Natural Resources & Energy

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A panel of judges Tuesday is hearing a case that could change the future of the power industry.

The D.C. Circuit is hearing an appeal of the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration rule that would restrict carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants.

Remington Reitsma

The downturn in the energy industry over the last couple years has left a scarcity of jobs for many college graduates from the University of Wyoming, and across the country.

Over the weekend, the University of Wyoming hosted the annual geosciences job fair which hoped to help the problem. But the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous job fair has seen better years. In the past the job fair has hosted up to 32 companies, and this year there were only six. Even so, Matt Rhoads, a graduate student from Illinois State, said he wasn't discouraged.

Germany UN

  

Over the last three years, the German embassy has donated about $20,000 dollars toward educating University of Wyoming students about the fall of the Berlin wall and German history. Recently, the German Ambassador Peter Wittig visited the campus himself and, while he was here, Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards sat down with him to talk about what Wyoming can learn from Germany’s own coal downturn and the refugee crisis.

Todd Guenther

It’s late afternoon at the base of Dinwoody Glacier, and its creek is roaring with melted ice nearby. It's been a long day of digging for archeology students Crystal Reynolds, Morgan Robins and Nico Holt. 

“We love digging holes!” they say, laughing. “We love playing in the dirt.”

“It's like playing hide and seek with people you never met,” says Holt.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

After hearing more than five hours of public testimony, the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee rejected a bill Thursday that would have increased the tax on wind energy production.

Wyoming currently taxes production at $1 per megawatt hour, the only such tax in the nation. The state is facing a major budget shortfall because of the downturn in coal, oil and gas production. Raising the wind tax came up as a possible way to generate revenue for school construction. Rep. Mike Madden, R-Buffalo, introduced the failed proposal to raise the tax to $3 per megawatt hour.

Germany UN

Last week, Germany’s ambassador to the United States, Peter Wittig gave a lecture at the University of Wyoming on the importance of maintaining a strong trans-Atlantic alliance.

He said the German-U.S. relationship is more important than ever as terrorism and mass migrations continue. He said Germany has taken in 1.1 million Syrian refugees in the last year, which would be equivalent to the United States taking in 4.4 million. He said each country must take its own needs and preferences into account when deciding how to respond to the refugee crisis.

Wikimedia Commons

The Bureau of Land Management announced it will not accept the recommendation from their National Advisory Board to euthanize the upwards of 46,000 wild horses. The recommendation was followed by a major public outrage, but the BLM says they will continue to seek out other management options.

Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Kristen Lenhardt said those alternatives include the BLM’s already established wild horse and burro adoption program, as well as using birth control to reduce overpopulation.

The Lincoln County coroner has determined that head trauma caused a worker's death at a natural gas processing plant in southwestern Wyoming last week. 

County Corner Michael Richins says 36-year-old Michael Smuin was thrown into a cement structure at the Williams plant in Opal and died instantly from a cranial fracture. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the incident, including what caused Smuin to be lifted off his feet. Richins found burns on the body, that he said were likely caused by a ruptured pipe.  

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

The Two Elk power plant has been mired in controversy for years over issues including its use of millions of dollars in federal stimulus funding, as well as long construction delays. But the project may have hit a final roadblock. 

Public Domain

On Monday, arguments were presented against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's removal of wild horses from a herd of management area in what's known as the Checkerboard area near Rock Springs.

Wild horse advocate groups argue that the removal of horses is conducted inhumanely and is expensive for tax payers, and that wild horses have the right to roam on public land. American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign Director Suzanne Roy says she hopes the court appeal will stop the roundup, and soon.

Stephanie Joyce

Some states are better positioned than others to weather the downturn in coal, oil, and gas according to data from the credit ratings agency Moody’s.

Analysts considered factors like economic diversification, budget structure, and how much savings states set aside.

Melodie Edwards

The Journey In

It’s a hard 23 mile hike into the Wind River Range to one of the state’s largest glaciers. It’s called Dinwoody, and every step is a study in the powerful impact this glacier has had on these mountains in the last 1.5 million years.

Dan Boyce / Inside Energy

  

For the poorest amongst us, paying every bill can be a struggle, including the power bill. Solar power hasn’t really been a go-to option for those at the bottom, but that’s starting to change. Colorado’s largest utility – Xcel energy –  recently announced an expansion of a program to provide solar energy to low income residents. Its part of a proposed settlement agreement with the state’s public utility commission.

Cally Carswell

  

In the 1930s, rural electric cooperatives brought electricity to the country’s most far-flung communities, transforming rural economies. In Western Colorado, one of these co-ops is again trying to spur economic development, partly by generating more of their electricity locally from renewable resources, like water in irrigation ditches and the sun.

Rebecca Huntington

In Grand Teton National Park, the White Grass Dude Ranch entertained visitors who came for mountain views and the chance to play cowboy. It closed in 1985 and soon the ranch's cabins and lodge started falling apart once people stopped using them.

That's how White Grass joined a backlog of some twenty-seven thousand historic properties nationwide that the National Park Service couldn’t afford to maintain. But things have changed.

Wyoming Game and Fish

In the last week a bow hunter suffered numerous injuries after he was attacked by a bear. Game and Fish officials worry about such things at this time of year as more hunting seasons get underway. Tara Hodges from the Cody Game and Fish office explains that hunters need to be bear aware. 

Caroline Ballard

It’s a dark and damp Sunday morning in Laramie, and University of Wyoming Raccoon Project team members are climbing out of a big truck on the south end of town. 

Undergraduate student Emily Davis puts on a headlamp and speaks into a video camera to document the day’s work.

“It’s 5:40 on August 21st and we’re trapping Davis Trap One.”

Williams has identified the worker killed at the company's southwest Wyoming plant Wednesday as 36-year-old Michael Smuin of Kemmerer. The company says he was an operations technician at the Opal natural gas processing plant and had been with the company eight years.

The circumstances surrounding Smuin's death are still unclear. On Thursday, the Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration said a burst pipe may have been involved. A spokeswoman for the agency says a worker on-scene also reported seeing a cloud of natural gas.

Wikipedia

The oil and gas company Battalion Resources filed for bankruptcy on September 8. The filing included three of its subsidiaries, including Storm Cat Energy, which owns hundreds of oil and gas wells in Wyoming. Court documents show the company has $83 million in debt and only brought in $8.4 million in revenue in 2015.

Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities

Cheyenne’s drinking water may see an impact in the coming years due to a fire currently burning in Medicine Bow National Forest. The Snake Fire began September 10 and has burned 2,452 acres. Some of the fire is burning near Hog Park Reservoir, a major provider of Cheyenne’s drinking water.

Dena Egenhoff, a spokeswoman for Cheyenne’s Board of Public Utilities, said the water from Hog Park isn’t directly used as drinking water, but is traded with Rob Roy reservoir since that location is easier to transport water from.

Wyoming Outdoor Council

After public outcry over the 2014 decision by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to downgrade the status of 75 percent of the state’s streams, allowing for the presence of more bacteria like e. coli, the agency has revised its decision. But outdoor recreation advocates say the new decision looks a lot like the old one.

The Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration says a burst pipe may have been involved in the death of a worker at the Williams natural gas processing plant in southwest Wyoming Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the agency says a worker on-scene also reported seeing a cloud of natural gas.

 

The as-yet unidentified 36-year-old man’s death is under investigation by the state and the company.

 

Amy Sisk

Opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline continues to grow beyond its North Dakota roots, with solidarity protests Tuesday in dozens of cities across the country and the world.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

A federal judge has confirmed Arch Coal’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy.

Arch declared bankruptcy in January, citing a weak market for coal and a high debt load. The company’s bankruptcy attorney, Marshall Huebner, told the court Tuesday that through restructuring, Arch has positioned itself to emerge as a viable company.

“To make it a lean mean fighting machine for the coming era, which will remain challenging and complicated for the U.S. coal industry,” he said. 

Arch shed $4.7 billion in debt through bankruptcy. 

A federal agency says elevated levels of carbon dioxide and benzene at the Midwest School are an “urgent public health hazard.”

A federal judge will consider Arch Coal's updated plan to get out of bankruptcy Tuesday. As part of that new plan, the company says it will replace its self-bonds in Wyoming with something more secure.

Arch Coal has more than $400 million in estimated cleanup obligations at its Wyoming coal mines. In the past, Arch was allowed to self-bond those obligations—effectively making a promise to clean up, without putting up cash or collateral to insure those obligations.

Wikipedia

More and more, water has become a limited resource in the American West. And now, the Institute for Advanced Study has initiated a new series called Earth, Wind and Water at the University of Wyoming to create open dialogue on water management and other environmental issues. The program “Water at Risk: Managing Life’s Essential Element” will happen September 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Berry Center Auditorium on UW’s campus.

Luke Brown

  

From the beginning, tribes from Wyoming's Wind River Indian Reservation have been participating in protests to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards interviewed Wind River Native Advocacy Center Director Jason Baldes two weeks ago about how his organization has sent several groups of people to participate in demonstrations.

Andrew Cullen

 

Hundreds of people gathered on the lawn outside the North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck Friday afternoon for what was supposed to be a protest over construction of the $3.7-billion Dakota Access pipeline.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein gathered enough signatures to get her name on the November ballot in Wyoming, according to the Secretary of State's office. It is the first time a Green Party candidate has qualified for the ballot in Wyoming. 

Meanwhile, Evan McMullin, who is running as an anti-Trump independent, did not gather enough signatures to make it onto the ballot. Presidential candidates needed 3,302 signatures to qualify in this year’s election.

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