Climate change

Governor Mead announced that the so-called Integrated Test Center will be built at the Dry Fork Station, a coal-fired powerplant near Gillette. The state has pledged $15 million dollars in funding for the lab. Another $5 million will come from the Denver-based power company Tri-State Generation. The goal is to develop new technology to turn carbon dioxide into useful products, instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.

Rebecca Huntington

The future of coal was the focus of the International Advanced Coal Technologies Conference in Jackson Hole this week.  

Researchers, officials, and advocates came from all over the world to discuss, among other issues, new ways to use coal. 

Imagine if carbon dioxide emissions, instead of being released into the atmosphere could instead be made into useful everyday products. A $20 million dollar prize was unveiled last week aimed at figuring out just that.

The call to submit ideas for how to actually do that came with the official announcement of the Carbon XPRIZE competition at a recent conference in Texas. 

The XPRIZE foundation itself is a non-profit that manages contests in five areas, one of which is energy and the environment. 

Beartooth Snowfields Melting

Oct 5, 2015
Dr. James Halfpenny

Snowfields that have topped the Beartooth Mountains for centuries are gone now. A Montana Scientist, Dr. Jim Halfpenny says they melted this summer.

A waterfall near the Beartooth Highway is just part of the beauty this area offers now. The highway brings travelers back and forth from Northwest Wyoming to southern Montana. The colors are brilliant. The sky is clear. The weather is warm and balmy.  

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

In Chinese cities like Taiyuan and Beijing, smog hangs heavy, blocking skyscrapers from view. It irritates your lungs and eyes. On a recent trip to China’s largest coal producing province, I even felt like I could taste the pollution.

A delegation from Wyoming had front row seats at the Low Carbon Development Forum on Wednesday in China’s main coal producing province. 

A State Senator said an agreement between the United States and China to share advances in Clean Coal technology is probably ten years too late. The deal was reached this week. Gillette Senator Michael Von Flatern said it’s better late than never.                

Wikimedia Commons


The world’s two largest emitters of carbon dioxide have agreed to share advances in clean coal technology. The terms of that deal were finalized after a meeting between U.S. and Chinese energy officials earlier this week in Billings, Montana. 

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

As part of a series of listening sessions held across the country, representatives from the Bureau of Land Management recently came to Gillette, Wyo., to meet with residents about the agency's federal coal program. The meeting quickly turned into an impassioned discussion about the future of the coal industry.

Janice Schneider, with the Department of the Interior, said the agency was looking for comments on “how the Bureau of Land Management can best manage its coal resources."

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy



People from all over the state met in Gillette last week to comment on the Bureau of Land Management's controversial proposal to update the federal coal program. 

Office of the Governor

Energy has always been an important topic in Wyoming, but it’s increasingly becoming an important global conversation, especially in the context of climate change. Wyoming, as the second-largest energy producing state in the nation, is central to that conversation. Decisions made today will likely affect the state and the country for years and decades to come. In an interview with Wyoming Public Radio’s energy reporter Stephanie Joyce, Governor Matt Mead started by saying he thinks it’s time to move past the debate about climate change.

Obama's Clean Power Plan Visualized

Aug 4, 2015
Inside Energy

The Obama Administration announced final rules Monday for its plan to limit carbon emissions from U.S. power plants. While some concessions were made to critics, the final rules actually increase the carbon cuts demanded from states and will have long-lasting impacts on the way power is produced.

The White House previewed the announcement on Sunday with a video narrated by President Obama.

The Obama administration released sweeping environmental regulations today. The first-ever nationwide standards to regulate emissions from power plants are even more ambitious than expected.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Polar bears are one of the species that’s been hardest hit by climate change. But scientists have long thought the bears might be capable of effectively hibernating in summer, to save energy during a longer open water season. New research from the University of Wyoming disproves that hypothesis though. Merav Ben David is a professor of wildlife ecology and one of the authors of the new study. She told Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce that without hibernation, it’s an increasingly long and hungry summer for the bears.

Aaron Schrank/WPR

Thanks to the Pope’s environmental encyclical, some Wyoming Catholics are studying big issues like global climate change for the first time. Laramie’s St. Paul’s Newman Center is hosting a 4-week course this summer to dig in to the document.

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

Wyoming’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction says the state needs to be doing a better job educating students to meet industry’s needs.

“You will hear me talk a lot about phasing out courses that are not of value to industry, and really scaling up those courses that are of value,” Jillian Balow told the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority at its summer meeting. She said the state’s infrastructure includes its students and that Wyoming needs to keep them in state with better science, technology, engineering and math education. 

Irina Zhorov of Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming's two U.S. senators are getting behind a new effort to give Governors more power over the EPA. The reason is simple.

It's no secret the EPA has its sights set on the nation's traditional energy sector. In 2012, 39% of the nation's carbon emissions came from either coal, oil or natural gas fired power plants. There's only about 2500 of them nationwide, and the EPA is demanding they cut their emissions or it will have them shuttered. Wyoming's junior Senator John Barrasso says the EPA is forcing the energy industry to make terrible business decisions. 

Abhi Sharma, Flickr Creative Commons

Hundreds of parents, students, and teachers showed up for a contentious school board meeting about reading curriculum in Cody Tuesday night. 

Cody teachers, administrators, and parents spent nearly three years selecting reading and language materials for the school district. They chose Houghton and Mifflin’s Journey curriculum books.

School Superintendent Ray Schulte says 8 or 9 people filed 40 complaints against the selection. Newly elected school board member Scott Weber had problems with some of the content.

“There’s junk science in there.”

Stephanie Joyce

Citing recent decisions by financial companies like Bank of America to withdraw funding from coal operations, Governor Matt Mead says Wyoming needs to innovate in order to stay an energy leader.

During his keynote address at the Wyoming Business Report's Energy Summit, Mead said that he has and will continue to fight against federal regulations, but added that more will be needed.  

Yale Project on Climate Change Communication

Just over half of people in Wyoming believe the climate is changing, according to a new study from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. 

The study examines climate change beliefs on a county and state level, including whether global warming is caused by humans, whether it will harm future generations and whether there should be policies in place to curb carbon emissions.

In the recent legislative session, Wyoming lawmakers voted to allow the State Board of Education to again consider the Next Generation Science Standards. In its first meeting since the session ended, the Board voted unanimously Tuesday to get back to work adopting science standards.

Last year, a committee of Wyoming science educators recommended the Next Generation Science Standards after 18 months of review. All members of that committee will be invited back to continue their work--and those who don’t return will be replaced.

On Monday, Governor Matt Mead signed a bill that reopens the debate over teaching climate change science in schools. The Next Generation Science Standards, known as NGSS, include the concept that climate change is real and largely caused by man. In Wyoming, and a handful of other states, that’s controversial. So last year, the state legislature banned discussion to adopt them.  

Pete Gosar, Chairman of the Wyoming Board of Education, says the board now plans to begin debating the standards at their March meeting.  

Over the past year, The Next Generation Science Standards have stirred debate in Wyoming—which continues today. Lawmakers have taken issue with what the standards say about climate change. Laramie Democrat Pete Gosar has something of a front row seat for this discussion. He’s recently been named chairman of the State Board of Education—after serving for four years on that body, which is responsible for reviewing and adopting education standards. Wyoming Public Radio's Aaron Schrank spoke with Pete Gosar to get his take on the standards—and the controversy around them.​ 

©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin

In coming months, the NCAR supercomputer in Cheyenne will tackle five new projects that could improve weather and climate forecasting in Wyoming. The supercomputer, known as Yellowstone, has the capacity of nearly 73-thousand desktop computers, working together as one. That power will be used studying wind turbine performance and population growth in the Colorado River Basin, among other things. University of Wyoming professor Bart Geerts’ project is especially ambitious.

Jeremy Wilburn, Flickr Creative Commons

Nearly a year after Wyoming lawmakers blocked the State Board of Education from considering a set of science standards that include climate change, a bill to put the standards back on the table is up for debate. When the dust settles, it could mean a change in classroom conversations about climate.

At Natrona County High School in Casper, 10th grade biology students are dropping bits of beef liver into test tubes filled with hydrogen peroxide. Today’s lesson is on enzymes, but science teacher Bryan Aivazian doesn’t spend much time lecturing.

Wyoming’s Republican senators can’t wait to go from being in the minority to the majority party come January. In the new year the GOP will hold all the gavels - and with them, most of the power - on Capitol Hill. But Republicans are still locked out of the White House, which Senator John Barrasso is keenly aware of. He's not happy the president is using his pen on immigration reform or to agree to carbon emission targets with China.