Natural Resources & Energy

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Natural Resources & Energy
5:39 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Fatality At Peabody Mine Second This Year

A miner was killed at Peabody Energy's North Antelope Rochelle coal mine in the Powder River Basin over the weekend, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The Gillette News Record reports that Darwin Lee Reimer, 51, was driving a haul truck when it went over a highwall. 

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Natural Resources & Energy
9:55 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Interior Secretary Praises Sage Grouse Conservation Efforts

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, praised sage grouse conservation efforts in Wyoming during a tour of a ranch outside of Pinedale on Wednesday. The Bousman Ranch is one of nine in Wyoming that have agreed to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service on sage grouse conservation. During the tour Secretary Jewell learned about the ranch’s new strategies for protecting the grouse, such as converting windmill water tanks to solar to eliminate perches for the grouse’s predators like hawks and ravens.

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Natural Resources & Energy
4:00 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

INSIDE ENERGY: Oil Engineering Boom: Plenty Of Students, Not Enough Teachers

Colorado School of Mines petroleum engineering professor Carrie McClelland helps one of her smaller seminar classes work through a group project.
Dan Boyce

For Colorado School of Mines petroleum engineering professor Carrie McClelland, teaching a  seminar of 45 students seems like a bit of relief. Normally her class sizes are closer to 80 or 90.

“It makes it difficult to make sure that they’re still getting a great education,” she said.

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Business
2:31 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Fiery Oil-Train Derailments Prompt Calls For Less Flammable Oil

A fireball goes up at the site of an oil train derailment in Casselton, N.D., in this Dec. 30 photo. The fiery crash left an ominous cloud over the town and led some residents to evacuate.
Bruce Crummy AP

Originally published on Mon October 13, 2014 2:58 pm

Once a day, a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields rumbles through Bismarck, N.D., just a stone's throw from a downtown park.

The Bakken fields produce more than 1 million barrels of oil a day, making the state the nation's second-largest oil producer after Texas. But a dearth of pipelines means that most of that oil leaves the state by train — trains that run next to homes and through downtowns.

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Open Spaces
4:19 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Native Bacteria Used To Clean-Up Uranium Mines

Senior Scientist Jim Clay on a foggy day at Smith-Highland Uranium Mine near Douglas, WY.
Credit Melodie Edwards

There are currently over 4,000 abandoned uranium mines in remote corners of the US. Out of sight, but for people living nearby, not out of mind. Uranium produces radon, which is known to cause lung cancer. In 2012, uranium was found in the tap water on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Many say the time has come to clean up the mess. But that could cost billions. The Obama Administration is tackling the job by pushing for new fees on mining companies, but the industry says they’re too punishing. Now, new research could make uranium clean-up significantly cheaper.

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Natural Resources & Energy
4:54 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Legislators Consider Who Should Pay For Uranium Regulation

In situ uranium mining involves dissolving the uranium underground and pumping the solution to the surface.

There’s disagreement over whether industry should pay for the state to take over regulation of uranium mining. The Legislature’s Joint Minerals Committee reviewed a draft bill Thursday that would start the transfer of regulatory power from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

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News
12:31 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Wyoming Women's Antelope Hunt Kicks Off

Credit Zachary Wheeler

Today marks the first day of the Wyoming Women’s annual Antelope Hunt.

The three-day event is sponsored by the Wyoming Women’s Foundation and brings together 40 women hunters, including guest hunter Ashlee Lundvall, this year’s Ms. Wheelchair USA.

In addition to her pageant title, Lundvall is a stay at home mom and she says that means she contributes to her family’s economic self-sufficiency because it saves them money on childcare.

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Natural Resources & Energy
3:05 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

INSIDE ENERGY: Wyoming Governor Offers Coal Country Tour

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has invited Northwest tribal leaders on an all-expenses-paid trip to see the coal operations in his state.
Credit Michael Werner

Treaty fishing rights give Northwest tribes extra clout when it comes to the future of proposed coal terminals on the Columbia River and Puget Sound.

That’s not lost on the governor of Wyoming, a big proponent of coal exports.

Gov. Matt Mead is inviting Northwest tribal leaders on an all-expenses-paid trip to coal country in Northeastern Wyoming, according to an email obtained by EarthFix.

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Natural Resources & Energy
1:53 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

New Evidence In Grand Teton Moose Death

A National Park Service report about a moose death in Gros Ventre Campground last month is facing some criticism from campers and photographers who were at the scene. The original Park Service report says crowding photographers were the main cause for the Bull Moose charging.

Anna Sullivan is a professional photographer who took several photos and videos of the scene showing that, actually there was no one directly around the moose. Sullivan says her video shows a passing diesel truck was more likely to have spooked the moose.  

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Natural Resources & Energy
2:11 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Study Reveals Surprising Chemistry Of Wintertime Ozone

Gas flares from a stack in Utah's Uintah Basin. A new study by NOAA and CIRES scientists shows that chemicals released into the air by oil and gas activities can spark reactions that lead to high levels of ozone in wintertime, high enough to exceed federal health standards.
Credit Scott Sandberg / NOAA

Ozone pollution has been a problem in western Wyoming for years because of oil and gas development, but the chemistry behind it has been a mystery, until now.

A study published this month in the journal Nature looks at how wintertime ozone pollution in rural areas with oil and gas development is chemically different from summertime ozone pollution in big cities. In the Uinta Basin in Utah the researchers found levels of the two main components of ozone were opposite of what they would be in cities.

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Natural Resources & Energy
1:11 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

INSIDE ENERGY: Millions Of Tons Oil And Gas Waste: Hazardous Or Not?

Lyn Janssen in her garage posing with her anti-waste pit posters.
Credit David Martin Davies

The United States is on the verge of becoming the world’s top producer of oil – that’s according to the International Energy Agency.  But the oil boom is also leading to a boom in toxic oil field waste that can end up in open pit disposal sites.  There are increasing concerns over the dangers these disposal sites pose for air quality.

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Natural Resources & Energy
1:00 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Oil And Gas Wastewater Linked To Ozone Pollution

Ozone formation happens around Pinedale in winter, the opposite time of year that it happens in big cities.
Credit Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile

Every day, more than 2 billion gallons of water are produced in the U.S. by the oil and gas industry. The water comes up with the oil and gas, and can contain hydrocarbons like benzene and toluene as well as the chemicals that are injected into the well to produce the oil and gas. But the federal government doesn’t treat waste from the energy industry as hazardous, and much of that polluted wastewater is allowed to simply evaporate. That, as others have reported, could could be a problem.

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Natural Resources & Energy
12:01 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Wyoming Loses Bid To Appeal Coal Port Decision

Credit Ambre Energy

Oregon has shut down Wyoming’s attempt to force the permitting of a coal export terminal in that state.

The Oregon Department of State Lands rejected Ambre Energy’s application for a permit to build a coal transfer terminal in August, citing concerns about the impact on nearby tribal fisheries. The terminal would allow Powder River Basin coal to be shipped to Asia.

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News
3:24 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

UW Gets Wind Energy Research Grant

Sunset at Royd Moor Wind Farm
Credit Charles Cook via Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $4.2 million grant to the University of Wyoming for wind energy research.

Six different University departments will collaborate on the project.

UW professor Jonathan Naughton is the director of the Wind Energy Research Center and the principal investigator for the grant. He says the goal is to address barriers to rolling out renewable energy in the state—and research will focus on three key aspects.

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Natural Resources & Energy
4:45 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Report Quantifies Economic Value Of Recreation In Sage Brush Country

Credit Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/15778088@N00/6144251104/">manyfires</a> via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147">cc</a>

A new report by the Western Values Project shows that sagebrush lands create millions in recreation income for the state. The report looked at eleven Western states with large amounts of sage brush. 

Senior Economist Kristin Lee with ECONorthWest-- the firm that calculated the data--says Wyoming brought in the fourth highest revenues after Idaho, Montana and Nevada.

“What we found for Wyoming is that there were almost two million visitors to the sagebrush lands in 2013.  And those visitors spent approximately 87 million within 50 miles of those recreation sites.”

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Natural Resources & Energy
5:33 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Fire Severity Not Linked To Beetle Kill, Study Finds

Beetle-killed forest is easily identified by the red needles of the dead trees.
Credit biorootenergy.com

Forests affected by the bark beetle epidemic are just as capable of recovering from wildfire as unaffected forests, according to new research from the University of Wisconsin. Brian Harvey, one of the co-authors of the paper, said they looked at areas throughout the Northern Rockies in various stages of tree death.

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News
4:28 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Wyoming Loses Latest Wolf Battle And Could Ponder A Congressional Fix

Despite an emergency rule that put Wyoming’s wolf management plan firmly into law, a federal judge refused to change an earlier ruling that placed Wyoming wolves back on the endangered species list.   

Washington D.C. based U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with environmental groups who argued that Wyoming’s management plan, which allows wolves to be shot on sight in most of the state, failed to adequately protect wolves. 

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News
3:37 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Judge Rules Against Wyoming On Wolf Status

A federal judge has denied requests from the state of Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and pro-hunting groups to change a decision last week that reinstates federal protections for wolves in the state.
 
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday denied requests to change her ruling.

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Natural Resources & Energy
12:36 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Utility Withdraws Proposed Solar Surcharge

Solar panels.
Credit Dan Boyce/Inside Energy

Following backlash from customers, South Dakota-based Black Hills Power has dropped a proposed rate increase for solar users. 

The surcharge would have applied to customers in South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. Although the company has withdrawn the proposal for now, it hasn't ruled out bringing it back in the future. Deb Theriault of Casper-based Range Solar & Wind said even a surcharge of $5 to $20 could be a real disincentive.

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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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