Natural Resources & Energy

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Gage Skidmore

Have you heard many western issues pop up in this election cycle? Neither has Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis. She said the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is actually missing a golden opportunity to attract independent voters in the west. “I know that western issues are taking a backseat to national issues in this campaign, and I get that. But when we’re out in the west, when states like Colorado and Nevada are in play, there are issues that are unique to the west that a...

Baylen J. Linnekin

In 2015, Wyoming passed the Food Freedom Act, giving the state’s farmers and ranchers the most flexible food rules in the nation...making it possible for them sell things direct to consumers that are illegal elsewhere, like unpasteurized milk, poultry, jams, and other foods. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards talked with the author of the new book Biting the Hands That Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable, about Wyoming’s Food Freedom Act,...

Stephanie Joyce

The future is looking up for Wyoming’s wind industry. There are few places in the country with more wind energy potential than Wyoming, but the state has seen almost no new wind turbines built in six years, even while wind has boomed in the rest of the country. Depending on who you ask, the challenges have been political, technical or both. But now, the outlook is improving on all fronts. That’s due, in part, to legislators’ recent decision to kill a proposal that would have increased the...

Public Domain

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled on Friday that the Bureau of Land Management broke the law during a wild horse round up in 2014 in an area southeast of Rock Springs known as the Checkerboard. The Checkerboard gets its name from its alternating patches of public and private lands. Bill Eubanks, who represented the plaintiff -- mostly wild horse advocacy groups -- explained in a press release that this ruling prevents the BLM from treating public lands as private land in...

There's no clear legal path forward for states who want to transfer federal lands into state management, according to a new report by the Conference of Western Attorney Generals, chaired by Wyoming's attorney general Peter Michael. The report looked at several legal strategies proposed by Wyoming, Utah and other states, like the argument that eastern and western states should have an equal percentage of public lands, or that the federal government can't hold lands indefinitely. Wyoming...

Mike Cline, Public Domain

In the last couple years, wolves have killed record numbers of livestock in northwestern Wyoming. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is now stepping in to protect calves with special fencing on a ranch near Jackson. Wyoming Director of Wildlife Services Mike Foster said in a press video that the agency has installed over two miles of an electrified wire known as turbo fladry on the Walton Ranch where large packs of wolves have moved in. “It’s an electrified polywire and it has plastic flags...

Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

Two land trusts in northwest Wyoming have merged after one of them began to slip into financial instability after expanding its conservation efforts too quickly. The Green River Valley Land Trust holds development rights to 58 easements in the Pinedale area totally over 32,000 acres. The worry was that those development rights would be left without a trust organization if the organization folded, and that could mean those lands might be turned into subdivisions. But as of October 1, those...

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The reintroduction of black-footed ferrets that took place in July seems to be succeeding. 35 ferrets were set loose in Meeteetse, the area where they were found 35 years ago after they were thought to be extinct. Wyoming Game and Fish recently re-captured 19, and all tested negative for any harmful diseases. Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Nicole Bjornlie said this was a good sign. "Ferret recovery is really multifaceted. The primary overreaching goal is to get enough populations with enough...

Rone Tempest / WyoFile

The Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against the developer of the proposed Two Elk power plant in Campbell County. The project received almost $8 million in federal stimulus money for carbon capture research but the power plant was never built, and no research was ever conducted. Rone Tempest is a reporter for WyoFile, and he has been covering the saga of the Two Elk power plant for almost a decade. He joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce to talk about the latest...

Dan Hayward

A new study will use GPS transmitters to track the movements of wild horses in the Adobe Town Herd Management area, southwest of Rock Springs. Researchers from the University of Wyoming and the Bureau of Land Management are teaming up to track at least 20 wild horses in a project funded by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture. There is little currently known about the migration patterns of wild horses. The GPS collars are the latest in wildlife tracking technology and will allow the...

Women from across Wyoming and other states will meet at Ucross Ranch near Buffalo this week for the annual Women’s Antelope Hunt. Each new hunter will go out with an experienced mentor Friday and Saturday morning, and learn how to field dress the animal and then process the meat, which they can take home to their families. The three-day event will also include cooking classes, workshops, and a fundraising dinner open to the public. Program Associate Rebekah Smith said the hunt is an...

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

New research had found that the fatal brain illness, chronic wasting disease (CWD), has a direct impact on the population decline of white-tailed deer. University of Wyoming graduate student David Edmunds worked on the study and said the research shows the disease lowers the survival rate of female deer under the age of seven. As of right now, there is no way to manage the disease once introduced into a population of deer. “There are other teams that are looking at effective vaccines, but the...

Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone National Park; Jim Peaco;.June 2005

A grizzly bear attacked a hunter Sunday morning in the Shoshone National Forest, near Dubois. The female grizzly and her two cubs were feeding on the carcass of an elk the hunter shot Saturday and was trying to recover. The victim was flown to a hospital in Denver, and is expected to recover. Jason Hunter, a wildlife supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, advises hunters to be careful in areas with lots of fallen trees and to watch for signs of bear activity. Hunter says the...

Rachel Anderson

In 2014, a massive explosion tore through the Williams natural gas processing plant in Opal. It forced the evacuation of the southwestern Wyoming town and caused a spike in the price of natural gas. Wyoming’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an investigation in the aftermath and found a number of safety violations. But the agency never collected the corresponding fines and never released a final report about the investigation. The lack of follow-up came to light because...

The Army Corps of Engineers has released its environmental impact analysis for a port that would ship coal from Wyoming, Montana and Colorado to Asia. The Millennium Bulk terminal is the last remaining coal export terminal still proposed for the West Coast. Half a dozen terminals have fallen through in the face of collapsing international coal prices and fierce opposition from tribes and environmentalists in west coast states. The Army Corp’s environmental assessment notes possible negative...

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

You ever heard of a conference committee? Here in Washington, ‘conference committee’ is congressional speak for when senators and House members get together and try to work out the differences between their competing pieces of legislation. For the ongoing energy bill negotiations, both Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis and junior Senator John Barrasso are serving on the conference committee. It’s a sweeping bill to minimally boost some renewable energy while also taking down barriers to shipping...

Pipeline Drama Casts Shadow Over Oil Industry

Sep 30, 2016
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

The Obama Administration’s decision to temporarily halt construction on part of the 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline has the oil industry on edge. It was evident at the North Dakota Petroleum Council ’s annual meeting, where the pipeline protests cast a shadow over an industry struggling amid low oil prices. “[The pipeline is] very critical to being in place for any kind of recovery and growth in the Bakken production here,” said Jack Stark, president of Continental Resources , one of the...

Mike Cline, Public Domain

Back in 2012, wolves were removed from the federal Endangered Species List and the state was briefly allowed to manage the population. But wildlife advocates sued and, two years later, the species was relisted because Wyoming’s management plan didn’t include a legal requirement that the state would maintain a buffer of over 100 wolves in areas outside Yellowstone National Park. Then, last week, a federal appeals court heard arguments on both sides for why Wyoming can or can't be trusted to...

What would be the first new coal mine to open in Wyoming in decades is one step closer to becoming reality after the state's Environmental Quality Council voted Wednesday to allow the project to proceed despite the objections of another coal company. Big Horn Coal, a subsidiary of Lighthouse Resources, owns the land where the new mine would be developed while Ramaco owns the coal underneath. In Wyoming, mineral rights typically take precedence over surface rights, although companies do...

A panel of judges Tuesday is hearing a case that could change the future of the power industry. The D.C. Circuit is hearing an appeal of the Clean Power Plan , an Obama administration rule that would restrict carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants. The Clean Power Plan may be the most ambitious carbon regulation proposed to date in the U.S. The outcome of this case has the potential to shut down a large chunk of existing coal-fired power plants and it will have a big impact on...

Remington Reitsma

The downturn in the energy industry over the last couple years has left a scarcity of jobs for many college graduates from the University of Wyoming, and across the country. Over the weekend, the University of Wyoming hosted the annual geosciences job fair which hoped to help the problem. But the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous job fair has seen better years. In the past the job fair has hosted up to 32 companies, and this year there were only six. Even so, Matt Rhoads, a graduate student from...

Germany UN

Over the last three years, the German embassy has donated about $20,000 dollars toward educating University of Wyoming students about the fall of the Berlin wall and German history. Recently, the German Ambassador Peter Wittig visited the campus himself and, while he was here, Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards sat down with him to talk about what Wyoming can learn from Germany’s own coal downturn and the refugee crisis.

Todd Guenther

It’s late afternoon at the base of Dinwoody Glacier, and its creek is roaring with melted ice nearby. It's been a long day of digging for archeology students Crystal Reynolds, Morgan Robins and Nico Holt. “We love digging holes!” they say, laughing. “We love playing in the dirt.” “It's like playing hide and seek with people you never met,” says Holt. These students are part of a project called the Interdisciplinary Climate Change Expedition or ICCE, sponsored by Central Wyoming College. They...

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

After hearing more than five hours of public testimony, the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee rejected a bill Thursday that would have increased the tax on wind energy production. Wyoming currently taxes production at $1 per megawatt hour, the only such tax in the nation. The state is facing a major budget shortfall because of the downturn in coal, oil and gas production. Raising the wind tax came up as a possible way to generate revenue for school construction. Rep. Mike Madden,...

Germany UN

Last week, Germany’s ambassador to the United States, Peter Wittig gave a lecture at the University of Wyoming on the importance of maintaining a strong trans-Atlantic alliance. He said the German-U.S. relationship is more important than ever as terrorism and mass migrations continue. He said Germany has taken in 1.1 million Syrian refugees in the last year, which would be equivalent to the United States taking in 4.4 million. He said each country must take its own needs and preferences into...

Wikimedia Commons

The Bureau of Land Management announced it will not accept the recommendation from their National Advisory Board to euthanize the upwards of 46,000 wild horses. The recommendation was followed by a major public outrage, but the BLM says they will continue to seek out other management options. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Kristen Lenhardt said those alternatives include the BLM’s already established wild horse and burro adoption program, as well as using birth control to reduce...

The Lincoln County coroner has determined that head trauma caused a worker's death at a natural gas processing plant in southwestern Wyoming last week. County Corner Michael Richins says 36-year-old Michael Smuin was thrown into a cement structure at the Williams plant in Opal and died instantly from a cranial fracture. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the incident, including what caused Smuin to be lifted off his feet. Richins found burns on the body,...

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

The Two Elk power plant has been mired in controversy for years over issues including its use of millions of dollars in federal stimulus funding, as well as long construction delays. But the project may have hit a final roadblock. Last August, the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council denied a permit extension for the power plant, which was scheduled to be built in northeastern Wyoming. Last week, the company canceled a hearing to appeal that decision. So, where does that leave the Two Elk...

Public Domain

On Monday, arguments were presented against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's removal of wild horses from a herd of management area in what's known as the Checkerboard area near Rock Springs. Wild horse advocate groups argue that the removal of horses is conducted inhumanely and is expensive for tax payers, and that wild horses have the right to roam on public land. American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign Director Suzanne Roy says she hopes the court appeal will stop the roundup, and...

Stephanie Joyce

Some states are better positioned than others to weather the downturn in coal, oil, and gas according to data from the credit ratings agency Moody’s. Analysts considered factors like economic diversification, budget structure, and how much savings states set aside. Moody’s sees Colorado, for example, as fairly insulated because severance taxes make up a small part of the state’s total tax revenue. Local governments, however, are more exposed because they receive a relatively large...

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