Natural Resources & Energy

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CC0 Public Domain, Pixabay

Last week, a Washington D.C. resident was fined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for using his drone to fly over a large herd of elk in hopes of getting up-close photographs. The drone caused the herd to bolt and run about a half mile on the National Elk Refuge near Jackson.

Elk Refuge spokeswoman Lori Iverson said with so much snow this winter, it’s already been a hard year for wildlife and the drone caused the elk extra stress. Iverson said it’s important for drone operators to educate themselves on the policies of any agency where they plan to fly.

Citizens Climate Lobby

A group of conservative thinkers who are concerned about climate change are proposing an approach that they hope will encourage companies to look to reduce carbon pollution. The proposal would also attempt to encourage average people to use cleaner energy. It’s a market based solution called a climate fee and dividend.

It charges a fee on industry for the amount of carbon burned and gives a dividend to consumers to help them pay for rising energy costs associated with the plan, which means the fee would eventually get returned to the companies.

A Youth Radio Investigation Of Wyoming's Role In Climate Change

Feb 24, 2017
Melodie Edwards

Now that Wyoming’s Science Standards are encouraging kids to make up their own minds about climate change, a group of Laramie middle schoolers tackled the issue of the environmental impacts of energy development in Wyoming. We handed off the microphone to young reporters Zeren Homer and Sam Alexander.

 

Hagerty Ryan, USFWS

In 2014, Wyoming's science standards hadn't been updated in ten years and it was time to adopt new ones. Like most other states at the time, Wyoming was poised to pass the Next Generation Science Standards. Laramie Senator Chris Rothfuss was a big fan of Next Generation, but he remembered a lot of grumbling from his fellow lawmakers.

“There’s generally been a concern with national standards that the feds are trying to tell us what to learn,” Rothfuss said. “And so there was a general backlash I think towards that.”

The Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes said they plan to work together to appeal a Tenth Circuit Court ruling made Wednesday declaring that the city of Riverton is not located within reservation boundaries.

A 1905 Act passed by Congress opened up 1.4 million acres of Wind River Reservation land for settlement to non-Indians. Then in 2013, the EPA ruled in an air quality study that the city of Riverton was part of that acreage and rightfully belonged within reservation boundaries.

CocoaBiscuit via Flickr

Congress canceled a set of coal mining regulations last week, just two months after they’d been passed. President Trump signed the repeal with support from Wyoming Governor Matt Mead.  

The Stream Protection Rule created a buffer zone around waterways and placed stricter requirements on companies to monitor and reclaim mine sites. But Wyoming’s Congressional delegation and Department of Environmental Quality called the decision an overreach that should not apply to the arid conditions of the Western U.S.

BLM Wyoming

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to overturn a Bureau of Land Management planning rule that's been in the works for years with cooperation from sportsmen and ranchers. The BLM says Planning 2.0 would give the public more opportunity for input and provide more protection to big game migration routes that were discovered since the old rule was adopted.

Proponents such as the Wyoming Wilderness Association say if the rule is scrapped using the Congressional Review Act, those benefits would be lost until the end of the Trump administration.

Wikimedia Commons

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will begin collaring elk in the Bighorn Mountains as part of a study on brucellosis, a disease found primarily in elk and bison that can spread to livestock and result in animals aborting their young.

Carol S. Bock

The Endangered Species Act was under Senate scrutiny Wednesday, when the Environment and Public Works Committee met to discuss how to reform the law.  

Former Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal attended the meeting chaired by Senator John Barrasso. Both politicians said that while the ESA is important, it needs an update, and mentioned the Western Governor’s Association’s efforts to come up with specific recommendations for reform.  

Department of Energy

Wyoming's budget deficit has forced the University of Wyoming to reduce spending. Dr. Anne Alexander, Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Education, said "at this point every possible thing that’s 'discretionary' has been cut. There are departments without phones, larger classes, hiring freezes, and increased teaching loads."

Micah Lott

As one of his first actions in office, President Trump signed an executive order granting his approval for the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Then, on January 31, the Army Corp of Engineers announced they’d grant the final permit.

The next day, about 100 protesters clashed with Morton County Police. 23-year-old Northern Arapaho member Micah Lott from Wyoming was among them. Over the phone from North Dakota where he continues to protest the pipeline, Micah told Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards the story of his arrest.

Kenneth W Gerard

It turns out there can be too much of a good thing, even when it comes to snow in a ski town like Jackson.

Earlier this week, a series of winter storms caused the roof of a building that housed three businesses to collapse there. Then, Monday night, winds in excess of 90 miles an hour buckled about ten steel transmission poles, leaving several areas around Jackson without power, including Teton Village. About 3,000 people have been affected by the outage.

The Bureau of Land Management

Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on whether to scrap a Bureau of Land Management plan, known as the BLM Planning 2.0, that was recently adopted under the Obama administration.

Gage Skidmore

From cabinet picks to environmental regulations, there has been a lot of energy news in the first few weeks of the Trump Administration. Inside Energy reporter Leigh Paterson joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard from Denver to talk about some of the changes happening in Washington and how they could affect the West.

Dr. Lawrence Todd

Climate change is revealing Wyoming artifacts hidden by ice for 10,000 years. Scientists are flocking to the melting snow and ice fields. And the world is watching.

The Prince of Monaco, among others, is giving a lot of money to support a science emerging in the mountains of Wyoming.

Prince Albert II talked about climate change, and his foundation’s support of scientific research on climate change when he came to Cody in 2013.

DeVivo Upper Salt

There aren’t many critters crazy enough to live year round on mountaintops. So any that do live there have got to be tough. Like the American pika, an adorable little round-eared — and noisy — animal that lives in the rocks at the highest elevations.

But are pikas tough enough to survive a warming planet? University of Wyoming researcher Embere Hall is trying answer that question.

Bureau of Land Management, Wikimedia Commons

A new public land transfer bill was filed this week by House Majority Floor Leader David Miller. The bill would allow the state to take over management of federal lands, and comes hard on the heels of a recently failed constitutional amendment that would also have given the state control over federal lands, an idea that’s been opposed by many sporting and outdoor recreation groups.

Wyoming Game And Fish Department

According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, collisions between wildlife and vehicles have been on the rise in recent months.

Doug Brimeyer is the Deputy Chief of Wildlife for the Game and Fish and he says after so many winter storms, the deep snow is limiting winter forage, and so animals are being forced to look for food at lower elevations. Brimeyer said it’s easier for animals to travel where the snow has been plowed back, but that big snow banks on either side of the road, especially in parts of western Wyoming, can trap them.

Environmental Protection Agency

The Wyoming Department of Education encouraged schools across the state to test for lead.

A memo sent out earlier this month informed superintendents and principals of a program offered by the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s called the 3T Program — for training, testing and telling — and it’s designed to support schools in monitoring and keeping lead in drinking water at minimal levels.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

A Wyoming legislative committee soundly defeated a bill that would have substantially increased the state’s wind tax. 

The bill, which was supported by House Revenue Committee Chairman Mike Madden and others, would have raised Wyoming’s wind tax from a dollar a megawatt hour to five dollars a megawatt hour. 

TYRA OLSTAD- Fossil Butte National Monument

A controversial constitutional amendment that would have allowed the state to take over management of federal lands was killed late Friday afternoon by legislators who realized they did not have enough votes to pass it. 

The Select Committee on Federal Natural Resources said they drafted the proposed amendment as a way to protect public access to federal lands. House Majority Floor Leader David Miller said legal actions by other states could force Wyoming to take over public lands.

Stephanie Joyce

 

The House Revenue Committee killed a bill Friday that would have lowered the coal industry’s severance tax from seven to six percent.

The Coal industry has struggled over the last couple of years and Gillette Representative Tim Hallinan said he hoped that the decrease would spur industry and prevent further bankruptcies, but he said it’s unknown whether or not it would create jobs. For Laramie Representative Dan Furphy that was a deal breaker.

Visit Pinedale

 

In 2015, the town of Pinedale turned off its sodium silicate water treatment--a type of corrosion control that helps prevent lead contamination from old plumbing. The next year, dangerous levels of lead were found in one residence and at the town’s high school. The treatment has been turned back on, but residents want to know why it was shut off in the first place. 

Melodie Edwards

A bill drafted for the legislature that proposed to revise Wyoming's constitution to allow the state to take over management of federal lands, has died. The idea was intensely controversial and today Senator Eli Bebout withdrew the legislation. 

Droves of hunters, anglers and hikers turned out for anti-land transfer rallies in recent months wearing stickers that read, “Keep It Public, Wyoming!” 

https://pixabay.com/en/chemistry-chemical-flask-glass-155121/

After accepting a $15 million dollar loan from the State of Wyoming, Standard Alcohol Inc. is continuing plans for a new facility at Swan Ranch, outside of Cheyenne. The loan is set to be paid back in twenty years, while the rest of the funding for the $76 million dollar plant will come from private investments.

The company will use natural gas, coal, and CO2 to create a gasoline additive that company vice president Robert Johns says is high value.

Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails

The tight economic times have prompted many Wyoming agencies to look at where they can raise more money and Wyoming State Parks is no different.

The legislature’s Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee is proposing to give the parks program more flexibility to set daily pass and campground fees as they see fit, rather than keeping a cap on fees as it is currently.

Jackson Representative Mike Gierau sits on the committee and says Wyoming State Park Fees are cheaper than other states. 

The Wyoming House of Representatives passed a bill Monday that clarifies the scope of Wyoming’s relationship with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in hopes of speeding up the process of approving in situ uranium mining projects.

House Floor Leader David Miller said Wyoming has a long history of uranium mining and much of the current technology used to extract it was developed in the state.

Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone National Park; Jim Peaco

A delisting of the Yellowstone grizzly bear was expected by the first of the year but has been pushed back at least six months after a public comment period brought in thousands of letters of opposition. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Regional Director Michael Thabault says over 650,000 comments poured in, and it's going to take them longer than expected to respond. 

Wyoming has seen a higher rig count and more coal production in the last few months, but that doesn’t change much for its financial picture, according to the latest Consensus Revenue Estimating Group or CREG report. It shows that the general fund was up by $900,000 but that isn’t nearly enough to fill the gaping $156 million hole in the two year $3 billion budget.

CREG Co-Chairman Don Richards said while there are signs of a rebounding economy, the numbers still aren’t great.

Coal State Considers Carbon Future Under Trump

Jan 13, 2017
Amy Sisk/Inside Energy

The coal industry is breathing a sigh of relief with Donald Trump about to enter the White House.

He campaigned on an energy platform that would strip away Obama administration regulations on the fossil fuel industry. Chief among them: the Clean Power Plan.

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