Natural Resources & Energy

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The Environmental Protection Agency just announced its plan to roll back vehicle emissions standards. That could be cause for concern in Mountain West communities with poor air quality.

Bureau of Land Management via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

A section of the North Platte River, between Gray Reef and Casper, may receive new commercial permits for fishing due to increased annual demand. The Bureau of Land Management put out a request for public comment to learn more about how recreationists want to use the stretch between Gray Reef and Casper. 

A gas flare, used to burn off flammable gas -- on Highway 59 from Gillette
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

Oil and gas advocacy groups said companies are struggling to comply with newly in effect methane regulations. The Obama-era rule aims to reduce leaks and greenhouse gas emissions and has faced several roll-back attempts from the Trump Administration. But in February, a California court refused to postpone the rule, putting it back into effect.

The omnibus spending bill passed by Congress last month earmarked billions of dollars for fighting wildfires.  Many conservationists and politicians celebrated that change.

But the legislation also rolls rolls back some environmental protections and that has split the conservation community.

Retired electrical engineer Lisa Hecht loves nerding out about solar energy.

The Boise resident has a solar light for emergencies, a solar battery pack she uses to charge her cell phone and a solar oven she swears makes top-notch steel cut oats.

Drought has basically divided the Mountain West into two separate regions this year.

Storms kept Idaho, Montana and Wyoming wet over the winter, and the national Drought Monitor shows no drought in those states.

Research scientist Sam Dwinnell puts a new collar on a Wyoming Range mule deer.
Tennessee Watson

For the last 20 years, the Wyoming Range mule deer herd has been in decline, and nobody has been quite sure why. But five years ago a collaborative effort began to radio collar deer, giving scientists a chance to get a closer look at what’s threatening the herd. The research points to disease, predators, and vehicle collisions, to name a few. But the most important variable that’s emerged from the research is habitat loss, which is most evident in the herd’s winter range.

Bison in Yellowstone
Daniel Mayer via CC BY-SA 3.0


Since the beginning of this year, there have been four criminal acts at the Stephen’s Creek Facility in Yellowstone National Park. This facility is the central hub for the management of the Yellowstone Park bison herd. Bison or buffalo once roamed the American plains in the millions but today about 4,200 exist. 

Western governors want to see more federal action to combat tiny but destructive creatures: invasive mussels.

A quagga mussel is only about the size of your thumbnail. But when the little mollusk reproduces en masse, it can wreak havoc on agriculture and lake tourism.

DEQ's Land Quality Division Advisory Board meeting in Gillette while webcasting in Cheyenne and Jackson members
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

Rules that would have placed limits on self-bonding will be sent back to the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Land Quality Division following a meeting of its advisory board Wednesday. Self-bonding is a way for mining companies to guarantee clean-up costs without putting money down.

A new Gallup poll shows the majority of Americans do believe in climate change. The poll shows 66% of Americans believe that most scientists think global warming is occurring, 64% believe it is caused by human activities, and 60% believe its effects have already begun.

Amy Martin

The bison population on the outskirts east of Yellowstone has grown over the years as solitary bulls slowly migrate away from the park. Now, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is proposing the first-ever hunt in that area known as the North Fork to address that. 

CC0 / Public Domain

Wyoming residents value access to fish and wildlife. A recent study by the national survey firm, Responsive Management, shows about half of the state's residents bought a hunting, fishing or trapping license in the last five years.

The study was commissioned by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in an effort to get a better idea of current attitudes toward fish and wildlife, the department and its management.  

Over the past decade, the market for Mountain West coal has cooled. Renewables and natural gas in the U.S. are cheaper, stocks are tumbling and some coal companies are even teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

Wyoming County Commissioners Association

For 40 years, dozens of wilderness study areas, or WSAs, have been stuck in limbo, waiting for Congress to decide whether they should be given official wilderness status or released for other uses. So, three years ago, the Wyoming County Commissioners Association formed the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative, collaborating with local stakeholders to answer that question.

Gov. Matt Mead speaking to a pro-coal rally at Gillette College prior to the official EPA listening session
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

Hundreds of people from across the mountain west gathered Tuesday at Gillette College to discuss the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan, or CPP. That’s a 2015 Obama-era rule that would force states to limit greenhouse gas emissions at power plants. Many see it as the former president’s key piece of legislation to combat climate change. In October of 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took the first step towards a repeal.  

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said he’s putting new limits on which scientific studies can be factored into the nation’s environmental laws and policies. He told the conservative web site, The Daily Caller, last week that he wants more “transparency” in scientific research.

Following Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke's repeated calls for more management of public lands, this spring the Bureau of Land Management is giving certain ranchers more say and options in grazing their cattle on public lands.


Craigh Okraska - Wild Horses

The citizen board for the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program will not meet this month as planned. The board gives advice to the BLM about how to manage the species on federal lands. The cancellation is frustrating for members who said the agency has given no response to its recommendations for two years.

Stephanie Joyce

What do you think about repealing the Clean Power Plan? Good or bad for Wyoming?

By contributing your comment, you consent to the possibility of having it read on the air. 

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

The foreground is reclaimed mine land, with the active coal mine behind.
Wyoming Mining Assocation

Back in 2011, the coal market looked great. Three of the largest coal companies in the world, all with mines in Wyoming, invested big in metallurgical coal, the kind used for infrastructure. Sierra Club Attorney Peter Morgan said, “Each company took on hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of debt."

Oil and gas drilling on Jay Butler's property in Converse County
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

A major oil and gas project has taken a step forward with the end of its public comment period last week. The 5,000 well project covers over 1.5 million acres in Converse County, and received 110 comments following the release of its draft environmental impact statement, or EIS. 

Stephanie Joyce

  

Advocates for the Wind River tribes say they were relieved to hear that Wyoming Governor Matt Mead vetoed a bill that would have given stiff fines and jail time to protesters that blocked access to or damaged infrastructure like oil and gas facilities. 

For years, Western lawmakers have been trying to change the way we fight wildfires, or at least the way the government funds such work. Now, they may finally get that wish. Congress just passed a measure that would do just that, creating an emergency fund of $20 billion for the Forest Service to fight wildfires over the next decade. It's part of a sweeping new spending deal that the President signed on Friday.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has been pushing for years to make this change.

A landslide in a popular area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming's western mountains has locals worried about the region's economy.

Battle Creek is a tributary of the Yampa River, which flows into the Colorado River.
By Dicklyon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

At the end of the 2018 Legislative Session, the Wyoming House and Senate resolved two water project bills, ultimately agreeing to fund the West Fork Reservoir. The original legislation would have allocated $40 million, but the House eliminated the project completely. The Senate later resurrected it with $10 million in funding, and eventually, lawmakers reached a compromise of $4.7 million. 

Bison in Yellowstone
AMY MARTIN

Two people were arrested Friday morning at the Stephen’s Creek facility in Yellowstone National Park. This is the second arrest in two weeks and the fourth criminal incident at the facility this year.

WyDOT Photograph of Closed U.S. 287
Wyoming Department of Transportation

Due to heavy snow causing downed trees, nearly 3,000 people in Laramie lost power Thursday evening. Rocky Mountain Power is the town’s electricity provider. Dave Eskelsen, a media relations officer with Rocky Mountain Power, said several outages occurred. 

Grizzly bear
Credit Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone National Park; Jim Peaco

A federal district judge cited potential grizzly hunts when denying the federal government’s request to delay lawsuits that challenge the bear's delisting.

SF 74, image below Gov. Mead's veto letter
Legislative Service Office

Governor Matt Mead has vetoed a bill aimed to make new criminal classifications for those damaging or slowing down critical infrastructure like oil and gas facilities or pipelines. In a public letter, he said it was imprecisely crafted with some crimes already covered under other statutes. 

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