Climate change

Todd Guenther

It’s late afternoon at the base of Dinwoody Glacier, and its creek is roaring with melted ice nearby. It's been a long day of digging for archeology students Crystal Reynolds, Morgan Robins and Nico Holt. 

“We love digging holes!” they say, laughing. “We love playing in the dirt.”

“It's like playing hide and seek with people you never met,” says Holt.

Melodie Edwards

The Journey In

It’s a hard 23 mile hike into the Wind River Range to one of the state’s largest glaciers. It’s called Dinwoody, and every step is a study in the powerful impact this glacier has had on these mountains in the last 1.5 million years.

Penny Preston

While the National Park Service celebrated its 100th year of existence recently, the beloved federal agency is trying to figure out how to make it through the next century, while protecting the national parks “unimpaired for future generations”. Some people are concerned new funding sources may put corporate logos in the parks.

144 years after Yellowstone National Park was established, people from around the world still gasp and cheer when Old Faithful erupts.

Rebecca Jacobson / Inside Energy

The federal government released new standards today aimed at increasing fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions from large vehicles like heavy-duty pickup trucks, semis and tractors. 

U.S. Forest Service

Climate change is hurting certain fish species in North American streams and lakes, according to the July issue of Fisheries Magazine.

Abigail Lynch, a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, is one of the guest editors for the special issue. She said she looked at several previous scientific studies when compiling the July issue and found worrisome trends, like how prolonged droughts impact fish that are normally used to having a lot of space in their habitat.

The Bureau of Land Management

 

Regulators heard from all sorts of people, from firefighters to business owners to coal miners, at a meeting in Grand Junction, CO today on potential reforms to the federal coal program. 

Coal production during in the first quarter of 2016 was the lowest its been since 1981. According to the US Energy Information Administration, coal production in the Power River Basin dropped nearly 30% from the fourth quarter of 2015. That is a bigger drop than in any other region.

Demand for coal is down because of low natural gas prices, competition from renewables, and environmental regulations. An unusually warm winter also reduced demand, so companies cut production.

Juerg Matter

In what could prove to be a major step forward for carbon capture and storage, a group of researchers in Iceland have discovered how to turn carbon dioxide emissions from a power plant into stone.

Carbon capture and storage is considered an important tool in the fight against global climate change, but the storage part of the equation has proved challenging—most work has focused on injecting the carbon dioxide into deep saline aquifers, which then need to be monitored for centuries for potential leaks.

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.

 

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.

The Bureau of Land Management

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

statemuseum.nd.gov

  

It’s hard not to notice the influence of the oil and coal industries at the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck. Inside the Continental Resources-sponsored Inspiration Gallery you can learn about coal reclamation, touch the Bakken shale, and guess which everyday products are made of petroleum. You can buy oil-themed chocolate at the gift store. Fossil fuel companies are some of the largest donors to this museum, which reopened in 2014 after a $52 million expansion and renovation.

Wyoming Game and Fish

 

It’s true, we got a late start, the snow turning to mush in the warm sun under our snowmobile tread as we head out mid-morning. I'm tagging along with Wyoming Game and Fish Wolverine Biologist Lee Tafelmeyer into the south end of the Wind River Range to take down a motion-sensored camera he's been baiting with roadkill deer and beaver carcasses in an effort to take photos of wolverines. It's all part of a multi-state project to count this elusive species in the West. Last year, they took 53 photos of an estimated five animals.

Alvin Trusty via Flickr Creative Commons

A national survey of middle and high school science teachers has found that educators’ confusion about climate change leads to misinformation in the classroom.

The National Center for Science Education and Penn State University surveyed 1,500 teachers across the country on their views about climate change—and how they present the topic to students. The average teacher spent one or two hours per year on the topic.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Media

  

  

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a major part of President Obama's climate change agenda... the Clean Power Plan. That rule, which would limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal fired power plants is now on hold until legal challenges against it are resolved. Wyoming is one of the 27 states to sue the federal government over the regulations. Our Inside Energy reporter Leigh Paterson joins Caroline Ballard to talk about what it all means. 

NPR

President Obama’s final annual budget, released Tuesday, spends heavily on climate and clean energy, shifting away from fossil fuels. 

With drought and climate change creating water shortages in lower desert states, Wyoming is looking for more ways to store its share of Colorado River water. Last week, a bill sponsored by Representative Cynthia Lummis that would expand the storage capacity of Fontanelle Reservoir on the Green River in southwest Wyoming passed the House Natural Resources Committee unanimously.

Lummis says Wyoming needs more water to grow.

April Barnes

You might think of the Grand Canyon as one of the wildest places in the U.S. But the fact is, the Colorado River that runs through that canyon is not wild at all. Here’s a quote from Cadillac Desert, a documentary on water in the West.

"This river, the Colorado, can be turned on and turned off down to the last drop on orders from the Interior Secretary of the United States," a voiceover tells us. "This was the first river on earth to come under complete human control."

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

Carbon dioxide emissions have a pretty bad reputation these days. The Paris Climate Conferencebrought together delegations from all over the world in an effort to cut carbon emissions and avoid catastrophic global warming. But right now, the dirtiest fuel - coal - still supplies nearly 40% of the electricity in the U.S. and in even more in many developing countries.

uwyo.edu

Wyoming has long considered itself a leader in carbon management... how to capture and store carbon. And with the world's attention focused on the climate talks in Paris, the question of how to keep carbon out of the atmosphere has never been more pertinent. 

Kipp Coddington is the new head of the University of Wyoming's Carbon Management Institute, and he sat down with Wyoming Public Radio's Stephanie Joyce to talk about the future of carbon storage technologies.

Flickr Creative Commons

This month, global leaders are gathered in Paris to make a plan to combat climate change. There is broad scientific consensus that climate change is real, serious and caused by humans—but political consensus in this country has been elusive, often clouded by doubt. Over the years, climate denial arguments have changed, but the result has stayed the same: blocking action on climate change.

As an energy reporter in Wyoming, the nation’s largest coal-producing state, it’s not uncommon for me to hear climate change denial. For example:

Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

The shadows of cottonwood trees grow long as the sun sets over Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Wyoming. A perfect time to spot wildlife on the Green River. Among the reeds, I see a white patch with a long neck. A trumpeter swan. Refuge project leader Tom Koerner passes me a pair of binoculars.

“That's probably a single bird and right in this wetland unit we just drove by there's three different pairs that nest in here,” Koerner says. 

With the Paris climate talks just around the corner, environmental groups are asking the Department of the Interior to consider climate change when approving coal mine projects. 

The letter, signed by activists like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club calls on DOI to deny five proposed mine expansion plans in Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah, Montana, and Colorado. 

Energy Information Administration

Wyoming's total carbon emissions are on the rise, even as the state's per-capita emissions have fallen.

Wyoming’s falling per-capita emissions followed the national trend from 2005 to 2013. Forty-eight states’ per-capita emissions fell, while just three rose, according to the Energy Information Administration.

newsroom.unfccc.int/paris

Remember when Democrats controlled Congress a few years back? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had stout majorities back then. Yet even then Democrats couldn’t get legislation passed to combat climate change. So why is the Obama administration preparing to go to Paris to promise the world drastic emission reductions from the United States? U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis said the answer is simple.

“Oh, he’s bypassing Congress.”

Lummis said President Obama isn’t being honest with global leaders as he’s promising lavish reductions in CO2.

  

The New York attorney general and Peabody Energy have come to an agreement over the company’s disclosures related to climate change.

The attorney general’s office launched the investigation in 2007. Over the weekend, the office agreed to drop the investigation if Peabody includes certain disclosures about the risks of climate change in its future filings with regulators.

Photo by Henry Patton, Flickr Creative Commons

If the entire Greenland ice cap were to melt, scientists predict sea levels would rise more than 20 feet. Climate change is speeding up melting of the ice sheet, but it’s not clear by how much. The New York Times recently profiled one of the few research projects taking direct measurements to answer that question. One of the researchers is University of Wyoming graduate student Brandon Overstreet.

Department of Energy EIA

 

One of America’s largest coal companies is running out of options after a judge ruled against a move by the company that would have reduced its debt and interest payments. 

Arch Coal had hoped to improve its balance sheet with a debt swap deal. But last week a New York judge denied the company’s request to protect the deal, instead siding with a group of lenders who want to block it.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

Wyoming provides nearly 40 percent of the coal we consume in the United States, but demand for coal-fired electricity is shrinking in response to a variety of factors – including low natural gas prices and environmental regulations aimed at slowing climate change.

basinelectric.com

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.

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