environment

Order delivered July 31st, 2018 from the US District Court For the District of Montana Great Falls Division
US District Court For the District of Montana Great Falls Division

A federal court is ordering the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to reanalyze environmental and climate impacts of coal and oil and gas leasing in two field offices by fall of 2019. 

Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest

Fires continue to burn in many parts of the west and officials are bracing for a long, grueling and even deadlier fire season than they’re used to. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso chairs the Environment Committee where he oversees the nation’s forests.   

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Public Domain

Wyoming U.S. Senator John Barrasso helped craft a sweeping bipartisan bill that could go a long way to deal with Wyoming water issues.

Cooper McKim/Wyoming Public Radio

Sustainability has a become a buzzword when it comes to facing environmental challenges. But one researcher believes resilience is a better answer. 

The omnibus spending bill passed by Congress last month earmarked billions of dollars for fighting wildfires.  Many conservationists and politicians celebrated that change.

But the legislation also rolls rolls back some environmental protections and that has split the conservation community.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said he’s putting new limits on which scientific studies can be factored into the nation’s environmental laws and policies. He told the conservative web site, The Daily Caller, last week that he wants more “transparency” in scientific research.

The foreground is reclaimed mine land, with the active coal mine behind.
Wyoming Mining Assocation

Back in 2011, the coal market looked great. Three of the largest coal companies in the world, all with mines in Wyoming, invested big in metallurgical coal, the kind used for infrastructure. Sierra Club Attorney Peter Morgan said, “Each company took on hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of debt."

Oil and gas drilling on Jay Butler's property in Converse County
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

A major oil and gas project has taken a step forward with the end of its public comment period last week. The 5,000 well project covers over 1.5 million acres in Converse County, and received 110 comments following the release of its draft environmental impact statement, or EIS. 

People watching Old Faithful erupt from geyser cone, Yellowstone National Park, 1948
R. Robinson / National Park Service Photo Gallery

Several illegal actions took place within national parks during the three-day government shutdown in January. In Zion National Park, a pregnant elk was poached, in Gettysburg National Military Park, a family brought in a metal detector and a drone — both of which are prohibited—and in Yellowstone, private snowmobilers went past the legal boundary to get close to the geyser Old Faithful.

House Committee on Natural Resources Logo
House Committee on Natural Resources

The House Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing to discuss “modernizing” the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

Stephanie Joyce

Every four years the federal government is required to release a report on the world’s changing climate and this year's was the most comprehensive report since Congress mandated it. It states there’s “no convincing alternative explanation” to climate change other than that humans are the cause. The report is the work of more than a dozen federal agencies, but Rhode Island Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says the political appointees in the Trump administration have buried their heads in tar sands.

Penny Preston

A year after a huge mud spill killed fish below the Willwood dam near Cody, another sediment release is muddying the Shoshone River now. But, Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality says this year’s sediment release is being monitored and several groups are working together to prevent damage to the Shoshone River.

Western Values Project

A Montana-based environmental watchdog group is hoping to uncover e-mails from energy lobbyists and the Interior Department.

The Western Values Project is concerned coordination between the federal land management agency and representatives from the energy industry resulted in proposed changes to the sage grouse management plans.  

Public Lands in Wyoming
Bob Wick, BLM / Bureau of Land Management

Environmental groups filed a brief in federal court last Friday to halt oil and gas leasing on select public lands in Wyoming. They say development on that public land should stop there until the amount of greenhouse gases and their effect on the climate are fully understood.   

Photograph obtained by Wyoming Untrapped
Provided by Wyoming Untrapped

The Game and Fish Department continues to search for a grizzly bear with a steel trap caught on its right foot. Someone photographed the bear walking near the Bridger-Teton Forest on May 31. 

The day after the blurry photograph was taken, someone alerted the Game and Fish Department of the injured bear. Dan Thompson, large carnivore section supervisor at the Department, said they quickly jumped into action. 

"Since then, we’ve been monitoring on a daily base both on the ground and with some flights . . . I flew over the area directly last week,” Thompson said. 

EQC Hearing at the Game and Fish Department in Cheyenne
Cooper McKim

A hearing that will decide the fate of Wyoming’s first potential new coal mine in decades has come to an end. Ramaco’s Brook Mine would be built in Sheridan in the Tongue River Valley.

The Environmental Quality Council, or EQC, heard seven days of testimony from landowners, geologists, and regulators. A central question during the hearing was how the mine would affect water sources in the area. There was a coal mine in the area several decades ago that caused many wells to be drawn down.

Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has just finished his first 100 days in office. When it comes to energy and the environment, he has already taken some aggressive steps toward fulfilling major campaign promises. Inside Energy reporter Leigh Paterson joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to review President Trump’s energy policy in his first few months. 

The Modern West 22: Climate Change In A Fossil-Fuel State

Apr 20, 2017
Ken Koschnitzki

Wyoming’s economy revolves around energy production. But climate change raises questions about what role fossil fuels will play in the state’s future.

CocoaBiscuit via Flickr

Congress canceled a set of coal mining regulations last week, just two months after they’d been passed. President Trump signed the repeal with support from Wyoming Governor Matt Mead.  

The Stream Protection Rule created a buffer zone around waterways and placed stricter requirements on companies to monitor and reclaim mine sites. But Wyoming’s Congressional delegation and Department of Environmental Quality called the decision an overreach that should not apply to the arid conditions of the Western U.S.

Stephanie Joyce

This week Congress unleashed an assault on Obama-era regulations, and Wyoming lawmakers played a big role in the effort and the new effort is angering the environmental community.

 

Ever heard of the Congressional Review Act? Me neither, that is until Wyoming’s senior Senator Mike Enzi gave me a tutorial on it.

“It’s the ability for Congress to pass a claw back on any regulation that’s pass within 45 days after the time that’s it’s published provided there are enough signatures from the House and the Senate.”

Wikimedia Commons

President Elect Donald Trump has reportedly asked Montana U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke to be the nation’s next Interior Secretary. The Interior Secretary is tasked with the conservation and management of federal lands, national parks, and natural resources in the United States.

Zinke was an early supporter of Trump. As a member of congress, he has supported the Land and Water Conservation Fund and keeping public lands under federal control, but is also a proponent of logging and energy development on those lands.

Lingjing Bao

Although there was hope among Wyomingites that Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis would be tapped by President elect Trump for Interior Secretary, it appears that position will go to Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers instead.

Supporters of fossil fuels are welcoming President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head up the Environmental Protection Agency.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been a vocal critic of the agency he is nominated to lead, and is a strong proponent of fossil fuels, particularly oil and gas.

Pruitt is likely to take aim at many Obama administration regulations, particularly those dealing with climate change, since he rejects the scientific consensus on that issue.

Wyoming Senator John Barrasso will take on a new leadership role in the next Congress, as chair of the Environment and Public Works committee.

The committee has oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency, among other things.

Penny Preston

The Shoshone River east of Cody is choked with mud for miles. Wyoming’s Game and Fish fisheries biologist is investigating for massive fish kills. The sediment release apparently happened when Willwood Irrigation workers flushed water from the Willwood Dam between Cody and Powell.

Willwood Irrigation District Manager Todd Singbeil would not comment Sunday on the mud flow.

State fisheries biologist Jason Burkhardt was not available for an interview either, but did confirm he is investigating the issue.

Melodie Edwards

The Journey In

It’s a hard 23 mile hike into the Wind River Range to one of the state’s largest glaciers. It’s called Dinwoody, and every step is a study in the powerful impact this glacier has had on these mountains in the last 1.5 million years.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

  

Environmentalists, lawmakers, coal miners, and advocates of all types gathered to have their say at a public meeting this week, in Casper, Wyo, hosted by the Department of the Interior (DOI). Like most discussions of the future of coal, the debate was passionate and polarized.

“This is a politically motivated sham, pandering to the political allies of the secretary and the administration,” Richard Reavey, an executive at a coal company called Cloud Peak Energy, said in his public remarks.

Oregon Says No To Coal-Fired Electricity

Mar 4, 2016
David Hanson

Oregon lawmakers have passed a landmark clean-energy bill that lays out a timeline for Oregonians to stop paying for electricity from coal-fired power plants through its two largest utilities, PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric.

With snow in the forecast, you’re probably not thinking much about mosquitoes. But the Laramie City Council is.

Laramie Beekeeper Helen Coates says last July, after the city sprayed organophosphates--a powerful common insecticide-- on the fields surrounding the city, she found hundreds of dead bees outside her hive. She says the chemical may be the cheapest approach, but it’s the worst for the environment.

“If you go spray, for example, a field of blooming yellow clover, you’re going to kill all the pollinators, probably some birds, it’s toxic to fish, etc.”

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