Environmental Protection Agency

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.

Well with holes rusted through on John Fenton's property
John Fenton

Pavillion homeowner John Fenton is questioning whether abandoned wells near his home were properly addressed to eliminate contamination. The Fremont County town has been plagued since 2008 with contaminated water from underground natural gas with citizens complaining of discolored and foul smelling water. Since then, gas-producer EnCana has worked to plug abandoned wells and pressure test them to ensure there’s no interaction between gas and water.  

Logo for the Environmental Protection Agency
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The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday signed a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan — President Obama’s signature climate change legislation. The 2015 rule aims to was meant to move the country’s electric grid away from coal and towards other sources with less greenhouse gas emissions.

Wyoming provides about 40 percent of the country’s coal, and most of that goes towards electricity generation. It’s no surprise the state has opposed the Clean Power Plan — or CPP — from the start.  

EPA

  

Since January, President Trump has ordered systematic rollbacks of Obama-era environmental regulations. He’s voiced an intent to focus on energy development and jobs over environmental regulation.

Many of these rules were crafted by Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency under Gina McCarthy. She was EPA Administrator during his second term. They focused on taking strong steps against climate change. McCarthy recently visited Wyoming and gave her reaction to these drastic changes.

 

Snake River in the Snake River Canyon of Wyoming near Alpine
Joe Tordiff

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is allowing a reclassification of nearly 80 percent of Wyoming’s waterways as secondary contact recreation. That means those streams are no longer recommended sites for swimming, tubing, fishing, or recreation in general — unlike the primary contact recreation status.

The DEQ’s Lindsey Paterson said these waters don’t make sense for recreation anyway. They’re shallow with little flow and are in remote areas. The change also means those waterways are allowed to hold five times the level of e. coli, an indicator for pathogens. 

Dan Boyce

  

Superfund cleanups are a priority for Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He wants to cut through red tape that has left more than a thousand sites still contaminated with everything from radioactive waste to lead.

He also wants to remove sites that have already been cleaned up from the so-called National Priority List, which has more than 1300 sites. One of those sites is the town of Uravan.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a repeal of an Obama-era regulation putting more wetlands and waterways under the protection of the Clean Water Act. The regulation is called Water of the United States, or WOTUS.

Supporters say the bill helps consolidate the authority of interstate and navigable waters. Opponents say it encroaches on state authority. Farmers and developers worry the rule would be a headache to follow, because they often have bodies of water on their own land.

Earthworks

The U.S. Senate decided not to overturn the Obama era methane rule, which seeks to limit the venting and flaring of methane by oil and gas drillers on federal land. 

In a tight vote, three Republicans sided with Democrats in rejecting the rollback of the methane regulation.

Supporters of the rule said it keeps the air clean in states like Wyoming with widespread gas development on public lands. Opponents said the rule is redundant with state and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations already in place.

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The Clean Power Plan may face some serious changes, as President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order this week reversing the Obama administration’s commitment to regulate carbon dioxide produced by coal-burning power plants. 

The long-expected executive order is rumored to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to slash regulations of coal-related carbon dioxide emissions by re-writing and re-enacting the plan. From the beginning, industry groups have criticized Obama’s plan for eliminating jobs.

Willow Belden

Wyoming lawmakers are pushing to repeal an Obama-era rule that would limit methane emissions on federal lands, but they're hitting a snag and this time it's coming from their fellow Republicans.

The Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes said they plan to work together to appeal a Tenth Circuit Court ruling made Wednesday declaring that the city of Riverton is not located within reservation boundaries.

A 1905 Act passed by Congress opened up 1.4 million acres of Wind River Reservation land for settlement to non-Indians. Then in 2013, the EPA ruled in an air quality study that the city of Riverton was part of that acreage and rightfully belonged within reservation boundaries.

Environmental Protection Agency

The Wyoming Department of Education encouraged schools across the state to test for lead.

A memo sent out earlier this month informed superintendents and principals of a program offered by the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s called the 3T Program — for training, testing and telling — and it’s designed to support schools in monitoring and keeping lead in drinking water at minimal levels.

Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency has reversed a previous finding that fracking did not cause “widespread, systemic” harm to drinking water in the United States. In its final report on the issue, the EPA said under certain circumstances hydraulic fracturing poses a risk to drinking water resources.

But because of what the agency calls “data gaps,” it was unable to make a definitive statement on just how risky fracking is.

Maggie Mullen

It was standing room only at the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s public meeting Thursday, where the agency discussed the state’s final Pavillion groundwater contamination report.

During the meeting, the DEQ reiterated that it found fracking did not cause water contamination in Pavillion. But because the state has not ruled out the possibility that other parts of the oil and gas development process were responsible, the agency said it will take additional samples from fourteen different wells.

Supporters of fossil fuels are welcoming President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head up the Environmental Protection Agency.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been a vocal critic of the agency he is nominated to lead, and is a strong proponent of fossil fuels, particularly oil and gas.

Pruitt is likely to take aim at many Obama administration regulations, particularly those dealing with climate change, since he rejects the scientific consensus on that issue.

Wyoming Senator John Barrasso will take on a new leadership role in the next Congress, as chair of the Environment and Public Works committee.

The committee has oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency, among other things.

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Donald Trump promised sweeping reforms to the energy industry during the campaign. He vowed to bring back coal jobs, boost domestic oil and gas production, back out of international climate change agreements and gut the Environmental Protection Agency.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency says it could take two years to develop an accurate method for measuring the impact of its regulations on coal jobs.

In October, in response to a lawsuit from Murray Energy, one of the nation's largest coal companies, a federal district court judge in West Virginia ordered the EPA to start quantifying the impact of its air quality regulations on jobs.

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. 

Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific advisors say the agency did not sufficiently justify its conclusion that fracking has not caused “widespread, systemic” groundwater contamination.

When the EPA released its draft study about fracking and groundwater contamination last year, that was the principal finding, despite specific examples of local contamination. In a review of that draft, the agency’s scientific advisors say that conclusion is not backed up by the data.

Flickr Creative Commons, by Tom Brandt

(In a previous version of this story we indicated the entire plant was closing while only Unit 3 is closing. We regret the error.)

Stricter federal emission rules for power plants are having an effect in Wyoming. Rocky Mountain Power says plans to convert one unit of a coal-powered plant to natural gas in western Wyoming fell through and instead they’ll shut it down at the end of 2017.

In a December report, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality concluded that fracking is likely not to blame for water problems in the Pavillion area. The Environmental Protection Agency, in public comments on the report, questions that conclusion.

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North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem isn’t likely to forget the phone call he got Tuesday night, from a colleague in Washington D.C.

“5pm. It was 5pm exactly,” he recalled in an interview with Inside Energy.

 

A federal environmental rule regulating waterways is on hold after a U.S. appeals court issued a nation-wide stay on Friday. 

The controversial Waters Of The United States rule regulates things like streams and wetlands. It was put in place last year to clear up confusion over what is covered under the federal Clean Water Act. But industries like agriculture and energy as well as individual farmers and ranchers argued that the scope of the so-called WOTUS rule made doing business costly and confusing. 

Wyoming Outdoor Council

The phrase “mountain streams” usually comes with the word “pristine” in front of it. But here in Wyoming, some outdoor recreation groups are saying, not for long. That’s because last year, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality downgraded the status of about 87,000 miles of small creeks and drainages in the state’s highest country. For years, these streams have been considered primary recreation, which means they could be used for swimming and the DEQ would clean them up even if a small amount of e. coli, was found in them.

The Obama administration released sweeping environmental regulations today. The first-ever nationwide standards to regulate emissions from power plants are even more ambitious than expected.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

Amid a devastating industry-wide downturn, one of the largest coal producers in the U.S. has filed for bankruptcy. 

Coal-giant Alpha Natural Resources has been in poor financial health for some time. The company acknowledges contributing factors like increased competition from natural gas and an oversupply in the global coal market. But Alpha puts much of the blame for its bankruptcy on environmental regulations that it says are causing electric utilities to shut down coal-fired power plants.

Leigh Paterson

Today the US Supreme Court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency in a suit that challenged one of the Obama administrations most ambitious environmental plans. 

The question at the heart of the case was this: should the EPA have considered cost before issuing a rule designed to cut mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. In the 5-4 decision, justices ruled in favor of the states and industry groups that brought the suit essentially saying yes, the EPA should have considered cost. 

An environmental watchdog group says the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest permits violate the Clean Water Act by allowing thousands of gallons of fracking fluids to be released onto Wind River Reservation lands. The group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility or PEER, say the permits were originally issued in the 1970’s to provide drinking water for livestock and wildlife in the arid West. Director Jeffrey Ruch says, since then, fracking fluid ingredients have become much more complex.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

On Thursday, at an energy conference in Houston, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency emphasized that under a plan to cut carbon emissions, coal will still be an important part of the nation's energy mix.  

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