Intro: For the last several years a number of companies and politicians have expressed interest in getting more actively involved in Wyoming’s Uranium industry. Currently a task force of lawmakers is studying nuclear energy production and companies are testing the waters before they jump into the marketplace. The upside is that Wyoming has a lot of Uranium, the downside is cost and regulations. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck has more.
HOST: Everyone is predicting a uranium boom internationally and Wyoming has the largest deposits in the U.S. The state has a legacy of uranium mining, as well. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov looks at the boom and its history.
HOST: When the Cold War caused a uranium boom in the 1950s, soil and water in the state suffered contamination. Reclamation has improved the landscape, and regulation is catching up with the industry but it’s not perfect yet. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez reports.
REBECCA MARTINEZ: Ore from Wyoming’s rich uranium deposits was refined and concentrated into yellowcake at mills in the state before being sent to processing and enrichment facilities elsewhere. The mills produced large amounts of sandy waste called tailings, which still contained uranium.
HOST: As we just heard, the uranium industry may have a long way to go in earning back the public’s trust, especially on the Wind River Reservation. In 2010, the Department of Energy released well monitoring data from the Wind River Reservation. What they found was that uranium levels in a number of their wells had spiked up to 100 times the legal limit. In early May the Department of Energy released tap test results showing uranium levels nearly twice the legal limit, but later said the results were anomalies.
All three members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation voted to raise the nation’s debt ceiling last year. Matt Laslo reports from Washington that some lawmakers are saying ‘never again,’ which critics say puts the U-S economy at risk. HOST: All three members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation voted to raise the nation’s debt ceiling last year. Matt Laslo reports from Washington that some lawmakers are saying ‘never again,’ which critics say puts the U-S economy at risk.
A lot has been said about falling gas prices in the state and how that is hurting the state budget. But a quick look at the most recent economic numbers shows that the Wyoming economy may be better than you think. Jim Robinson is a senior economist with Wyoming’s Division of Economic Analysis. This is the last month of the fiscal year and he tells Bob Beck that things look good.
Wyoming’s new occupational epidemiologist is Mack Sewell. He’s tasked with helping the state improve workplace safety. That’s been a topic of discussion for some time, since Wyoming has one of the highest rates of workplace deaths in the nation. Sewell is currently the state epidemiologist in New Mexico, and he says there, he’s worked extensively on issues such as infectious diseases and drunk driving. He tells Willow Belden that he’s not sure yet what will be first on his agenda here in Wyoming.
This month a movie will debut featuring an iconic bar in Jackson Hole. It’s called The Stagecoach Bar: An American Crossroads. To many in the valley it is more than a bar. For years it has featured live music on Sunday nights and has been the host to Cowboys and millionaires. It’s been there for more than 70 years. The premier will be June 27th at the Center for the Arts in Jackson. Jennifer Tennican is the filmmaker and she joins Bob Beck.
Wyoming imprisons more juvenile offenders than just about any other state. Part of the reason has to do with the lack of funding to find alternatives to jail and the other has to do with the law enforcement philosophy in a particular community. Lawmakers have been reluctant to take a firm stand on the issue. In a story first prepared for the program State of the Union, Laura Starcheski reports.
Mule deer have been dying off in parts of Wyoming for some time. But until recently, it was unclear how acute the problem was. That’s because the Game and Fish Department wasn’t getting an accurate count of how many deer there were. Now, the agency is trying out a new method for estimating deer populations. It’s much more expensive … but officials say it’s worth the cost because it will help them maintain a healthy deer population. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.
It’s tough to say exactly how fast the mule deer population in the Platte Valley is declining. But we know it IS declining – and whatever the rate, it’s substantial. One of the reasons the animals are dying off is that their habitat is deteriorating. So now, the Game and Fish Department is trying to come up with a plan for restoring it. Tom Ryder, assistant chief of the wildlife division at Game and Fish speaks with Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden.
One of the newer traditions in Jackson Hole is an event called the Jackson Hole Fire Festival. It runs June 14th-20th. It came from the idea developed by Candra Day of Vistas 360 degrees in Jackson. She joins Bob Beck to explain the event and her organization…
Sublette County is home to two of Wyoming’s major oil and gas fields … and emissions from the energy production have caused smog to form – a type of smog called ozone. Ground-level ozone can cause and exacerbate respiratory problems. It’s also a problem for legal reasons: ozone levels in Sublette County have exceeded federal limits several times in the past few years. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency is stepping in. It’s designating Sublette County a “nonattainment area,” which means Wyoming is obligated to fix the problem.
The Wyoming Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has studied those who are in jail or in prison in Wyoming for a number of years. Wyoming is a state that likes to put people behind bars. The U.S. Justice Department notes that in 2010 Wyoming’s crime rate was 17-percent lower than the national average… but Wyoming’s incarceration rate is only four percent lower. Meaning that if you commit a crime, you will probably get some time. Director Linda Burt of Wyoming’s ACLU tells Bob Beck about how those inmates are being treated.
The Cheyenne Regional Medical center and the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper are considering a partnership that they believe may be necessary to remain financially strong in the future. They are looking at ways to share things from medical providers to joining together to enhance health care across the state. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports that neither hospital CEO is positive the partnership will work, but they both believe they need to give it a shot in order to remain financially viable.
The Wyoming Community Development Authority is encouraging people to buy houses – especially if they’ve never owned a home before. They’re launching a campaign called “Buy Now” – putting up flyers in real estate offices, and offering classes to help first-time buyers navigate the process of purchasing a home. The group’s executive director, David Haney, talks with Willow Belden about the initiative. He says conditions are excellent for buyers at the moment.
Lee Hackleman is a water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He speaks with Willow Belden about what the warm, dry spring means for Wyoming. He says the snowpack has gotten extremely low, which will make for a tough year.
Casper has begun banning grass clippings and other yard waste from the trash that goes into their landfill. Officials expect it to save the city tens of thousands of dollars, but people who are into living green are pretty excited, too. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez reports.
This week, the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It kicks off a number of events that will be part of the celebration. The museum was a dream that’s come a long ways from its humble beginnings. Co-founder Bill Kerr tells Bob Beck that the idea was to feature art that may have been overlooked.
During Wyoming Public Radio’s relationship with UW’s Master of Fine Arts program, we have also acquired some people who wanted to learn to be public radio reporters. Three people have joined us, including this next writer. Irina Zhorov is an accomplished photographer who wanted to develop her writing skills. She recently graduated from the M-F-A program. When Irina came to Wyoming from Philadelphia she had questions about her new state. Today she tells us about her conclusions in her “Letter to Wyoming.”
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.
President Obama is chiding Congress for not acting on his slimmed down plan to spur economic growth in Wyoming and elsewhere. Matt Laslo reports from Washington that election year politicking is expected to derail this latest effort to get the economy moving.
Earlier this year the Wyoming legislature set aside some 30 million dollars in matching money to help pay for a major upgrade in U-W’s College of Engineering. With an anticipated cost of nearly 100 million dollars, it would be U-W’s most expensive building project. The last major addition to the College occurred in 1980. Right now labs are too small, classrooms are crowded and the front portion of the building has a distinct 1920’s flavor. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports…at a time when other building projects were occurring on campus…the chairman of the Senate Appropriations
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.
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.