Natural Resources & Energy Reporting

The Natural Resources & Energy Reporting Initiative is a component of Wyoming Public Media’s News Department. It is funded in part by the George B. Storer Foundation and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).  Content is available to Wyoming residents, and nationally and internationally to National Public Radio (NPR) entities interested in Wyoming natural resources and energy topics.

This initiative provides strong, unbiased and competent journalism content that focuses on natural resources, energy, environment and related topics. In collaboration with partners at NPR and CPB, we provide access to a variety of related public radio content.

Wyoming Public Media's Energy and Natural Resources Reporter is Stephanie Joyce.

StateImpact and Initiative stories can be found at:

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Open Spaces
1:29 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

Study warns Powder River Basin sage grouse could die out

A new report by researchers at the University of Montana warns that unless energy development slows down, sage grouse populations in the Powder River Basin could die out. The study, which was commissioned by the BLM, was meant to determine whether the sage grouse population there can survive, given current oil and gas drilling activities, and what would happen to the birds if more drilling occurred or if there were new West Nile Virus outbreaks. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with Dave Naugle, who co-authored the report. He says the sage grouse population in the Powder River Basin has already declined by 82 percent as a result of energy development.

Open Spaces
1:08 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis praises water quality dialogue

State Representative Cynthia Lummis joins us to talk about a number of issues affecting the state. The Wyoming Republican most recently had a discussion with the head of the EPA concerning water pollution in Pavillion.  She tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck the good news is that there seems to be a dialogue.

Open Spaces
4:34 pm
Fri March 9, 2012

Tribes demand action and oversight for uranium clean-up

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During this year’s Legislative session, lawmakers proposed a joint resolution known as the Riverton Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action bill. Tailings are waste left over from mining operations. In this case, the tailings in question are from uranium mining on the Wind River Reservation. The tailings have caused groundwater contamination, which many residents believe has led to health problems.

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Open Spaces
4:31 pm
Fri March 9, 2012

Flaming Gorge film goes on tour

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Starting next week, the group Trout Unlimited will be screening its new film “Green with Envy” in towns across Wyoming and Colorado. The film focuses on the proposed Flaming Gorge Pipeline, which would transport 81 billion gallons of water per year from the Flaming Gorge reservoir to the Colorado front range. Recently the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected the proposal for lack of sufficient information … but the developer plans to re-apply and move forward with the project.  Colorado has rights to some of the water that flows through the river … but various agencies and environmental groups in Wyoming are adamantly opposed to the plan. I spoke with Charles Card of Trout Unlimited about the film his group will be showing. He says they oppose the pipeline project because it would lower the water level in the reservoir by about 120 feet.

Open Spaces
5:42 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Legislators demand funding for clean-up and monitoring of former uranium mill site

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With only a week to go until the legislative session is over, Wyoming lawmakers are reviewing a number of bills, including a joint resolution requesting Congress to provide for increased monitoring and funding for remediation of the Riverton uranium mill tailings site. Tailings constitute waste left over from mining operations. Last year we brought you a story about the site in which the Department of Energy released data showing that uranium levels in the area had spiked as high as 100 times the legal limit, and while legislative action on the issue may sound good, it’s bringing up a lot of questions, and anger. Wyoming Public Radio’s Tristan Ahtone reports.

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Open Spaces
6:06 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Company proposes boosting Wyoming’s energy economy with coal-to-oil plant

Methanol Vial/ credit: Rebecca MartinezCaption: Engineer Yulong Zhang shows off a vial of pure methanol in the board room at the Western Research Institute, with Vijay Sethi (left) and Thomas Barton (center).
Irina Zhorov

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The town of Medicine Bow is currently planning for a DKRW proposed coal to liquids conversion facility. The plant would be a financial boom for the state and bring jobs to the county. But this isn’t the first time Wyoming is looking into a project that would add value to its coal so it’s undergoing close scrutiny.

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Open Spaces
6:03 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

The science of Syngas

The Western Research Institute in Laramie allows scientists to experiment with turning fossil fuels into synthetic liquid fuel
Western Research Institute/credit: Rebecca Martinez

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DKRW Advanced Fuels has licensed technology from GE and Exxon-Mobil to transform coal into gasoline at a proposed plant in Medicine Bow. But theirs is just one system of creating liquid fuel. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez spoke with some experts about how synthetic gas, or syngas, is made.

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Open Spaces
5:58 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Coal-to-oil raises long-term environmental questions despite plans to capture CO2

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As we’ve just heard, existing coal-to-liquids plants emit a lot of greenhouse gases. But the proposed Medicine Bow plant is being touted as exceptionally green. Still, environmentalists have concerns about the plant’s effect on air quality and water reserves. And even if this plant is comparatively eco-friendly, future facilities may not have any incentive to follow suit.

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Open Spaces
5:47 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Medicine Bow readies for a boom

Open Spaces
5:42 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Medicine Bow residents warily optimistic about proposed DKRW plant

Sara Hossaini

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Most residents we spoke with seem to be excited about the opportunities DKRW could bring. Wyoming Public Radio's Sara Hossaini heard from some of them.

TONI GEORGE: My name is Toni George, owner of JB stop and shop in Medicine Bow, Wyoming. I’m very much for it.   

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Open Spaces
5:27 pm
Sat January 28, 2012

Wyoming plans to use carrot, not stick, to reduce workplace deaths

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Wyoming has one of the highest rates of workplace fatalities in the nation. Recently, the state epidemiologist issued a report looking at why that’s the case and making recommendations about what should be done. Workers’ rights advocates are pushing for tougher penalties for companies that violate safety regulations. But for now, it seems the state plans to take a softer approach. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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Open Spaces
5:25 pm
Sat January 28, 2012

The Coal Industry discusses the reasons for its positive safety record

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While the Oil and Gas industry has had a number of workplace fatalities, that has not been the case in Wyoming’s Coal Industry. Tim McCreary is Safety Manager for the Thunder Basin Coal Company.  He tells Bob Beck workplace safety is a focus.

Open Spaces
5:02 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

Wind River Tribes might head back to court over mineral mismanagement

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In the class action lawsuit Cobell vs. Salazar, plaintiff Elouise Cobell accused the Federal Government of mismanaging nearly 150-billion dollars in royalties owed to Indian landowners due to the loss and destruction of records. The government agreed to a $3.4 billion dollar settlement – and government data estimates there are up to 8,000 possible beneficiaries here in Wyoming.

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Open Spaces
4:03 pm
Fri November 11, 2011

Wyoming counties struggle to cover the cost of following federal landfill rules

A cell at Powell’s landfill has reached its highest level before it will be closed and capped next fall.
Rebecca Martinez
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