Natural Resources & Energy

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Zach Frailey/Uprooted Photographer

What actually is clean coal? Depends on who you ask. In Wyoming, a state that produces the most coal in the nation, clean coal is looked at as a possible economic savior.  It’s a big deal for a lot of other people, too. Forty percent of the world still depends on coal for electricity, and it’s still one of the cheapest and most abundant fuels. Clean coal could be the holy grail both for coal producers and for the world.

Kamila Kudelska

In 2006, Montana granted permission to two tribes to hunt on federal public lands near Yellowstone National Park. This was due to a treaty that was agreed upon in 1855 that includes tribes from the Pacific Northwest. The Yakama Nation is the first tribe from Washington state to join in on the hunt. Those tribal members drew tags in November and recently traveled to Yellowstone to exercise their right to hunt buffalo on public land for the first time.

Bureau of Land Management; https://www.flickr.com/photos/mypubliclands/22885798609

U.S. Representative Liz Cheney has proposed an amendment to the Wyoming Wilderness Act to allow recreation in three Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in northwest Wyoming. But critics say it will hurt a local effort to decide whether the areas should be wilderness or not.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department logo
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

On December 5, a man was caught with an illegally hunted wolf from the Gros Ventre range north of Jackson.

Passing hunters had seen the wolf move from an open hunting area to a closed one, then heard gunshots soon after. The group called in the tip to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department with a vehicle description. Warden Jon Stephens tracked down the offending sportsmen, whose name cannot yet be legally released by the department.

Bureau of Land Management; https://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D9%85%D9%84%D9%81:Coal_mine_Wyoming.jpg

Wyoming voted for President Trump at a higher percentage than any other state, in part because the President promised a new era of energy dominance. After declining employment numbers in fossil fuel industries, increasing environmental regulations and coal company bankruptcies, many were ready to see a change. So, what has changed in the President’s first year?

Wyoming Outdoor Council

Researchers at the University of Washington are proposing better ways to study the link between health and exposure to the natural world.

A multi-disciplinary group of scientists analyzed existing research to come up with strategies to improve understanding of the subject. Pooja Tandon, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and one of the authors of the study, said it is a good bet that being in nature has a positive impact.

Wyoming Outdoor Council

A 14-year veteran of the Wyoming Outdoor Council will take the reins in the coming year. Lisa McGee has worked on decade long projects for the conservation organization that have prevented fracking at the Hoback River and stopped oil and gas leasing within the Wyoming Range. She replaces Gary Wilmot who stepped down in September.

A male Sage Grouse (also known as the Greater Sage Grouse) in the USA
Pacific Southwest Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from Sacramento, US

Wyoming U.S. Senator John Barrasso is advising the Department of Interior to focus on Wyoming as a prime example for sage grouse management. He wrote a letter to the department’s secretary, Ryan Zinke, writing that Wyoming is a leader in sage grouse management.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department logo
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

The Wyoming Game and Fish department wants to hear from the public about its strategic plan and vision for the next five to ten years. They are giving citizens a platform to be heard. The main question: what should the future of Wyoming wildlife look like?

Scott Talbott, the department’s director, said the Game and Fish conducted a similar public input survey in the late 1990’s, which was successful. 

The sign at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park
Wikimedia Commons: Guerillero

 

Researchers at the University of Montana have found that the proposed hike in entrance fees to Yellowstone National Park will harm the economy of local gateway communities and decrease the number of visitors.

 

The National Park Service announced it is raising entrance fees to 17 popular national parks, including Yellowstone National Park. Officials are suggesting increasing the seven day car pass from $30 to $70 during May through September, the park’s most popular months.

 

US Fish and Wildlife Service

Very few of the elk that winter every year on the National Elk Refuge outside Jackson are making their traditional long migration all the way to Yellowstone National Park for generations, and wildlife biologists are worried they’ll eventually forget the route altogether.

Cattle Drive Near Pinedale, WY
Theo Stein / USFWS

Conservation groups want a fresh take on management of a contagious disease occurring in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem called brucellosis, which affects elk, bison and livestock. It can kill fetuses, decrease fertility and hurt milk production, and many consider it an economic threat, too.

Joe Giersch, USGS

Scientists at the University of Wyoming have discovered an insect thought to be extinct in the region in four streams in the Tetons.

The glacier stonefly was believed to only survive in streams in Glacier National Park and the Beartooth Absorka Range in Montana. UW Invertebrate Zoologist Lusha Tronstad said the discovery has put the decision-making process on hold over whether to list the species.

Kamila Kudelska

Mountain lions, wolves and grizzly bears are all thriving in Wyoming. But only a couple of decades ago, these large carnivores were not doing so well.

Wyoming Public Radio’s Kamila Kudelska sat down with Dan Thompson, the large carnivore manager at Wyoming Game and Fish Department, to learn about the collaboration between Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that has helped increase these animals’ numbers. Thompson said we need to learn to live with an ever-increasing population of mountain lions, wolves and grizzly bears.

Anna Rader

As part of our series, “I Respectfully Disagree,” Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards journeyed into the heart of Wyoming’s coal country to the city of Gillette up in the northeast corner. Recently, it’s become an intensely divided community. In the last election, Wyoming went in greater percentage to Donald Trump than any other state, but Campbell County was one of the counties that supported Trump more than any other in Wyoming.

PacifiCorp Logo
PacifiCorps

PacifiCorp, the largest utilities company in the western U.S., will evaluate the cost of its coal resources. The Oregon Public Utility Commission requested the action after customers and advocacy groups demanded more information on whether the current coal plants made sense economically.

A greater sage-grouse male struts for a female at a lek (dancing or mating ground) near Bridgeport, CA
Jeannie Stafford / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A new report from the Endangered Species Coalition, a conservation group based in Washington D.C., says decisions on endangered species are undercut by politics. The report examines 10 fish, plant and wildlife conservation decisions where, according to the coalition, science was ignored or suppressed.

 

(NPS Photo/ Tim Rains)

Federal officials are reviewing the June decision to take grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem off the endangered species list.

This comes after a court decision prevented the delisting of Western Great Lakes wolves. The court found that the service had not evaluated how delisting the Western Great Lake gray wolf could affect other populations of gray wolves still on the Endangered Species list.  

State Carbon Dioxide Emissions Data
U.S. Energy Information Administration

Wyoming’s carbon dioxide emissions per person decreased 10 percent from 2005 to 2015 but the state still has the highest emissions level in the country. According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Wyoming’s CO2 emissions are seven times the national average. Emissions levels are calculated based on electricity use, transportation, and consumption for homes, businesses, or factories. 

Two of Wyoming’s coal mines are changing ownership. Contura Energy has sold Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines to a private company called Blackjewel LLC.

C-SPAN

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have both passed a tax bill — and that has implications for the energy industry in Wyoming.

Tom Koerner, USFWS Mountain-Plains

 

Last winter, protestors packed committee meetings after lawmakers proposed a constitutional amendment to allow the state of Wyoming to take over management of federal lands. Republican Senator Larry Hicks supported the idea, but he was open to other options. So, he reached out to Shane Cross and the Wyoming Wildlife Federation and challenged them to come with a compromise.

Renewable energy organizations who signed a letter opposing certain provisions in the Congressional tax reform bills
ACORE, AWEA, CRES, SEIA

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have both passed a tax reform bill, and both bills have the renewable energy industry nervous. That includes four organizations 

Amy Sisk/Inside Energy

Wyoming’s Republicans in Washington are hoping to pass broad energy policy in this congressional session after inter-party squabbling in the GOP derailed the effort last year.

In the last Congress, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan energy bill that included Wyoming Senator John Barrasso’s push to expedite the export of Liquefied Natural Gas. That bill garnered support from 85 out of 100 senators but was never sent to the desk of former President Obama. Barrasso was upset that the bill died after negotiations with House Republicans fell apart.

House Committee on Natural Resources

It’s been a busy week for energy in Washington D.C. While you may only be hearing about the tax debate in Congress, new bills are moving forward that relate to energy development out west. Dylan Brown, a reporter for E & E news covering coal and mining, gives background on what’s being discussed and what it means.  

 

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

Clean coal is a term President Donald Trump has used a lot, both before and after he was elected.

But what is clean coal? Congress first used the term in the late 70’s early 80’s when discussions about acid rain became a bit more heated. Along came some big changes to the Clean Air Act in 1990 which cracked down on the emissions that cause acid rain, such as sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide.

Kamila Kudelska

More than 150 members of the public attended a Wyoming Game and Fish Department meeting in Cody on the future management of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The group broke out into ten discussion groups to address different areas of management and research.

Mainly, the public expressed concern on how to manage the increasing population of grizzly bears in the area and how to manage problem bears. A proposed solution throughout the groups was to allow the public to hunt problem grizzlies under the supervision of Game and Fish personnel.

USFWS Mountain Prairie

The elusive swift fox is gaining in numbers on the western half of the state, according to recent surveys by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

Swift foxes and are much smaller than the red fox and hunt small mammals on the prairie, usually at night. That’s why wildlife biologists have been surprised to hear more reports of the animal closer to the mountains. Non-game biologist Nichole Bjornlie said they’ve been seen as far west as Lander.

Scott Copeland-The Nature Conservancy

There are thousands of abandoned mines in Wyoming. But recently Lander middle schoolers helped plant sage brush to help reclaim one mine near Jeffrey City.

The Bureau of Land Management teamed up with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, The Nature Conservancy and other conservation groups to teach kids about the value of the sage brush steppe ecosystem. BLM archeologist Gina Clingerman said you can’t just toss sage brush seeds out and expect them to thrive. That’s why she taught kids to plant seedlings.

Penny Preston

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality held a public meeting in Cody Tuesday to update the public on the operation of the Willwood Dam and efforts to protect the Shoshone River fishery.

 

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