Natural Resources & Energy

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Denali National Park and Preserve

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission approved the newest draft of its Grizzly Bear Management Plan at a public meeting in Casper on Wednesday.

The approval by the commission was unanimous. The plan outlines how Wyoming would manage grizzly bears once they are removed from the endangered species list—perhaps later this year. While the plan addresses hunting as a potential management tool, Wyoming Game and Fish will still have to decide what a grizzly bear hunting season would look like, or if there would even be one.

Federal officials are objecting to a coal company's plan to restructure and emerge from bankruptcy, because, they say, it looks a lot more like a plan to liquidate. 

On Monday, a bankruptcy court judge has approved Alpha Natural Resource's request to cancel labor agreements and reduce retiree benefits for unionized workers. 

In court documents, Alpha writes that it is fighting to survive as the coal industry collapses. Cutting these obligations, the company argues, is necessary if it is going to restructure and get out of bankruptcy.  

 

archcoal.com

Arch Coal has filed its initial plan for how it hopes to emerge from bankruptcy, but doesn't contain many details when it comes to reclamation and worker benefits.

Arch Coal filed for Chapter 11 in January, in the hopes of shedding some of its $4.5 billion in debt. The company’s restructuring plan outlines how various creditors would be paid—or not paid—if the plan is approved.

Leigh Paterson

As Wyoming faces a growing budget shortfall, the state is looking at ways to generate additional revenue, including possibly raising the state's wind tax. The Joint Revenue Committee will consider a proposed tax hike at its meeting this week.

Stephanie Joyce

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. fell by 12% in 2015, compared to 2005 levels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

The EIA explains that this drop is largely the result of changes in our electricity mix. Over the past decade, shifts in sources of electricity, from coal to natural gas for example, have accounted for 68% of the total decrease in energy-related CO2 emissions. 

Denali National Park and Preserve

Grizzly bears in Wyoming may soon be removed from the Endangered Species list. That means management of the animal would be given back to the state. The newest draft of the management plan will be discussed at an upcoming meeting in Casper and will give the public an additional opportunity to provide feedback.

Duncan Harris, Flickr Creative Commons

The outlook for the North American coal sector is negative. That's according to a bleak industry report released by the credit ratings agency Moody’s, on Friday.  

 

Courtesy Stephanie Joyce

  

Remember the Washington spending battles over the past few years? The government shutdown is likely the most memorable, but every fall there’s a spending battle, usually an eleventh-hour bill to keep the government’s lights on for a few weeks and then an agreement to fund the government at the last minute. That annual dysfunction angers Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi who Chairs the Budget Committee. That’s why he’s ecstatic Republican leaders are bringing up the bill to fund the Interior and Energy Departments now.

Listen To U.S. Coal Production Fall Off A Cliff

May 6, 2016
Wikimedia Commons

America’s coal industry is hurting: In the past year, thousands of workers have been laid off and a majority of the country’s major coal companies have filed for bankruptcy. Coal production is at 30-year low. Here’s what three decades worth of U.S. coal production looks like:

The drop off in the past year (the orange portion of the graph) is staggering. 

Tim Stubson

 

State Representative Tim Stubson is the third-ranking member of the Wyoming House of Representatives and a member of the legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee. His next move is to try and replace U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis and become Wyoming’s next Congressman. Stubson is also a Casper attorney. He joins Bob Beck to discuss a couple of key issues starting with the declining coal market.

 Learn more about Stubson and his issues.

 

Wyoming Public Media

It’s election season, which means politicians are busy promising lots of things, including when it comes to energy. Hillary Clinton has pledged to give $30 billion to coal communities if elected; Donald Trump has promised energy independence. We wondered, if these policies actually came to pass, what would the world look like? Are they good ideas or bad ideas?

Melodie Edwards

  

Laramie gardener Amy Fluet admits it. She’s a bit of a hoarder.

“I take up a huge amount of the space in the refrigerator with seeds,” she says, laughing. “It's an embarrassment, and I hide them in the back so my family doesn't realize how much space it takes up.”

She stores seeds in the fridge to trick them into thinking its winter until she's ready to plant them.

CC0 Public Domain, Pixabay

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has approved a new regulation that will restrict the use of aircrafts or drones during hunting season.  

Mike Choma is the Law Enforcement Supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish. He says “fair chase” means something different to everyone. In Wyoming, that definition now excludes using an aircraft or drone with the intention to spot, locate and aid in the taking of wildlife. The new regulation came after an increase in public concern and a number of complaints received by the department.

National Geographic

National Geographic magazine has just released a new issue dedicated completely to Yellowstone National Park. But you might have to hustle to get your copy.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park system, National Geographic committed an entire issue to the country’s first national park: Yellowstone. Nature writer David Quammen lives in Montana and wrote all the articles for the issue. He says it’s available online and it hit newsstands this last weekend.

Ultra Petroleum filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday evening, after warning it was likely headed toward bankruptcy in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company is Wyoming's largest gas producer, by volume, but has struggled with high debt loads and low natural gas prices in recent months. In April, Wyoming's benchmark natural gas price was just $1.71 per thousand cubic feet, compared to $2.32 at the same time last year. 

Wyoming’s largest gas producer said Friday it may file for bankruptcy.

Ultra Petroleum disclosed the possibility of bankruptcy in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ultra has substantial debts from large purchases of oil and gas reserves in recent years and is struggling to pay back those debts with current low natural gas and crude oil prices.

Cloud Peak Energy says it wants to change the way it insures its coal mine clean up costs in part, because of regulatory uncertainty.  

Bankrupt coal company Alpha Natural Resources confirmed that it laid off 37 employees today from its two Powder River Basin coal mines.

These cuts follow much larger layoffs last month at two of the country's largest mines, owned by Arch Coal and Peabody Energy. Together, those companies cut around 465 jobs, or about 15%  of the workforce at Peabody's North Antelope Rochelle Mine and Arch's Black Thunder mine. 

Wyoming Business Council

Officials broke ground Wednesday on a new facility that will house carbon conversion experiments. The Integrated Test Center or ITC will be attached to the coal-fired Dry Fork power plant near Gillette. 

The first tenants will be teams competing for the $20 million Carbon XPrize, a competition to turn carbon dioxide emissions into useful products.

“What you’re going to see is the nexus, the very kernel of what I anticipate will be a multi-billion dollar a year industry,” said Paul Bunje, with the XPrize Foundation.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

Gail Japp’s bright blue eyes are the kind you keep on noticing. I met the 64-year-old at her home outside of Gillette, Wyoming on a gray, windy, day in April. She had just finishing filling out unemployment paperwork.

Japp is one of the 235 coal miners who were laid off by Peabody Energy in March. Arch Coal cut around 230 positions that same week.

I asked her how she felt that day. Her reply: “Devastated, scared. What in the world am I gonna do? I’m single. I’m 64. I have a mortgage. Am I gonna lose my house?”

The State of Wyoming is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider its rejection of an Oregon project that would export liquefied natural gas.

FERC rejected the Jordan Cove permit application in March because the project’s backers didn’t have any confirmed buyers for the LNG. The project would require running a new, 230-mile pipeline across Oregon and the Commission said without buyers, the harm to landowners couldn’t be justified.

The U.S. Senate put its partisan tendencies aside this week and passed a sweeping bill aimed at modernizing the U.S. energy sector. The bill includes provisions that could help the state’s ailing energy industry.

Liz Cheney

  

Republican Liz Cheney is one of ten announced candidates for the soon to be open U.S. House seat. Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney who also was Wyoming’s congressman. Ms. Cheney has been an attorney, she’s worked in the U.S. State Department where she worked on U.S. policy in the Middle East. She also was a Fox news contributor and co-authored a book with her father. Today she talks to Bob Beck about energy issues, specifically coal. 

Dan Boyce / Inside Energy

  

The wind industry is clearly growing. A new report from the American Wind Energy Association touts a record total of 88,000 jobs across the industry at the start of 2016, a 20-percent jump from a year ago. More wind power was added than any other U.S. electricity source in 2015, beating out natural gas and solar.

Dan Boyce / Inside Energy

The cost of wind and solar power have fallen dramatically in recent years. Still, renewables only account for a fraction of the energy produced in the United States.

Uranium miner Cameco has announced it is laying off 85 workers in Wyoming and Nebraska.

Ken Vaughn, a spokesman for Cameco, says the cuts are a result of an ongoing downturn in the uranium market.

“Well there’s just an oversupply on the market at present. Part of that is due to the fact that most of the Japanese nuclear plants have been offline for the Fukushima disaster,” says Vaughn.

Susan Patla / Wyoming Game and Fish Department

This spring, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department reported an increase in bald eagle and trumpeter swan populations. Non-game Biologist Susan Patla conducted an aerial survey of the Jackson and Pinedale area last month to estimate the birds' populations.

Patla says the surveys showed that bald eagle numbers have grown stronger, even since they were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007.

Leigh Paterson

A new analysis by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the Chokecherry-Sierra Madre wind project would kill 10 to 14 golden eagles a year, if built. The proposed project south of Rawlins would be the largest onshore wind farm in North America, sending power to up to a million homes in California. 

Gary Kramer - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

UPDATE: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service killed 9 of the 16 wolves in the Dell Creek wolf pack and ceased their extermination once the pack stopped killing cattle in the area. To learn more about the pack and wolf management in Wyoming, click here.

A wolf pack in Western Wyoming has been evading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after killing as many as ten cattle this winter.

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