Natural Resources & Energy

Click here for more information on Wyoming Public Media's Natural Resources & Energy.

Leigh Paterson/Inside Energy


In a hotel ballroom, at the base of the Steamboat Ski Resort, candidates for the US House and Senate, and their surrogates, tick through talking points.

“There are two issues I know of Scott Tipton cares very, very deeply about. One of them is water. The other one is energy,” Chuck McConnell, of the Routt County Republicans, said.

Stephanie Joyce


Here’s a simple recipe for ozone: mix hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide chemical compounds in the air, and add sunlight.

“The sun comes out and cooks this mixture and the outcome of that is ozone,” said Steve Brown, an atmospheric scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

The fight over the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota has brought to the fore tensions over whether tribes are adequately consulted about development that could affect them. Now, the Secretary of the Interior has issued an order addressing that.

Secretary Sally Jewell’s order directs agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service to collaborate more with tribes on resource management.

Stephanie Joyce

A federal judge has ruled the Environmental Protection Agency has two weeks to figure out how to quantify coal jobs lost because of regulation.

The EPA currently analyzes potential economic impacts from proposed regulations, but the court said those measures aren’t detailed enough. Judge John Preston Bailey found the Clean Air Act requires the agency to specifically analyze the potential job impacts and to continue that analysis once the regulation is implemented.

Keep It Public, Wyoming Facebook Page

The group Keep it Public, Wyoming is hosting a rally November 5 to protest public lands being transferred from the federal government to the state.


The Western Sugar Cooperate Plant in Torrington will lay off 86 employees in November when it shuts down the production facilities. There are concerns surrounding the layoffs, including what the shutdown will mean for the city’s economy. Ashley Harpstreith, Executive Director of Goshen County Economic Development Corporation (GCEDC), said the community will face challenges.

Baylen J. Linnekin

In 2015, Wyoming passed the Food Freedom Act, giving the state’s farmers and ranchers the most flexible food rules in the nation...making it possible for them sell things direct to consumers that are illegal elsewhere, like unpasteurized milk, poultry, jams, and other foods. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards talked with the author of the new book Biting the Hands That Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable, about Wyoming’s Food Freedom Act, and just how common this level of deregulation is in other states.

Stephanie Joyce


The future is looking up for Wyoming’s wind industry.

There are few places in the country with more wind energy potential than Wyoming, but the state has seen almost no new wind turbines built in six years, even while wind has boomed in the rest of the country.

Depending on who you ask, the challenges have been political, technical or both. But now, the outlook is improving on all fronts.

Public Domain

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled on Friday that the Bureau of Land Management broke the law during a wild horse round up in 2014 in an area southeast of Rock Springs known as the Checkerboard. 

The Checkerboard gets its name from its alternating patches of public and private lands. Bill Eubanks, who represented the plaintiff -- mostly wild horse advocacy groups -- explained in a press release that this ruling prevents the BLM from treating public lands as private land in Checkerboard areas, making the wild horse roundup procedure more complicated.


There's no clear legal path forward for states who want to transfer federal lands into state management, according to a new report by the Conference of Western Attorney Generals, chaired by Wyoming's attorney general Peter Michael.

The report looked at several legal strategies proposed by Wyoming, Utah and other states, like the argument that eastern and western states should have an equal percentage of public lands, or that the federal government can't hold lands indefinitely. 

Mike Cline, Public Domain

In the last couple years, wolves have killed record numbers of livestock in northwestern Wyoming. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is now stepping in to protect calves with special fencing on a ranch near Jackson.

Wyoming Director of Wildlife Services Mike Foster said in a press video that the agency has installed over two miles of an electrified wire known as turbo fladry on the Walton Ranch where large packs of wolves have moved in.

“It’s an electrified polywire and it has plastic flags that hang off the wire."

Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

Two land trusts in northwest Wyoming have merged after one of them began to slip into financial instability after expanding its conservation efforts too quickly. The Green River Valley Land Trust holds development rights to 58 easements in the Pinedale area totally over 32,000 acres. The worry was that those development rights would be left without a trust organization if the organization folded, and that could mean those lands might be turned into subdivisions.


The reintroduction of black-footed ferrets that took place in July seems to be succeeding. 35 ferrets were set loose in Meeteetse, the area where they were found 35 years ago after they were thought to be extinct. Wyoming Game and Fish recently re-captured 19, and all tested negative for any harmful diseases. Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Nicole Bjornlie said this was a good sign.

Rone Tempest / WyoFile

The Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against the developer of the proposed Two Elk power plant in Campbell County. The project received almost $8 million in federal stimulus money for carbon capture research but the power plant was never built, and no research was ever conducted.

Dan Hayward

A new study will use GPS transmitters to track the movements of wild horses in the Adobe Town Herd Management area, southwest of Rock Springs. Researchers from the University of Wyoming and the Bureau of Land Management are teaming up to track at least 20 wild horses in a project funded by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.

There is little currently known about the migration patterns of wild horses. The GPS collars are the latest in wildlife tracking technology and will allow the researchers to get real time information on the animals via a satellite.

Women from across Wyoming and other states will meet at Ucross Ranch near Buffalo this week for the annual Women’s Antelope Hunt. Each new hunter will go out with an experienced mentor Friday and Saturday morning, and learn how to field dress the animal and then process the meat, which they can take home to their families. The three-day event will also include cooking classes, workshops, and a fundraising dinner open to the public.

Program Associate Rebekah Smith said the hunt is an empowering experience for participants.


New research had found that the fatal brain illness, chronic wasting disease (CWD), has a direct impact on the population decline of white-tailed deer. University of Wyoming graduate student David Edmunds worked on the study and said the research shows the disease lowers the survival rate of female deer under the age of seven. As of right now, there is no way to manage the disease once introduced into a population of deer.

Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone National Park; Jim Peaco;.June 2005

A grizzly bear attacked a hunter Sunday morning in the Shoshone National Forest, near Dubois. The female grizzly and her two cubs were feeding on the carcass of an elk the hunter shot Saturday and was trying to recover. The victim was flown to a hospital in Denver, and is expected to recover.

Rachel Anderson

In 2014, a massive explosion tore through the Williams natural gas processing plant in Opal. It forced the evacuation of the southwestern Wyoming town and caused a spike in the price of natural gas.

Wyoming’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an investigation in the aftermath and found a number of safety violations. But the agency never collected the corresponding fines and never released a final report about the investigation.

The Army Corps of Engineers has released its environmental impact analysis for a port that would ship coal from Wyoming, Montana and Colorado to Asia. 

The Millennium Bulk terminal is the last remaining coal export terminal still proposed for the West Coast. Half a dozen terminals have fallen through in the face of collapsing international coal prices and fierce opposition from tribes and environmentalists in west coast states.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

You ever heard of a conference committee? Here in Washington, ‘conference committee’ is congressional speak for when senators and House members get together and try to work out the differences between their competing pieces of legislation.

Pipeline Drama Casts Shadow Over Oil Industry

Sep 30, 2016
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

The Obama Administration’s decision to temporarily halt construction on part of the 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline has the oil industry on edge.

It was evident at the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s annual meeting, where the pipeline protests cast a shadow over an industry struggling amid low oil prices.

Mike Cline, Public Domain

Back in 2012, wolves were removed from the federal Endangered Species List and the state was briefly allowed to manage the population.

What would be the first new coal mine to open in Wyoming in decades is one step closer to becoming reality after the state's Environmental Quality Council voted Wednesday to allow the project to proceed despite the objections of another coal company.

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.