Natural Resources & Energy

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Stephanie Joyce

A bankruptcy judge has given Alpha Natural Resources approval to move its restructuring plan to a vote, over the objections of the federal government.

The government had argued Alpha didn’t provide enough detail about various parts of the plan, including how the company plans to pay for mine reclamation, for creditors to fully evaluate it, but the bankruptcy judge disagreed.

Donald Trump laid out his thoughts on U.S. energy policy during a speech today at an oil industry conference in Bismarck, North Dakota.  

Trump spent much of his time bashing what he referred to as Hillary Clinton's "extremist agenda."

 

As for his agenda, Trump wants to bring back jobs in coal, oil, and gas by rolling back what he called an onslaught of federal regulations and also by producing more fossil fuels.

 

Stephanie Joyce

The federal government has filed an objection to Alpha Natural Resources’ plan for emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

  

Environmentalists, lawmakers, coal miners, and advocates of all types gathered to have their say at a public meeting this week, in Casper, Wyo, hosted by the Department of the Interior (DOI). Like most discussions of the future of coal, the debate was passionate and polarized.

“This is a politically motivated sham, pandering to the political allies of the secretary and the administration,” Richard Reavey, an executive at a coal company called Cloud Peak Energy, said in his public remarks.

National Park Service

Yellowstone National Park is closing a popular hillside near the Grand Prismatic Spring this summer. Over the years, unofficial trails have been created on the hill since hikers can look over the spring there.

Jody Lyle, a spokeswoman for the park, says the closure is part of a two-year project.

"This summer we’re going to close that area, begin construction on an official trail that will go to an official overlook, and then restore all of the damage that’s been done on that hillside from people creating social trails on their own," says Lyle.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park officials are urging tourists to obey park guidelines, after recent incidents of visitors breaking the law garnered widespread attention on social media.

Wyoming Fire Danger Is Low

May 23, 2016
U.S. Forest Service

This week federal officials said that a dry spring has them concerned that there could be a serious summer fire season in the western United States. Of course, few of us in Wyoming understand what a dry spring looks like. Bill Crapser is Wyoming’s state forester. He spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck.

Melodie Edwards

  

Everywhere you look on the McNeil elk feed ground west of Bondurant, you see the bones and hides of dead elk. Rancher Steve Robertson says many are left behind from wolf kills. He tells of seeing elk chased by wolves here just this last winter.

“The steams boiling off them, their tongues are hanging out,” he says. “And then two weeks later all those elk were killed on the feed ground. And the elk, they can’t go anywhere they’re snowed in, they’re trapped.”

High Utility Costs Force Hard Decisions For The Poor

May 20, 2016
Andrew Cullen

The poorest among us pay more than they can afford for their utility bills and energy assistance programs struggle to meet the demand.

As Lea Anne Shellberg knows, spring can be the most difficult time.  Spring is when those power bills from the winter start piling up. A broken back and a recurring battle with skin cancer ended her career as an interior designer. When I first tried setting up an interview with her in mid-March, she was in trouble.

“This is gonna be fun,” she said, “we’re literally going to be sitting in the dark.”

With three of the four largest American coal companies in bankruptcy, a federal regulator gave a blunt assessment today of potential problems with future coal mine clean up. The Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement (OSMRE) is asking for public comment on how to make sure that coal mine reclamation is paid for.  

 

The Bureau of Land Management

Coal miners, state lawmakers, environmentalists and land advocates all came together in Casper today to weigh in on coal. 

UW Raccoon Project

The University of Wyoming Raccoon Project is gearing up to trap raccoons for further study.

Over the last year, a team of undergraduate and graduate students has been studying where raccoons in Laramie live and congregate. This week, they will set live traps around the city in order to collar, chip, and collect biological samples from the raccoons. This allows the team to track the animals, and ultimately set up puzzles around town to observe and test the raccoons’ intelligence.

Road Tripping Along North Dakota's Oil Bust Alley

May 13, 2016

Dickinson, North Dakota is a very different place than it was two years ago, when this oilfield town of less than 30,000 people was one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Since then, the price of oil has fallen by more than 50 percent. Nowhere are signs of the slowdown more visible than along Dickinson’s Highway 22. I decided to take a road trip to see what had changed along oil bust alley.

Robert van Waarden / survivalmediaagency.com

The debate about whether or not humans are warming the planet is essentially over – ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that we are. But the debate over tactics, about how to reduce our carbon emissions, is just starting to heat up.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

A Wyoming legislative committee is moving forward with proposals to increase the tax on wind energy. Wyoming is currently the only state that taxes wind energy production. The Revenue Committee decided at its meeting on Wednesday to draft two possible bills. One would raise the production tax on wind beyond the current one dollar per megawatt hour. The other would force wind companies to hand over some part of the federal wind energy production tax credit to the state.

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.

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