A report by the Government Accountability Office finds that the Federal Railroad Administration is only able to inspect about one percent of railroad activities for compliance with safety rules.
Report author Susan Fleming says the agency doesn’t have the personnel to do more, so they focus enforcement in areas that they determine to be high-risk – for example, places where there have been accidents in the past. But she says the system is not perfect.
Another proposed coal export terminal has folded. Ambre Energy is asking to be let out of a lease agreement with the Port of Corpus Christi, saying that shipping Powder River Basin coal out of Texas is no longer viable.
The company had planned to ship 1.5 - 2.5 million tons of coal out of the facility every year. Its decision to pull out is latest in a string of roughly half a dozen planned terminals that have been tabled or scrapped in the last year.
Sergio Maldonado is a Mexican-Arapaho who grew up on the Wind River Indian Reservation outside of Lander, Wyoming. He now teaches at Central Wyoming College in Riverton. In these two stories, Sergio talks about his experience with the Arapaho and Shoshone tribes. His personal history informs his understanding of Native identity.
A program that uses students to perform a variety of conservation projects will not accept project proposals for the coming summer. A loss of funding will essentially shut down the Wyoming Conservation Corps.
University of Wyoming Spokesman Chad Baldwin says UW does not have the resources to fund the program this year, but they believe they can re-start the program in 2015.
According to new estimates from the Governor’s office, plugging abandoned oil and gas wells in Wyoming could cost anywhere from $8 to $32 million.
The smaller figure takes into account only wells that the state knows are abandoned. The larger one includes wells owned by bankrupt methane farming company Luca Technologies and the 2300 wells the state considers ‘at risk’ for abandonment.
Manasseh Franklin is a Creative Nonfiction and Environment and Natural Resources MFA candidate. While she's proud of her east coast roots, she's happy to call the open spaces of the western states home.
Ginger Ko studies at the University of Wyoming’s MFA in Creative Writing program. Her poetry and reviews have appeared in smoking glue gun, Anti-, TYPO, inter|rupture, and HTMLGIANT. She is originally from Los Angeles.
Eric Krszjzaniek is earning his Masters degrees in English and Environment & Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming. Having spent most of his life amongst the free-range cheese and fragrant cows of Wisconsin, Eric was drawn to the open expanses and sparse populations of Wyoming after stints as a renewable energy educator, a county commissioner, and an editor on an antiques magazine. Eric's work has appeared in many bathroom stall walls and has lined many cages of birds and dogs alike.
After five years of deliberation, the Environmental Protection Agency has declared the Wind River Indian Reservation its own state for the purpose of air quality monitoring. The decision, made under the Clean Air Act, will allow the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes to apply for grants to support air monitoring programs, but it doesn’t give the tribes regulatory powers.
Over the objections of environmental groups, the federal government agreed Friday to issue eagle-take permits to wind companies for 30 years, instead of five. The permits allow companies to kill a certain number of eagles without penalty, while requiring additional mitigation and conservation measures.
Industry lobbied for the change, saying that the short permits left too much uncertainty when planning major projects.
Wyoming’s new football Coach says it is bittersweet leaving North Dakota State after eleven years, but Craig Bohl is excited about bringing winning football back to the Cowboy state. Bohl’s teams have won consecutive championships in the division below Wyoming, but he is convinced he will be successful at the Division one level. Bohl says his teams are good on offense, but are known for their defense.
An effort to remove people off the Developmental Disability waiver waiting list by using savings from other parts of the program may take longer than previously thought.
So Governor Matt Mead is proposing putting 20 million dollars in the program. Currently there are about 600 people hoping to get funding to help care for a family member with a brain injury or other disability.
Ecologists say the sub-zero temperatures Wyoming has been experiencing probably are not extreme enough to kill off bark beetles in the area.
One of the reasons the beetle kill epidemic has been so severe in recent years is that the region has not experienced cold enough weather to freeze out the beetles. UW botanist Dan Tinker says this cold snap is no exception. He says temperatures would need to be 30 degrees below zero for several days in a row to kill the beetles.
After a slow start, the University of Wyoming volley ball team went on a strong run and finished with a seven match win streak. The Cowgirls struggled adjusting to first year Head Coach Chad Callihan, but once things clicked the team opened some eyes.
Pollutants have been showing up in water wells in the Pinedale Anticline gas field since 2006. Until recently, no one knew where the contamination was coming from. Now, the Bureau of Land Management and Department of Environmental Quality have released a report indicating that most of the problem was not caused by energy production. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.
Wyoming’s biggest export is soda ash, which comes from trona mines in Sweetwater County. Last year, the trona industry produced 17 million tons of soda ash for which the state received nearly $90 million in various taxes and royalties. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov report, the industry has a dirty side, too.
IRINA ZHOROV: Wyoming is used to superlatives. The biggest coal bed, the largest mine, the most wind! Here’s another:
[VIDEO PLAYING: The silver retreats of Wyoming, USA is home to the largest reserve of trona. ]
It’s been a long year for State Superintendent Cindy Hill. After legislators determined that she was undermining some of their education reform efforts, they voted to take away her ability to run the state department of education and assigned her to less essential tasks.
Later a report suggested mistreatment of employees, possible misuse of the state aircraft, and misuse of Department of Education money. That last piece is being investigated by a legislative committee who is trying to determine if impeachment charges should be brought against Hill.
More than half the U.S. population uses smartphones and apps. And as the appetite for mobile information continues to grow, some Wyoming entrepreneurs are poised to cash in, for the sake of conservation. Wyoming Public Radio's Rebecca Huntington has more.
REBECCA HUNTINGTON: When Story Clark gets into her Prius, she doesn't just start her engine. She also revs up a new mobile app that she's developed with her business partner Madi Quissek.
STORY CLARK: So I'm hooking it up. It's TravelStorysGPS. The app is hands-free. And we're going to get going right now.
Last week Wyoming governor Matt Mead released his proposed budget for the next two years. The governor joins us to discuss something he did not recommend and discusses other topics, such as whether he will run for re-election.
Pine and spruce beetles have killed millions of trees across Wyoming and the West. To many, the dying forests are visually unattractive. But there’s a bigger issue. Researchers in the Medicine Bow National Forest are finding that beetle kill has had a major impact on how the forest processes carbon dioxide. Wyoming Public radio’s Willow Belden reports.
More than 40 million acres of trees have been killed by bark beetles in the Rocky Mountain West over the last two decades. Those trees are an eyesore, and as we heard in the last story, a source of carbon dioxide. But a new project is trying to find an upside to the epidemic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given researchers at five western universities, including the University of Wyoming, $10 million to see if those dead trees can be converted into gasoline.
In the governor’s budget last week, one area that didn’t get a lot of attention is a proposal to increase funding to communities and counties by $175 million. That would be a $40 million increase over his previous proposal. 40 percent of that money would go for infrastructure, such as roads, but the rest would go into operations. If approved, it would come at a time when most local governments are dealing with less revenue. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.