Natural Resources/Energy Reporting Initiative

The Natural Resources / Energy Reporting Initiative is a component of Wyoming Public Media’s News Department. It is funded in part by the George B. Storer Foundation and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).  Content is available to Wyoming residents, and nationally and internationally to National Public Radio (NPR) entities interested in Wyoming natural resources and energy topics.

This initiative provides strong, unbiased and competent journalism content that focuses on natural resources, energy, environment and related topics. In collaboration with partners at NPR and CPB, we provide access to a variety of related public radio content.

Wyoming Public Media's Energy and Natural Resources Reporter is Stephanie Joyce.

StateImpact and Initiative stories can be found at:

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News
4:17 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

UW’s School of Energy Resources working to forge research relationship with Saudi Arabia

The University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources is working to forge a relationship with Saudi Arabia’s national oil and gas company, Saudi Aramco, and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. Saudi Aramco is the biggest oil and gas company in the world and invests heavily in research and development. SER Director, Mark Northam, just returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia. He says Wyoming and Saudi Arabia face similar challenges when it comes to unconventional reservoirs and water shortages, and he says they would both benefit by sharing their resources.

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News
3:26 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Encana needs to satisfy EPA's concerns before injecting into Madison aquifer

The Environmental Protection Agency is asking for more information from Encana Oil and Gas before signing off on the company’s request for an aquifer exemption. Encana wants to pump waste water into the Madison Aquifer from their oil and gas field in the Moneta Divide. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has already approved the request, but the EPA says the modeling of the plume that Encana did is too broad and the agency wants more information about why, according to Encana, the relatively clean water can’t be used for other purposes .

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News
2:58 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Environmental groups to sue coal companies over coal spilled en route to ports

The Sierra Club says it plans to sue railroad and coal companies in 60 days for spilled coal in the Northwest, and sent out letters of intent to the parties. The environmental group has been testing land and water around railroad tracks, and claims to have found pieces of coal and coal dust that, they say, blows off the train cars from mines in Wyoming and Montana.

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News
5:15 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Two Wyoming mines recognized for reclamation efforts

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission is recognizing two Wyoming mines for their reclamation efforts. The IMCC represents environmental protection interests and awards one non-coal and one coal project each year. The M-I SWACO Bentonite Mine in Big Horn County won the non-coal award and the Bridger Coal Mine received honorable mention in the coal category.

Department of Environmental Quality spokesman, Keith Guille, says the IMCC only gives two awards each year and it’s significant that Wyoming was recognized for both.

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News
5:02 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Feedback Sought on Possible Wind Power Line

A proposed wind power transmission line wants feedback on its proposed route.  The Zephyr Power Transmission Project is an approximately 850-mile transmission line that would deliver wind energy generated in eastern Wyoming to population centers in the southwestern U.S. As proposed, the project will begin at the Pathfinder Wind Energy Development near Chugwater, cross portions of Colorado and Utah, and end up near the Eldorado Valley, just south of Las Vegas.  

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Open Spaces
3:34 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

DEQ releases ozone strategy for Sublette County

Emissions from drilling rigs and other production equipment can cause ozone to form.
Credit Willow Belden

BOB BECK: The Department of Environmental Quality has released a plan for tackling the ozone problem in Sublette County. Emissions from the energy industry there have combined to form a type of pollution called ozone, which can be a health hazard. Ozone levels have been so high that they violate federal standards, and the Environmental Protection Agency has given Wyoming three years to fix the problem.

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Open Spaces
4:55 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

New research seeks to answer key scientific questions about Sublette County ozone

Drill rigs like this one are one source of emissions that could be contributing to ozone formation in Sublette County.
Credit Willow Belden

Sublette County has an ozone problem. Ozone is produced by emissions from the oil and gas fields and contributes to smog, which can cause health problems.  Several times in the past few years, ozone levels have exceeded federal limits, and the Environmental Protection Agency has given Wyoming three years to fix the problem. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has been working with local residents and industry to come up with a solution. But that’s hard to do, because nobody understands the exact chemistry of ozone formation.

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Open Spaces
4:39 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Pinedale residents discuss DEQ’s response to ozone problem

Credit Courtesy of Pinedale Online

Last year, a task force of citizens, energy industry reps, and local leaders got together to tackle the ozone problem in Sublette County. They came up with a list of recommendations for the Department of Environmental Quality. Among other things, they called for tougher regulations on industry and more rigorous air quality monitoring. In January, the Department of Environmental Quality met with the task force to discuss how they would respond to the recommendations. They said nothing was off the table, but that some recommendations could take a long time to implement.

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Open Spaces
5:36 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Increased coal exports overseas bring up questions of royalty payments

Coal producers in the U.S. are looking to markets abroad to make up for decreasing demand at home. But a recent investigation by Thomson Reuters news service suggests there might be royalty underpayments on those shipments. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that royalty question is still unresolved.

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Open Spaces
4:06 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

UW program will prepare a new generation of landmen for the booming energy industry

University of Wyoming just initiated a new program out of its burgeoning School of Energy Resources. The professional land management concentration will train landmen. Those are people who look for untapped oil and gas and other resources and negotiate contracts between their owners and companies that want to develop them.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that the program is just in time.

[sound from meeting]

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Open Spaces
3:21 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Air quality research seeks to find answers to Pinedale ozone problem

Sublette County violates federal air quality standards, because of high levels of ozone, or smog. The ozone forms when emissions from oil and gas development mix together, under certain weather conditions. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is responsible for fixing the problem, but there are a lot of unknowns about how ozone forms. Now, researchers at the University of Wyoming are trying to find some answers. We’re joined now by Rob Field. He’s an atmospheric scientist, and he’s been monitoring air quality in Sublette County for several years. to find some answers.

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Open Spaces
3:18 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

For UW’s School of Energy Resources, transparency about funding is key.

The School of Energy Resources at the University of Wyoming is funded in large part with money from the energy industry. Other universities have gotten heat lately for not being open enough with their funding sources. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that some stakeholders are concerned about too much influence from energy at UW, but SER promises transparency. 

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Open Spaces
5:38 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

DEQ discusses plans to manage ozone levels in Sublette County

The Department of Environmental Quality hosted a meeting on Thursday to discuss how it plans to fix Sublette county's air quality problems. Emissions from oil and gas production in the area have caused ozone, or smog, to form at levels that exceed federal limits. Wyoming Public Media's Willow Belden has the story.

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Open Spaces
4:41 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Rep. Lummis appointed to US House Subcommittee on Energy

Wyoming’s Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis has been appointed to chair the U.S. House of Representatives’ Science Subcommittee on Energy. The subcommittee will oversee energy research, development and demonstration projects. Lummis spoke with Rebecca Martinez from the Capitol press room in Cheyenne this week.

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Open Spaces
4:25 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

After roundtable, outlook for coal better than presumed

Tim Considine is a professor at University of Wyoming and director of the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy. He’s done research on petroleum markets and written about Powder River Basin Coal. He helped organize a roundtable discussion about coal called “Powder River Basin Coal: Domestic Challenges and International Opportunities,” which took place yesterday, in Gillette…He said the industry has been facing challenges like ongoing uncertainty in regulations, yet coal exports are at record levels.

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Open Spaces
4:50 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Converse County oil boom draws concerns from residents

Well pads like this one form a ring around a residential subdivision near Douglas.
Credit Willow Belden

In October, we reported that Chesapeake Energy had drilled a series of oil wells near Douglas, very close to people’s houses. Chesapeake says the area will likely continue to be a core drilling region. That has some area residents uneasy. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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Open Spaces
4:30 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Wyoming law makers want to phase out the Wind Production Tax Credit

Wyoming Republicans in Washington are advocating for phasing out the Wind Production Tax Credit, which has helped give the state a robust energy portfolio. Matt Laslo reports on the future of the tax credit in the near and long term.

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Open Spaces
4:31 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Jeffrey City Sheriff Deputy J.D. Darnell looks back on Jeffrey City during the boom and bust

Jeffrey City is mostly empty today, though it once was home to a significant uranium boom that brought thousands of workers to the town.
Irina Zhorov

J.D. Darnell is a resident of Jeffrey City and has served as Sheriff's Deputy since the 1970s. The town is a lot quieter now than it was during the last uranium boom, which brought miners to the region, and plenty of excitement. That was all over by the mid-80s.Darnell looks back on Jeffrey City then, and now. 

To listen to the entire November 30, 2012 Wyoming Open Spaces program, please click here.

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Open Spaces
4:28 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Four more years: What a second Obama administration could mean for energy in Wyoming

Many fossil fuel developers campaigned against President Obama this election season, fearing the effect of regulations and other restrictions on their industry, while environmental activists called for four more years. Now that Mr. Obama has won a second term, Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez spoke with some stakeholders about what that could mean for the energy industry in Wyoming.

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Open Spaces
3:20 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

Residents near Douglas fear becoming ‘another Pinedale or Pavillion’

Flares like this one at a new oil well near Douglas are raising concerns amongst area residents.
Willow Belden

INTRO: This spring, an oil rig blew out near Douglas. Natural gas spewed into the air, and residents from a nearby neighborhood were evacuated for several days. Since the blowout, Chesapeake Energy has drilled several new wells around that same neighborhood, and residents have new concerns. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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Open Spaces
4:05 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Documents Show Artwork Removed Early Due to Pressure

A sculpture, called Carbon Sink, installed on the University of Wyoming campus, has generated a lot of controversy in the past couple of years. It was a pin wheel of charred logs that sought to draw a connection between coal, global warming, and increased beetle kill. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that this supposedly anti-carbon message certainly got the attention of law makers, donors, and those in industry.
 

IRINA ZHOROV: The piece was installed in 2011 and was removed in May of 2012, a year earlier than expected.

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Open Spaces
3:49 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Sinclair fire the result of failure to train workers and other workplace violations, OSHA finds

The Sinclair Refinery near Rawlins has had four fires or explosions since May, and Wyoming’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has been investigating what went wrong. OSHA has completed its investigation into one of the incidents. It was a fire on May 25, which injured two workers. Wyoming OSHA Administrator John Ysebaert joins us to talk about what they found. He says one of the main problems is that Sinclair wasn’t properly training its workers.

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Open Spaces
3:31 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

After slow start, ‘green’ building begins to take root in Wyoming

Davey Jackson Elementary in Jackson achieved LEED certification.

Over the past few years, a growing number of people in Wyoming have been constructing buildings with an eye to making them more energy efficient. But Wyoming still lags behind the rest of the country when it comes to “green” building. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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Open Spaces
3:53 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

DKRW secures contract for coal-to-gas plant

DKRW plans to build a coal-to-gas plant in Medicine Bow.
Bob Beck

Earlier this year we told you about an effort to turn coal into gas in Medicine Bow.  Today DKRW Advanced Fuels has announced that it has secured a contract to its Medicine Bow project with the Sinopec  Engineering Group in based out of China.   Bob Kelly is Executive Chairman and co-founder of DKRW, and he tells Bob Beck that getting an actual bid on the facility puts wheels in motion.  

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Open Spaces
5:27 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Coal production slows, prices drop

The Jim Bridger coal fired power plant has already had to retrofit its stacks with cleaning technology and plans to do more work in the next couple of years.
Irina Zhorov

Coal production and coal prices are down and stakeholders are offering up lots of reasons as the cause, from weather to new policies and competing fuels. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that it’s a combination of all these factors. 

Irina Zhorov: There is no doubt coal is struggling right now. Karim Rahemtulla is the Senior Correspondent for investment blog Wall St. Daily.

Rahemtulla: The predominant trend that’s in the market right now is a slowdown in consumption, directly related to coal, not necessarily other energy sources.

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Open Spaces
5:20 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Former Bush Administration official says EPA is improperly affecting energy market

A Bush administration official has been speaking to members of the media this week about his concerns that the Environmental Protection Agency is overstepping its bounds.   Bud Albright is the former undersecretary for the Department of Energy.  Albright’s main point is that the EPA is unfairly making it difficult for energy companies to operate.  He says they are unfairly impacting the energy market.  He speaks with Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck.

Open Spaces
5:17 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Cleaner technology could give Wyoming coal a bright future

Professor KJ Reddy, right, and others working on the project inspect the flue gas and fly ash reactor before running more tests.
Irina Zhorov

In the midst of a coal slowdown nationwide, not all is dark. Wyoming has been investing millions in research that would make coal a clean, viable resource in the future, despite its dirty reputation. The state has also been making strides towards friendship and collaboration with other big coal stakeholders, like China. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports.

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Open Spaces
5:13 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Enthusiasm for wind energy high outside Wyoming

Next on the show is the a Wind Energy expert and the author of the book Harvest the Wind:  America’s Journey to jobs, energy independence and climate stability.  Phil Warburg tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that while it appears that enthusiasm for Wind Energy has slowed down in Wyoming, that is not the case in the rest of the country.

Open Spaces
5:21 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Albany County Takes Public Comment On Future Of Casper Aquifer

Tim Sullivan, Albany County Commissioner
Albany County, Wyoming

HOST INTRO: The Casper Aquifer provides fresh groundwater to Laramie and a portion of Albany County. The water is in great condition, and the city and county have traditionally worked in tandem to keep it that way, but their paths diverged a few years ago. Now, Albany County’s most recent Casper Aquifer Protection Plan resolution is open for public comment, and the public has had a lot to say about it. Rebecca Martinez reports.

(water faucet ambi)

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Open Spaces
5:12 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

U.S. Geological Survey: Coalbed Natural Gas Production Has Minimal Impacts On Waterways

USGS

The U-S Geological Survey released a study examining how coalbed natural gas production affects water quality in nearby streams and rivers. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with Melanie Clark, the author of the report.

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