November 11th, 2011

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A listing of today's stories:

Cause of Pavillion contamination still unclear, despite new data
The Environmental Protection Agency first became involved in the Pavillion area in 2009 after residents noticed changes in odor, taste and color in their domestic water wells. They blamed the changes on oil and gas development in the area as well as hydraulic fracturing. The first few rounds of EPA sampling found methane in the water with a chemical signature indicating that it had come from the gas production reservoir, as well as diesel and gasoline range organics at low levels.  The results prompted the EPA to drill deep monitoring wells in the area, and on Wednesday, they released a second round of testing from those wells. Wyoming Public Radio’s Tristan Ahtone was at the release, and he filed this report.

Niobrara draws continued optimism despite lackluster yields
In 2009, EOG Resources drilled an oil well in northeastern Colorado, which produced an astounding amount of oil – about five times as much as most wells yield. The well was drilled into the Niobrara Shale, which stretches through southeastern Wyoming and northeastern Colorado. Needless to say, it got the oil industry’s attention. Since then, there’s been a lot of hype about the Niobrara. It’s even been compared to the giant Bakken oil play in North Dakota. But recently, wells in the Niobrara haven’t been doing very well, especially not in the Wyoming part of the shale. Nonetheless, oil companies are pushing forward. I spoke with Brad Miller, the general manager for regulatory affairs at Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, to find out why. He says the outlook for the Niobrara is still excellent – you just have to think long-term.

Record medical malpractice verdict should have little impact
Recently a Cheyenne jury awarded a nine million dollar judgment against Campbell County Memorial Hospital and Doctor Brian Cullison in a medical malpractice case.  It is easily the highest award in state history and news of the verdict spread quickly across both the medical and legal community.  Some wonder if this would lead to increased medical malpractice insurance premiums and new calls for the state to cap damages in medical malpractice cases. 

Penn State-style sex abuse commonplace, psychologically devastating
This week, Penn State University fired both its legendary football coach and its president for keeping quiet about a sexual abuse scandal involving a former assistant coach. The assistant coach is accused of molesting eight boys over a 15-year period. And for years, it went unreported. Penn State is a high-profile case, but Lynn Huylar, who heads a children’s advocacy center in Cheyenne, says what happened there is typical of abuse cases everywhere. She says usually, the perpetrator isn’t a stranger, but rather someone the child knows very well.

State lands key for Wyoming’s budget
Wyoming manages a number of state lands, but frequently people do not understand what they mean to the state.  Ryan Lance oversees the office of State Lands and Investments and he joins us today to explain how important they are to the state budget.

Record beef prices a double-edged sword for ranchers
There’s good news in the economic forecast for ranchers in Wyoming. A wet winter and spring made for plenty of good grass, and now demand for beef is pushing cattle prices to record highs. Wyoming Public Radio’s Kathryn Flagg visited the Torrington Livestock Market and filed this report.

Wyoming counties struggle to cover the cost of following federal landfill rules
In recent months, we’ve brought you stories about how Wyoming communities are changing the way they handle their garbage and recyclables to keep up with federal water quality standards. For many, the answer has been to close small landfills, and transport waste to larger de facto regional landfills. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez recently visited Park County, where three landfills will close. The garbage will now we shipped to Cody. She found that this environmental solution carries with it higher costs and more uncertainty.

An interview with former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson
Former U.S. Senator Al Simpson served Wyoming in Congress for 18 years.  He advanced to be Republican Whip and served on the Senate Judiciary committee during some controversial times. Simpson’s longtime chief of Staff Don Hardy wrote about Simpson’s career in his book Shooting from the Lip, the Life of Senator Al Simpson.  Simpson says his darkest time in the Senate was when he was branded as anti-woman during the Clarence Thomas hearings, because of his run-in with Anita Hill.