Department of the Interior

Melodie Edwards

Last week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was in Pinedale, taking part in a ceremony to sign up Wyoming ranchers to help protect sage grouse. These conservation agreements are called Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances or CCAA’s. They’re supposed to protect the birds on private lands, but as Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards reports, some wildlife advocates question whether the program really has the teeth to make a difference.

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, praised sage grouse conservation efforts in Wyoming during a tour of a ranch outside of Pinedale on Wednesday. The Bousman Ranch is one of nine in Wyoming that have agreed to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service on sage grouse conservation. During the tour Secretary Jewell learned about the ranch’s new strategies for protecting the grouse, such as converting windmill water tanks to solar to eliminate perches for the grouse’s predators like hawks and ravens.

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After considerable discussion, the Wyoming legislature approved a bill that would let the state and the federal government move forward with finalizing a deal to swap state owned land in Grand Teton National Park with the federal government.  Some senators expressed concern that the federal mineral land won't match the estimated $100 million value of the state's park land, but Jackson Senator Leland Christensen says the bill was changed to ensure the trade will be fair.

A high-voltage transmission line, known as Gateway West, has been approved by the Department of the Interior.  The power line will stretch 900 miles across Wyoming and into western Idaho and will transport renewable and conventionally-derived energy. 

The federal government will pay back mineral royalties that it withheld from states under the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.

When sequestration went into effect earlier this year, the Department of the Interior started withholding 5 percent of states' share of the royalties, which are paid on resources like coal and oil extracted from federal lands. For Wyoming, that's amounted to more than $40 million.

On Monday, DOI announced that after a legal review, it's giving the money back.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced the approval of three major renewable energy projects on public lands. Jewell emphasized her commitment to President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy and said one of her top priorities was to continue the work started by her predecessor, Ken Salazar, to expand the nation’s renewable energy portfolio.  

Barrasso votes no on Interior nominee

Mar 21, 2013

The Senate Energy Committee voted to approve the nomination of Sally Jewel to be the next Interior Secretary despite the objections of Wyoming U-S Senator John Barrasso. 

Barrasso was one of three members of the Senate Energy Committee to oppose the nomination. Barrasso told the committee that he received vague answers from Jewel concerning a variety of topics, but his largest criticism surrounds the fact that Jewel was Vice Chairman of the National Parks Conservation Association. 

DOI to investigate coal sales to overseas markets

Feb 11, 2013

The US Department of the Interior has assembled a task force and an action plan to investigate coal exports. The move comes after a letter from US Senators Wyden, of Oregon, and Murkowski, of Alaska, asked the agency to find out whether coal companies are properly reporting their sales. Increasingly, Wyoming’s coal producers are examining markets overseas to make up for a slump in domestic sales. Companies can fetch significantly higher prices for coal in Asian markets, and by selling through an affiliated intermediary, they could report the initial sale instead of the higher, final sale.