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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News
3:15 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Encana Sells Wyoming Natural Gas Field

In the latest sign of an industry-wide move away from natural gas, Encana is selling its Jonah Field properties. For more than a decade, Encana has been one of the largest natural gas producers in Wyoming thanks to the field near Pinedale, but company spokesperson Doug Hock says moving forward, Encana is trying to diversify its assets.

“So that we’re not tied to one particular commodity. Or we’ve got more flexibility in terms of oil versus natural gas,” Hock says.

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News
10:02 am
Mon March 31, 2014

UW Students And Gov. Mead Learn About Coal Technologies in Australia

Governor Matt Mead recently attended an Advanced Coal Technology Conference in Australia.  Eight students from the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources joined him.

Graduate student Mary Kate McCarney is a geochemist who attended the coal conference.  She said she appreciated the fact that students were included in the conversation at the conference.

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News
2:25 pm
Sat March 29, 2014

Barrasso Wants To Use Wyo. Gas As Weapon Against Russia

Lawmakers in Washington are debating whether to export more natural gas to combat Russian threats to cut off its gas supplies to Europe. Our D-C reporter  Matt Laslo has a look at what that could mean for Wyoming’s economy – and environment.

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News
12:40 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Wright Residents Wary Of Proposed Coal Gasification Project

It was standing room only at the Wright Public Library last night as residents packed into a hearing about a nearby project that would burn coal seams underground to produce synthesis gas or syngas.

Linc Energy’s proposed underground coal gasification project has been in the works for years, but from the public testimony, many Wright residents were hearing about it for the first time. And they had lots of questions about the process, which has never been developed commercially.

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Open Spaces
4:33 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Legislators Halt Consideration Of Controversial Science Standards

Goshen County Representative Matt Teeters

Right before the close of the session, the Wyoming Legislature slipped a small amendment into the budget bill that’s proving to have some big implications.

The footnote prohibits the State Board of Education from considering a set of national science education standards that it had been reviewing for more than a year, and as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, it raises questions about whose role it is to establish those standards.

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Open Spaces
4:23 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Wyoming Looks To Do More Than Transport Minerals

Governor Matt Mead and a handful of Wyoming legislators are excited about an idea that they hope will create more jobs in the state and finally do something locally with the minerals and other sources of energy that the state harvests.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.

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News
5:03 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

DEQ Drafts Rules To Limit Emissions Near Pinedale

Credit Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile

Energy companies operating near Pinedale will soon have to retrofit their older equipment to curb emissions.

Natural gas development in the Pinedale Anticline gas field has caused air pollution, to the extent that the area violates federal air quality standards. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has already imposed limits on emissions from new equipment. But until now, older equipment that was already in place was exempt from those standards. DEQ Air Quality Administrator Steve Dietrich says that needs to change.

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News
11:14 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Legislators Halt Consideration Of Controversial Science Standards

Right before the close of the session, the Wyoming Legislature slipped a small amendment into the budget bill that’s proving to have some big implications. The footnote prohibits the State Board of Education from considering a set of national science education standards that it had been reviewing for more than a year, and as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, it raises questions about whose role it is to establish those standards.

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News
6:22 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Scientists Launch Campaign To Sway Climate Change Debate

The country’s largest scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is launching a public awareness campaign about climate change.

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News
6:51 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Surge in Crude Oil Production

Wyoming crude oil production is on the upswing.

The state produced more crude oil last year than it has in any year since 1999.  That's in line with a nationwide trend; last year the country produced more crude oil than it has in any year since 1989.

State geologist Tom Drean says the increase can be attributed to more drilling activity in unconventional plays like shale and tight sands, made possible because of technologies like fracking, and horizontal and extended reach drilling.

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News
3:49 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Exemptions to Fracking Chemical Disclosure Law To Receive Renewed Scrutiny

Environmental and landowner groups are celebrating after the Wyoming Supreme Court found a lower court had ruled in error regarding disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

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News
6:55 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Ukraine Crisis Reignites Debate Over Natural Gas Exports

Liquefied Natural Gas Tanker
Credit Shell

The crisis in Ukraine has rekindled calls for the US to export more of its newfound glut of natural gas overseas, but not everyone thinks that’s a good idea.

In recent days a number of Congressmen, including Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, have called for the Department of Energy to expedite its approval of natural gas export terminals.  Barrasso says it would give the US more foreign policy leverage.

“The approval of contracts by the federal government, to say ‘this is going to go’ will undermine Russia’s pricing ability in the Ukraine and in Europe,” Barrasso says.

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News
6:42 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Legislature Passes Grand Teton Land Swap Bill

Credit Wallpaperslot.com

After considerable discussion, the Wyoming legislature approved a bill that would let the state and the federal government move forward with finalizing a deal to swap state owned land in Grand Teton National Park with the federal government.  Some senators expressed concern that the federal mineral land won't match the estimated $100 million value of the state's park land, but Jackson Senator Leland Christensen says the bill was changed to ensure the trade will be fair.

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News
6:22 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

President's Budget Calls for Cutting Fossil Fuel Tax Breaks

Repealing tax credits for fossil fuel producers and strengthening the Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas program are the among the energy proposals in President Obama’s 2015 budget.

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News
4:44 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Rocky Mountain Power Requests Rate Increase

Rocky Mountain Power is asking regulators for permission to raise rates by an average of 5.3 percent starting in January 2015. That would translate to an extra $4.50 a month for average residential customers. Company spokesman Jeff Hymas says the rate increase is necessary for a number of reasons, but mostly because of recent infrastructure investments totaling over $2 billion. Those include projects in Wyoming and out of state, but Wyoming’s growing electricity use factors into how much it has to pay.

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News
5:45 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Halliburton Donates $3M To University Of Wyoming

A conceptual drawing of the University's proposed 'high bay' research facility.
Credit University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming is getting a major donation for its new energy and engineering research complex.  Halliburton is giving $2 million to be applied towards a 'high bay' research facility.  

The facility's size will allow for large scale experiments.  Halliburton is also giving UW an additional $1 million for research into unconventional oil and gas reservoirs.  The gift will be matched by the state.  Governor Matt Mead says it was an exciting discussion with Halliburton.

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News
4:58 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Bonding Bill Gets Final Approval In The Wyoming House

The Wyoming House of Representatives has given final approval to a bill that would raise the bond from $2,000 to $10,000 for oil and gas drillers seeking access to privately owned land. 

The bond is used to repair damage to surface land when a use agreement can't be reached between the landowner and the energy company.  Opponents says that the increase is too high.  

Casper Republican Tom Walters said increasing the bond wages war on industry.

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News
4:15 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Wyoming-Based Environmental Group Disbands

One of Wyoming's most outspoken environmental groups is disbanding.

The board of the Laramie-based Biodiversity Conservation Alliance voted Thursday to call it quits. Board President Ken Driese said Monday the group has been having fundraising difficulties and that four staff members are losing their jobs.

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Legislative
6:32 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Split Estate Bonding Bill Is Debated In The House

The Wyoming House of Representatives began debating a bill that would increase the bonding required from oil and gas developers who need to drill on private surface land. 

The bond is used in lieu of a negotiated surface use agreement between landowners and energy companies. The agreement established payment for surface damage. Currently the bond is two thousand dollars and the bill would raise it to ten thousand dollars. 

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News
5:53 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Oil And Gas Regulation Review Kicks Off

Credit Willow Belden

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is planning to review several controversial issues, including flaring, well-setbacks and bonding, starting in March.

Those topics have come up a lot in recent years, with the boom in drilling. The Powder River Basin Resource Council asked the Commission to address them last year, and so have several residents in recent opinion pieces in the Casper Star-Tribune.

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Open Spaces
3:07 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Wyoming Public Media's 2014 Forum On Coal On Open Spaces

Speakers Rita Meyer, Leslie Glustrom, and Mark Gordon with Moderator Stephanie Joyce.
Ray Mitchell

The WPM Forum On Coal was a moderated discussion about the challenges coal is currently facing politically, economically and environmentally, how that could impact Wyoming in the future, and ways the state is innovating to keep coal relevant.

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News
6:18 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Coalbed Methane Extraction Altered Water Quality In Powder River, Study Finds

A U.S. Geological Survey study shows that coalbed methane development has changed the chemistry of the surface water in parts of the Powder River. CBM wastewater was often discharged directly or indirectly into the stream.  

The study analyzed three decades of data and determined that after extraction activities, the water contained more sodium and bicarbonate, which are compounds commonly found in CBM wastewater.

Report author Steve Sando says high sodium levels can be bad for irrigation, but he says the concentrations in the Powder River are not alarmingly high.

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News
5:53 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Wyoming Voters Prefer Mixed Approach To Energy

According to a new report, Wyoming voters are more likely to vote for candidates who support using public lands for more than just oil and gas development.

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News
8:01 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Radioactive Waste Lands Wyoming Company In Hot Water

Credit Rick Schreiber

A Wyoming company is in trouble with North Dakota officials for improperly disposing of filter socks used in oil and gas drilling. Filter socks capture sediment in flowback water, and can concentrate naturally-occurring radioactivity. The North Dakota Department of Health says inspectors detected radioactivity at above-background levels on two flatbed trailers piled high with filter socks that are owned by Riverton-based R.P Services.

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News
5:54 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Increased Coal, Oil Shipments Tax Rail Network

Increasing volumes of coal and oil being shipped to the Pacific Northwest are putting pressure on rail capacity in the region, according a new report from the Western Organization of Resource Councils.

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Station Activities
10:39 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Wyoming Public Media's 2014 Forum On Coal Will Air On Open Spaces

Credit Department of Energy EIA

The WPM Forum on Coal, a moderated discussion about the challenges coal is currently facing politically, economically and environmentally, how that could impact Wyoming in the future, and ways the state is innovating to keep coal relevant, will air on Open Spaces. WPM guests included Wyoming Treasurer Mark Gordon, Rocky Mountain Power VP Rita Meyer and Clean Energy Action co-founder Leslie Glustrom. The forum was held February 26, at 7pm, in front of a live audience at the Laramie County Library in Cheyenne will rebroadcast on Open Spaces Friday Feb.

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News
5:23 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Natural Gas Producers Savor Price Spike

Natural gas prices hit a 5-year high this week in response to news that another bout of extreme cold weather will hit the Northeast and Midwest in coming days. Previous cold snaps this winter have led to record consumption of natural gas, which in turn has drawn down reserves. In response, prices have climbed more than 40 percent since the beginning of the year, reaching over $6 per million BTU Wednesday.

Doug Hock is a spokesman for Encana, the largest natural producer in Wyoming. He says the upswing is a welcome change of pace, after years of low prices.

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Legislative
12:00 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Senate Debates Increasing Bonding For Oil And Gas Drilling

The Wyoming Senate began debate on a bill that would increase bonding requirements for oil and gas operators on split estate properties.

The bill would increase the bond for operators drilling on land where they don't own the surface rights from two-thousand dollars to ten thousand.  Supporters say that operators are causing surface damage in excess of ten thousand dollars. 

Senators voted down an amendment to reduce limit the bond to six thousand dollars.  Kaycee Senator John Schiffer says the higher bond helps protect landowner rights.

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News
5:01 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Coal Mining Jobs Continue To Drop

Employment in Wyoming's coal mining sector has fallen 6 percent in the past year. The latest data from June 2013 shows there were 425 less jobs than in June 2012.

Coal production has slumped nationwide, and taken jobs along with it, but Wyoming is faring better than other coal producing regions. Nationwide the sector has lost significantly more jobs as mines closed or reduced their capacity.

Wyoming Department of Workforce Services senior economist David Bullard, says so far, there haven't been many layoffs in the state.

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News
7:13 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Mining Association Director Says Coal's Future Is Bright

Wyoming Mining Association Executive Director Marion Loomis says coal’s future is bright -- but that there’s a need for continued innovation -- both in extraction technology and emissions control.

“We’ve made such tremendous strides in reducing emission levels. We’ve increased coal production about 170 percent in this country in the last 20 years and reduced pollutants by over 85 percent,” says Loomis.

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