Open Spaces

The city of Casper is considering a ban on smoking in all public places.   It’s an issue that supporters have been pushing for a number of years and next week there will be a public hearing on the issue.  In the past, supporters of the ordinance have been on board with the program, but not everybody is in love with it.   So today we will hear from an opponent.  Former Mayor Mike Reid is the co-owner of Poplar Wine and Spirits in Casper that includes an adjoining smoke free bar.  Reid tells Bob Beck the smoke free approach has worked well.

Courtesy of Steven Cowley

We tend to think about scanning and printing as something that you do with pieces of paper – two dimensional objects. But now, a geological museum in Wyoming is scanning and printing things in 3D. They’re using 3D scanners and printers to make plastic replicas of dinosaur bones and other fossils, which can help with research and make collections accessible to scientists and museum goers around the world. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden went to Casper and filed this report.

Bob Beck recently spoke with Gov. Matt Mead in his office about a number of topics including proposed state budget cuts.

 It’s official: The Environmental Protection Agency says Sublette County and parts of neighboring counties are violating federal air quality standards because ozone levels have gone above the legal limit multiple times in the past few years. It’s widely recognized that the problem stems from emissions in the oil and gas industry. When you get the right combination of two types of emissions -- NOX and VOCs  -- coupled with certain wintertime weather conditions, ground-level ozone forms. Ground-level ozone is the main component of smog and can cause respiratory problems.

Last week, the Department of Energy announced that uranium at nearly twice the legal limit had been found in the tap water of four households on the Wind River Reservation. The event marks another incident in a long and troubled history in the area.  Wyoming Public Radio's Tristan Ahtone brings us this report on the find.

Laramie-based author Alyson Hagy has a new novel that just came out called “Boleto.” She joins us to talk with us about the book, which tells a story of a young man from rural Wyoming named Will Testerman.

Before I had children, I thought I had it all figured out.  I would roll my eyes at mothers in the grocery store who couldn’t seem to keep their kids in the cart and out of aisles, or cringe when the host at a restaurant would seat a family with an unruly toddler near my table. 

Bob Beck

 

Douglas residents react to Chesapeake Energy gas leak
This week, there was an explosion at an oil rig near Douglas. Natural gas spewed from the well, and about 50 people were evacuated from their homes. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden visited Douglas shortly after the accident and put together this montage of residents’ reactions.

This week, there was an explosion at an oil rig near Douglas. Natural gas spewed from the well, and about 50 people were evacuated from their homes. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden visited Douglas shortly after the accident and put together this montage of residents’ reactions.

U-S Senator from Wyoming John Barrasso has been very critical of the Obama administration because of its position on such things as new air standards as it applies to the coal industry… and a number of other EPA-led provisions that, he says, will just kill jobs.  Senator Barrasso joins Bob Beck from the cloak room just outside of the U-S Senate.

Analysts are making conflicting predictions about where gas prices will go this summer. Some are forecasting record highs, while others say prices at the pump have already peaked. Businesses in Wyoming’s service industry hope for the latter, as they depend on an injection of tourism dollars each summer. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez spoke with several businesses near Yellowstone about what might happen if gas prices climb with the temperature.

Willow Belden

The historic Territorial Prison in Laramie is opening a new exhibit this weekend, which focuses on the era after the facility served as a prison – when the University of Wyoming used it for agriculture research. Willow Belden spoke with Deborah Amend, the superintendent of the prison, before the opening to hear about the history of the site, and the important studies that were done there while it was used for ag. She says the prison was built 140 years ago, as a federal territorial prison … but things changed in 1809, when Wyoming became a state.

Seniors at the University of Wyoming will be graduating next week, and while the job market is still tight around the country, prospects for finding employment have improved significantly this year. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden Reports.

 

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services has been hosting a number of job fairs across the state presumably because there are jobs to be had.  Joan Evans is the Department Director, she tells Bob Beck there are jobs for just about every type of worker, but it might require job training or relocation.

 

Increase in coal exports on the horizon
There are more new ports designed for coal export being proposed in the U.S. and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal producers are training their eye on the developments. With some of the most efficient economies of scale in the world, a larger percentage of PRB coal could be making its way across the ocean soon. What would that mean for Wyoming and the global community? Irina Zhorov reports. 

Irina Zhorov

Wyoming is host to two of the world’s most comprehensive weather modification studies. The studies are unique due to our geography, but they’re also more comprehensive than past research has been. And the water-hungry world is waiting for results. Irina Zhorov reports. 

Willow Belden

A doctoral student at the University of Wyoming has developed a new method for producing and selling vegetables. The student’s name is Nate Storey, and he’s designed a growing system in one of the university’s greenhouses that requires no fertilizer, produces virtually no waste and yields four times as much produce as traditional greenhouse setups. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

Next week the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will begin a series of public meetings. They’ll gather public input on the rules and regulations the department will use to manage wolves in the state.   The rules will be finalized by the Game and Fish Commission in April. Chief Game Warden Brian Nesbit and the Department Director Scott Talbott talk with Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck.

Rebecca Martinez

The American sheep industry has exploded in recent years, causing many producers to expand their operations. But more sheep means more people are needed to shear them, and the number of professional shearers has declined over the decades. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez tagged along with a Wyoming-based shearer during a gig in Douglas and filed this report.

Wyoming’s Northern Arapaho Tribe is being allowed to capture and kill two bald eagles for religious purposes. The permit comes from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which has issued similar permits for golden eagles in the past, but never before for bald eagles. Wyoming Public Radio’s Tristan Ahtone reports.

Earlier this month the state legislature ended funding for an experimental program called Healthy Frontiers, it was Wyoming’s latest effort to save the state health care money.  The idea was also supposed to reduce costs to Wyoming’s Medicaid program and reduce the numbers of those who drive up costs by depending on the more expensive emergency room to cover their health care needs.  Some say Wyoming’s problems will be solved by the federal health reform plan known as the Affordable Care Act, but the future of that plan is unknown.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.

State Representative Cynthia Lummis joins us to talk about a number of issues affecting the state. The Wyoming Republican most recently had a discussion with the head of the EPA concerning water pollution in Pavillion.  She tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck the good news is that there seems to be a dialogue.

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With only a week to go until the legislative session is over, Wyoming lawmakers are reviewing a number of bills, including a joint resolution requesting Congress to provide for increased monitoring and funding for remediation of the Riverton uranium mill tailings site. Tailings constitute waste left over from mining operations. Last year we brought you a story about the site in which the Department of Energy released data showing that uranium levels in the area had spiked as high as 100 times the legal limit, and while legislative action on the issue may sound good, it’s bringing up a lot of questions, and anger. Wyoming Public Radio’s Tristan Ahtone reports.

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Wyoming's Senior US Senator is trying everything to reduce the federal deficit, but in an election year and a partisan Congress, it's hard to do much.  During a recent visit to Cheyenne, Bob Beck sat down with Senator Mike Enzi to discuss the budget and health care.  On the topic of the budget, he says they must act soon.

Rebecca Martinez

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Since 1999, civic initiative called Leadership Wyoming has sought to connect the movers and shakers from the private, public and non-profit sectors statewide. Participants leave their jobs for a few days each month to learn about different issues in different communities across Wyoming. Recently, Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez tagged along on the group’s visit to Lander. She filed this report.

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The Wyoming Supreme Court is endorsing a new program to teach middle school students about Civics.  The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Marilyn Kite joined Bob Beck to explain the program.

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