natural resources

Powder River Basin Resource Council's Shannon Anderson speaking to the Senate Minerals Committee about SF-98
Tennessee Watson / Wyoming Public Radio

A bill looking to cut future severance taxes for oil and gas companies was approved by the Senate Minerals Committee. Senate File 98 would cut severance taxes in half during the third year of production until the end of its fourth year.  

Cody Senator Hank Coe said the goal is to attract new energy operations to Wyoming over another mineral producing state. Coe said that it's worked before. 

Amy Sisk/Inside Energy

Wyoming’s Republicans in Washington are hoping to pass broad energy policy in this congressional session after inter-party squabbling in the GOP derailed the effort last year.

In the last Congress, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan energy bill that included Wyoming Senator John Barrasso’s push to expedite the export of Liquefied Natural Gas. That bill garnered support from 85 out of 100 senators but was never sent to the desk of former President Obama. Barrasso was upset that the bill died after negotiations with House Republicans fell apart.

House Committee on Natural Resources

It’s been a busy week for energy in Washington D.C. While you may only be hearing about the tax debate in Congress, new bills are moving forward that relate to energy development out west. Dylan Brown, a reporter for E & E news covering coal and mining, gives background on what’s being discussed and what it means.  

 

Peabody Energy Logo
Peabody Energy

Peabody Energy, the largest privately held coal company in the world, experienced it’s third straight quarter of sizable profits with revenue totaling $1.48 billion this quarter - a 22% increase from last year’s third quarter. Total profit this fiscal year adds up to around $500 million. 

Peabody Energy went into bankruptcy in 2016, weighed down by billions in debt partially due an investment made in Australian metallurgical coal. In 2015, the company also saw $2 billion in losses. This past April, the company came out of bankruptcy.  

Stephanie Joyce

Jackson is a long way from the land of the great apes, but this weekend, the world’s leading primatologists gathered there to discuss their future.

Gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans have all seen dramatic population declines over the last hundred years. Doug Cress works for the Great Apes Survival partnership, or GRASP, one of the sponsors of the summit. He says the declines can be attributed to a single source.

Last week the Congressional House Sub-Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing focusing on the benefits of Powder River Basin coal production for local communities and national energy security.  Campbell County Commissioner Dan Coolidge testified that when he moved to Gillette, he never expected to stay. But, he said he was surprised by the impact of coal tax revenues on quality of life there.    

Tristan Ahtone

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.  

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission is recognizing two Wyoming mines for their reclamation efforts. The IMCC represents environmental protection interests and awards one non-coal and one coal project each year. The M-I SWACO Bentonite Mine in Big Horn County won the non-coal award and the Bridger Coal Mine received honorable mention in the coal category.

Department of Environmental Quality spokesman, Keith Guille, says the IMCC only gives two awards each year and it’s significant that Wyoming was recognized for both.

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.