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
7:01 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Oil industry faces mounting wastewater challenge

Credit www.daveshowalter.com

Disposing of oil’s biggest byproduct is going to be a challenge for Wyoming in coming years. That was the takeaway from a panel discussion Wednesday about water use and energy development.

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News
6:37 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Bird migration routes coincide with high wind potential in Wyoming

Where exactly do migratory birds stop on their way across Wyoming? A new study answers that question for the first time, with any eye towards discouraging wind development in those places.

Study leader Amy Pocewicz is a landscape ecologist with The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming. She says the results show a lot of potential for conflict.

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Baseline Testing
6:11 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Baseline water testing rule draws criticism from all sides

Opinion is sharply divided on a proposed rule that would require water testing at oil and gas wells before and after drilling.

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has been taking public comment on the rule since August. Two dozen groups and individuals submitted written comments, and a handful spoke at a public hearing in Casper on Tuesday.

Bob LeResche is vice-chair of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a group that represents landowners. He says as they stand, the rules have no teeth.
 

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News
9:45 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Deal renews controversy over sage grouse protections

Credit Wikipedia

A deal to allow oil and gas development in a sage grouse conservation area near Douglas met considerable resistance when it was announced last month. Environmental groups said it set a dangerous precedent, and showed the state isn’t serious about keeping the bird off the endangered species list. The state said it was a necessary compromise that protects sage grouse while respecting private mineral rights.

Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce takes a look at tensions in the state’s sage grouse conservation strategy, five years after its implementation.

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miner death
5:42 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Worker plunges to his death at Bridger coal mine

A coal miner is dead after a bulldozer accident in the early morning hours on Sunday.

The incident happened at the Bridger coal mine near Rock Springs, which is jointly owned by PacifiCorp and Idaho Power. The Sweetwater County sheriff’s department says Mark Christopher Stassinos, 44, died after being thrown out of his bulldozer as it plunged over a highwall at the mine.

PacifiCorp spokesman Jeff Hymas says Stassinos had been working there for the last two years, and that mining operations have stopped pending an investigation.

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Uranium agreement
6:35 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Uranium producers continue to push for state regulation

If Wyoming wants to take over regulation of uranium, thorium and other radioactive materials from the federal government, it’s going to be a lot of work. That was the message the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality delivered to a legislative committee last week.

The agency won’t release a final feasibility report until December, but deputy director Nancy Nuttbrock said legislators should brace themselves for a complicated, and expensive, process.

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WindTurbine
7:30 am
Fri October 4, 2013

An inside look at harnessing the wind

Tour group gathers in front of the High Plains Wind Farm
Stephanie Joyce

On a recent Saturday, about 50 people gathered in Laramie for a day-long renewable energy tour. Put on by Rocky Mountain Power, it included talks and presentations by industry and academics, but the highlight was a visit to the 66-turbine High Plains wind farm, near Rock River.

Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce joined the tour, and brings us this postcard from the inside of a wind turbine.

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StateLands
8:03 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Leadership Changes at State Lands Office

The governor has appointed a new Director of State Lands. Bridget Hill will take over the post from Ryan Lance later this month, when he moves on to a job in the private sector.

The Office of State Lands and Investments manages millions of acres of surface and mineral estate in Wyoming, generating revenues to fund schools and other public services.

Lance served as director for two and a half years. During his tenure he pushed for rules to govern flaring from natural gas wells on state lands.

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Waste Diversion
6:28 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Trade associations push for increased landfill diversion

Credit Wikipedia

As the state is considering how to shut down many outdated landfills across the state, there’s also a push underway to prevent more waste from going into landfills in the first place. A study from earlier this year shows just 19 percent of municipal solid waste is recycled or composted in the state, putting Wyoming on par with the national average in the early 1990s.

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News
8:39 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Permitting gets underway for underground coal gasification project

A project that seeks to use Wyoming coal that’s buried too deep underground for conventional mining is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Department of Environmental Quality has put Linc Energy’s proposed underground coal gasification project up for public review. The process involves drilling thousands of feet below the surface into deep coal seams, and then igniting them, and capturing the gases that are produced. Those can then be converted into synthetic natural gas, chemicals like ammonia or fertilizer, or liquid fuels.

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Baseline testing
6:56 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Legislative committee interrogates baseline testing rule

Credit Bob Jenkins / Wikipedia

Legislators had a lot of questions about a proposed water-testing rule for oil and gas wells during a meeting of the Minerals Committee last week.

Governor Matt Mead proposed the rule, which would require water testing before and after drilling. Industry estimates it would cost $9,000 to $18,000 per well. The governor’s natural resources policy advisor, Jerimiah Rieman, told legislators it’s worth the cost.

“From my perspective, it’s pretty cheap insurance for the companies,” Rieman said. “It’s pretty cheap for the state to have a rider on that policy.”

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Legislative
6:50 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Legislators want to see faster progress on abandoned wells solution

Credit Irina Zhorov

A legislative committee would like to see faster progress on a program to plug abandoned oil and gas wells. That was the message for Oil and Gas Supervisor Grant Black at a meeting of the legislature’s Minerals Committee today.

Committee members criticized Black for not providing a concrete plan for plugging or repurposing the wells. There are currently 1,200 orphaned wells in the state, and that number is expected to double in the next year.

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Energy Council
5:40 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Wyoming hosts meeting of legislators from energy-producing states

The Energy Council met at Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park.
Credit Stephanie Joyce

Energy industry representatives mingled with lawmakers from Wyoming and other states at last week’s meeting of the Energy Council.

The Council is a Texas-based non-profit, and its membership is made up of lawmakers from twelve states, three Canadian provinces and Venezuela. It holds quarterly meeting to discuss energy issues. Although industry underwrites portions of the events, states also pay about $40,000 a year in dues to be part of the council, in addition to travel and lodging expenses for legislators.

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Watercraft
5:46 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Commission restricts motorized use of the Snake River

Snake River Float Trip
Credit EJS, Prior to 1970 / National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center, Archives Center

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted Monday to impose limits on what types of motorized craft can be used on Teton County’s Snake River, and when.

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News
8:13 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Jackson's Great Apes Summit shows need for public involvement

Panel discussion at Great Apes Summit in Jackson, Wyoming
Credit Stephanie Joyce

Jackson is a long way from the land of the great apes, but this weekend, the world’s leading primatologists gathered there to discuss their future.

Gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans have all seen dramatic population declines over the last hundred years. Doug Cress works for the Great Apes Survival partnership, or GRASP, one of the sponsors of the summit. He says the declines can be attributed to a single source.

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Open Spaces
4:49 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

September 20th, 2013

Natural Gas producers are concerned about the future

More than 500 industry people gathered in Jackson this week for the 17th Annual Wyoming Oil and Gas Fair. Wyoming Public Radio’s energy and natural resources reporter, Stephanie Joyce was there, and she joins us now to talk about the event.

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Open Spaces
4:40 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Natural Gas producers are concerned about the future

Stephanie Joyce

More than 500 industry people gathered in Jackson this week for the 17th Annual Wyoming Oil and Gas Fair. Wyoming Public Radio’s energy and natural resources reporter, Stephanie Joyce was there, and she joins us now to talk about the event.

BOB BECK: So, what are the biggest issues on the mind of Wyoming’s oil and gas industry right now?

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Chesapeake
6:34 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

State sanctions drilling in sage grouse habitat

Credit Wikipedia

After what the state characterized as a knock-down, drag-out fight with Chesapeake Oil, it’s planning to allow drilling in a sage grouse conservation area.

The protected areas were established by executive order in 2011 in order to conserve critical sage grouse habitat, with the goal of keeping the bird off the endangered species list. The new plan modifies the protections in an area near Douglas where Chesapeake has oil and gas leases. 

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Dick Cheney
6:27 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Dick Cheney praises energy industry in Wyoming

Vice President Dick Cheney
Credit Wikipedia

Former Vice President Dick Cheney addressed attendees at the 17th annual Wyoming Oil and Gas Fair Thursday.

During his speech he praised the industry for helping reduce U.S. reliance on foreign energy, while condemning the Obama administration’s withdrawal from the Middle East.

Discussing hydraulic fracturing and other advances in oil and gas extraction, Cheney said he was impressed by how far the industry has come since he was at Halliburton, but warned it will continue to contend with a “war on fossil fuels.”

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News
5:26 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Wyoming wind farms take a toll on eagles

Wyoming wind farms have killed more than 30 eagles in the last five years, according to a new study by several U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists. That’s more than any state except for California -- and that’s despite Wyoming having relatively few wind turbines.

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News
6:50 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Emissions measurements advance case for natural gas

Natural gas’ reputation as a climate-friendly alternative to coal has been tarnished recently by concerns that methane—a potent greenhouse gas—is leaking in copious quantities as the fuel makes its way from the ground to the consumer. A study released Monday provides the first on-the-ground measurements of methane leaks at hydraulically fractured natural gas well sites, and they're not as bad as some had feared.

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News
7:25 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Coal industry braces for new emissions rules

The federal government is getting ready to unveil rules for carbon emissions at new coal-fired power plants, and they probably won't be what industry had hoped for.

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Mine Fire
4:36 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Three miners badly burned in coal-dust fire

North Antelope Rochelle Mine
Credit NASA

Three miners are being treated for serious burns after a coal-dust fire at the North Antelope Rochelle mine on Tuesday.

The fire started while the workers were changing a bearing on a conveyor, according to Amy Louviere, a spokesperson for the Mine Safety and Health Administration. She writes in an email that coal dust filled the space the workers were in, and was ignited by the machinery. The agency is investigating.

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News
6:58 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Wyomingites are driving less

For the first time in decades, Americans are driving less—and Wyomingites are no exception. Driving in the state is down 12 percent from its peak in 2003, according to a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

At more than 16,000 miles per person per year, Wyoming drivers still log more time on the road than residents of any other state, but the cutback in driving is helping close the gap, according to Phineas Baxandall, who did the analysis.

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Open Spaces
4:24 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Institute builds advanced oil recovery savvy in Wyoming

The Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute's new lab
Credit University of Wyoming

Wyoming has been producing oil for more than a hundred years, which means the state has a lot of mature oil fields -- fields that stopped producing a long time ago.

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Open Spaces
4:10 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Despite possible revenue loss, coal leasing reforms not likely to be forthcoming

A coal mine in the Powder River Basin
Credit U.S. Geological Survey

Last week, we reported that the federal government might be selling Powder River Basin coal for less than it’s worth. As reform advocate Tom Sanzillo described the sales:

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FMR
4:47 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Feds to pay Wyoming more than $40M in back royalties

The federal government will pay back mineral royalties that it withheld from states under the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.

When sequestration went into effect earlier this year, the Department of the Interior started withholding 5 percent of states' share of the royalties, which are paid on resources like coal and oil extracted from federal lands. For Wyoming, that's amounted to more than $40 million.

On Monday, DOI announced that after a legal review, it's giving the money back.

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Shoshone Management
4:12 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Public Comments on Shoshone Management Plan Skew Toward Conservation

Shoshone National Forest
Credit U.S. Forest Service

Commenters on the proposed Shoshone National Forest management plan favor conservation, according to a new analysis by several environmental groups.

The U.S. Forest Service received more than 23,000 comments on the proposed plan. The analysis focuses on the roughly 1,000 of those that aren't form letters. Connie Wilbert, with the Sierra Club of Wyoming, helped with the analysis. She says the results weren't unexpected.

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News
7:46 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Industry mostly on board with new water testing rules

For the most part, industry is happy with the new draft rules for baseline water testing near oil and gas wells. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission released its latest draft of them last week.

Petroleum Association of Wyoming Vice President John Robitaille says he continues to hear from association members that baseline testing is necessary.

“In all honesty, I think we probably should have been doing this several years ago,” he says.

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