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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Glenrock residents are invited to attend a forum next week that will address the impacts of the oil and gas industry on landowners. The two key speakers for the event will be a private property attorney and a Wyoming resident who was evacuated from her land because of an oil blowout. They will discuss the development of the oil industry around Glenrock, as well as risks to nearby landowners such as emissions, spills, evacuations, and the devaluing of property in the area.
There’s a huge, mostly invisible web of pipelines crisscrossing the country that make it possible for our stoves to light and our cars to turn on. Those pipelines run from oil and gas producing regions to refineries and processing plants, crossing miles of private property along the way. The people whose land they cross don’t often benefit, but a new strategy may help.
State investigators have ruled out inadequate maintenance as the cause of an explosion at a natural gas plant in southwestern Wyoming in April, but are still looking into what did happen. The explosion at the Williams Company gas plant forced evacuation of the nearby town of Opal.
John Ysebart heads up Wyoming’s Office of Occupational Safety and Health. He says the state sent two investigators to look into the incident, and so did the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. Ysebart says that agency doesn’t normally get involved.
Energy reporter Stephanie Joyce talks with Speaker of the House, Tom Lubnau, Shawn Reese, head of the Wyoming Business Council, and Roger Coupal who’s an economist at the University of Wyoming during the forum on coal and foreign exports.
In the last few years, the United States has undergone a radical transformation, from energy importer to energy exporter. Liquified natural gas terminals that were built to process natural gas from abroad are being converted for export. The first tanker full of unrefined US crude oil to leave our shores in decade set sail from Texas late last month. Coal companies are increasingly relying on foreign markets to pad their balance sheets. Wyoming Public Radio held a forum recently to discuss how increased foreign exports could affect the state.
The pipeline tool known as a pig is versatile. In the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, Bond used a pig to blow up a pipeline. In the 1987 Bond film The Living Daylights, defecting Soviet spy Georgi Koskov used a pig as an escape route. In the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, a pig was used to smuggle a nuclear weapon.
The state Industrial Siting Commission gave the Power Company of Wyoming its blessing Wednesday to move ahead with plans to build the largest on-shore wind farm in the United States.
A thousand wind turbines would be erected in Carbon County if the Chokecherry-Sierra Madre wind farm is built, covering about 2,000 acres of private and public lands. The turbines would produce enough power for a million homes.
But Kara Choquette, with the Power Company of Wyoming, said none of that power will be used in the state.
There’s no link between gas wells and groundwater contamination near Pavillion, according to a draft study out Wednesday from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. It’s the first of three reports looking into what caused the contamination, which some blame on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The reviewers looked at the gas wells themselves to determine if they were leaking or otherwise damaged.
Wyoming’s Powder River Basin is getting renewed attention from oil and gas companies. The region has been producing oil for decades, but now companies are looking to tap some of the Basin’s old reserves using new techniques, like horizontal drilling and fracking.
As analyst Raoul LeBlanc, with IHS Energy, explained in a video blog last week, his firm thinks the Basin could have as much potential as some of the much better-known plays in North Dakota and Texas.
Girls in clunky roller skates whizz past their coach. They're sweaty, rowdy, and covered in tattoos. Gillette's roller derby team proudly represents coal country, as does their name.
"We’re called the Coal Miner’s Daughters, number one because Loretta Lynn rocks!" Katie Buffington, president of the team, explained. "Number two because coal is the main source of income in the area. And we really wanted to get back to our roots, where we come from."
Barrels were used in the early days of oil to move it from one place to another. Often, the barrels were loaded onto barges and floated down Pennsylvania's major rivers to refineries in Pittsburgh, where it was turned into kerosene.
There’s an invisible network connecting every corner of the United States. Without it, cars wouldn’t start and lights wouldn’t turn on. At 2.6 million miles, if it were stretched out, it would reach around the Earth more than a hundred times. Chances are, you’ve never noticed it. The nation’s sprawling pipeline network is buried underground, out of sight and out of mind.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has proposed new rules for controlling emissions from oil and gas operations in the Upper Green River Basin, and they're getting push-back from all sides.
The area around Pinedale is out of compliance with federal air quality standards for ozone, a harmful pollutant, because of nearby gas fields. Half a dozen groups have submitted written comments on the proposed rules for cutting emissions from existing oil and gas sites.
Mark Fix has been ranching outside of Miles City, Montana since the mid-1980s, raising cattle, alfalfa and grain on his 9,700 acre plot of land. But severe weather events have been stacking up in recent years: a tornado tore through his barn, flooding stranded his cows. It’s impacting his bottom line, and he’s convinced it’s from human-caused climate change.
The Western Energy Alliance released a report this week on sage grouse protection measures used by the oil and gas industry. Though the report claims that the industry is doing enough to protect grouse, a local conservationist disagrees.
Erik Molvar is a biologist and campaign director with WildEarth Guardians. He says that the Bureau of Land Management’s own research disputes the WEA findings.
A bacteria found naturally in the soil around uranium deposits may become a powerful tool in cleaning up old mine sites. A group of University of Wyoming scientists are collaborating with Cameco, a uranium mining company in Converse County. They’re experimenting with the bacteria’s ability to convert soluble uranium that can contaminate groundwater into less harmful solid form.
The federal government has released new rules for trains transporting crude oil. They come in response to a number of dramatic crude train derailments over the last year, including one that destroyed the town of Lac Megantic, Quebec.
The draft rules make a number of recommendations, the biggest of which is phasing out a type of tank car called DOT-111s over the next two years. Those cars have been disparagingly called "Coke cans" because they're thin-walled and often rip open in derailments, but they're the most common way to transport crude oil by rail.