Natural Resources & Energy

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Natural Resources & Energy
6:45 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

Group Hopes To Raise Funds To Protect Mule Deer Migration Bottleneck

Fremont Lake Bottleneck Property and elk fences that will need to be removed

A conservation group hopes to raise $2 million in three months to buy a critical piece of property along Wyoming’s mule deer migration route. At 150 miles, it’s believed to be the longest mule deer migration route in the world. Luke Lynch is with the Conservation Fund, the group raising money to buy the 364 acres, which creates a kind of migration-bridge for the deer to cross between Fremont Lake and the city of Pinedale. As many as 5,000 deer must cross the bottleneck single file there. Lynch says such routes need to be preserved because they’re so rare.

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Open Spaces
4:36 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

State Scrambles To Fix Wolf Plan

This week a federal judge placed Wyoming’s wolves back on the endangered species list after ruling that the state’s management plan did not offer adequate protection for the wolves. The plan that the state and federal government negotiated would keep the number of wolves that are outside of National Parks to over 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs. But the Judge ruled that Wyoming’s plan was not binding.

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Open Spaces
3:53 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

Residents Concerned Over Number Of Yellowstone Wildlife Killed

Moose with new calf.
Credit Penny Preston

Cody – Grizzly bears, moose, bison, and many other Yellowstone area animals are hit and killed by speeding motorists every year. But now, a baby moose that made newspaper and magazine headlines when it survived a raging river, has been photographed all alone. Locals fear it is orphaned and unlikely to survive, because a motorist killed its mother. It’s led to a renewed discussion over speed limits and signs in forested areas of northwest Wyoming.

A heavy snowpack swelled the Shoshone River this spring.

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Natural Resources & Energy
2:12 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

National Park Service To Step Up Enforcement At Gros Ventre Campground

Credit Linda Peterson

The National Park Service at Grand Teton National Park will be limiting what areas campers can use in the Gros Ventre campground for the rest of this season. That’s after a crowd Wednesday possibly caused a bull moose to charge, resulting in the fatal injury of a female moose.

Public Affairs Officer Jackie Skaggs says people have been getting far too close to animals, in some cases less than ten feet. She says new, plain clothed rangers will be introduced to protect both people and animals.

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Natural Resources & Energy
6:39 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Grizzly Bears At Increased Risk Of Conflicts With Humans.

Hunting season has increased the likelihood of interaction between humans and bears, especially in the mountain ranges outside of Yellowstone National Park. Two grizzly bear attacks this month left one man dead and another injured.

Wyoming Game and Fish Large Carnivore Conflict Coordinator Brian DeBolt says bears have been moving south and east into the Wyoming Range and Big Horn Basin as their numbers have grown. Hunters are at greater risk during the season as they often go against bear safety precautions.

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Natural Resources & Energy
5:30 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Worker Dies After Flash Fire At Natural Gas Facility

Smoke billows at the scene of a gas storage tank explosion, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, near La Barge, Wyo. The explosion that injured several workers happened when a maintenance crew was cleaning out the tank, near the Shute Creek Plant at an EOG facility located on La Barge Highway.
Credit Jack Holt / AP Photo/Kemmerer Gazette

A worker has died after an explosion at a natural gas storage tank in western Wyoming. Jared Loftiss, 35, of Marbleton, Wyoming was working for Hughes Enterprises, an oilfield services company based out of Marbleton.

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Natural Resources & Energy
11:26 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Storage Could Be Key In Massive Wyoming Wind Project

High Plains Wind Farm, near McFadden, WY. It is relatively small, with just 66 turbines, and most of the electricity it generates is consumed in-state.
Credit Leigh Paterson

Four companies, including Wyoming-based Pathfinder Wind Energy, announced an eight billion dollar project this week that would eventually send Wyoming wind power to California. If built, the wind farm would be one of the largest in the country. 

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Natural Resources & Energy
9:41 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Coal Trucks Use Natural Gas To Cut Costs

Mine haul truck at Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, WY.
Credit Leigh Paterson

Liquefied natural gas has long been used to power vehicles like buses and garbage trucks. But this week, one of America's largest coal companies, Alpha Natural Resources, announced a plan to build an LNG plant right next to a Gillette-area mine. That LNG will then be used to power the mine's massive coal haul trucks. 

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Natural Resources & Energy
6:44 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Federal Protections Restored For Wyoming Wolves

Wyoming’s wolf management plan has been rejected by a federal court. 

It means that federal protections will be re-instated for gray wolves in Wyoming. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with environmental groups who say that Wyoming’s management plan that allows wolves to be shot on sight in most of the state, does not provide enough protection for wolves. 

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Open Spaces
6:05 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

37-Year Lawsuit Settles Issue Of Tribal Water Rights

One of 7 new fish ladders on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Credit Melodie Edwards

Earlier this month in a Worland courthouse, a judge signed a final decree that brought to end what’s probably the longest-running lawsuit in Wyoming history. After 37 years, the lawsuit decided who exactly owns the water rights in and around the Wind River Indian Reservation. Those involved in the suit are now looking to the future.

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Open Spaces
5:32 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Wyoming Lawmakers Battle The Feds Over Water

Laramie River
Credit Bob Beck

There's a water war going on in the nation's capital that has Wyoming lawmakers and land owners worried the federal government is soon going to be regulating most every drop of water that falls from the sky.

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Open Spaces
5:12 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Dark Side Of The Boom: The Takeaway

Credit Blastcube

This week, Wyoming Public Radio aired a series of stories on workplace fatalities in the oil and gas industry. The series looked North Dakota’s high oil and gas fatality rate, Wyoming’s response to its own rising death toll, and whether there are lessons to be learned from the commercial fishing industry in Alaska, which has cut fatalities in half in the last decade. Emily Guerin of Prairie Public Radio and Stephanie Joyce of Wyoming Public Radio share some of their takeaways after reporting the series.

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Natural Resources & Energy
3:25 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Delayed Trains Leave Utilities Short On Coal

The coal pile at the Comanche Generating Station outside of Pueblo, Colorado is normally over ten stories tall, but rail delays have shortened it considerably.
Credit Stephanie Joyce

The red smokestacks of the Comanche power plant outside of Pueblo, Colorado can be seen from miles away. The plant supplies power to communities along the Front Range, including Denver, and consumes hundreds of tons of coal an hour in the process. That coal arrives in mile-long trains from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin and is stockpiled at the plant. Normally, that pile would be a hundred feet tall, according to Xcel Energy fuel supply manager Craig Romer. But right now, it’s less than a third of that.

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Natural Resources & Energy
3:20 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Dark Side Of The Boom: The Formula For Alaska’s Safety Success

Rip Carlton has been a Bering Sea crab fisherman for almost 40 years.
Credit Lauren Rosenthal / KUCB

Click here to read Part 3 of the Dark Side Of The Boom series.

The dangers of the Bering Sea crab fishery have been made famous by the reality TV show Deadliest Catch. But, in the last 15 years, that industry has become much safer, in large part thanks to collaboration between industry, scientists and regulators. We wondered: are there lessons that the oil and gas industry could learn from the crab industry’s safety gains?

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Natural Resources & Energy
12:27 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Dark Side Of The Boom: How Dangerous Is Too Dangerous?

Fire and smoke pouring from the Consol No. 9 mine in Farmington, West Virginia following an explosion on November 20, 1968.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

It's no secret that the oil and gas industry is dangerous. As the industry has grown to employ over half a million oil and gas workers nationwide, the number of fatalities has grown as well. Last year, 112 oil and gas workers died on the job; the year before, 142. Nationwide, oil and gas workers are still six times more likely to be killed on the job than the average American.

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Natural Resources & Energy
5:04 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Dark Side Of The Boom: What Makes North Dakota Oil And Gas So Dangerous?

Rig Worker North Dakota.
Credit Flickr user Lindsey G

Click here to read Part 1 of the Dark Side Of The Boom series.

North Dakota is the most dangerous state in the country for oil and gas workers.

But that fact hasn't gotten a lot of attention until now. Governor Jack Dalrymple announced to Inside Energy this week that he's planning to bring together the state’s top safety officials to look into fatalities in the industry, and to see what they can do better.

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Natural Resources & Energy
4:56 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Dark Side Of The Boom: Why Is Wyoming Safer?

Blastcube
Credit An oil and gas worker pours a defoaming agent into the drill string.
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Natural Resources & Energy
6:58 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Illegal Wastewater Dumping Grows

As oil production continues to boom in the Powder River Basin, illegal wastewater dumping is a growing problem. Kodiak Oilfield in Converse County was recently cited for illegally dumping produced water, one of 14 water violations in the state so far this year.

Oil fields typically produce about twice as much water as they do oil – water that is high in sodium content and contains hydrocarbons. Dumping this water into streams, rivers, or fields could interfere with natural habitat, soil, and water quality.

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Natural Resources & Energy
12:59 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Lynx Designated As Threatened Species In Contiguous US

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the Canada lynx as threatened with extinction in the Continental United States. It has also reduced its critical habitat.

The Canada lynx is one of the few native cats in North America. Its habitat is specific to thick boreal forests that accumulate deep snow and are home to the lynx’s favorite food, snowshoe hare. It has enormous paws that it uses to traverse deep snow and elude predators with smaller feet. 

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Natural Resources & Energy
7:57 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Project To Burn Deep Coal Gets Green Light

Linc Energy has drilled 44 monitoring wells at its test site near Wright, Wyoming.
Credit Stephanie Joyce

The federal government has given its blessing for an underground coal gasification (UCG) test project in Wyoming. UCG involves gasifying --  basically, incompletely burning -- coal seams deep underground to produce syngas, which can be converted to diesel and other liquid fuels. Linc Energy’s project needed Environmental Protection Agency approval because it will pollute an aquifer (the company says it will restore the aquifer to its original quality after the test burn).

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Natural Resources & Energy
9:14 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Commission Postpones Decision On Drilling Buffer

Credit Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, Wyoming’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission got its first glimpse at a rule that would increase the buffer between houses and drilling. They postponed any final action on the so-called setback rule until next month, but there was plenty of discussion. Ben Storrow of the Casper Star-Tribune covered the Commission’s meeting and joined Wyoming Public Radio’s energy reporter, Stephanie Joyce, to talk about it.

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Natural Resources & Energy
7:06 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Wild Horse Roundup Will Be Allowed To Move Forward

The U.S. tenth circuit court of appeals has overruled wild horse advocates and will allow the roundup of nearly 800 wild horses in southwest Wyoming. The Bureau of Land Management will round up the horses in an area where private, state, and federal lands intermingle. 

The Rock Springs grazing association had demanded the roundup because they say the horses are depleting resources from other wildlife and livestock in the area. 

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Natural Resources & Energy
5:24 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Water Rights Case Finalized...Finally

Wind River Canyon.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Possibly the longest running lawsuit in Wyoming history came to an end last Friday in Worland. Judge Robert Skar signed a final decree that brought closure to a controversial water rights case. The case examined some 20,000 possible water rights claims in and around the Wind River Indian Reservation over the course of 37 years. Water law professor Jason Robison was at the historic signing.

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Natural Resources & Energy
10:36 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Wyoming Appeals Oregon Coal Export Decision

Map of Ambre Energy's planned Morrow Pacific terminal in Oregon.
Credit Ambre Energy

Wyoming isn’t only duking it out with Oregon on the football field this week. On Monday, the state filed an appeal of a recent decision by Oregon to deny permits for Ambre Energy’s proposed coal export terminal.

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Natural Resources & Energy
8:57 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Open Season Starts For Proposed Pipeline

There's a new pipeline project proposed from North Dakota to Oklahoma that would run through Wyoming. On Friday, Enterprise Product Partners LLC announced an "open season" for the Bakken-to-Cushing pipeline. Open seasons are a way to gauge interest and demand for a pipeline.

If built, the line would run from the Williston Basin in North Dakota, and would pass through oil plays in Eastern Wyoming and Northern Colorado. The line would end in the Cushing hub in Oklahoma, where oil is priced.

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Open Spaces
5:03 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

If You Read Only One Story On Health And Fracking, Read This One

Anti-fracking activitists pose with "fracking flavoured" water outside the European Parliament. Image from Greensefa via Flickr, used with a Creative Commons Attribution License.
Credit C European Union 2012

If you live right next to a drilling rig, or your kids go to school beside a fracking site, or your county is suddenly littered with well pads  -- are there health risks? That’s a question that’s been asked from Pennsylvania to North Dakota, from Colorado to Texas as more and more people find themselves and their towns in the midst of an unprecedented energy boom.

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Open Spaces
4:09 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Wyoming Wind Gridlock

High Plains Wind Farm near McFadden, Wyoming on a breezy summer day.
Credit Leigh Paterson

Wyoming has some of the most powerful wind in the country. So, earlier this month, a massive wind farm got the green light from the state. If the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project gets federal approval, it will become the largest in the country. But who’s buying all that wind power? Right now there is no way to get it out of Wyoming, to the other states that really need it. For Inside Energy, Leigh Paterson reports on why transmission gridlocks are keeping Wyoming wind at bay.

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Natural Resources & Energy
7:49 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Draft Rule Proposes Increased Buffer Between Drilling And Homes

A pump jack sits in front of a house and a drilling rig behind it in a housing development in northern Colorado.
Credit Stephanie Joyce

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will get its first look at a draft rule for oil and gas well setbacks next week.

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Natural Resources & Energy
5:01 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Tenth Circuit Considers New Appeal to Block Wild Horse Roundup

Wild horse advocates continue fighting a planned roundup near the Red Desert.

The Bureau of Land Management plans to gather wild horses in a patchwork of public and private lands near Rock Springs called the Checkerboard. Nearby landowners who graze livestock have requested the horses’ removal.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and others are suing the BLM to block the roundup. Last week, the BLM agreed to voluntarily delay the roundup until at least September 12th , as the Tenth Circuit Court considers an appeal to keep the horses where they are.

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Natural Resources & Energy
2:58 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Cloud Peak Sells Stake In Export Mine

Decker coal mine
Credit Ambre Energy

Wyoming’s largest coal company is selling its stake in a Montana mine for less than its original asking price. In a deal announced Thursday, Cloud Peak will give up its 50 percent ownership of the Decker coal mine in exchange for Ambre Energy taking on $67 million in reclamation and lease bonding. The deal also promises Cloud Peak capacity at Ambre Energy’s proposed Millennium Bulk coal export terminal in Washington state.

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