new exhibit offers three painters’ views of protected private lands in Jackson Hole. Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer reports on the first-ever collaboration between the Jackson Hole Land Trust and artists, called View 22.