oil and gas

The Trump administration just relaxed Obama-era industry regulations for methane leaks from oil and gas operations on federal lands. But reactions to the change in the Mountain West are mixed.  

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.

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.

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.

You may not have noticed, but a few months ago the Trump Administration stopped using a century-old law to fine industries when birds are accidentally killed by oil spills, power lines or wind farms.

Bank of the West logo
BNP Paribas Bank of the West

Leaders across Wyoming are criticizing Bank of the West for its recent decision to stop doing business with coal, oil or gas companies — including financing coal mines or power plants, or engaging in activities to do with mineral exploration, distribution, or marketing. The bank has 23 branches in Wyoming.

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. 

money
CC0 Public Domain

Revenue is up nearly across the board in Wyoming — that’s according to the July update of the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group. CREG reports that the state general fund saw a $294 million increase in revenue - up 27 percent from the January forecast. Oil and gas production has also led to more tax revenue and helped revive industries such as manufacturing and transportation.

The fate of an important but little-known conservation fund is still uncertain after a vote in the Senate Thursday. The 50-year-old Land, Water and Conservation Fund is a federal program that uses royalties from oil and gas leases to protect forest, water and wildlife areas. Typically, that means buying up land and then setting it aside for conservation.

 


Wyoming and Colorado are in the top ten natural gas producing states. But in those states – and across the country – a lot of that gas is escaping straight into the air. Scientists are now working to come up with a better way to track those leaks down.

Wyoming Wildlife Federation


It will soon be impossible to get oil and gas leases on 24,000 acres of the Wyoming Range. Conservation non-profit the Trust for Public Land bought out existing leases within the Wyoming Range to maintain the area for wildlife and recreation. It’s the second time the groups have done this in the western part of the state – bringing the total number of retired acres by the trust to 80,000. Chris Deming, a project manager with the Trust for Public Land, who helped lead the way for both acquisitions.

The Bureau of Land Management planned to lease about 18,000 acres of land in southern Colorado for oil and gas drilling. Now, the bureau says it’s holding off so it can consult with the Navajo Nation.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Scott Pruitt may have resigned but the controversies continue. A recently disclosed collection of emails between the EPA, an oil and gas lobbyist and at least one elected official in Utah are causing concern.

A federal watchdog group is looking into U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s family land deal with an oil executive. But Zinke is calling the controversy fake news.

A study in the journal Science says a lot more methane is leaking from oil & gas sites than previously thought -- about 60 percent more than the current estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ranking U.S. House Democrats are calling for an ethics investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. They want to know more about a land deal between Zinke’s family foundation and a real estate project with ties to the oil and gas giant Halliburton.


Bureau of Land Management

A 60-day comment period came to an end Monday over a "rescission or revision" to the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule. It’s a 2016 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule intended to limit venting and flaring of natural gas. 

U.S. Bureau of Land Management


Since 2010, whenever a parcel of land was nominated to be leased by an oil and gas company, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) went through a significant review period. There were site visits, comments when draft environmental assessments were released, and an additional 30 days of public comment once the sale was live. But Tim Spisak, acting assistant director of energy, minerals, and realty management for the BLM, said all that review wasn’t efficient for energy production.

States like Colorado and Wyoming require that new oil and gas wells be built at least 500 feet away from existing homes. But new research shows that might not be far enough away to protect people’s health.

Melodie Edwards

In the early 20th century, tribal members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma became extremely wealthy after discovering oil underneath their reservation. Then, dozens of Osage members started turning up murdered in a vast conspiracy meant to redirect their wealth into the hands of white men.

In the recent book Killers of the Flower Moon, author David Grann explores this chapter in American history. Grann visited the University of Wyoming as a guest lecturer, and Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard spoke with him about how he first became interested in the Osage Indian Murders and their legacy. 

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

Oil and gas advocacy groups said companies are struggling to comply with newly in effect methane regulations. The Obama-era rule aims to reduce leaks and greenhouse gas emissions and has faced several roll-back attempts from the Trump Administration. But in February, a California court refused to postpone the rule, putting it back into effect.

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. 

Combination of several notices, regulations, and proposed policies
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Sierra Club’s Wyoming Chapter

This week, both the state and federal government took steps that will change how coal companies deal with pollution and reclamation.

Senate President Eli Bebout discusses SF-98 with the House Revenue Committee
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

A bill seeking to incentivize more oil and gas production has died in the House Revenue Committee with a 6 to 3 vote. Senate File 98 would have cut the severance tax rate for oil and gas in half after the second year of production until the end of the fourth.

Senate President Eli Bebout Speaks To Full Senate
Cooper McKim

It’s the third of four weeks in the 2018 budget session. With the current revenue crunch, many bills have revolved around spurring new revenue, finding new sources, or cutting back on spending. And for energy, it’s no different. The surviving bills also come down to money. Thirteen bills arose related to energy, with only three still moving through the system. There are others that relate, but are not directly tied to energy.

Digest For SF-98
Wyoming Legislative Service Office

Proposed legislation passed introduction in the State Senate last Friday that would cut the severance tax rate in half for petroleum and natural gas companies for a certain period of time. The reduction from 6 percent to 3 percent would take place during the project's third year until the end of its fourth. 

Oil and gas drilling on Butler’s property.
Cooper McKim

In northern Converse County, a semi-truck is pulling onto a highway from a rig site. It's rocking back and forth as 49 mile an hour sustained winds blow west. Many other trucks are parked in the lot as well, carrying oil, gravel, water and rig supplies. All this oil and gas activity is happening on Jay Butler’s ranch. 

 

Methane is flared from a well pad in North Dakota’s Bakken formation in photo taken during a 2014 NOAA research project.
Jeff Peischl / NOAA/CIRES

The Bureau of Land Management is proposing a revision to the 2016 venting and flaring rule, or Waste Prevention Rule, meant to limit methane emissions from oil and gas projects. The change would rollback requirements strengthened under President Obama including waste minimization plans, well drilling requirements, and leak

Bob Beck

This week, after months of discussion, a legislative committee defeated a number of tax increase measures. The Joint Revenue Committee was hoping to find money to pay for a revenue shortfall that some thought could reach a billion dollars. Then a funny thing happened over the summer, the revenue picture improved just enough that taxes could be avoided. 

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