Wyoming’s Powder River Basin

The U.S. Energy Secretary has appointed a University of Wyoming professor to serve on the National Coal Council.

Dr. Maohong Fan is a UW School of Energy Resources professor who focuses his research on coal conversion. The National Coal Council advises the Department of Energy on coal issues.

Coal companies in the Powder River Basin are hiring, and some of those workers will likely come from Central Appalachia.

Companies there have been laying off miners and shuttering operations in recent years. But in Wyoming, companies like Cloud Peak Energy are hiring.

credit Andrew Goodson via Flickr

Another rail loading facility for crude oil opened in Wyoming last week, bringing the total to at least seven.

Seventy- thousand barrels of Wyoming oil rolled out of the Black Thunder terminal in the Powder River Basin, headed for a refinery on the East Coast.

“We believe that the location of this particular terminal may be a little more unique to the business as it is in the heart of the basin," says  Steven Huckaby, CEO of Meritage Midstream, the company behind the crude loading facility. "It has a great location advantage to some other terminals."

Kimon Berlin via Flickr Creative Commons

A contractor died at Peabody Coal's North Antelope Rochelle Mine in the Powder River Basin early Wednesday morning.

The contractor, whose name hasn't been released, died inside a hydraulic scoria crusher around 6 a.m., according to Amy Louviere, a spokeswoman for the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

“The crusher apparently started up and it ultimately crushed the miner,” Loviere said. “That victim was airlifted to a nearby medical facility and he is deceased.”

Louviere says local MSHA officials are on the scene and will be conducting a thorough investigation.

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The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for coal on federal lands. That coal makes up about 40 percent of total coal production in the U.S. Of the 314 existing federal coal leases, nearly a quarter of the leases are in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Companies acquire these leases by bidding on the right to mine the federal coal. It has generated a lot of income, which the federal government splits with states. But not everyone thinks the program is working as it should and that the government might be losing out on money.