Natural Resources & Energy

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

Last week, the Northern Arapaho tribe issued a statement expressing frustration about being left out of a meeting on removing the grizzly bear from the Endangered Species List. The disagreement has left some people wondering if grizzly delisting could be the Dakota Access Pipeline of Wyoming in which local tribes assert themselves as sovereign nations.

 

Yufna Soldier Wolf is the director of the Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office, which might make you wonder, what's so historic about grizzly bears? 

Grand Teton National Park Foundation

At a bipartisan celebration today in Grand Teton National Park, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, serving the Obama administration, and Governor Matt Mead, a Republican, praised a deal to protect park land from commercial development.

Secretary Jewell praised the more than 5,000 private donors who contributed $23 million dollars in just eight months to allow the National Park Service to buy state land.

Melanie Arnett

 

 

Naysayers packed into a legislative meeting Wednesday to express disapproval of a proposed constitutional amendment that would provide guidance to the state in the event that federal lands are transferred to the state. The meeting was meant to clarify language in the amendment and no vote was actually cast.

 

Committee Chairman Tim Stubson said he's voted against such bills in the past, but this one is different.

 

Wikimedia Commons

President Elect Donald Trump has reportedly asked Montana U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke to be the nation’s next Interior Secretary. The Interior Secretary is tasked with the conservation and management of federal lands, national parks, and natural resources in the United States.

Zinke was an early supporter of Trump. As a member of congress, he has supported the Land and Water Conservation Fund and keeping public lands under federal control, but is also a proponent of logging and energy development on those lands.

Public Domain

The Obama Administration announced the approval of two major transmission lines, one that will travel 728 miles across southern Wyoming to Nevada, delivering 3,000 megawatts of energy, enough to power 1.8 million homes. A second 400-mile transmission line called Energy Gateway South has also been approved for Utah.

Some 60 new wind, solar and geothermal projects are slated for development around the West. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Brad Purdy said, the energy grid is in need of such modernization. 

Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency has reversed a previous finding that fracking did not cause “widespread, systemic” harm to drinking water in the United States. In its final report on the issue, the EPA said under certain circumstances hydraulic fracturing poses a risk to drinking water resources.

But because of what the agency calls “data gaps,” it was unable to make a definitive statement on just how risky fracking is.

Associated Press

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry has reportedly been named to lead the Department of Energy under President Elect Donald Trump.  

Opponents express concern that Perry is a climate denier and has ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline. But supporters say Texas enhanced its energy portfolio by becoming the nation’s largest wind producer.

Petroleum Association of Wyoming President Bruce Hinchey says Perry will likely be a plus for states like Wyoming.

Rebecca Huntington / Wyoming Public Radio

The State of Wyoming has reached agreement with the U.S. Department of Interior over the sale of a 640 acre parcel of Wyoming school trust land located inside of Grand Teton National Park.

commons.wikimedia.org

The Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office has expressed frustration with not being invited to a meeting on delisting the grizzly bear in Cody in November. Preservation Director Yufna Soldier Wolf said under a new policy adopted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year, the Traditional Ecological Knowledge of local tribes must be considered in such decisions.

Lingjing Bao

Although there was hope among Wyomingites that Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis would be tapped by President elect Trump for Interior Secretary, it appears that position will go to Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers instead.

Maggie Mullen

It was standing room only at the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s public meeting Thursday, where the agency discussed the state’s final Pavillion groundwater contamination report.

During the meeting, the DEQ reiterated that it found fracking did not cause water contamination in Pavillion. But because the state has not ruled out the possibility that other parts of the oil and gas development process were responsible, the agency said it will take additional samples from fourteen different wells.

Jennie Hutchinson

There's big bucks to be made on Wyoming's big bucks, according to a new report by the University of Wyoming that evaluated the amount of money generated from hunting and fishing.

So far, the report has studied four counties: Park, Sweetwater, Albany and Fremont. All saw more than $20 million in revenue generated by hunters and anglers, and Albany County had the highest revenues with $25 million.

Supporters of fossil fuels are welcoming President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head up the Environmental Protection Agency.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been a vocal critic of the agency he is nominated to lead, and is a strong proponent of fossil fuels, particularly oil and gas.

Pruitt is likely to take aim at many Obama administration regulations, particularly those dealing with climate change, since he rejects the scientific consensus on that issue.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is recommending that the Chokecherry-Sierra Madre wind farm near Saratoga receive a so-called “eagle take” permit that would allow it to kill 1 bald eagle and up to 14 golden eagles a year.

In exchange, the Power Company of Wyoming, which owns the project, would need to pay to retrofit a number of power poles that can electrocute eagles. The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that as a result of those mitigation measures, there will be no net loss of eagle population in the local area or the region.

Bureau of Land Management

A new rule proposed by the Bureau of Land Management could cut years off of lengthy land use planning debate. The agency said “Planning 2.0” would streamline procedures that have taken up to eight years in the past.

A major component of the initiative includes more opportunities for early public involvement, rather than later on when the agency has already spent years working on a plan.

Henry Mulligan

  

 

Yellowstone National Park officials said at a meeting in Nevada last week that their wild bison population is larger than ever, with over 5,000 animals in the herd. This could be a challenge for the park, which is charged with controlling the numbers that migrate into Montana. The park met with a group of federal and state agencies to discuss updates to their Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP). 

 

Stephanie Joyce

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead is pushing for the expansion of a tax credit that supports carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery. 

Bureau of Land Management / Flickr

Wyoming Republicans were dealt a setback in their efforts to keep sage grouse off the federal endangered species list.

House Republicans were able to include a provision in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act that would prohibit the federal government from changing the conservation status of sage grouse for the next decade. But the provision was left out of the final bill when House leaders negotiated a final bill with their Senate counterparts. That didn’t sit well with members of the lower chamber.

Celia Talbot Tobin / Inside Energy

  

Protesters have been camped out on federal land at the Dakota Access construction site in North Dakota for months, and now winter has arrived, dumping almost two feet of snow on the encampment the last week of November. The winter storm hit just before news that president-elect Donald Trump indicated he supports completion of the pipeline.

Wyoming State Archives

In recent years, more and more bills have been introduced in Wyoming’s legislature that would transfer the management of federal public lands into the state control. In fact, legislators will discuss a constitutional amendment to allow state management of public lands in Cheyenne on December 14.

Maggie Mullen

 

It’s an unseasonably warm November day in Wyoming, and a small group of Bureau of Land Management employees is out in the Checkerboard, just east of Rock Springs. Like a lot of Wyoming, it’s arid with wide open spaces. They’re looking for wild horses. Leading the way is Jay D’Ewart, who works with wild horses for the Rock Springs field office.

“Besides the paperwork,” says D’Ewart. “I’m the eyes and ears for the wild horses out here on the range.”

Alexis Bonogofsky

For as long as 75-year-old Dick Baldes can remember, his tribe has tried to bring wild bison back to the Wind River Indian Reservation.

“Some of the old timers would talk about that and how important the bison was. I mean, that’s always been that way,” said Baldes.

Winter Is The Time For The Best Wolf Howling

Dec 2, 2016
NPS / Neal Herbert

Winter in Yellowstone National Park has become a time for people to get a better look at Yellowstone’s wolf population. It’s also a great time to hear the wolves howl. Jennifer Jerrett produced this piece from Yellowstone.  

Stephanie Joyce

The federal Department of Energy has awarded the University of Wyoming $2.4 million dollars for two carbon capture studies.

The grants will be used to research the potential for commercial-scale carbon capture and storage at the Jim Bridger power plant near Rock Springs and the Dry Fork Station near Gillette.

Previous studies have identified the Rock Springs uplift as an ideal location for storing large volumes of carbon dioxide. These grants are intended to move beyond the technical specifications. 

Mike Hepler, NOLS PR & marketing intern

Outdoor recreation is one of the top three money making industries in Wyoming, and a new organization hopes to help grow that potential even further. The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Flitner Strategies in Jackson have recently partnered to form the Wyoming Outdoor Business Association. 

Flitner Strategies President Sara Flitner said one thing most Wyomingites agree on is their love for Wyoming’s great outdoors.

WYOMING GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department are using a new technology this year to track the movement of the non-native burbot fish in the Green River drainage.

PIT tags, or passive integrated transponder, are inserted into the fish’s belly which can be monitored by antennas to record when a fish moves upstream.

According to John Walrath, Green River fisheries biologist, burbot feed mostly on other fish, causing concern for native populations of the river such as smallmouth bass, bluehead, and flannelmouth suckers.

Stephanie Joyce

West Virginia has settled a suit with Alpha Natural Resources over inaccurate revenue projections included in the coal company’s bankruptcy plan. In early November the state accused Alpha’s former top executives of fraud after it came to light that the company had $100 million dollars in undisclosed liabilities on its balance sheet. Those executives now work for Contura, which owns Alpha’s former mines in Wyoming.

WYDOT

Avalanches can be dangerous and shut down highways on many of the roads going in and out of the Jackson area, especially on Highway 191 through Hoback Canyon. But in the last few years, the Wyoming Department of Transportation has been installing new technology there that’s helped control the problem.

Avalanche technician Jamie Yount said in 2013, they installed the first remotely controlled avalanche exploders in North America. He said the new equipment now allows WYDOT to trigger avalanches on their own schedule and on a closed highway.

USFWS Mountain Prairie

A scientist says more than 6,000 deer are hit and killed on Wyoming roads each year, causing more than $50 million in injuries and damage to cars and wildlife. One scientist is studying the new nighttime speed limits to see if they really work.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

A new study from the Wyoming Department of Health suggests gases from a leaky abandoned oil well may have been seeping into the Midwest School for weeks this spring.

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