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Stephanie Joyce / Inside Energy

The window to comment on the EPA's Clean Power Plan closed on Monday with over 1.6 million comments. A quick search of the 22,718 comments that are publicly posted (less than 1% of the total) showed that Wyoming-ites sent their thoughts in to the EPA at six times the rate of the average American.

Stephanie Joyce

If there were ever uncertainty about how Wyoming policymakers would feel about the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants, now we can say for sure:  they hate it. The comment period for the so-called Clean Power Plan ended Monday. Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard spoke with energy reporter Stephanie Joyce about what the state had to say and where things go from here.

CAROLINE BALLARD: Stephanie, to start, refresh our memories about what exactly the Clean Power Plan is. 

Holly Frontier

The Environmental Protection Agency has fined a Cheyenne refinery $153,000 for allegedly violating several federal regulations. The EPA alleges that Frontier Refining wasn’t properly training its employees in safety practices and that it misreported or didn’t report the presence of certain toxic chemicals on-site. David Cobb works with the EPA’s enforcement office. He says that’s important information.

What would the nation’s energy policy look like if Republicans capture the Senate this November? Matt Laslo caught up with Wyoming lawmakers and energy analysts to find out the potential impact on the state’s energy sector if the GOP gains control of the upper chamber.

City of Cheyenne

The western edge of Cheyenne’s downtown features older, run down, and in some cases abandoned buildings. The rest of the historic downtown features a mix of remodeled older buildings and some that could use an upgrade. To address all of this Cheyenne has embarked on what’s called the West Edge plan.

Cheyenne Planning Services Director Matt Ashby said the city has an effort that could eventually lead to modernizing the downtown and to make the capitol city a player on the Front Range. 

Bob Beck

There's a water war going on in the nation's capital that has Wyoming lawmakers and land owners worried the federal government is soon going to be regulating most every drop of water that falls from the sky.

Leigh Paterson

Wyoming has some of the most powerful wind in the country. So, earlier this month, a massive wind farm got the green light from the state. If the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project gets federal approval, it will become the largest in the country. But who’s buying all that wind power? Right now there is no way to get it out of Wyoming, to the other states that really need it. For Inside Energy, Leigh Paterson reports on why transmission gridlocks are keeping Wyoming wind at bay.

Dan Boyce

Mark Fix has been ranching outside of Miles City, Montana since the mid-1980s, raising cattle, alfalfa and grain on his 9,700 acre plot of land. But severe weather events have been stacking up in recent years: a tornado tore through his barn, flooding stranded his cows. It’s impacting his bottom line, and he’s convinced it’s from human-caused climate change.

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.

This week the EPA unveiled a new rule to drastically cut carbon emissions from the nation's power plants. While Wyoming Republicans say it will devastate the economy, Matt Laslo reports from Washington that some experts say their outdated thinking has set the state back in the new energy economy. 

The White House isn't waiting around for this Congress to help it tackle climate change. The new EPA rule will require Wyoming to slash it's carbon emissions by 19 percent. Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis says the state's energy producers are worried. 

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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.

In an effort to curb climate change, the Obama administration has proposed a rule to cut carbon emissions from electricity generation by 30 percent. The rule is the first to target power plants, the nation’s largest carbon emitters.

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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.

Stephanie Joyce

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.
 

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says the plan by the Environmental Protection Agency to require carbon pollution limits on new power plants is too limited and hurts the state’s economy.  During a news conference, Mead was critical of the E-P-A for not following Wyoming’s lead and look at ways to develop clean coal technology.

“I think everybody should have an interest in how we do it in the most environmentally friendly way possible, but when you set a standard that nobody has done yet…to me it looks like you are just shutting off coal completely.”

It’s been a few months since we’ve had Governor Matt Mead on the program.  He joins Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck to discuss a dispute over boundaries in Riverton and Education.

Willow Belden

Several years ago, there were days when air pollution in Pinedale was worse than in Los Angeles. Residents complained of respiratory problems, and visits to local medical clinics increased.  In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency said the area was violating federal air quality standards, and gave Wyoming three years to fix the problem. Since then, air quality has been better. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports, nobody knows whether the problem is really fixed, and some worry that the state is not doing enough to prevent similar problems from happening elsewhere.

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Rural states are bristling over proposed regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce emissions from wood stoves. 

Currently, wood stove manufacturers must keep emissions down to 7.5 grams of particulates per hour.  But the proposed rules would reduce the allowable amount to less than two grams over the next five years. Soot emissions are a serious public health concern in some areas of the country because they can cause lung problems and heart attacks.  

The state of Wyoming and a coalition of environmental groups have each filed lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency over its regional haze plan.

The plan, which was finalized earlier this year, requires new emissions controls for coal-fired power plants. The goal is to reduce air pollution.

A bill that would expand Wyoming's ability to fight the Environmental Protection Agency in court received initial approval in the state House of Representatives.

The bill gives the Wyoming Attorney General's Office over two million dollars to fight back against EPA policies that the state deems unacceptable.  The state is already engaged in a number of lawsuits against the agency.

Wyoming has filed an appeal in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for the Environmental Protection Agency decision that drew the borders of the Wind River Indian Reservation to include Riverton.

The governments of Riverton, Fremont County, the state, and of the two tribes who share the Wind River Indian Reservation are arguing, again, over the reservation’s borders.

The Environmental Protection Agency has decided to put a hold on its decision to grant the tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation status as a state for the purpose of air monitoring.

About three-quarters of the streams in Wyoming could soon be subject to less stringent environmental standards.

The streams are currently classified as “primary contact” water bodies, meaning that people swim or otherwise recreate in them. Now, the Department of Environmental Quality is proposing to designate them as “secondary contact” streams, meaning human contact is less likely. The change would lower the standards for how much pollution can be discharged into the waterways.

What do you think of the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision that includes Riverton as part of the  Wind River Reservation?

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

The Environmental Protection Agency is telling the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality that it has to conduct a public hearing about an aquifer exemption request by Linc Energy. Linc is proposing an underground coal gasification project in Campbell County. The coal is in the Wyodak Aquifer, and the exemption would relieve the company from adhering to the strict protections outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act.

DEQ already approved the aquifer exemption, but it did so without public input, so EPA, which makes the final decision, is calling for a do-over.

Wind River Reservation

The Northern Arapaho Tribe is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reject a request from the state of Wyoming to halt implementation of the agency's decision that over 1 million acres around Riverton remains legally Indian Country.
 
Lawyers for the tribe wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy this week urging her to reject the request the state submitted earlier this month.
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its final version of a plan to reduce atmospheric haze by cutting emissions from coal-fired power plants in Wyoming.

EPA officials say the plan will improve visibility across wide-open spaces while protecting natural resources and local economies which depend on recreation.

They say the 714-page document adopts most of a separate plan proposed by Wyoming environmental regulators.

Agreement over the boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation seems to be a long way off between the state’s tribes and Governor Matt Mead. 

The dispute is over an Environmental Protection Agency ruling that the city of Riverton falls on tribal land. In a letter to the governor Wednesday, the Northern Arapaho tribe says it was surprised by the governor’s reaction to the EPA ruling.  They say in the past, the state has actively promoted the idea of giving the tribes Treatment as a State status and allowing the EPA to settle the 1905 Act boundary dispute, once and for all. 

Almost five years ago, the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes submitted an application to the federal government asking for the Wind River Indian Reservation to be treated as a separate state for monitoring air quality. They're still waiting on a response. 

Eastern Shoshone tribe chairman Darwin St. Clair says it’s a matter of tribal sovereignty as well as stewardship of their land. He says with a coal power plant and oil and gas fields nearby, air quality is a high priority.

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