Cooper McKim

Natural Resources & Energy Reporter

Phone: 307-766-0809
Email: cmckim5@uwyo.edu

Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and now Wyoming. In South Carolina, he covered recovery efforts from a devastating flood in 2015. Throughout his time, he produced breaking news segments and short features for NPR. Cooper recently graduated from Tufts University with degrees in Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.

 

Ways to Connect

Fontanelle Dam in southwestern Wyoming
Public Domain / U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

A massive federal infrastructure bill could help Wyoming make more use of the Fontanelle Dam, part of which has never been used. U.S. Senator John Barrasso sponsored the America's Water Infrastructure Act that supports projects for flood protection, repairing old irrigation systems, and upgrading dams.

Electric Car
Fleet Karma

Wyoming U.S. Senator John Barrasso has introduced a bill, the Fairness For Every Driver Act, that would repeal the electric vehicle tax credit. The credit has been around since the early nineties and gives buyers up to $7,500 off an electric car.

Westmoreland Coal

Westmoreland Coal Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Tuesday. It operates in five states, including Wyoming, with a large mine near Kemmerer employing around 280 people. The company’s debt has skyrocketed in recent years, and it’s lost nearly all of its share price value.

A male Sage Grouse (also known as the Greater Sage Grouse) in the USA
Pacific Southwest Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from Sacramento, US

The U.S. Forest Service is proposing changes to sage grouse protections that would make it easier to develop — especially energy — on vast swaths of land where the chicken-like bird lives.

Craig Hella Johnson
James Goulden

Considering Matthew Shepard is a three-part oratorio responding to Matthew Shepard's 1998 murder. Released in 2016, the piece moves through the events of Shepard's life and death using a chorus and a chamber ensemble. It was written by composer Craig Hella Johnson. During the 20th anniversary of Shepard's death, Johnson has toured the work around the country and will perform it in Laramie October 6, the day Shepard was robbed and beaten. Reporter Cooper McKim speaks with Johnson about the work and the role of art around Shepard's death.

James Goulden

The three-part oratorio Considering Matthew Shepard moves through the life and death of Shepard and the resulting trial alternating in genre and perspective throughout. The large-scale composition written for an orchestra and chorus was written by Craig Hella Johnson. The piece touches on western themes, religious ones, as well as focusing on Shepard's humanity.

Feb 2018 Conspirare Performance -- Craig Hella Johnson, composer of Considering Matthew Shepard
Marlee Crawford / University of Mississippi

It's been twenty years since the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. One legacy of his hate-motivated death is the wide collection of artistic responses.

Cooper McKim

Dave Hohl is a long-time resident of Pinedale, a town surrounded by oil and gas operations in western Wyoming. In 2008, Hohl went cross-country skiing and he noticed a heavy brown haze.

Delinquent mineral production taxes by county updated in July of this year
Powder River Basin Resource Council

Last Friday, legislators spent three and half hours hearing testimony and discussing improvements to the ad valorem tax system, one-time severance taxes paid to counties to fund local services and the state school system. 

The Revenue Department

The Joint Revenue Committee has decided to put together a framework of what a corporate income tax could look like in Wyoming. The meeting grew heated as two public commenters accused the committee trying to adopt a tax increase. 

Falmouth Public Library

The Wyoming Joint Revenue Committee has voted to move forward with an optional municipal tax. It would allow any Wyoming town or city to institute its own one-cent sales tax to fund specific projects, a new source of revenue proponents say is sorely needed.

Protest decision document from Interior Department
Department of the Interior

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has put oil and gas leases up for sale in the state. Compared to this time last year, the agency is seeing a 150 percent increase in the number of parcels available.

United States Department of the Interior

The Interior Department has released its final plan to rollback a rule limiting methane emissions from oil and gas producers. This follows the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) move last week to weaken its own methane protections.

Ken Lane via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

The ground investigation of a grizzly attack in the Bridger Teton National Park that left one dead has ended. A female grizzly bear and her yearling — a larger cub — attacked and killed Wyoming hunting guide, Mark Uptain, last Friday, while injuring his client, a Florida resident.

Powder River Basin Resource Council

The Joint Interim Revenue Committee is planning to discuss changes to a particular kind of tax known as ad valorem. It's a mineral property tax that has been a huge challenge for counties to collect for years due to policies that don't prioritize its collection.

Rawlins City Clerk

Last week, the city of Rawlins took a concrete stance no city or county in Wyoming yet has, and it might sound odd. They voted to not remove its funds from Bank of the West.

A gas flare, used to burn off flammable gas -- on Highway 59 from Gillette
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

The Trump administration is proposing a rule that would make it easier for oil and gas companies to release methane emissions — a potent greenhouse gas – into the air. The proposal targets an Obama-era policy pushing energy companies to fix gas leaks.

Most prevalent utility-scale electricity generation fuel by state, 2007 and 2017
U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly

In 2017, coal remained the most common fuel source by state percentage, leading in 18 states — a surprising fact given it’s fallen behind natural gas in overall generation across the country. A report from the Energy Information Administration shows the gap, but while coal holds a lead in state generation, the gap is slimming.

Cooper McKim

Scientists know very little about a species of stonefly that can only be found in the alpine streams of the Grand Teton Mountain Range: the Lednia tetonica.

Alpha male (712) of the Canyon pack in the Lower Geyser Basin
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Aspen trees are making a comeback in Yellowstone National Park, and according to a new study out of Oregon State University, that’s thanks to wolves. 

Bureau of Land Management

After seven years on the back burner, a major oil and gas development near Pinedale has completed its final step and is weeks away from drilling. Jonah Energy's Normally Pressured Lance project obtained its Record of Decision from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The project aims to construct 3,500 wells over 10 years near Pinedale, 96 percent of the project is on public land.

Joint Minerals, Business, and Economic Development Meeting At UW
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is looking for a way to deal with idle limiting mining operations (LMOs). Those are small aggregate, or gravel, pits used by ranches or oil companies, among other entities, to build roads.

ACPIC Projected Revenue vs Operating Budget - from legislative presentation
The Advanced Carbon Collaborative Balanced Resources

Some state legislators are concerned about the market impacts of Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center (ACPIC), a non-profit center aimed to be a home for advanced carbon-related research at the Fort Union Industrial Park near Gillette. 

Tri-State’s coal fleet costs versus regional renewable energy benchmarks - within RMI report
Rocky Mountain Institute

An electric power cooperative could save over half a billion dollars by transitioning away from coal to renewables by 2030. That’s according to an independent analysis of the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association portfolio. The association, however, criticized the report as lacking in expertise.

Cooper McKim

It's a bright, cloudless day in Gillette, Wyoming as a long train passes by overflowing with coal. Huge, open-pit mines dot the perimeter of a light-blue coal-fired power plant. Inside, a turbine is making the building rumble with its constant hum of producing electricity. It's supplying power to the entire western grid.

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