Natural Resources & Energy

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Wyoming Public Media

Four years ago Ozone in the Pinedale area was compared to that of Los Angeles. The culprit was enhanced energy development in the Upper Green River basin. The area was listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as a non-attainment area for ozone pollution under the federal Clean Air Act. But this week the EPA said that efforts to reduce those levels to healthier standards have worked. Wyoming Outdoor Council Chief Legal Counsel Bruce Pendery has been closely following the issue. He tells Bob Beck that the response to the problem was excellent.  

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It might have been a wet spring, but a couple months without rain has put Yellowstone at high risk for fire. Park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett says about 50 acres of forest ignited this week in an area along the southern shore of Yellowstone Lake known as Promontory Peninsula. Bartlett says, although you can see the smoke, there are no trails or roads in the area, only a couple campgrounds usually accessed by boat.

Leigh Paterson

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is starting to look at how to better quantify emissions from oil and gas wastewater disposal facilities. The facilities treat the water that flows up the well along with the oil and gas.

Due to falling gas prices and the end of a Wyoming tax credit, the state’s only ethanol plant is closing its doors. 

The tax credit expired in July, but current gas and corn prices also added to the demise of Goshen County business Wyoming Ethanol.

Goshen County Economic Development Director Ashley Harpstreith said 18 workers will be displaced, but she’s hopeful that this is a temporary shutdown. 

A State Senator said an agreement between the United States and China to share advances in Clean Coal technology is probably ten years too late. The deal was reached this week. Gillette Senator Michael Von Flatern said it’s better late than never.                

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The world’s two largest emitters of carbon dioxide have agreed to share advances in clean coal technology. The terms of that deal were finalized after a meeting between U.S. and Chinese energy officials earlier this week in Billings, Montana. 

Wendy Rumminger

Autumn is the time of year when lots of wildlife like bears, moose and bobcats tend to wander into the streets of Jackson. It often leads to conflicts with humans. That’s why a local coalition of government agencies and non-profits called Wild Neighborhoods has created a website.

The group’s spokesman Stacy Noland says they’re encouraging locals to share tips and stories about how to minimize conflicts with wildlife.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

As part of a series of listening sessions held across the country, representatives from the Bureau of Land Management recently came to Gillette, Wyo., to meet with residents about the agency's federal coal program. The meeting quickly turned into an impassioned discussion about the future of the coal industry.

Janice Schneider, with the Department of the Interior, said the agency was looking for comments on “how the Bureau of Land Management can best manage its coal resources."

US Department of Energy

New sampling could shed light on contamination at the site of a former uranium mill on the Wind River Reservation. The mill operated for less than a decade in the 1950s and 60s, but left behind huge piles of toxic tailings. The tailings were removed in the 1980s and the remaining contaminants were expected to slowly dissipate over the course of a century.

Flickr user mwwile via Creative Commons

  

In North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield, demand for electricity has skyrocketed – unlike much of the rest of country, where demand been flat since the recession. Dale Haugen has seen this first hand as general manager of the Mountrail Williams Electric Cooperative, which serves the heart of the Bakken. In the early 2000s, things were pretty grim at the coop's offices, and in Western North Dakota, in general.

Wyoming Game and Fish

Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department has been awarded $1.3 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That money will help fund the state’s Private Lands Public Wildlife program, where landowners partner with the state to lease hunting rights and manage wildlife on their land.

Renny MacKay is a spokesman for Wyoming Game and Fish. He says it’s been easy to find landowners who want to participate.

Methane is one of the principal components of natural gas. It is also a greenhouse gas that is around 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the first-ever federal regulations to limit those emissions from oil and gas production. 

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After a plummet in sage grouse numbers two years ago, a new report shows signs that the bird is starting to rebound a bit. The Western Alliance of Fish and Wildlife Agencies conducted the study with the help of Cheyenne-based consultants WEST.

It shows that sage grouse have been declining in numbers by almost a full percentage point every year since the study began in 1965. But the group’s Sage Grouse coordinator, San Stiver says, in the last two years, that decline has slowed.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

 

 

People from all over the state met in Gillette last week to comment on the Bureau of Land Management's controversial proposal to update the federal coal program. 

Office of the Governor

Energy has always been an important topic in Wyoming, but it’s increasingly becoming an important global conversation, especially in the context of climate change. Wyoming, as the second-largest energy producing state in the nation, is central to that conversation. Decisions made today will likely affect the state and the country for years and decades to come. In an interview with Wyoming Public Radio’s energy reporter Stephanie Joyce, Governor Matt Mead started by saying he thinks it’s time to move past the debate about climate change.

One of Wyoming’s largest coal producers has purchased a stake in a controversial export terminal in the Pacific Northwest. Cloud Peak Energy announced Thursday that it now owns 49 percent of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal in Washington.

If built, the terminal would be used to ship coal from the Powder River Basin to Asia. It's one of the few remaining terminals proposed; a number of others have been scrapped because of weak international coal prices and local opposition. 

Aaron Schrank

Tonight’s class on the new papal encyclical at St. Paul’s Newman Center Catholic church in Laramie begins, well, in the beginning. Before parishioners dive into the Pope’s message, they read aloud from the creation story in Genesis.

The Pope’s letter began drawing a flurry of praise and condemnation before it was officially published. The teacher here, Father Rob Spaulding, points out that a draft was leaked to the press a few days early.

“So clearly it was something there was great interest about,” Spaulding says.

Stephanie Joyce

Congress hasn’t passed an energy bill since 2007, but a bill is winding its way through Congress that has the chance of becoming law.

Earlier this year a bipartisan coalition sent Keystone XL Pipeline legislation to President Obama’s desk only to have it vetoed and the President has continued his battle against climate change. But some are still hopeful that a bipartisan energy bill could still pass. Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis said that she believes targeted legislation might become law and that’s what a bipartisan group has come up with. 

Leigh Paterson/Inside Energy

Third-generation coal miner Kent Parrish was blown away the first time he saw a Wyoming coal mine.

“Seventy-five to a hundred-foot coal seams!” he said, recounting the experience on a recent evening while peering down in the huge black pit of the Eagle Butte coal mine, north of Gillette. “If we hit a six-foot seam back home, we thought we hit the motherlode.”

Wyoming Outdoor Council

The phrase “mountain streams” usually comes with the word “pristine” in front of it. But here in Wyoming, some outdoor recreation groups are saying, not for long. That’s because last year, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality downgraded the status of about 87,000 miles of small creeks and drainages in the state’s highest country. For years, these streams have been considered primary recreation, which means they could be used for swimming and the DEQ would clean them up even if a small amount of e. coli, was found in them.

Wikimedia Commons

People from all over the state gathered in Gillette Thursday to weigh in on a controversial new proposal to update the federal coal program. 

Office of the Governor

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says the state will draft a plan to comply with new federal regulations for carbon emissions from power plants.

The Obama administration released the final version of its Clean Power Plan last week. It requires Wyoming to reduce its carbon emissions more than 40 percent by 2030.

Governor Matt Mead released his plan for Sage Grouse conservation in Wyoming earlier this month, but September’s federal deadline to decide on endangered species listing is rapidly approaching. Scientists across the west are now engaged in a discussion of whether or not states are doing enough to adequately protect the bird’s numbers.

An upcoming panel at the University of Wyoming will attempt to address some of those issues.

Three workers are in critical condition after an explosion and fire at an oil facility on Monday outside of Cheyenne. 

According to Lori Hogan, the public information officer for the Laramie County Fire District No. 2, the workers have burns on their faces, arms, and torsos, covering between 20 and 30 percent of their bodies. Their names have not been released.

National Digital Library of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Yellowstone officials trapped a grizzly bear sow and her cub near Yellowstone Lake, and say they will euthanize the adult if DNA proves she killed a man in the Park last week.

The body of 63 year old Lance Crosby was found near Elephant Back Loop trail near Yellowstone Lake Friday. Park officials say he often hiked in this area, alone, and without bear spray. Although his body had been partially eaten, Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk would not call the attack predatory.

Wenk said, “We have no way of knowing what the circumstances were around his death.”

Kari Greer, National Interagency Fire Center

Gusty winds and a lack of rain over the past couple of weeks has caused fires to flare up around the state. Firefighters are now battling two fires in the Tongue River Canyon in Sheridan County. One has grown to over two square miles.

Elsewhere, a red flag warning was issued last night around Cheyenne and Laramie, and there are two small fires burning near Laramie Peak, not far from a campground. One fire has been mostly contained, but the other flared up close by. Aaron Voos with the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest says it was a convenient turn of events.

Wyoming Outdoor Council

Outdoor recreation groups are upset about a recent decision by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to reduce the minimum quality standard of 87,000 miles of mountain streams in the state. The plan would allow five times more e. coli into the water before the DEQ requires it be cleaned up.

Leigh Paterson

The Wyoming Democratic Party is praising the President’s clean power plan calling it an attempt to slow the effects of climate change. 

Party Vice Chairman Bruce Palmer says he’s hopeful that industry and state policy leaders will stop fighting solutions to climate change and focus on ways to address carbon emissions and develop renewable energy. 

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

On Monday, the Obama administration released the centerpiece of its climate change agenda: the Clean Power Plan. The rule aims to reduce carbon emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants and increase the country’s use of renewable energy.

Wyoming Public Radio’s energy reporter Stephanie Joyce joined Morning Edition host Caroline Ballard to talk about the details of the plan and what it means for Wyoming.

 

Flickr Creative Commons

After months of public debate, Governor Mead released a revision of his so-called sage grouse executive order. The plan is required to undergo review every five years.

Brian Rutledge is Vice President of the National Audubon Society and served on the governor’s sage grouse team. He says he’s happy with how many of the team’s recommendations the Governor incorporated in the revision.

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