Natural Resources & Energy

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

Ramaco Logo
Ramaco

On October 31, Ramaco announced they will appeal a decision made this month by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. The DEQ denied the company's permit application for a coal mine in Sheridan. The state agency said the company's proposed Brook Mine application was deficient and needed more information on hydrology, subsidence, and blasting schedules, among other concerns.  

Bob LeResche, chair of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, said this appeal shows Ramaco is trying to avoid fixing their application.

Jackson Hole’s annual SHIFT Festival kicked off this week with Native American leaders defending Bears Ears National Monument. Each year, SHIFT gathers outdoor enthusiasts from around the nation. This year, Native American leaders took center stage.

Jackson Hole's annual SHIFT Festival brings together the outdoor recreation industry and conservationists. This year, the festival is focusing on making the case for how conservation can be good for business. Gov. Matt Mead's Policy Advisor Nephi Cole attended SHIFT to release a new report that he says will guide the state in how to enhance outdoor recreation in Wyoming.

CC0 Public Domain

Half of the 12 wolf hunting zones in the Greater Yellowstone area have closed earlier than the December 31 deadline because quotas were already met. Meanwhile, 25 wolves were killed just outside that protected zone where no quotas are enforced.

Wyoming Game and Fish large carnivore biologist Ken Mills said one reason so many wolves are getting shot is that it’s the first hunting season most have experienced in their lives. 

CC0 Creative Commons

Residents in the town of Jackson living near Snow King Resort need to be more vigilant about keeping garbage locked away so bears can’t raid it. According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, there’s been a rash of hungry bears entering town limits as they fatten up to hibernate for the winter.

Department spokesman Mark Gocke said people are waiting too long to report bear sightings. He said one black bear received over 20 food rewards, such as garbage, bird seed, and crabapples before it was reported to them.

Wyoming Economic Analysis Division

According to the most recent cost of living index report, Wyoming experienced a 1.1 percent rate of inflation and saw the cost of living rise slightly in the second quarter of 2017 compared to the previous year. 

The report is published biannually and measures six consumer spending categories, including apparel, food, medical, transportation, housing, and recreation & personal care.

Peter Fitzgerald, Wikimedia

A draft of the Interior Department’s five-year strategic plan has been leaked - it was first obtained by The Nation. The 50-page document draws a road map for how the federal agency intends to prioritize energy dominance.

Joe Riis

It’s only been in the last few years that scientists have realized that pronghorn, elk and mule deer are migrating rugged terrain over hundreds of miles to reach the best grazing around Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

It’s almost impossible to conceive what these animals endure on those journeys. But that’s what wildlife photographer Joe Riis set out to document through pictures.

Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards talked to him about his new book, Yellowstone Migrations…and how he got into photography in the first place.

Powder River Basin Province of northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana.
USGS

After about an eight-month process of discussion and negotiation, the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources solidified a relationship with a New York-based clean-coal company this week. Clean Coal Technologies Incorporated, or CCTI, has developed technologies focused on making coal cleaner. UW hopes to work with them to help develop their products and make them more commercially viab

National Park Service

The National Park Service is considering raising entrance fees at 17 popular parks during peak visitor season in order to pay for improvements to aging infrastructure, including roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, and bathrooms.

 

Right now, that entrance fee per one private, non-commercial vehicle is $30 at both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. If the increase is implemented, the fee would be $70 during peak season—that’s over a 100 percent increase.

Peabody Energy Logo
Peabody Energy

Peabody Energy, the largest privately held coal company in the world, experienced it’s third straight quarter of sizable profits with revenue totaling $1.48 billion this quarter - a 22% increase from last year’s third quarter. Total profit this fiscal year adds up to around $500 million. 

Peabody Energy went into bankruptcy in 2016, weighed down by billions in debt partially due an investment made in Australian metallurgical coal. In 2015, the company also saw $2 billion in losses. This past April, the company came out of bankruptcy.  

Penny Preston

A year after a huge mud spill killed fish below the Willwood dam near Cody, another sediment release is muddying the Shoshone River now. But, Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality says this year’s sediment release is being monitored and several groups are working together to prevent damage to the Shoshone River.

Western Values Project

A Montana-based environmental watchdog group is hoping to uncover e-mails from energy lobbyists and the Interior Department.

The Western Values Project is concerned coordination between the federal land management agency and representatives from the energy industry resulted in proposed changes to the sage grouse management plans.  

Darrah Perez

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Wildlife Federation and the Eastern Shoshone Tribe invited participants to witness the release of ten more bison south of Pilot Butte on the Wind River Reservation.

Jola Lebeau, an Eastern Shoshone tribal member, said a prayer before the release of the ten bison.

“Grandfather Creator you see us here, we are standing here with the sun to the east, that gateway of love. We thank you for this beautiful day and that the buffalo that came here from Montana, that they will love living here upon our lands,”Lebeau said.

Solar Panels
Creative Commons

Jackson's town council made way for more solar investment last week, allowing customers to buy into the soon-to-built solar farm. 

The shared solar system would be based out of a farm at Jackson’s wastewater treatment plant. The solar farm, itself, was approved by the town council this past August. The idea is for new customers to buy solar power from a farm, rather than buying panels themselves. 

Johnny Ziem, Jackson’s wastewater plant superintendent, co-developed the idea for a shared solar farm. He said the next step is to solidify new customers.

Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

A survey of rural bankers in ten Great Plains states says their biggest worry in the coming year is farm and ranch foreclosures.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the problem is that beef and other agriculture commodity prices continue to be so low and that could lead to a fairly sharp upturn in foreclosures in 2018. Goss said Wyoming has a double whammy since energy prices continue to be sluggish, too. He said that in turn would hurt rural banks.

The Trump administration’s announcement that it’s rolling back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan is being greeted with glee by energy state lawmakers. The Clean Power Plan set goals for each state to reduce their carbon emissions in an effort to get the nation to move off dirty coal in favor of natural gas and renewable fuels.

That’s why Republicans like Wyoming Senator John Barrasso are glad the new administration has scrapped the plan.

Peabody Energy

At the University of Wyoming’s College of Law, Professor Sam Kalen was looking through old case files. His office had law books and binders of cases strewn on chairs and tables as well as computer miscellany, like keyboards and old monitors, sitting on top of them.

At his desk, he rifled through a thick law book, co-authored by him, then switched to his dual-monitor computer screens. He was looking for any mention of climate assessments in old federal leasing cases back to the 1990s. It didn’t take long.

“So for example, here’s an earlier one,” Kalen said.

Courtesy NWF.Org

It’s been quite a year for major forest fires, in fact it’s been a major few years. The fires are impacting wildlife and communities. The issues range from climate change to poor forest management due to the lack of proper funding. National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Collin O’Mara recently testified on the issue before Congress. He tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that he’s optimistic that members of Congress are interested in finding a solution. 

Melodie Edwards

We drive for hours on a terrible dirt road to reach the ice patch, but Colorado State University archeology professor emeritus Larry Todd says, heck, this is nothing.

“Today we'll be able to get in the truck and drive for an hour and a half to an ice patch. That's about as close as we can get,” he says. “More often it's, go to the trailhead, load up the horses and pack mules and ride for six to eight hours to get into the area where you can start studying those.”

Petr Kratochvil / freestockphotos.biz

A program in Jackson is expanding to offer 17 scholarships to female skiers and outdoorswomen who want to improve their skills on the mountain. The Jackson Hole Babe Force scholarships will allow women to participate in American Avalanche Institute courses, the Elevate 1 Women’s Ski Camp in Jackson, and Keely’s Ski Camp for Girls in Oregon.

Center for Western Priorities' Scorecard
Center for Western Priorities

The Center for Western Priorities, a Colorado conservation non-profit, has released a scorecard that ranks states based on their policies on public land, outdoor recreation, and energy issues. The group sought to highlight where western states are doing well and where there’s some room for growth.

Neil Wight

A new study of mountain lions shows they’re much more social than previously thought, with networks of felines sharing resources in territories overseen by a dominant male.

Panthera’s Puma Project biologist Mark Elbroch is a lead author of the article, published last week in the journal Science Advances. The study uses GPS technology and motion-sensor cameras to look at cougars in western Wyoming. 

National Park Service

On Friday, National Park Service Director Mike Reynolds and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced plans to better protect park service employees from harassment.

Bison Population Count Shows Decline

Oct 16, 2017
Bear River State Park

The bison population in Yellowstone National Park has been a longstanding subject of interest for state biologists. From the ground and also from air, biologists have been working to record the age and sex of the bison they see for an annual count.

Biologist Rick Wallen did a live interview on Facebook to share the 2017 population numbers and to explain the importance of tracking changes.

POWDER RIVER BASIN RESOURCE COUNCIL

Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality has denied a proposal for a new coal mine to be built near Sheridan… for the time being. Ramaco’s proposed Brook Mine has been embroiled in controversy for the last year over what many saw as an insufficient permit application. The Environmental Quality Council, or E.Q.C., an independent board, identified deficiencies in hydrology, a blasting plan, and land subsidence, or sinking, among others.

Well with holes rusted through on John Fenton's property
John Fenton

Pavillion homeowner John Fenton is questioning whether abandoned wells near his home were properly addressed to eliminate contamination. The Fremont County town has been plagued since 2008 with contaminated water from underground natural gas with citizens complaining of discolored and foul smelling water. Since then, gas-producer EnCana has worked to plug abandoned wells and pressure test them to ensure there’s no interaction between gas and water.  

Logo for the Environmental Protection Agency
Public Domain

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday signed a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan — President Obama’s signature climate change legislation. The 2015 rule aims to was meant to move the country’s electric grid away from coal and towards other sources with less greenhouse gas emissions.

Wyoming provides about 40 percent of the country’s coal, and most of that goes towards electricity generation. It’s no surprise the state has opposed the Clean Power Plan — or CPP — from the start.  

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

 

It’s a mixture you wouldn’t usually think of: black suits, pop country music, Japanese officials and the slight smell of manure. All these things came together at the CAM-PLEX event center in Gillette, Wyo., on Sept. 21 for a discussion about coal.

Stotting mule deer. Seen at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada.
Steven Fine

Mule deer can migrate a little bit easier starting this year thanks to new fencing along their migration route. Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department replaced old livestock fencing this summer with the help of several partners including the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Fund, Upper Green Muley Fanatics, Jonah Energy, and the Conservation Fund.

Mule deer migrate from Hoback, south of Jackson, to the Red Desert every year. It allows them to get the best vegetation and find the safest areas to raise fawns.

Pages