The Idaho Public Utilities Commission conditionally approved a request from Idaho Power to upgrade the Jim Bridger Power Plant in Rock Springs, Wyoming.
The upgrades will reduce nitrous oxide emissions from the plant, but some environmental groups say the $130 million investment isn’t cost-effective because stricter regulation of coal-fired power is likely in the near future.
The federal royalty rate for trona was recently reduced from 6-percent to 4%. Industry has been pushing for royalty reductions for over a decade. But Powder River Basin Resource Council’s Jill Morrison says if anything, the royalty should be increased.
“Our position has always been that minerals are a finite resource. Once they’re removed they’re gone and we have that one chance to tax those minerals and get that fair market value because that’s what’s going to help balance our budget, both at the state and national level,” says Morrison.
A smartphone app that’s trying to raise awareness about conflicts between wind turbines and birds saw a spike in downloads after a settlement over eagle deaths at wind farms in Wyoming was announced last week.
The game is called WingWhackers, and the premise is pretty simple. You’re a protected bird of some kind -- an eagle, an owl, a hawk, and you need to make it home with dinner, through a field of spinning wind turbines.
It would cost at least $4.5 million dollars for Wyoming to take over regulatory control of the uranium and thorium mining industries from the federal government, according to a new feasibility study from the Department of Environmental Quality.
Deputy Director Nancy Nuttbrock says that estimate only takes into account the six years it would take to get the program running -- not it’s actual operations.
The Wyoming chapter of the U.S. Small Business Administration is asking shoppers to think local and think small this Saturday. Wyoming District Director Amy Lea says they’re hoping that state residents will consider purchasing holiday gifts from local merchants first.
"These are our friends and our neighbors, when we live in small towns in Wyoming, and even the larger ones," Lea said. "And we want them to be able to stay in business."
The co-ownership of a parcel of land, or land fractionation, on a dozen Indian reservations has doubled from 1992 to 2010. That’s according to a recent study which compared 2010 statistics on land fractionation to a government study from 1992, the only publicly available study of fractionation.
Fractionation happens when several heirs inherit undivided interests in the same allotment of land. Over generations, allotments can end up being shared between dozens of owners.
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.
What if the vast stands of beetle-killed trees in the west could be turned into gasoline? A recently-announced federal project involving several University of Wyoming researchers is trying to answer that question.
Most biofuels are made of crops, like corn and sorghum, but this five-year, $10 million project will study whether dead trees might work just as well -- while avoiding competition with food sources.
The White House recently hosted its fifth Tribal Nations Conference in Washington D.C. This was the first time that Darwin St. Clair, Chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Business Council, attended the conference. He says it “felt like we were actually making progress. It may not have been big steps, but we’re making steps forward.”
St. Clair said a highlight of the trip was a consultation he had with administrators from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior.
Frustrated landowners in Converse County sat down last week with a company that’s proposing to build a natural gas processing facility outside of Douglas to discuss alternative locations for the plant.
Crestwood Midstream Access’ plant would be situated in a largely agricultural area, and nearby ranchers have protested, saying it would be better to group it with existing industrial development.
But there are no land use regulations in Converse County, so rancher Art Nicholas proposed a trade: a parcel of his land south of the city in exchange for the site.
A wind energy company that was fined a million dollars Friday for the deaths of 14 golden eagles at its Wyoming facilities says it’s making strides to mitigate future bird deaths.
Duke Energy spokeswoman Tammie McGee says Duke has removed rock piles that can attract prey and employs field biologists who send out alerts if turbines need to be shut down. She says they’re also working to install a radar system.
Environmental groups are urging the Bureau of Land Management to quickly develop a plan for preventing future groundwater pollution in the Pinedale Anticline gas fields.
The BLM released a report this week that said groundwater contamination in the area was mostly not a result of natural gas production. But Bruce Pendery with the Wyoming Outdoor Council says regulators still need to be vigilant in preventing potential future problems.
The University of Wyoming has received a grant to expand the research capabilities of its King Air research airplane.
The National Science Foundation awarded the Department of Atmospheric Science $1.2 million and UW matched the grant with an additional $515,000 to develop and build an advanced remote sensing instrument.
Professor Zhien Wang is part of the team that will work with the instrumentation. He says the first project will be to study night storms, for better weather forecasting.
The National Outdoor Book Award winners were recently announced. The winning books all focus in one way or another on the outdoors.
Laramie resident and author Sophie Osborn has been a judge in the Natural History Literature category for the last five years. She loves the broad range of topics that the contest brings in, and the new voices she can discover in the entries.
A project that proposes setting fire to deep coal seams in order to produce fuel is moving forward. At a hearing last week, the Environmental Quality Council rejected arguments that Linc Energy’s proposed underground coal gasification project would contaminate drinking water supplies in Campbell County. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, concerns linger about the safety of the technology.
Five workers were injured in a fire that broke out around 10:15 Friday morning at an Encana facility in the Jonah Field near Pinedale.
“We do know that some welding work was being conducted on some condensate tanks," company spokesperson Doug Hock says. "This was a battery of half a dozen tanks. However, the exact reason for the fire is not known at this time.”
On Tuesday night, the city of Laramie and several other groups hosted a forum to brainstorm solutions to the problem of glass recycling, which has recently stopped in Laramie. ARC Regional Services says they lost thousands of dollars a year because they had to ship glass recycling to Wheatland, Colorado. That’s where Rocky Mountain Bottling Company turns it into beer bottles.
The acting President of the University of Wyoming says it’s time to put the past behind and move forward with plans to make the University even better.
In his first public appearance since the resignation of former President Bob Sternberg, Dick McGinity told the Laramie Rotary Club that the team that is currently leading the University will do good work and find specific ways to improve U-W. As he takes over the reins of the University McGinity remains optimistic.
The Wyoming Supreme Court heard a case Wednesday challenging the state’s process for exempting fracking chemicals from public disclosure. Wyoming was the first state in the nation to adopt a disclosure law, but it included what some say is a massive loophole: companies can petition for what’s called a trade secret exemption. They’ve done that more than a hundred times since the law went into effect in 2010.
A new Bureau of Land Management report indicates that most of the groundwater contamination near Pinedale was not caused by the energy industry.
After petroleum products showed up in water wells in the Pinedale Anticline gas field in 2006, several agencies launched an investigation to figure out where the contamination was coming from. They concluded that some pollution occurred naturally, as gas seeped upward through geologic layers and into the groundwater. The report says other pollutants came from the process of drilling and installing water wells.
A report released by the Indian Law and Order Commission says law enforcement responsibilities on Indian reservations should be placed with tribes, rather than with federal and state governments, as they are now. The report, titled “A Roadmap for Making Native America Safer,” looked at public safety issues in Native American communities nationwide and made recommendations to close the public safety gap by 2024. Public safety in tribal communities often lags behind non-Native communities.
Governor Matt Mead says Wyoming is seeing growth and success among businesses in the state.
During the governor’s business forum in Cheyenne he noted that Wyoming ranks high in a number of pro-business categories and that leads to growth in a variety of business sectors. He says it will only get better.
“We have a great future ahead of us,” Mead said. “And it is not because we do everything right every day, it is because a common commitment and love for Wyoming and a care for the citizens and families in Wyoming to do everything as well as possible.”
The Department of Environmental Quality says it’s not clear whether they will continue monitoring air quality in Converse County after this year.
DEQ began the monitoring about a year ago, because of public concern about emissions from oil and gas development. So far, their data does not indicate any violations of air quality standards but there have been several days with high pollution levels. The agency’s Cara Keslar says they’ll probably move the monitoring station to another location after they’ve collected a full year of data.