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 Center for Western Priorities has started a new campaign to show political candidates how important land conservation is to voters.
The campaign is called “Winning the West” and includes paid advertisements, a website, and a series of public events across several western states.
Greg Zimmerman is the policy director at the Center. He says the campaign was started after a Colorado College poll showed that voters across the political spectrum voted for candidates who support land conservation.
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.
Stephanie Joyce, Wyoming Public Media's Energy & Natural Resources Reporter, moderated a discussion on Wyoming's raw commodity exports, primarily focused on coal and natural gas. Speakers with a diversity of perspectives were invited to participate in the conversation.
The Energy Export Forum will air on Wyoming Public Radio's Open Spaces Friday, Aug. 15 at 3 pm.
A computer error has left the Wyoming Game and Fish with nearly 700 leftover hunting licenses. The agency reported today that the error only affected a small percentage of online sales.
Jennifer Doering with Game and Fish says that website visitors who attempted to reserve group licenses didn’t see a confirmation screen after making their purchase. The result was that many people thought their sale had not gone through—so they tried again.
Thanks to a bill passed in the last budget session, it may soon be legal to use artificial light and out-of-state live bait when fishing in Wyoming. Dave Zafft with Wyoming Game and Fish says its long been against the rules to use lights to draw fish to the lure. Now it could be allowed for nearly all kinds of fishing.
Rhetoric is heating up in Wyoming over new proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency. Governor Matt Mead and Senator John Barrasso both claim it will have a huge impact on Wyoming farmers, ranchers and businesses and will give the EPA jurisdiction over more water than ever before.
But Professor Mark Squillace of the University of Colorado School of Law disagrees.
The clock is ticking about whether to list the greater sage grouse as an endangered species. Such a listing could all but shut down mineral development in the bird’s habitat. The state has already tackled sage grouse protections. Now it’s the federal government’s turn. It’s been 30 years since the Lander Resource Management Plan was revised. And so the Bureau of Land Management took the opportunity to put more protections in place for the grouse while they were at it.
The Lander Resource Management Plan is hundreds of pages and covers a lot of ground.
In the first quarter of 2014, the United States surpassed both Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer. It already hit that mark for natural gas late last year. All of that oil and gas has to be transported from the fields where it’s drilled to refineries and processing plants, and most of that is done by pipeline, but the nation’s pipeline infrastructure isn’t currently up to the task.
The state says it will release both the draft and final versions of reports investigating water contamination in Pavillion. The clarification comes after landowners wrote a letter to Governor Matt Mead protesting the state’s plan to release the draft to Encana, the oil and gas company some accuse of polluting the water, before releasing it to the public.
Mead's spokesperson, Renny MacKay, says by releasing both copies, and the comments provided by Encana, the Environmental Protection Agency and an independent expert, the public will be able to see the evolution of the document.
A Wyoming jury has awarded $5.1 million dollars in damages to an oil and gas worker who was injured on the job in 2011.
Then 22-year-old Horr was part of a crew working on a Merit Energy oil well when built-up pressure escaped, sending a piece of rubber through his left arm and shattering it. Attorney Bryan Ulmer with the Spence Law Firm says Horr has lost use of his arm as a result.
The Lake Owen forest fire, in the Medicine Bow National Forest area, is now 80% contained the U.S. Forest service reports.
The fire covers approximately 500 acres and has caused the evacuation of nearby campers. Residents along Fox Creek Road and in Woods Landing, Jelm, and Albany are still being urged to shelter in place. Three heavy air tankers and 150 personnel are currently working on the fire.
Favorable weather conditions on Tuesday helped firefighters secure much of the blaze, and today crews expect to continue securing the line as well as assessing spot fires.
A Wyoming program that incentivizes businesses’ use of green energy has won a national innovation award.
The Wyoming Renewable Energy Credit program was named the 2014 Economic Development Award Recipient by Business Facilities Magazine, a national publication on business expansion.
The initiative is a partnership between the Powder River Energy Corporation and the Wyoming Business Council. It offers a discount on energy costs for Wyoming businesses interested in using green power.
Smoke from wildfires in northern Alberta has drifted down into Montana and Wyoming in recent days.
"The smoke has worked pretty hard to reduce visibility in the last couple of days," says Kelly a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Riverton. "It’s not having a whole lot of effects otherwise in terms of particulates in the air or other health effects because the smoke is coming from so far away.”
This week’s Supreme Court ruling on the EPA and its ability to regulate carbon is a mixed bag for Wyoming officials and energy producers. It sets the stakes even higher for Republicans in the state who are determined to derail a pending EPA rule on climate change.
Like most all things here in Washington these days, the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of the EPA is being read along party lines. But Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi says it’s not just partisanship. He says your opinion also hinges on where you’re reading.
As energy development increases across the country many states are starting to look into whether or not it would be a good idea to set up data bases to track possible health impacts directly attributed to energy development. Colorado has developed an extensive system within its Department of Health to track and investigate health care impacts. The State of Wyoming has not developed such a data base. Doctor Tracy Murphy is the state epidemiologist. He says the Department of Health rare fields calls of that nature.
A dozen or more trains carrying crude oil from the Bakken region are moving across northern Montana every week, skirting the edge of Glacier National Park. More trains -- far fewer in number - pass through populated regions farther south.
Another rail loading facility for crude oil opened in Wyoming last week, bringing the total to at least seven.
Seventy- thousand barrels of Wyoming oil rolled out of the Black Thunder terminal in the Powder River Basin, headed for a refinery on the East Coast.
“We believe that the location of this particular terminal may be a little more unique to the business as it is in the heart of the basin," says Steven Huckaby, CEO of Meritage Midstream, the company behind the crude loading facility. "It has a great location advantage to some other terminals."
The federal government is trying to create a better system for pricing oil and gas on Indian reservations. The Office of Natural Resource Revenue brought together government, tribes and the energy industry to write the new rule.
Claire Ware is the Director of the Shoshone-Arapahoe Tribes Minerals Compliance Program and sat on the committee. She says the old rules put tribes at a disadvantage.
Hundreds of thousands of tank cars full of crude oil snake across the nation each year, and the number is only increasing. In the last five years, the number has jumped 14-fold. Along with that, there’s been an increased number of accidents, derailments and spills.
An environmental group is suing the federal government over eagle take permits. The permits allow wind farms to kill a certain number of protected bald and golden eagles annually without penalty. In December, the Fish and Wildlife Service changed the duration of the permits from five to 30 years in response to industry lobbying. Wind companies said the shorter period didn’t provide enough certainty for investors.
Governor Matt Mead joined his counterparts in eight other states Monday in asking the Environmental Protection Agency to scrap its new carbon pollution rules. The rules call for a 30 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from US power plants by 2030.
In a letter to the agency, the governors say that effectively bans coal-fired power. The EPA disagrees, projecting that coal will still provide 30 percent of the nation’s electricity after the rules are implemented, down from almost 40 percent today.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture starting a program that pays people to deliver dead trees to power plants that can convert them to biomass fuel. Large swaths of Wyoming’s forests have been killed by pine beetle infestations and some say they pose a fire danger. Todd Atkinson with the Farm Service Agency says he hopes money will give people the incentive to harvest from more remote areas.
For years, southeastern Wyoming has been expecting an oil boom that’s never arrived. Just across the border in Colorado, drilling has reached breakneck pace, but Wyoming has been relatively quiet -- until now. The discovery of a new, more promising oil reserve has led to a surge of interest in oil and gas development in Laramie County over the last few months.
In May of 2013, oil and gas companies applied for nine permits to drill in Laramie County. In May of 2014, companies applied for 132.
The transport of crude oil by rail has spiked dramatically in recent years. From 2012 to 2013 the amount carried by the country's major freight railroads increased nearly 75 percent, according to the American Association of Railroads. Even though crude oil accounted for just over 1 percent of overall rail traffic last year, there's growing public concern about the potential oil spills and other hazards.
The state has started plugging some of the thousand-plus orphaned wells in the Powder River Basin. The wells are relics of the coal-bed methane bust, when many companies went bankrupt and walked away without closing their wells. The state has taken on responsibility for plugging them, using a combination of revoked bonds and funds from a production tax.
Oil and Gas Supervisor Mark Watson says they had hoped to start plugging wells a little bit sooner, but that there were scheduling conflicts to take into account.
Political spending both for and against potential anti-fracking ballot measures is already washing over Colorado.
Colorado is quickly becoming ground zero for a political war over the future of hydraulic fracturing. Drill operations are pushing deeper into populated areas these days and some local governments and activists are supporting ballot measures that would give communities greater control over the industry.
In the week since the Obama administration unveiled new rules to curb carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants, Wyoming regulators have been digging in, trying to figure out exactly what they’ll mean for the Cowboy State. So far, they have more questions than answers.