The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has started work on a study to determine the feasibility of regulating a larger share of uranium mining in the state.
Currently the industry is regulated by both federal and state agencies, which some operators say is burdensome, repetitive, and increases the time necessary to receive a permit. The legislature passed a bill this session commissioning the study about becoming what’s called an agreement state.
Governor Matt Mead and his policy director, Shawn Reese, released an energy policy for Wyoming at a press conference today. The policy contains 47 initiatives broken down into categories including economic competitiveness and expansion, regulation, conservation, and education. Reese said there were a number of hallmark initiatives.
A lawsuit filed by Tripower Resources says the energy company is not responsible for about $885,000 in back taxes from 2008 to 2010. Tripower says it did not own the wells from which these production taxes accumulated during the time period in question. But Campbell, Crook, and Converse Counties have listed the company as tax-delinquent. They’re applying taxes from current production to the owed back-taxes. Converse County treasurer Joel Schell says, according to statute, the current owner is responsible for any unpaid taxes.
Three protesters were arrested yesterday at the Peabody Energy shareholders meeting in Gillette. United Mine Workers of America representatives were demonstrating against pension cuts to retired miners that came about when Peabody unloaded some of its pension responsibilities on a company that has since declared bankruptcy. Other demonstrators were there to protest Peabody projects and conduct. An organizer from Missouri, Arielle Klagsbrun, said the meeting was held at Gillette College and the arrests happened in the parking lot…
A report by the Western Organization of Resource Councils says the oil and gas industry is using at least seven billion gallons of water per year in just four states: Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota. The report says after industry is done with that water, it turns into a hazardous material, and in some cases cannot be reused for other purposes.
Powder River Basin Resource Council member Robert LeResche says he’s also worried about states’ lack of regulations regarding the quantity of water used.
A new study conducted by the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University reports that as more EPA regulations go into effect, natural gas is likely to become even more attractive to utilities than coal.
Co-author of the study, Professor Lincoln Pratson, says that one reason coal will become less desired is the expensive emission controls the coal plants will have to install.
The only pollutant that natural gas plants produce that the EPA regulates are NOx emissions. NOx stands for pollutants which contain NO and NO2, gases formed during combustion.
The University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources is working to forge a relationship with Saudi Arabia’s national oil and gas company, Saudi Aramco, and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. Saudi Aramco is the biggest oil and gas company in the world and invests heavily in research and development. SER Director, Mark Northam, just returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia. He says Wyoming and Saudi Arabia face similar challenges when it comes to unconventional reservoirs and water shortages, and he says they would both benefit by sharing their resources.
Native American tribes need to make sure they are protecting their natural resources. Eastern Shoshone Business Council member Wes Martel, from the Wind River Indian Reservation, spoke during a University of Wyoming American Indian Studies program this week. Martel said tribes need to be more careful about the kinds of contracts they enter into for energy development. He added that water is the new gold but very few tribes are taking real steps to secure this resource.
Tens of thousands of acres of land in the Bridger-Teton National Forest have been retired, protecting the land from energy development. But the conservation group leading the effort, Trust for Public Lands, still has some work to do to protect a tract of land in the Upper Hoback Basin.
The group raised $8.75 dollars last year to buy oil and gas leases on 58,000 acres of land from Plains Exploration and Production Company.
A new report, released by several stakeholders including the Wyoming Business Council, the University of Wyoming, and the Idaho National Laboratory, says there’s potential to add value to the state’s abundant energy resources. Ideas to generate value include a carbon-conversion industry to produce synthetic transportation fuels, and diversifying power generation in the state to include more wind and nuclear energy.
Wyoming Business Council CEO Bob Jensen says the report looks at both the near and distant future.
A group of University of Wyoming researchers received $508,000 from NASA to study aerodynamics and wind resistance at Wyoming’s Supercomputing Center.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that Wyoming has one of the highest capacities for wind power production in the country. But University of Wyoming Mathematics Professor Stefan Heinz says most wind farms aren’t arranged as efficiently as they could be. He says the wake of one turbine often disrupts the turbines around it, reducing efficiency.
The Western Organization of Resource Councils says inspections of active oil and gas wells in the West are falling behind the industry’s quick growth. The new report says the number of active oil and gas wells in Wyoming has risen from about 16,400 in 1999 to more than 37,000 in 2011. The number of inspectors increased from 6 to 12 in the same time period. Each inspector was responsible for more than 3,000 wells in 2011.
Powder River Basin Resource Council Board Chairman John Fenton says that spreads each inspector thin.
The State Senate has given initial approval to a plan to develop an energy and natural resource curriculum for Wyoming schools. The program will be based on a current agriculture curriculum that helps students learn more about that industry. Glenrock Senator Jim Anderson, a retired school teacher, says the curriculum will help students learn more about the biggest industry in the state. But some Senators are uncomfortable with the state dictating an industry curriculum for schools. Anderson pointed out that districts only have to adopt the program if they want to.
Wyoming’s Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis has been appointed to chair the U.S. House of Representatives’ Science Subcommittee on Energy. The subcommittee will oversee energy research, development and demonstration projects. Lummis spoke with Rebecca Martinez from the Capitol press room in Cheyenne this week.
During the campaign season, many fossil fuel developers dreaded the idea of a second term for President Obama.
Bruce Hinchey of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming says during the last four years, it’s been harder to secure oil and gas leases on federal land, get drilling permits, and have environmental impact statements approved.
But Bob Spencer of the Equality State Policy Center says it’s prudent for the administration to strike a balance between mineral production and preserving land for wildlife and public enjoyment.
Many fossil fuel developers campaigned against President Obama this election season, fearing the effect of regulations and other restrictions on their industry, while environmental activists called for four more years. Now that Mr. Obama has won a second term, Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez spoke with some stakeholders about what that could mean for the energy industry in Wyoming.
The Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2012 have passed the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. The Act aims to simplify and expedite the process of leasing for energy development on tribal land. U.S. Senator John Barrasso introduced it last October.
Gov. Matt Mead says it’s taking longer than he expected to develop an energy policy for Wyoming.
Mead wanted to have a draft energy policy finished this summer, but he says it’s taking a long time to gather input from all interested parties, including conservation groups, ag groups and the energy industry. Still, he says the finished product will be worth the wait.
“Rather than being reactive and engaging in lawsuits and court battles, let’s work together to find a consensus on where we should go with energy development in the state,” the governor said.
The Republican Governors Association has released an “Energy Blueprint for America,” which outlines recommendations for a federal energy policy.
The document calls for developing new energy partnerships with Canada and Mexico, approving the Keystone XL oil Pipeline, reducing EPA regulations regarding oil and gas production, and making it easier to use public lands for energy development.
Gov. Matt Mead says those measures would help encourage energy production of all kinds.
The former Undersecretary at the Department of Energy says new environmental guidelines are undermining jobs and the country’s energy security.
Bud Albright served under the George W. Bush administration and is speaking out against the Environmental Protection Agency, which he says is unfairly driving the energy marketplace by over regulating.
“They have become the lord overseer of the markets, of what America will develop, how we will develop them and it has thoroughly disadvantaged America…not just in the world market, but in our own economies. ”
A new study from the group Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development says that rural communities depend on adjacent land for their economic health. That can either be land for energy development or the outdoors. The report finds that ten percent of the jobs in Cody are connected to spending on fishing, hunting and wildlife. But impact from nearby energy development land can also help the local economy. But Trout Unlimited’ s Brad Powell says there should be a balance between the two.
A recent UW masters student named Mark Pedri is producing a documentary aimed at evaluating which types of energy production are best, in terms of cost, environmental impact and other factors.
Pedri visited energy-producing facilities across Wyoming, including coal-fired power plants, wind farms, oil rigs and solar installations, and interviewed workers and managers. He traveled by bicycle, to make the project more exciting for himself and for his audience.
Four faculty members from the University of Wyoming participated in a forum last night to discuss how new technologies could contribute to cleaner, more diversified energy production. They discussed carbon sequestration, natural gas, nuclear energy and renewable energy. Geology professor Carrick Eggleston, who participated in the forum, said there isn’t going to be just one solution. "There is no one technology that is going to solve all of our problems," Eggleston said.
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release some new air pollution regulations surrounding natural gas development. Earthjustice Attorney Robin Cooley saysit’s been 25 years since the E-P-A last evaluated standards and the new ones are overdue. She says the industry is much different than it used to be.
"We know that the current rules are inadequate. They don't protect public health. The pollution problems are mounting by the day and expanding into new areas."
The Bridger-Teton National Forest has decided to conduct an additional environmental study and solicit more comments on a proposal to drill in the Upper Hoback Basin of western Wyoming. The Forest Service made the decision after considering over 60-thousand comments on the proposal by Houston based Plains Exploration and Production Company. The company wants to drill 136 wells in the area. The Forest Service will be developing a new alternative for drilling in the area. Dan Smitherman of the group Citizens for the Wyoming Range is thrilled with the move and says he hopes this will lead