Stephanie Joyce

Energy and Natural Resources Reporter

Phone: 307-766-0809
Email: sjoyce3@uwyo.edu

Stephanie Joyce reports on energy and natural resources for Wyoming Public Radio. Before joining WPR, she was the news director at a public radio station in the Aleutian Islands, where she covered oil, fish and sometimes pirates. She's also an alumni of the Metcalf Institute Science Reporting Fellowship. When not reporting, she's listening to public radio, often while running or skiing.

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News
11:50 am
Thu April 24, 2014

State Looks Into Allegations Of Environmental Harm By Linc Energy

The state has requested information from Australian regulators about alleged environmental crimes by Linc Energy. The company operates an underground coal gasification project in Australia and wants to the do the same here in Wyoming.

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News
11:44 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Opal Remains Evacuated After Explosion At Gas Plant

The explosion at the Williams company's Opal natural gas processing plant.
Credit Rachel Anderson

UPDATE 04/24 12:45pm: The evacuation order has been lifted, residents are being allowed to return to their homes. 

Original story:

An evacuation order remains in effect for residents of Opal after an explosion at a nearby natural gas processing plant Wednesday night.

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News
4:49 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Opal Evacuated After Explosion At Nearby Gas Plant

A town in southwest Wyoming has been evacuated after an explosion at a nearby natural gas processing plant. The explosion at the Williams plant near Opal happened around 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. Lincoln County Emergency Management spokesman Stephen Malik said that as of 4 p.m. there was still an ongoing fire, but that gas has been shut off to the facility. In addition to the evacuation of Opal's hundred residents, highways 30 and 284 between Opal and Kemmerer have been shut down.

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News
4:59 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Rail Congestion Curbs Coal Shipments

Arch Coal executives expressed frustration with the nation’s two biggest railroads during a conference call with investors Tuesday. Coal shipments out of the Powder River Basin have been delayed in recent months because of congestion on the BNSF and Union Pacific main lines. Arch Coal CEO John Eaves said it’s hurting the company’s earnings.

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News
6:23 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

First U.S. Rare Earth Minerals Mine In Decades Could Be In Wyoming

The first rare earth minerals mine to open in the U.S. in decades could be here in Wyoming. Permitting gets underway this week for the Bear Lodge mine, near Sundance. Rare earths are a group of metals that are critical to high tech devices like smartphones and lasers. They’re currently mined almost exclusively in China. Rare Element Resources’ George Byers says the company is hoping to change that.

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Open Spaces
4:21 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Rare Earth Mine Permitting Gets Underway

Rare Element Resources wants to build a processing plant on this site, just outside of Upton.
Stephanie Joyce

They’ve been called the secret ingredient of everything. Rare earths are a group of elements that make much of today’s technology possible, from smartphones to wind turbines to precision-guided missiles. For decades, China has dominated the rare earth market, but amid questions about the wisdom of allowing one country to control the supply chain, a mining project in Wyoming is getting underway. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, if the mine opens, it would be only be the second one in the United States and the first new one in decades.

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Open Spaces
4:04 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Frac Sand Poses Potential Health Problem For Workers

Credit Andrew Link | Winona (Minn.) Daily News

It’s been called miner's phthisis, grinder's asthma, potter's rot. Silicosis is a disease of the lungs that’s caused by inhaling tiny particles of crystalline silica dust, basically sand. Those particles cut the lung tissue, causing inflammation and scarring that make it difficult to breathe.

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News
9:59 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Task Force On Forests Makes Progress

A group tasked with making recommendations about forest policy in Wyoming is meeting this week in Saratoga.

Originally called the Governor’s Forest Health Task Force, the group dropped that name after members couldn’t agree on what constitutes forest health. Jessica Crowder, with the Governor’s office, says the new name, Task Force on Forests, better reflects the broad range of management ideas the group is considering.

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News
5:58 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Orphaned Well Meeting Draws Crowd

The state held its first-ever public meeting about the issue of orphaned and idle gas wells Wednesday in Gillette. 

The coal bed methane boom left more than a thousand potentially hazardous, abandoned wells on state and private lands in Wyoming, and landowners turned out in droves to learn about the Governor’s plan for plugging them.

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News
3:53 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Wyoming Oil And Gas Supervisor Resigns

Grant Black
Credit LinkedIn

After less than a year on the job, Wyoming’s oil and gas supervisor is resigning, effective Tuesday. Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Chair Bridget Hill declined to comment on Grant Black’s sudden resignation other than to say the Commission accepted it unanimously and thanked him for his service. Black didn’t return a call for comment.

The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is scheduled to begin a major review of rules dealing with setbacks, flaring and bonding in April. Hill says that process will continue.

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News
3:15 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Encana Sells Wyoming Natural Gas Field

In the latest sign of an industry-wide move away from natural gas, Encana is selling its Jonah Field properties. For more than a decade, Encana has been one of the largest natural gas producers in Wyoming thanks to the field near Pinedale, but company spokesperson Doug Hock says moving forward, Encana is trying to diversify its assets.

“So that we’re not tied to one particular commodity. Or we’ve got more flexibility in terms of oil versus natural gas,” Hock says.

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News
12:40 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Wright Residents Wary Of Proposed Coal Gasification Project

It was standing room only at the Wright Public Library last night as residents packed into a hearing about a nearby project that would burn coal seams underground to produce synthesis gas or syngas.

Linc Energy’s proposed underground coal gasification project has been in the works for years, but from the public testimony, many Wright residents were hearing about it for the first time. And they had lots of questions about the process, which has never been developed commercially.

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News
9:33 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Board of Ed Opts To Delay Decision On Science Standards

The State Board of Education has decided to hold off on making any decisions about how to move forward with development of science standards. A footnote in the state budget bill that the governor signed earlier this month prohibits the Board from adopting, or even considering, a set of national standards that it had been reviewing for more than a year. Some legislators objected to the standards’ treatment of climate change and evolution.

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Open Spaces
4:33 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Legislators Halt Consideration Of Controversial Science Standards

Goshen County Representative Matt Teeters

Right before the close of the session, the Wyoming Legislature slipped a small amendment into the budget bill that’s proving to have some big implications.

The footnote prohibits the State Board of Education from considering a set of national science education standards that it had been reviewing for more than a year, and as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, it raises questions about whose role it is to establish those standards.

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News
6:57 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Newspaper Takes Issue With Halliburton Release Form

Halliburton found itself in the spotlight Thursday after asking a reporter at the Casper Star-Tribune to sign a release promising any coverage wouldn’t portray the company in a negative light.

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News
11:14 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Legislators Halt Consideration Of Controversial Science Standards

Right before the close of the session, the Wyoming Legislature slipped a small amendment into the budget bill that’s proving to have some big implications. The footnote prohibits the State Board of Education from considering a set of national science education standards that it had been reviewing for more than a year, and as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, it raises questions about whose role it is to establish those standards.

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News
6:22 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Scientists Launch Campaign To Sway Climate Change Debate

The country’s largest scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is launching a public awareness campaign about climate change.

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News
5:47 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Science Standards Create Rift Between Board of Ed, Legislature

tiny footnote in Wyoming’s budget bill is causing a big stir. The state’s science education standards are due for an overhaul, and the Board of Education had been considering a set of national standards called the Next Generation Science Standards to replace them.

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News
3:49 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Exemptions to Fracking Chemical Disclosure Law To Receive Renewed Scrutiny

Environmental and landowner groups are celebrating after the Wyoming Supreme Court found a lower court had ruled in error regarding disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

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News
6:55 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Ukraine Crisis Reignites Debate Over Natural Gas Exports

Liquefied Natural Gas Tanker
Credit Shell

The crisis in Ukraine has rekindled calls for the US to export more of its newfound glut of natural gas overseas, but not everyone thinks that’s a good idea.

In recent days a number of Congressmen, including Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, have called for the Department of Energy to expedite its approval of natural gas export terminals.  Barrasso says it would give the US more foreign policy leverage.

“The approval of contracts by the federal government, to say ‘this is going to go’ will undermine Russia’s pricing ability in the Ukraine and in Europe,” Barrasso says.

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News
6:22 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

President's Budget Calls for Cutting Fossil Fuel Tax Breaks

Repealing tax credits for fossil fuel producers and strengthening the Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas program are the among the energy proposals in President Obama’s 2015 budget.

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News
4:44 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Rocky Mountain Power Requests Rate Increase

Rocky Mountain Power is asking regulators for permission to raise rates by an average of 5.3 percent starting in January 2015. That would translate to an extra $4.50 a month for average residential customers. Company spokesman Jeff Hymas says the rate increase is necessary for a number of reasons, but mostly because of recent infrastructure investments totaling over $2 billion. Those include projects in Wyoming and out of state, but Wyoming’s growing electricity use factors into how much it has to pay.

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News
5:15 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Legislature Frees Up $7M For Game And Fish

Grizzly bear management and Wyoming Game and Fish employee health insurance will be covered out of the state’s general fund in future budget cycles. The Legislature passed a bill that sidesteps their refusal to raise hunting and fishing licenses fees by allowing the agency to request state funding for those programs. Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott says it will free up about $7 million.

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News
5:53 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Oil And Gas Regulation Review Kicks Off

Credit Willow Belden

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is planning to review several controversial issues, including flaring, well-setbacks and bonding, starting in March.

Those topics have come up a lot in recent years, with the boom in drilling. The Powder River Basin Resource Council asked the Commission to address them last year, and so have several residents in recent opinion pieces in the Casper Star-Tribune.

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Open Spaces
3:07 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Wyoming Public Media's 2014 Forum On Coal On Open Spaces

Speakers Rita Meyer, Leslie Glustrom, and Mark Gordon with Moderator Stephanie Joyce.
Ray Mitchell

The WPM Forum On Coal was a moderated discussion about the challenges coal is currently facing politically, economically and environmentally, how that could impact Wyoming in the future, and ways the state is innovating to keep coal relevant.

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News
8:01 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Radioactive Waste Lands Wyoming Company In Hot Water

Credit Rick Schreiber

A Wyoming company is in trouble with North Dakota officials for improperly disposing of filter socks used in oil and gas drilling. Filter socks capture sediment in flowback water, and can concentrate naturally-occurring radioactivity. The North Dakota Department of Health says inspectors detected radioactivity at above-background levels on two flatbed trailers piled high with filter socks that are owned by Riverton-based R.P Services.

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News
5:54 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Increased Coal, Oil Shipments Tax Rail Network

Increasing volumes of coal and oil being shipped to the Pacific Northwest are putting pressure on rail capacity in the region, according a new report from the Western Organization of Resource Councils.

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News
5:23 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Natural Gas Producers Savor Price Spike

Natural gas prices hit a 5-year high this week in response to news that another bout of extreme cold weather will hit the Northeast and Midwest in coming days. Previous cold snaps this winter have led to record consumption of natural gas, which in turn has drawn down reserves. In response, prices have climbed more than 40 percent since the beginning of the year, reaching over $6 per million BTU Wednesday.

Doug Hock is a spokesman for Encana, the largest natural producer in Wyoming. He says the upswing is a welcome change of pace, after years of low prices.

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