A Wyoming program that incentivizes businesses’ use of green energy has won a national innovation award.
The Wyoming Renewable Energy Credit program was named the 2014 Economic Development Award Recipient by Business Facilities Magazine, a national publication on business expansion.
The initiative is a partnership between the Powder River Energy Corporation and the Wyoming Business Council. It offers a discount on energy costs for Wyoming businesses interested in using green power.
This week’s Supreme Court ruling on the EPA and its ability to regulate carbon is a mixed bag for Wyoming officials and energy producers. It sets the stakes even higher for Republicans in the state who are determined to derail a pending EPA rule on climate change.
Like most all things here in Washington these days, the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of the EPA is being read along party lines. But Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi says it’s not just partisanship. He says your opinion also hinges on where you’re reading.
As energy development increases across the country many states are starting to look into whether or not it would be a good idea to set up data bases to track possible health impacts directly attributed to energy development. Colorado has developed an extensive system within its Department of Health to track and investigate health care impacts. The State of Wyoming has not developed such a data base. Doctor Tracy Murphy is the state epidemiologist. He says the Department of Health rare fields calls of that nature.
The transport of crude oil by rail has spiked dramatically in recent years. From 2012 to 2013 the amount carried by the country's major freight railroads increased nearly 75 percent, according to the American Association of Railroads. Even though crude oil accounted for just over 1 percent of overall rail traffic last year, there's growing public concern about the potential oil spills and other hazards.
It didn't take long after the Obama administration unveiled new rules this week regulating carbon emissions from power plants for people to start naming winners and losers. Wyoming, the nation’s largest coal-producing state, and a huge coal consumer, was immediately billed as a loser.
The Obama administration said Monday that it intends to aggressively reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, or greenhouse gas pollution, produced in the United States. To boost these ambitions, the White House will partner with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce varying rules state-by-state to be carried out by power plants that produce the gases.
If successfully implemented, the regulations will deliver a 30 percent decrease in carbon emissions by 2030.
The predicted effects of continuing to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at current rates range from dramatic sea level rise to extreme weather to famine and drought. Power plants are among the largest carbon dioxide emitters, and on June 2, the Obama administration is scheduled to release new rules regulating those emissions. Utilities and trade groups are already warning those rules will have some dire consequences of their own.
The Obama administration wants states to cutback on carbon emissions, but doing that has always been a thorny problem. While carbon is a byproduct of almost everything we do, capturing and storing it is expensive. For years, the goal has been to figure out how to make that process cheaper, but more recent efforts take a different approach, with the focus shifting from storing carbon to using it.
On a recent spring morning, Karen Wawrousek led a tour of her lab at the Western Research Institute, on the outskirts of Laramie.
L-R: Steve Dietrich, Administrator, Air Quality Division, Department of Environmental Quality; Dan Byers, senior director for policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy ; Tim Rogers, environmental manager, Black Hills Corp
New regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants are due out at the beginning of next month and industry is warning that they could have a devastating impact on the economy.
Speaking at the Wyoming Business Report’s Energy Summit in Casper, Dan Byers, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the cost of the regulations will likely significantly outweigh the climate benefits, pointing out that developing nations are emitting more than ever. Byers says he’s skeptical of how the Environmental Protection Agency will calculate cost-benefit.
Some of the best paying jobs in Wyoming are in the oil and gas industry, but only ten percent are held by women. Energy companies are trying to attract more women to fill open positions. But women who do want to enter the field for the higher-paying jobs face a lot of barriers. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards reports.
Next week the U-S Senate is expected to have a debate on a bipartisan bill aimed at increasing energy efficiency in the U-S, but it could get derailed by an oil pipeline in the Midwest. Matt Laslo has the story from Washington on Wyoming Senator John Barrasso's role in the ongoing debate.
A company proposing to open an underground coal gasification demonstration site in Wright has been charged with environmental violations in Australia. The charges could cost the company over two million dollars per violation.
Underground coal gasification involves igniting coal seams deep underground to produce syngas, which can then be processed into various liquid fuels or other chemicals.
What exactly the environmental harm is has not yet been revealed.
Recently released data compiled by the federal government shows oil production on federal lands is up from last year, while natural gas production is down. Overall, the energy sector is booming, but industry analysts say companies are shifting from natural gas to wetter plays because of low natural gas prices. But even though production is up, some industry groups point out that it's increasing more quickly on private lands and blame the trend on slow permitting by the federal government.
The federal Office of Natural Resources Revenue, or ONRR, has fined a Wyoming oil and gas producer $204,362 for not submitting timely production reports for its federal leases. Matrix Production Company was issued two notices of noncompliance before ONRR levied the penalties. ONRR spokesman, Patrick Etchart, says the production reports are used to keep companies in check.
Lawmakers in Washington are debating whether to export more natural gas to combat Russian threats to cut off its gas supplies to Europe. Our D-C reporter Matt Laslo has a look at what that could mean for Wyoming’s economy – and environment.
It was standing room only at the Wright Public Library last night as residents packed into a hearing about a nearby project that would burn coal seams underground to produce synthesis gas or syngas.
Linc Energy’s proposed underground coal gasification project has been in the works for years, but from the public testimony, many Wright residents were hearing about it for the first time. And they had lots of questions about the process, which has never been developed commercially.
Governor Matt Mead and a handful of Wyoming legislators are excited about an idea that they hope will create more jobs in the state and finally do something locally with the minerals and other sources of energy that the state harvests. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.
The state produced more crude oil last year than it has in any year since 1999. That's in line with a nationwide trend; last year the country produced more crude oil than it has in any year since 1989.
State geologist Tom Drean says the increase can be attributed to more drilling activity in unconventional plays like shale and tight sands, made possible because of technologies like fracking, and horizontal and extended reach drilling.
A U.S. Geological Survey study shows that coalbed methane development has changed the chemistry of the surface water in parts of the Powder River. CBM wastewater was often discharged directly or indirectly into the stream.
The study analyzed three decades of data and determined that after extraction activities, the water contained more sodium and bicarbonate, which are compounds commonly found in CBM wastewater.
Report author Steve Sando says high sodium levels can be bad for irrigation, but he says the concentrations in the Powder River are not alarmingly high.
Increasing volumes of coal and oil being shipped to the Pacific Northwest are putting pressure on rail capacity in the region, according a new report from the Western Organization of Resource Councils.
Employment in Wyoming's coal mining sector has fallen 6 percent in the past year. The latest data from June 2013 shows there were 425 less jobs than in June 2012.
Coal production has slumped nationwide, and taken jobs along with it, but Wyoming is faring better than other coal producing regions. Nationwide the sector has lost significantly more jobs as mines closed or reduced their capacity.
Wyoming Department of Workforce Services senior economist David Bullard, says so far, there haven't been many layoffs in the state.
Wyoming lawmakers are voting on the state budget this week and are considering proposals to strengthen the energy industry in the state.
15 million dollars is proposed for a facility to study the capture, sequestration, and management of carbon emissions from a coal fired power plant. Senator Jim Anderson of Glenrock says it’s important to the future of Wyoming Coal.
“Perhaps bring Wyoming into a new era and it would certainly in regard to our reliance on coal and other things that are carbon based be a blessing if in fact we could do this.”
Wyoming Mining Association Executive Director Marion Loomis says coal’s future is bright -- but that there’s a need for continued innovation -- both in extraction technology and emissions control.
“We’ve made such tremendous strides in reducing emission levels. We’ve increased coal production about 170 percent in this country in the last 20 years and reduced pollutants by over 85 percent,” says Loomis.
Along with much of the country, Wyoming has seen a dramatic spike in propane prices over the last six months, but industry observers say it should be short-lived. Baron Glassgow is executive director of the Rocky Mountain Propane Association.
“You know, in the U-S, we’re actually making more propane than we ever have before. So it’s not like we have a shortage of production. It’s just a combination of factors this year that have been kind of like the perfect storm,” Glassgow says.
A program that recycled Russian nuclear weapons into fuel-grade uranium has run its course, and Wyoming Mining Association Director Marion Loomis says that may leave more room in the marketplace for Wyoming’s uranium.