Irina Zhorov

Reporter

Irina Zhorov is a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She earned her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the University of Wyoming. In between, she worked as a photographer and writer for Philadelphia-area and national publications. Her professional interests revolve around environmental and energy reporting and she's reported on mining issues from Wyoming, Mexico, and Bolivia. She's been supported by the Dick and Lynn Cheney Grant for International Study, the Eleanor K. Kambouris Grant, and the Social Justice Research Center Research Grant for her work on Bolivian mining and Uzbek alpinism. Her work has appeared on Voice of America, National Native News, and in Indian Country Today, among other publications. 

In her off time, Irina is pursuing treasure hunters, leafing through photo books, or planning and executing quests.

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News
4:54 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Gov. Mead speaks about state takeover of the Pavillion water study and potential investments

Governor Matt Mead says he trusts the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to deliver trustworthy results when it takes over the Pavillion water contamination study from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A draft of the study initiated by the EPA was released in 2011 and tentatively linked groundwater contamination with fracking, something industry expressed skepticism about.

Mead says he’s not sure yet whether the state study will be peer reviewed once it’s completed.

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Open Spaces
4:02 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

July 19th, 2013

National Republican Party Supports Enzi over Cheney

This week Wyoming’s senior senator, Mike Enzi, was surprised to learn he’ll be facing off against Liz Cheney in what’s expected to be one of the most heated Republican primaries in the nation. Matt Laslo reports from Washington that right now, the Republican Party is wrapping its arms around Enzi.

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Open Spaces
3:48 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Gov. Mead speaks about the Pavillion water study, state revenues, doctors in the state, and more

Governor Matt Mead

Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov caught up with Governor Matt Mead to check in about some big changes in the state in the coming months. Her first question was about the Environmental Protection Agency’s report on contaminated water in Pavillion and the state’s takeover of the study.

Though the entities involved in the study have previously expressed skepticism over the EPA’s findings, Governor Mead says he has no doubts that the state’s study will be unbiased.

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Open Spaces
3:35 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Wyoming ranching families look to old traditions for modern brandings

The grazing land of Wyoming is currently filled with young calves out to pasture. Calving season lasts through the spring and early summer in Wyoming and once the calves are born ranchers have to brand them to identify which ranch they belong to. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov attended a branding and found that in the 21st Century, some ranchers are happily keeping up old, social customs during their brandings.

IRINA ZHOROV: Scott Sims’ ranch in the Rock Creek Valley in Southeast Wyoming branded a batch of their calves at the end of June.

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News
6:57 am
Fri July 19, 2013

EPA to consider renewing produced water discharge permits on Wind River Reservation

Dirty water from the oil wells flows through oil-caked pipes into a settling pit where trucks vacuum off the oil. A net covers the pit to keep out birds and other wildlife. Streams of this wastewater flow through the reservation and join natural creeks and rivers.
Credit Elizabeth Shogren/NPR

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking public comments on the extension of several water discharge permits on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

The EPA is looking at renewing existing permits that allow companies to pump waste water from oil and gas fields to the surface on the Reservation. The produced water exemption allows this practice only in the arid West. In general, state agencies have tighter regulations than the EPA about what can be pumped to the surface, but tribal land is under the EPA’s jurisdiction.    

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water quality
5:12 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Wyo. Oil and Gas Commission takes up baseline water testing rule

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission voted Tuesday to start the formal rulemaking process to establish baseline water testing in the state. The rule would require oil and gas operators to collect water samples before beginning development.  

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Code Switch
3:34 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Years Later, Miss Indian America Pageant Winners Reunite

Vivian Arviso says her year of service as Miss Indian America included a stint answering tourists' questions at Disneyland's Indian Village.
Sheridan County Library

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 4:19 pm

The women who were crowned Miss Indian America are reuniting this weekend in Sheridan, Wyo. The Native American pageant ran from 1953 to 1984 and attracted contestants from across the country. Originally, the pageant started as a way to combat prejudices against Native Americans.

Wahleah Lujan, of Taos Pueblo in northern New Mexico, who won the title in 1966, was very shy at the time. In one of her appearances right after she was crowned, she told an audience: "The most important thing in my life is the preservation of our ancient pueblo and the Rio Pueblo de Taos."

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Open Spaces
2:49 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Author of Traveling the Power Line talks about her journey in energy self-education

Julianne Couch is the author of Traveling the Power Line, a book about the many energy sources we tap into for our power needs – from oil and gas, to wind, to solar and uranium.

Couch teaches at the University of Wyoming and has also written Jukeboxes and Jackalopes: A Wyoming Bar Journey and Waking Up Western: Collected Essays. She now lives in Iowa but stopped by the studio to talk to Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov about her book.

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Open Spaces
2:44 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Miss Indian America winners reunite in Sheridan

Vivian Arviso's future husband first saw her when she appeared as Miss Indian America in the parade at All American Indian Days in Sheridan, Wyo. in 1961.
Credit Lenz Collection, Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library Wyoming Room

The Sheridan WYO Rodeo in will host the return of some special guests this year. The Miss Indian America pageant was held during the rodeo from 1953 until 1984 and several past winners will reunite this weekend.

ARCHIVAL TAPE: [Drumming] There’s a town out west where the eye can stretch over the plains from mesa to mountains, where the heart warms in the sunshine of friends and the townspeople can see buffalo from their own backyards. Such a place is Sheridan Wyoming!  

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News
5:15 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Cancer study on Wind River Reservation still waiting for more data

The Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center has released an update from an ongoing health study on Wind River Reservation and nearby communities, but cautions that the results are not final.

The environmental health study was initiated because people complained of elevated cancer rates in their communities. Director of the Center, Folo Akintan, says she was hoping to have the study completed by now but since it’s not she wanted to share the results of the community surveys collected over the past two years.

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News
6:33 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

New report says contaminated uranium site more complex than previously thought

Credit US Department of Energy

The Department of Energy says that the high levels of uranium at a contaminated site on Wind River Reservation might not flush out of the groundwater naturally in 100 years, like they previously thought.  

Tailings from a uranium mill that functioned at the Riverton Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act site in the 1960s left the area’s groundwater with high levels of uranium and the DOE took over management of the site in the late ‘80s.

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News
6:47 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

U.S. House Sub-Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources hears testimony on WY coal

Today the Congressional House Sub-Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing about coal mining in the Powder River Basin.

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News
12:45 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Playwright Gregory Hinton talk about his latest project, Waiting for a Chinook

Waiting For A Chinook will close out the Snowy Range Summer Theatre season this year. The story follows a reporter from the city who returns to his Western hometown to search for meaning in the writings of his late father.

I spoke to author Gregory Hinton, who, like his hero, returned to Wyoming from California to seek out his own father’s writings in archives of the Cody Enterprise, where G.C. Kip Hinton was an editor. 

Leigh Selting directs the play. Performances will run July 9th to the 13th at the Buchanan Center for Performing Arts Studio Theatre in Laramie, Wyoming.

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Open Spaces
2:21 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

June 28th, 2013

Wyoming Lawmakers Outraged at Obama’s Climate Plan

This week President Obama announced he's going to attempt to combat climate change from the Oval Office. Wyoming's three Republicans in Congress are none too happy with his plan. As Matt Laslo reports, they say it could cripple the state's economy and hit your pocket.

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Open Spaces
4:06 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

June 21st, 2013

Sequester effects less painful than expected, but lawmakers still unhappy

The congressionally mandated budget cuts called sequestration continue to have an impact on Wyoming. And while the state’s Republican lawmakers say those cuts aren’t having as big of an impact as predicted by Democrats, Matt Laslo reports from Washington that the delegation still isn’t happy with the sequester.

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News
4:05 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

Landowners upset over EPA’s handover of water study in Pavillion

Landowners in Wyoming are upset that the Environmental Protection Agency is relinquishing its role in a study that could link hydraulic fracturing with groundwater pollution.

The State of Wyoming is taking over an investigation of water quality in Pavillion, from the EPA. Encana Oil and Gas has natural gas wells in the area…and the EPA started testing water wells there after residents complained that the water was becoming polluted. The agency released a draft report in 2011, which tentatively linked the contamination to fracking.

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Open Spaces
3:41 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

A crime victim and perpetrator talk about how their unlikely friendship came to be

Stephen Watt (right) and Mark Farnham (left) during a recent visit.

Restorative justice is an approach to dealing with crime that put the victim of the crime front and center and considers how the offense affected the community, rather than looking at it as an isolated incident. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov has a three part series about restorative justice efforts in Wyoming, starting with a case study.

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Open Spaces
3:33 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

Restorative justice initiatives in WY are just starting

Restorative justice is an approach to dealing with crime that put the victim of the crime front and center and considers how the offense affected the community, rather than looking at it as an isolated incident. Wyoming Public Radio has a three part series about restorative justice efforts in Wyoming, starting with a case study. To hear Part 3 of the series, click here.

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Open Spaces
3:30 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

Watt and Farnham discuss the benefits of restorative justice in their lives

Stephen Watt (right) and Mark Farnham (left) during a recent visit.

Restorative justice is an approach to dealing with crime that put the victim of the crime front and center and considers how the offense affected the community, rather than looking at it as an isolated incident. Wyoming Public Radio has a three part series about restorative justice efforts in Wyoming.

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News
3:53 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

DKRW to start construction of Medicine Bow plant in one year

DKRW Advanced Fuels has submitted updated materials to the state Industrial Siting Division regarding a proposed a coal-to-liquids conversion facility near Medicine Bow. Construction was slated to start this year, but in March the company pulled its construction schedule and socioeconomic impact report from its file with the Industrial Siting Division and the Division gave them until June 19th to submit updated materials.

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News
4:45 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Coal exports expected to be down from 2012

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released its “Today in Energy” brief today, which details, among other things, coal exports from the U.S. According to the report, March had the highest number of coal exports yet. The top importing countries were China, the Netherlands, the UK, South Korea, and Brazil. The top five ports were all in the southern and eastern United States. Those ports exported over two and half times more coal in March alone than the Northwest ports did for all of 2012. Powder River Basin coal mostly ships from the Northwest.

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News
11:02 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Livestock numbers down in Wyoming and across the U.S.

The number of cattle nationwide is at its lowest since the 1950s. Wyoming’s population is just under 1.3 million, down 5% from last year and the lowest since the early 1990s. Drought has caused many ranchers in the state to sell off cattle.

Executive Vice President of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Jim Magagna, says some older ranchers with smaller operations liquidated their herds altogether and he predicts those cattle will not be replaced for close to a decade.  

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Coal Revenue
6:23 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Report: US government getting shortchanged by undervalued coal lease sales

Credit creative commons

The US government isn’t getting the full fair market value from coal lease sales on public lands. That’s according to a report released today by the Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General.


The report says recent lease sales potentially undervalued the coal by $62 million. The Bureau of Land Management appraises the leases instead of using the DOI’s Office of Valuation Services like its rules say it should, and the BLM does not take into account increased exports of coal abroad.

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Uranium waste
6:16 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Tribes and Dept. of Energy sign cooperative agreement

Credit US Department of Energy

The Department of Energy and the Tribal Joint Business Council have signed a cooperative agreement for one year to address the work being done on the contaminated uranium mill tailings site on the Wind River Indian Reservation.


The Riverton Site is where a uranium and vanadium ore processing facility operated until the 1960s. The DOE is responsible for long-term management of the site, but the Tribes have pushed for more involvement in the process.

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Open Spaces
5:09 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

May 31st, 2013

Uranium yellowcake powder

Wyoming missed out on last uranium boom, but planning for the future

Wyoming Public Radio has for years reported that the state is on the verge of a uranium boom. It turns out the state missed the peak of that boom, and is now betting on slower, more conservative growth. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports.

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Open Spaces
4:57 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Wyoming missed out on last uranium boom, but planning for the future

Uranium yellowcake powder

Wyoming Public Radio has for years reported that the state is on the verge of a uranium boom. It turns out the state missed the peak of that boom, and is now betting on slower, more conservative growth. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports. 

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News
4:45 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Energy Fuels to acquire smaller uranium company

Energy Fuels Inc. plans to acquire Strathmore Minerals Corporation, a move that will establish Energy Fuels as one of the biggest uranium companies in the U.S. The organizations have signed a letter of intent, under which Strathmore shareholders will end up owning about 20% of Energy Fuels shares.

CEO of Strathmore, David Miller, says the companies are a good match for each other. Both organizations have Wyoming projects.   

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News
7:57 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Report says coal exports may not be the solution for waning domestic market.

As demand for coal has dropped domestically, producers have turned to exports abroad as a way to make up for market losses at home. 2012 was a record year for coal exports out of the US.

The demand for coal in China and other Asian markets, has raised hopes for coal producers in the Powder River Basin. They’ve helped develop plans for expanded port facilities in the Northwestern US and some coal companies, including Arch Coal, have invested money in the proposed ports.

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News
6:12 am
Wed May 22, 2013

Groups want Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to address development issues.

A coalition of Wyoming groups has filed a rulemaking petition to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to address oil and gas development in the state.

The petition focuses on three main issues: increasing the setback of drilling rigs from homes, schools and businesses, adequate enforcement in the case of accidents and spills…and reducing the practice of flaring. Powder River Basin Resource Council’s Jill Morrison says flaring has been a recognized problem for some time.

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