Natural Resources & Energy

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Melodie Edwards

There are currently over 4,000 abandoned uranium mines in remote corners of the US. Out of sight, but for people living nearby, not out of mind. Uranium produces radon, which is known to cause lung cancer. In 2012, uranium was found in the tap water on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Many say the time has come to clean up the mess. But that could cost billions. The Obama Administration is tackling the job by pushing for new fees on mining companies, but the industry says they’re too punishing. Now, new research could make uranium clean-up significantly cheaper.

There’s disagreement over whether industry should pay for the state to take over regulation of uranium mining. The Legislature’s Joint Minerals Committee reviewed a draft bill Thursday that would start the transfer of regulatory power from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

Zachary Wheeler

Today marks the first day of the Wyoming Women’s annual Antelope Hunt.

The three-day event is sponsored by the Wyoming Women’s Foundation and brings together 40 women hunters, including guest hunter Ashlee Lundvall, this year’s Ms. Wheelchair USA.

In addition to her pageant title, Lundvall is a stay at home mom and she says that means she contributes to her family’s economic self-sufficiency because it saves them money on childcare.

INSIDE ENERGY: Wyoming Governor Offers Coal Country Tour

Oct 8, 2014
Michael Werner

Treaty fishing rights give Northwest tribes extra clout when it comes to the future of proposed coal terminals on the Columbia River and Puget Sound.

That’s not lost on the governor of Wyoming, a big proponent of coal exports.

Gov. Matt Mead is inviting Northwest tribal leaders on an all-expenses-paid trip to coal country in Northeastern Wyoming, according to an email obtained by EarthFix.

A National Park Service report about a moose death in Gros Ventre Campground last month is facing some criticism from campers and photographers who were at the scene. The original Park Service report says crowding photographers were the main cause for the Bull Moose charging.

Anna Sullivan is a professional photographer who took several photos and videos of the scene showing that, actually there was no one directly around the moose. Sullivan says her video shows a passing diesel truck was more likely to have spooked the moose.  

Scott Sandberg / NOAA

Ozone pollution has been a problem in western Wyoming for years because of oil and gas development, but the chemistry behind it has been a mystery, until now.

A study published this month in the journal Nature looks at how wintertime ozone pollution in rural areas with oil and gas development is chemically different from summertime ozone pollution in big cities. In the Uinta Basin in Utah the researchers found levels of the two main components of ozone were opposite of what they would be in cities.

INSIDE ENERGY: Millions Of Tons Oil And Gas Waste: Hazardous Or Not?

Oct 3, 2014
David Martin Davies

The United States is on the verge of becoming the world’s top producer of oil – that’s according to the International Energy Agency.  But the oil boom is also leading to a boom in toxic oil field waste that can end up in open pit disposal sites.  There are increasing concerns over the dangers these disposal sites pose for air quality.

Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile

Every day, more than 2 billion gallons of water are produced in the U.S. by the oil and gas industry. The water comes up with the oil and gas, and can contain hydrocarbons like benzene and toluene as well as the chemicals that are injected into the well to produce the oil and gas. But the federal government doesn’t treat waste from the energy industry as hazardous, and much of that polluted wastewater is allowed to simply evaporate. That, as others have reported, could could be a problem.

Ambre Energy

Oregon has shut down Wyoming’s attempt to force the permitting of a coal export terminal in that state.

The Oregon Department of State Lands rejected Ambre Energy’s application for a permit to build a coal transfer terminal in August, citing concerns about the impact on nearby tribal fisheries. The terminal would allow Powder River Basin coal to be shipped to Asia.

Charles Cook via Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $4.2 million grant to the University of Wyoming for wind energy research.

Six different University departments will collaborate on the project.

UW professor Jonathan Naughton is the director of the Wind Energy Research Center and the principal investigator for the grant. He says the goal is to address barriers to rolling out renewable energy in the state—and research will focus on three key aspects.

Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/15778088@N00/6144251104/">manyfires</a> via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147">cc</a>

A new report by the Western Values Project shows that sagebrush lands create millions in recreation income for the state. The report looked at eleven Western states with large amounts of sage brush. 

Senior Economist Kristin Lee with ECONorthWest-- the firm that calculated the data--says Wyoming brought in the fourth highest revenues after Idaho, Montana and Nevada.

“What we found for Wyoming is that there were almost two million visitors to the sagebrush lands in 2013.  And those visitors spent approximately 87 million within 50 miles of those recreation sites.”

biorootenergy.com

Forests affected by the bark beetle epidemic are just as capable of recovering from wildfire as unaffected forests, according to new research from the University of Wisconsin. Brian Harvey, one of the co-authors of the paper, said they looked at areas throughout the Northern Rockies in various stages of tree death.

Despite an emergency rule that put Wyoming’s wolf management plan firmly into law, a federal judge refused to change an earlier ruling that placed Wyoming wolves back on the endangered species list.   

Washington D.C. based U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with environmental groups who argued that Wyoming’s management plan, which allows wolves to be shot on sight in most of the state, failed to adequately protect wolves. 

A federal judge has denied requests from the state of Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and pro-hunting groups to change a decision last week that reinstates federal protections for wolves in the state.
 
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday denied requests to change her ruling.

Dan Boyce/Inside Energy

Following backlash from customers, South Dakota-based Black Hills Power has dropped a proposed rate increase for solar users. 

The surcharge would have applied to customers in South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. Although the company has withdrawn the proposal for now, it hasn't ruled out bringing it back in the future. Deb Theriault of Casper-based Range Solar & Wind said even a surcharge of $5 to $20 could be a real disincentive.

A conservation group hopes to raise $2 million in three months to buy a critical piece of property along Wyoming’s mule deer migration route. At 150 miles, it’s believed to be the longest mule deer migration route in the world. Luke Lynch is with the Conservation Fund, the group raising money to buy the 364 acres, which creates a kind of migration-bridge for the deer to cross between Fremont Lake and the city of Pinedale. As many as 5,000 deer must cross the bottleneck single file there. Lynch says such routes need to be preserved because they’re so rare.

This week a federal judge placed Wyoming’s wolves back on the endangered species list after ruling that the state’s management plan did not offer adequate protection for the wolves. The plan that the state and federal government negotiated would keep the number of wolves that are outside of National Parks to over 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs. But the Judge ruled that Wyoming’s plan was not binding.

Penny Preston

Cody – Grizzly bears, moose, bison, and many other Yellowstone area animals are hit and killed by speeding motorists every year. But now, a baby moose that made newspaper and magazine headlines when it survived a raging river, has been photographed all alone. Locals fear it is orphaned and unlikely to survive, because a motorist killed its mother. It’s led to a renewed discussion over speed limits and signs in forested areas of northwest Wyoming.

A heavy snowpack swelled the Shoshone River this spring.

Linda Peterson

The National Park Service at Grand Teton National Park will be limiting what areas campers can use in the Gros Ventre campground for the rest of this season. That’s after a crowd Wednesday possibly caused a bull moose to charge, resulting in the fatal injury of a female moose.

Public Affairs Officer Jackie Skaggs says people have been getting far too close to animals, in some cases less than ten feet. She says new, plain clothed rangers will be introduced to protect both people and animals.

Hunting season has increased the likelihood of interaction between humans and bears, especially in the mountain ranges outside of Yellowstone National Park. Two grizzly bear attacks this month left one man dead and another injured.

Wyoming Game and Fish Large Carnivore Conflict Coordinator Brian DeBolt says bears have been moving south and east into the Wyoming Range and Big Horn Basin as their numbers have grown. Hunters are at greater risk during the season as they often go against bear safety precautions.

Jack Holt / AP Photo/Kemmerer Gazette

A worker has died after an explosion at a natural gas storage tank in western Wyoming. Jared Loftiss, 35, of Marbleton, Wyoming was working for Hughes Enterprises, an oilfield services company based out of Marbleton.

Leigh Paterson

Four companies, including Wyoming-based Pathfinder Wind Energy, announced an eight billion dollar project this week that would eventually send Wyoming wind power to California. If built, the wind farm would be one of the largest in the country. 

Leigh Paterson

Liquefied natural gas has long been used to power vehicles like buses and garbage trucks. But this week, one of America's largest coal companies, Alpha Natural Resources, announced a plan to build an LNG plant right next to a Gillette-area mine. That LNG will then be used to power the mine's massive coal haul trucks. 

Wyoming’s wolf management plan has been rejected by a federal court. 

It means that federal protections will be re-instated for gray wolves in Wyoming. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with environmental groups who say that Wyoming’s management plan that allows wolves to be shot on sight in most of the state, does not provide enough protection for wolves. 

Melodie Edwards

Earlier this month in a Worland courthouse, a judge signed a final decree that brought to end what’s probably the longest-running lawsuit in Wyoming history. After 37 years, the lawsuit decided who exactly owns the water rights in and around the Wind River Indian Reservation. Those involved in the suit are now looking to the future.

Bob Beck

There's a water war going on in the nation's capital that has Wyoming lawmakers and land owners worried the federal government is soon going to be regulating most every drop of water that falls from the sky.

Blastcube

This week, Wyoming Public Radio aired a series of stories on workplace fatalities in the oil and gas industry. The series looked North Dakota’s high oil and gas fatality rate, Wyoming’s response to its own rising death toll, and whether there are lessons to be learned from the commercial fishing industry in Alaska, which has cut fatalities in half in the last decade. Emily Guerin of Prairie Public Radio and Stephanie Joyce of Wyoming Public Radio share some of their takeaways after reporting the series.

Stephanie Joyce

The red smokestacks of the Comanche power plant outside of Pueblo, Colorado can be seen from miles away. The plant supplies power to communities along the Front Range, including Denver, and consumes hundreds of tons of coal an hour in the process. That coal arrives in mile-long trains from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin and is stockpiled at the plant. Normally, that pile would be a hundred feet tall, according to Xcel Energy fuel supply manager Craig Romer. But right now, it’s less than a third of that.

Lauren Rosenthal / KUCB

Click here to read Part 3 of the Dark Side Of The Boom series.

The dangers of the Bering Sea crab fishery have been made famous by the reality TV show Deadliest Catch. But, in the last 15 years, that industry has become much safer, in large part thanks to collaboration between industry, scientists and regulators. We wondered: are there lessons that the oil and gas industry could learn from the crab industry’s safety gains?

INSIDE ENERGY: Dark Side Of The Boom: How Dangerous Is Too Dangerous?

Sep 18, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

It's no secret that the oil and gas industry is dangerous. As the industry has grown to employ over half a million oil and gas workers nationwide, the number of fatalities has grown as well. Last year, 112 oil and gas workers died on the job; the year before, 142. Nationwide, oil and gas workers are still six times more likely to be killed on the job than the average American.

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