energy

Stephanie Joyce

Wyoming’s energy resources are famous in the U.S., but they also play a role internationally. Coal markets are doing better now than in the past several years partially thanks to increasing exports and international prices. Dr. Robert Ichord helps give a broad view on the future of coal, renewable energy and carbon capture technology. Dr. Ichord has been a leader in energy transformation and security for years within the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development and Department of Energy. 

Black Hills Energy

Park County natural gas customers will be receiving a rate hike of 22-percent over a one-year period.

Black Hills Energy

July 10 is the first day of the Wyoming Public Service Commission public hearing to decide whether to approve Black Hills Energy’s one-year rate hike of 22-percent on Park County residential natural gas customers.

Bureau of Land Management

Driving west across Wyoming, there are windmills lined up across bluffs in the distance. Oil and gas rigs dot both sides of the highway. Open-pit coal mines too. What you won’t see on a cross-state trip are any fields of solar panels. In Sweetwater County, that could soon change.

The governors of neighboring Western states shared a stage Tuesday to talk about energy. Utah Republican Gary Herbert and Colorado Democrat John Hickenlooper agreed about many issues — until they were asked afterward about the Trump administration. That's when it became clear they have contrasting views on how the federal government is listening to the states.

It’s an international agreement but Trump's decision to leave the nuclear deal with Iran could be felt in our region for good and for bad.

Researchers at Idaho State University said they’ve lost a small amount of weapons-grade plutonium. Federal officials aren’t pleased.

Kemmerer Mine
Westmorealnd Coal Company

One of the largest producers of coal in the country may soon face Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Westmoreland Coal Company's stock has been in free fall over the last year and several of its primary customers are moving away from coal.

Melodie Edwards

In the early 20th century, tribal members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma became extremely wealthy after discovering oil underneath their reservation. Then, dozens of Osage members started turning up murdered in a vast conspiracy meant to redirect their wealth into the hands of white men.

In the recent book Killers of the Flower Moon, author David Grann explores this chapter in American history. Grann visited the University of Wyoming as a guest lecturer, and Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard spoke with him about how he first became interested in the Osage Indian Murders and their legacy. 

Retired electrical engineer Lisa Hecht loves nerding out about solar energy.

The Boise resident has a solar light for emergencies, a solar battery pack she uses to charge her cell phone and a solar oven she swears makes top-notch steel cut oats.

Idaho and Colorado saw some of the nation's leading growth in wages this past year. But other western states, including Montana and Wyoming, lagged behind according to the latest report from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Over the past decade, the market for Mountain West coal has cooled. Renewables and natural gas in the U.S. are cheaper, stocks are tumbling and some coal companies are even teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

The foreground is reclaimed mine land, with the active coal mine behind.
Wyoming Mining Assocation

Back in 2011, the coal market looked great. Three of the largest coal companies in the world, all with mines in Wyoming, invested big in metallurgical coal, the kind used for infrastructure. Sierra Club Attorney Peter Morgan said, “Each company took on hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of debt."

Combination of several notices, regulations, and proposed policies
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Sierra Club’s Wyoming Chapter

This week, both the state and federal government took steps that will change how coal companies deal with pollution and reclamation.

Senate President Eli Bebout Speaks To Full Senate
Cooper McKim

It’s the third of four weeks in the 2018 budget session. With the current revenue crunch, many bills have revolved around spurring new revenue, finding new sources, or cutting back on spending. And for energy, it’s no different. The surviving bills also come down to money. Thirteen bills arose related to energy, with only three still moving through the system. There are others that relate, but are not directly tied to energy.

Powder River Basin Resource Council's Shannon Anderson speaking to the Senate Minerals Committee about SF-98
Tennessee Watson / Wyoming Public Radio

A bill looking to cut future severance taxes for oil and gas companies was approved by the Senate Minerals Committee. Senate File 98 would cut severance taxes in half during the third year of production until the end of its fourth year.  

Cody Senator Hank Coe said the goal is to attract new energy operations to Wyoming over another mineral producing state. Coe said that it's worked before. 

Digest For SF-98
Wyoming Legislative Service Office

Proposed legislation passed introduction in the State Senate last Friday that would cut the severance tax rate in half for petroleum and natural gas companies for a certain period of time. The reduction from 6 percent to 3 percent would take place during the project's third year until the end of its fourth. 

Oil and gas drilling on Butler’s property.
Cooper McKim

In northern Converse County, a semi-truck is pulling onto a highway from a rig site. It's rocking back and forth as 49 mile an hour sustained winds blow west. Many other trucks are parked in the lot as well, carrying oil, gravel, water and rig supplies. All this oil and gas activity is happening on Jay Butler’s ranch. 

 

Converse, Wyoming County Map
Sperling's Best Places

An oil and gas project that would develop 5,000 new wells over 1.5 million acres of private, forest service, Bureau of Land Management, and state land in Converse County has taken a step forward. The BLM has released a draft version of the project’s environmental impact statement.

Pinedale, WY at sundown with a rig in the background
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

When you look past the light brown brick courthouse in downtown Pinedale, there are rolling hills dotted with sage brush and thin dark shapes in the distance. Those are oil and gas rigs. They are the largest contributor to revenue out here, but sometimes, when those companies that own those rigs remove resources from the ground, they don’t follow through on paying a key tax to the county. 

CC0 License

Teton County contributed $250,000 toward a shared solar energy facility in Jackson. The solar farm was approved by the town council this past August. Instead of individuals and business buying their own panels, customers will buy solar power from the plant.

The chair of the Teton County Board of County Commissioners, Mark Newcomb, said the farm will help alleviate pressure from their main source of energy: hydropower.

Bureau of Land Management; https://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D9%85%D9%84%D9%81:Coal_mine_Wyoming.jpg

Wyoming voted for President Trump at a higher percentage than any other state, in part because the President promised a new era of energy dominance. After declining employment numbers in fossil fuel industries, increasing environmental regulations and coal company bankruptcies, many were ready to see a change. So, what has changed in the President’s first year?

State Carbon Dioxide Emissions Data
U.S. Energy Information Administration

Wyoming’s carbon dioxide emissions per person decreased 10 percent from 2005 to 2015 but the state still has the highest emissions level in the country. According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Wyoming’s CO2 emissions are seven times the national average. Emissions levels are calculated based on electricity use, transportation, and consumption for homes, businesses, or factories. 

Amy Sisk/Inside Energy

Wyoming’s Republicans in Washington are hoping to pass broad energy policy in this congressional session after inter-party squabbling in the GOP derailed the effort last year.

In the last Congress, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan energy bill that included Wyoming Senator John Barrasso’s push to expedite the export of Liquefied Natural Gas. That bill garnered support from 85 out of 100 senators but was never sent to the desk of former President Obama. Barrasso was upset that the bill died after negotiations with House Republicans fell apart.

House Committee on Natural Resources

It’s been a busy week for energy in Washington D.C. While you may only be hearing about the tax debate in Congress, new bills are moving forward that relate to energy development out west. Dylan Brown, a reporter for E & E news covering coal and mining, gives background on what’s being discussed and what it means.  

 

Wyoming Economic Analysis Division

According to the most recent cost of living index report, Wyoming experienced a 1.1 percent rate of inflation and saw the cost of living rise slightly in the second quarter of 2017 compared to the previous year. 

The report is published biannually and measures six consumer spending categories, including apparel, food, medical, transportation, housing, and recreation & personal care.

Peter Fitzgerald, Wikimedia

A draft of the Interior Department’s five-year strategic plan has been leaked - it was first obtained by The Nation. The 50-page document draws a road map for how the federal agency intends to prioritize energy dominance.

Western Values Project

A Montana-based environmental watchdog group is hoping to uncover e-mails from energy lobbyists and the Interior Department.

The Western Values Project is concerned coordination between the federal land management agency and representatives from the energy industry resulted in proposed changes to the sage grouse management plans.  

The Trump administration’s announcement that it’s rolling back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan is being greeted with glee by energy state lawmakers. The Clean Power Plan set goals for each state to reduce their carbon emissions in an effort to get the nation to move off dirty coal in favor of natural gas and renewable fuels.

That’s why Republicans like Wyoming Senator John Barrasso are glad the new administration has scrapped the plan.

Center for Western Priorities' Scorecard
Center for Western Priorities

The Center for Western Priorities, a Colorado conservation non-profit, has released a scorecard that ranks states based on their policies on public land, outdoor recreation, and energy issues. The group sought to highlight where western states are doing well and where there’s some room for growth.

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