Natural Resources & Energy

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The song is called Paradise. Recorded in 1971 by folks musician John Prine. In it, he criticized Peabody Energy's mining practices in a Kentucky town called Paradise. It's now being used as a protest song in another coal mining town, Gillette Wyoming. In 2013, two Colorado activists were arrested there for demonstrating at Peabody shareholders meeting. That same day thousands of protestors showed up at Peabody's headquarters in St. Louis Missouri. Both groups were accusing the company of denying healthcare benefits to workers.

John Barrasso Official Portrait 112th Congress

Wyoming Senator John Barrasso has been a leading voice calling on Congress to lift a decades-old ban on exporting U.S. natural gas overseas. It really heated up last year when Russia invaded the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea. Senator Barrasso remembers it well.

“There were a bi-partisan group of us actually in Ukraine the day that the Russian helicopters landed at the gas plant just North of the Crimea, which tells you what it was all about. It was about the gas. And Putin uses energy to hold European countries and Ukraine hostage.”

Dan Boyce

Pope Francis made international headlines last month by calling on the world to proactively address human-caused climate change.

The document, a so-called encyclical, is one of the most important statements a pope can issue.

Shortly after its release, Inside Energy reporter Dan Boyce sat down with Paul Etienne, Catholic Bishop of Cheyenne.

His diocese, or jurisdiction, covers the entire state of Wyoming, the nation’s largest coal producer.

Shane Reetz / Prairie Public Broadcasting

From the roof of the Confederation of Danish Industries building in downtown Copenhagen, Denmark’s energy past and future are within view. Smokestacks from several coal-fired power plants share space on the horizon with a fleet of wind turbines.

But most of those smokestacks are coming down soon. Denmark is transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy—the culmination of a decades-long effort that began with the energy crisis of the 1970s.

The federal government is going after a now-defunct Wyoming energy company for failing to document and pay royalties on the gas it had been extracting. 

Stephanie Joyce


The Casper-based company responsible for January’s Yellowstone River oil spill has proposed a new pipeline in North Dakota. Labor unions are opposing Bridger Pipeline’s project.

Evan Whiteford of the Laborers International Union of North America is the first to say he’s not opposed to pipelines.

“But we support the pipelines being done correctly and safely.”

Emily Guerin


Steve Fischer finished law school in Ohio in 2010 — one of the worst years to graduate in recent memory. Less than 70 percent of law school grads who passed the bar in Ohio that year landed a job as an attorney. He finally called an old friend and asked if he was hiring.

He was — in fact he was desperate for help. Soon, Fischer, “was making better money than most of my law school classmates.”

Philip Brewer / Flickr Creative Commons

Chemicals used in refrigeration and air conditioning can emit potent greenhouses gases. This week, the Environmental Protection agency passed regulations to curb these emissions. 

Solar Impulse /

A small, lightweight aircraft landed in Hawaii today, setting a new record for the world’s longest solo flight in a solar-powered plane. 

After spending 118 hours in the air, Swiss Pilot Andre Borschberg landed on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, ending the longest leg of a planned trip around the world. The Solar Impulse 2 took off from Abu Dhabi in March but was delayed in China and then Japan due to bad weather. At the end of June, Borschberg finally got the green light. He took off from Japan and landed in Hawaii five days later.   

Wikipedia Commons

National Parks may seems like pristine wilderness, but the truth is park visitors produce a lot of trash. Grand Teton National Park is aiming to change that.

It’s one of three national parks piloting an initiative to reduce the amount of park waste that goes to landfills.

Jackie Skaggs is a spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park. She says while many visitors may think trash is just what gets left behind at a campsite, the full picture of the park’s waste stream is much bigger.

Wells Fargo has awarded a 100-thousand dollar grant to The Grand Teton National Park Foundation. A quarter of the money will be used for the park’s Youth Conservation Program. The other 75-thousand dollars will be used for restoration work around Jenny Lake.

Kim Mills is a spokeswoman for the foundation. She says Jenny Lake is the most popular destination in the park.

U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service

The Saratoga National Fish Hatchery celebrates its 100th anniversary this weekend.

It is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and attracts around 3-thousand visitors a year. It raises both native and non-native trout species for stocking lakes and rivers and works with conservationists to protect endangered Wyoming Toads.

Ryan Moehring is a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He says the hatchery will be hosting some special events in honor of the centennial.

After weeks of hot and dry weather, Yellowstone National Park’s fire managers raised the fire danger rating to “high”. The warning comes as the park heads into its busiest season and one of the biggest holiday weekends of the year.

Traci Weaver with Yellowstone National Park says that means visitors to the park this July 4th weekend need to be extra-careful when dealing with fire. She says campfires should be completely put out and cool to the touch, and fireworks are not allowed anywhere in the park. That includes things you might not think of as fireworks.

Luke Anderson

Sometimes there can too much of a good thing, even cute little bunny rabbits.

This year’s wet weather has brought on an explosion in the population of cottontail rabbits. Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Steve Tessmann says lots of grass means more for rabbits to eat and hide in. But he says an increase in prey is often followed by an increase in predators.

Despite the recent downturn in prices, oil production in the US has continued to climb.

The Energy Information Administration's most recent figures, from April, show production that month reached 9.7 million barrels a day—the most oil the US has produced since 1971.

Stephanie Joyce

New data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, sheds light on the most dangerous areas of oil and gas.

NIOSH started collecting detailed data on oil and gas worker fatalities in 2014. The agency will be issuing a report based on what the data shows later this summer, but Kyla Retzer, a NIOSH epidemiologist, previewed some of it at a recent safety conference in Cheyenne.

Steve Fairbairn / USFWS

Last month, the Bureau of Land Management rolled out several new landscape vision plans that will shape public land protections in the West for the next two decades. But some conservation groups--including the Sierra Club and Western Watersheds Project--say these plans don’t use strict enough science to stop the extinction of the greater sage grouse.

Wildlife biologist Erik Molvar with WildEarth Guardians says that’s why his group decided to join forces in filing an administrative protest against those federal plans.

Martin Schulz via Flickr Creative Commons

Pope Francis’ recent statements framing global climate change as a moral issue could be hard to swallow for some Catholics in Wyoming—where just 42 percent of residents say they believe climate change is caused by humans. 

Leigh Paterson

Today the US Supreme Court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency in a suit that challenged one of the Obama administrations most ambitious environmental plans. 

The question at the heart of the case was this: should the EPA have considered cost before issuing a rule designed to cut mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. In the 5-4 decision, justices ruled in favor of the states and industry groups that brought the suit essentially saying yes, the EPA should have considered cost. 

Willow Belden

According to a new study from the Environmental Defense Fund, in 2013, Wyoming burned, vented and leaked $76 million worth of natural gas from federal and tribal lands.

“That’s a big waste of what could be going into federal and tribal royalty coffers,” said EDF spokesman Jon Goldstein, pointing out that the money also ends up with states and local communities through royalty sharing.

Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

In an eleventh hour decision, a judge has delayed implementation of new rules regulating fracking on federal lands. The rules were scheduled to go into effect Wednesday.

Among other things, they require the disclosure of fracking chemicals and more tests to ensure wells aren't leaking.

National Park Service

Pine beetles and drought is leaving Wyoming and other states more susceptible to wildfires than at any point in recent memory, yet the federal fire policy doesn’t seem to be keeping up with the new climate. Wyoming lawmakers are trying to solve the problem.

Groups Worry About BLM Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Plan

Jun 19, 2015
Willow Belden


Protestors say the BLM office in Montana is trying to wipe out the state’s last herd of wild horses. That herd lives in the Pryor Mountains in Montana and Wyoming. The group marched into the Billings Field office recently, demanding the agency abandon plans to round up horses and use birth control on the mares.

Ben Ramsey

In the small town of Pinedale, people have a lot of opinions about sage grouse. That’s because Pinedale just happens to sit in the middle of some of the best sage grouse habitat in the state. It’s also in the middle of some of the best oil and gas fields in the country. So when a Pinedale math teacher joined forces with a sage grouse conservation project, it started a community conversation.

Shane Reetz / Prairie Public Broadcasting

Across the nation -- and even in Wyoming -- power companies are adding more renewable energy to their systems. That creates new challenges for the electric grid… challenges that this country is just beginning to grapple with. In Denmark, the transition is happening more quickly - by 2030 the country’s power system is supposed to be 100 percent renewable. So already, industry and universities have been trying out potential solutions in the real world -- on a test island in the middle of the Baltic Sea. 


The electric car company Tesla will soon break ground on a supercharger station in Sheridan.

Sheridan’s supercharger station will be the third of its kind in Wyoming, joining two located in Cheyenne and Lusk. Wyoming also has 2 destination chargers in Jackson and Sheridan. But unlike Destination Chargers which are affiliated with a hotel or restaurant, superchargers are more like self-contained gas stations for Tesla’s electric cars. But instead of filling the tank you plug the car in to a freestanding station, located in a parking lot.

Mark Elbroch

A researcher studying the social behaviors of mountain lions will present his findings on Thursday, June 18, in the first of a series of summer talks co-sponsored by the University of Wyoming and the National Parks.

Mark Elbroch is a wildlife biologist with Panthera, a conservation group studying big cats and their habitats. He says new technology like GPS collars and remote video cameras have given him unprecedented access to the lives of mountain lions.

Stephanie Joyce

The Governor of one of China’s largest coal-producing provinces visited Wyoming Wednesday, meeting with University and State officials. The Jackson Hole Center for Global Affairs organized the visit by Li Xiaopeng and other top officials of Shanxi province.

Center President David Wendt says the goal is to foster more cooperation between Wyoming and Shanxi on issues relating to carbon capture.

The Laramie County Board of Commissioners shot down a proposal Tuesday to assert more local control over oil and gas development. The Cheyenne Area Landowners Coalition brought a resolution asking the Commissioners to require more specific mitigation measures for oil and gas drilling than are detailed in state law. It suggested setting limits on light and noise, among other things.

Wikipedia Commons

Like the enormous herds wild of bison that once thundered across the west, in coming years the forests of Yellowstone may, too, become few and far between.

That’s according to the new study The Coming Climate: Ecological Impacts of Climate Change On Teton County, commissioned by the Chartour Institute. Corinna Riginos is a research ecologist and co- authored the report. She tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard the data itself isn’t new – but they’re using it to make predictions about what could happen to the ecosystem and economy in Northwestern Wyoming.