oil and gas

Dan Boyce / Inside Energy

A federal judge in Wyoming has temporarily blocked implementation of new rules governing fracking on federal lands.

The new rules would require the disclosure of fracking chemicals and more mechanical integrity testing for wells, among other things. But U.S. District Court judge Scott Skavdahl argues in the injunction that federal agencies cannot regulate fracking.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

Driving around the Powder River Basin in northeast Wyoming with Jeff Gillum and Jeff Campbell is like playing an extended game of “Where’s Waldo?”

Where most people would see a yard full of heavy machinery or an unassuming patch of prairie, Campbell and Gillum are constantly spotting coal bed methane wells. They point out the signature tan well houses everywhere as we drive around Gillette: in people’s front yards, in a storage company’s parking lot, even at the end of the driving range at the golf course.

Wyoming Department of Workforce Services

Wyoming saw a large year-over-year increase in worker deaths in 2014. Thirty-seven workers died on the job last year, according to newly released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up from 26 in 2013, and is also higher than the three-year average.

The numbers are preliminary, so the Bureau did not calculate fatality rates that could be used to compare Wyoming to other states.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

As the list of orphaned wells in Wyoming continues to grow, state regulators are looking to strengthen oil and gas bonding requirements.

Oil and gas companies are required to post bonds before they begin drilling, in order to ensure compliance with regulations during drilling and cleanup. But current bonding requirements have been criticized for failing to discourage abandonment, and for not being sufficient to cover the costs of plugging orphaned wells.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

With oil hovering around $45 a barrel these days, oil workers can go from making a six-figure salary, including overtime, to being unemployed and broke. When business is good, a $60,000 dollar truck, for example, might be a reasonable purchase and maybe even a business expense. But the oil industry isn’t like most businesses. Work can go away overnight.

Wyoming Workforce Services

Wyoming saw a spike in workplace fatalities in 2014. Thirty-four people died on the job last year, up from 21 in 2013, according to a new report from the state.


Transportation-related accidents accounted for almost half of the deaths, and also for the largest increase.


Methane is one of the principal components of natural gas. It is also a greenhouse gas that is around 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the first-ever federal regulations to limit those emissions from oil and gas production. 

Stephanie Joyce

Congress hasn’t passed an energy bill since 2007, but a bill is winding its way through Congress that has the chance of becoming law.

Earlier this year a bipartisan coalition sent Keystone XL Pipeline legislation to President Obama’s desk only to have it vetoed and the President has continued his battle against climate change. But some are still hopeful that a bipartisan energy bill could still pass. Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis said that she believes targeted legislation might become law and that’s what a bipartisan group has come up with. 

Dan Boyce

The massive expansion of domestic oil and gas production over the last five or so years is rippling across the economies where that drilling is taking place. More oil workers need more welders, more restaurants, and ... more clothes.

Specifically, workers are required to wear flame resistant clothes, or FR for short, on oil and gas sites everywhere in the country.

Stephanie Joyce

New data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, sheds light on the most dangerous areas of oil and gas.

NIOSH started collecting detailed data on oil and gas worker fatalities in 2014. The agency will be issuing a report based on what the data shows later this summer, but Kyla Retzer, a NIOSH epidemiologist, previewed some of it at a recent safety conference in Cheyenne.

The Laramie County Board of Commissioners shot down a proposal Tuesday to assert more local control over oil and gas development. The Cheyenne Area Landowners Coalition brought a resolution asking the Commissioners to require more specific mitigation measures for oil and gas drilling than are detailed in state law. It suggested setting limits on light and noise, among other things.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

The report by the Rhodium Group and the National Committee on US-China Relations, details Chinese commercial investment in the US by congressional district. Wyoming, with just one congressional district, has seen around $770 million in Chinese investment state-wide.  According to Shawn Reese of the Wyoming Business Council, this is largely the result of two joint ventures between Chinese and American oil and gas companies in the DJ Basin and Powder River Basin.

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Fair has announced that this year the event will be moved from Jackson to Casper.

Fair General Manager Dave Hutton says rising costs in Jackson was a major factor in the change of venue. But even with lower costs, Casper has fewer direct flights than Jackson, potentially making it more difficult for people to attend. Hutton says he does think this year’s turnout will be slightly lower in previous years.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

On Tuesday, Wyoming's Environmental Quality Council approved a significant new rule that will regulate oil and gas emissions in the Upper Green River Basin, an area that has been plagued by air pollution. Inside Energy’s Leigh Paterson reports.

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.  

Flickr user Geof Wilson

The oil and gas industry pays a ton of money in severance taxes to energy producing states like Colorado, Wyoming and especially North Dakota. When oil prices were high, North Dakota took in about $10.5 million a day. But as prices have fallen, so has revenue. In the midst of this, North Dakota lawmakers have passed a bill to stabilize and lower the state’s oil and gas tax rate.


Very few people in the state capitol of Bismarck support the state's current tax system. Representative Al Carlson, the House Majority Leader, put it this way:

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy


According to a new report, counties in several Western states have unhealthy levels of ozone pollution, including Wyoming’s Sublette County.

A.G. McQuillan

Oil prices have fallen by over half since last summer. In oil producing states like North Dakota, that's caused widespread layoffs and a huge slowdown in oilfield activity. But one thing hasn’t changed — rents. In and around the Bakken oil field, they are among the highest in the nation.

Leigh Paterson

Emissions from facilities that treat oil and gas wastewater could contribute to ozone formation, according to a new study from the University of Wyoming. 

It’s not news that under the right conditions, oil and gas development can lead to more ground-level ozone, but oil and gas wastewater treatment hasn't previously been identified as a potential contributor.

Wyoming Economic Analysis Division

The effects of low oil and natural gas prices are apparent in this month’s jobs numbers for Wyoming. Although overall employment in Wyoming grew, the oil and gas sector shed more than a thousand jobs from this time last year.

“The job losses have still been concentrated in the mining industry. We just haven’t seen the spillover into other industries,” said Jim Robinson, the state economist, although he cautioned that that job losses in oil and gas support sectors could take longer to show up.  

With a formal complaint filed by the Wyoming Attorney General's office, the state became the first to challenge a new federal rule that regulates hydraulic fracturing on public lands. 

Among other things, the rule requires disclosure of chemicals used in fracking and tests to make sure a well isn't leaking. According to the complaint filed in federal district court today, the new rule represents federal overreach by the Bureau of Land Management and conflicts with Wyoming’s own hydraulic fracturing regulations.  

Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

With oil prices hovering at multi-year lows, many companies are choosing to store, rather than sell their oil. In addition to conventional storage in tanks and tankers, companies are also choosing to store the oil in the ground. 

Stephanie Joyce

When it comes to oil and gas drilling in urban and suburban areas, the question is often ‘how close is too close?’ That’s been the major point of contention in Wyoming, where the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is currently considering a rule to increase the setback distance between oil and gas wells and houses from 350 to 500 feet. Many homeowners would like it to be even further. Distance is only one part of the issue though, as Brad Brooks would attest.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

With oil prices now at a six year low, oil companies have been idling hundreds of drilling rigs. For the wells that remain active, the key is getting more out of less...which is tricky because when you drill for oil, only around 5 percent of what’s underground is actually recovered. That’s according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Inside Energy’s Leigh Paterson reports on how these days - with prices so low -  producers are using technology to chase oil thousands of feet below the earth’s surface. 

Stephanie Joyce

Radioactive waste is a common by-product of oil and gas drilling. On Friday, workers in North Dakota were cleaning up a pile of illegally dumped waste filters.  

Up to 100 filter socks were found in Williston, a North Dakota oil and gas boomtown in the western part of the state. Filter socks are the nets that strain out the sludge, which is sometimes radioactive, that is a by-product of oil production.  Dale Patrick from North Dakota’s Department of Public Health said that although the dumping was illegal, there was little threat to the public. 

Stephanie Joyce

People packed into a public hearing Monday about proposed changes to the rules governing how far oil and gas drilling has to be from homes and schools. The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is proposing to increase the "setback" distance from 350 feet to 500 feet. 

But Chuck White, who lives east of Cheyenne, told the Commission that 500 feet simply isn’t far enough for modern drilling operations.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

The American landscape is dotted with over 100,000 deep injection wells. They’re a key part of our energy infrastructure. Without them, you probably wouldn't be able to fill up your tank. Because for every barrel of oil that comes out of the ground, salty and sometimes chemically-laced fluid comes up with it. This so-called produced water has to go somewhere - and much of it injected back into the earth. In the first of a 2 part series, Inside Energy’s Leigh Paterson reports on one company’s bid to get in the game.

INSIDE ENERGY: Residents Worry About Wastewater Disposal Well In Western Nebraska

Feb 27, 2015
NET News

A Colorado based oil company has applied for a permit to operate a wastewater injection well in Western Nebraska. In today’s story, Bill Kelly of NET News in Nebraska reports that a deeper look into the finances of the company behind the application is causing concern.

Stephanie Joyce

A coalition of environmental and landowner groups have reached a settlement with the State of Wyoming and Halliburton in a lawsuit over fracking chemical disclosure.

Wyoming was the first state in the nation to require public disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing or fracking, but the state has also granted more than a hundred exemptions to that rule to companies concerned that disclosure would reveal trade secrets.

The White House released a new plan to curb methane emissions Wednesday. Methane is the main component of natural gas and a major contributor to climate change. The proposed rules target new oil and gas development and aim to reduce methane emissions 45 percent by 2025. In a press call, Jeremy Symons, climate director for the Environmental Defense Fund, said that reducing methane emissions is a cost-effective way to prevent climate change.