environmental regulations

Stephanie Joyce

This week Congress unleashed an assault on Obama-era regulations, and Wyoming lawmakers played a big role in the effort and the new effort is angering the environmental community.

 

Ever heard of the Congressional Review Act? Me neither, that is until Wyoming’s senior Senator Mike Enzi gave me a tutorial on it.

“It’s the ability for Congress to pass a claw back on any regulation that’s pass within 45 days after the time that’s it’s published provided there are enough signatures from the House and the Senate.”

Gage Skidmore

From cabinet picks to environmental regulations, there has been a lot of energy news in the first few weeks of the Trump Administration. Inside Energy reporter Leigh Paterson joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard from Denver to talk about some of the changes happening in Washington and how they could affect the West.

If new carbon regulations go into effect, U.S. coal production will fall by around 25% by 2040, according to updated projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The Clean Power Plan is the first-ever federal rule that would limit carbon emissions from power plants. The rule is now on hold while legal challenges against it are resolved. 

Alpha Natural Resources filed a plan today outlining how it hopes to emerge from bankruptcy. At the heart of the plan is a proposal to sell the company's core assets, including its Wyoming mines.

With Industry In Turmoil, Energy Players Meet In Houston

Feb 26, 2016
IHS Energy/CERAWeek

  

The energy industry is in turmoil. Coal and oil prices are way down, there are big changes to environmental regulations in the works, and more and more renewables are coming online. Some of the biggest players in the industry met at a conference in Houston this week to weigh in on what it all means. Inside Energy reporter Jordan Wirfs-Brock was at IHS CERAWeek. She spoke to Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce from the conference about the biggest issues on the table for the energy industry.  

TRANSCRIPT:

In a surprise move earlier this month, the Supreme Court put the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan on hold while legal challenges are resolved.

On Thursday, speaking at a conference in Cheyenne, an official with the Environmental Protection Agency suggested that the delay may give states more time to comply with the rule if it is ultimately upheld. 

Department of Energy EIA

The number of train cars carrying coal on U.S. railroads has dropped thanks to falling demand and warmer-than-usual winter temperatures.

Total train traffic during the first week of February was down slightly, just 1.4%, from the same week last year. But the number of train cars carrying coal plummeted by around 30%. Transportation analyst Tony Hatch says railway companies are trying to diversify by transporting new products.

Another coal giant, with operations all over the US, declared bankruptcy today.

St. Louis-based Arch Coal hopes to get rid of $4.5 billion dollars in debt through this Chapter 11 reorganization. The company mines coal in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois, and Appalachian states and says it expects operations to continue during bankruptcy proceedings.

EMILY GUERIN / INSIDE ENERGY

Everyone knows North Dakota is an oil state. But it’s the state’s coal industry that’s feeling the heat from the federal Clean Power Plan, which targets carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Under the final version of the plan, North Dakota will have to cut its emissions by 45 percent – more any other state except Montana.

Google Earth

Standing on a windy stretch of highway with Karla Oksanen, we peer into a vast, dark, open-pit mine near Gillette, Wyo. She and her husband live so close to Eagle Butte Mine that when operators detonate dynamite to clear dirt away from the coal seams, they can feel it.

“The shaking from the blasts, yeah,” Oksanen said with a laugh. “It’s kind of like an earthquake!”

 

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. 

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

The Department of the Interior is proposing new regulations to reduce the impact of coal mining on streams. 

The rule, which has been in the works for six years, creates a buffer zone that restricts mining operations within 100 feet of streams and aquifers.

Joe Pizarchik, the director of the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement says the rule also aims to restore streams.

Photo by Wendy Shattil/Bob Rozinksi under Creative Commons licensing

On Friday, two groups of oil and gas producers, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance, filed an injunction in the U.S. District Court of Wyoming against the first-ever federal rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing.  

Department of Energy

A long-planned clean coal project in Illinois is dead after the Department of Energy pulled the plug on the majority of its funding.  

FutureGen 2.0 would have been the country’s first near-zero emissions coal-fired power plant.  But without the one billion dollars in federal funding, which was originally awarded in 2010 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, companies involved say they will have to cancel the project entirely.    

Lee James

Trona mining is a widely forgotten part of the state’s extraction industries. But in Sweetwater County, it’s a big deal. Just west of Green River, there’s a hidden labyrinth of tunnels far below I-80. And the industry is a major part of the county’s economy. But some worry that environmental issues could be a major burden for trona mining. Amanda Le Claire has more.