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

Front image on 1992 Final BLM Environmental Assessment for West Black Thunder Coal Lease Application
Bureau of Land Management

Arch Resources has announced its strategy to move away from the Powder River Basin in its third quarter earnings report. The second largest national coal producer announced it would be reducing Powder River Basin production by 50 percent in the next two to three years.

Bureau of Land Management

For 424 days, William Perry-Pendley held the power of director within the Bureau of Land Management. But on Sept. 25, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana Great Falls Division found he had been holding that power illegally, given he wasn't Senate-confirmed. Cooper McKim spoke with Wyoming-native Pendley about what happened, his efforts to return to his role, and what he's doing now.

Units of the Jim Bridger Power Plant in Sweetwater County, pictured here, is facing early retirement under Pacificorp's preferred portfolio
The Center or Land Use Interpretation

After a week-long hearing in July, the Wyoming Public Service Commission has come to a decision over its investigation of a Western utility's 2019 Integrated Resource Plan.

Pacificorp's vision for the next 20 years considers the early closure of several coal-fired power plant units in Wyoming. At the same time, the utility plans to develop significant solar, wind and battery storage resources throughout the region.

Proposed Action from 2017 Final Environmental Impact Statement
Millenium Bulk Terminal

The U.S. Supreme Court has invited the acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall to file a brief expressing the views of the federal government on a case involving Wyoming and its efforts to export coal internationally.

Wyoming's 'Dark Money' Coal Campaign

Oct 2, 2020
The Rockport Generating Station in Indiana. In 2014, the Center for Public Integrity called it one of the nation's 22 "Super Polluters." Today, Wyoming is paying an advocacy group that doesn't have to disclose its donors to try to keep it open.
Thomas Hughes/Wikimedia Commons


At a Sep. 3 press conference, Gov. Mark Gordon introduced a nonprofit that's been advocating for Wyoming's coal industry for years: the Energy Policy Network. He announced a new contract with the group in which taxpayers would "contribute" $250,000 this year.

The governor believes there's still a place for Wyoming's coal in the electric utility market despite the long and accelerating shift toward renewable sources and natural gas.

Arch Coal changed its name to Arch Resources earlier this year as part of its strategy to move away from Wyoming thermal coal
Arch Resources

A federal judge has ruled against a proposed joint venture between the two largest coal producers in the nation. District Judge Sarah Pitlyk found that consolidating seven of Arch Resources Inc. and Peabody Energy Corp's mines in the Powder River Basin and Colorado wouldn't bode well for the region's market.

The $1.3 million Rotary Kiln at CCTI's site in August provides the company an ability to supply processed coal feedstock to other businesses in the industrial park
Clean Coal Technologies, Inc.

Clean Coal Technologies, Inc. (CCTI) signed an agreement with a neighboring organization in Gillette, confirming the groups will cooperate down the line. The memorandum of understanding with Energy Capital Economic Development comes as CCTI leaders say the company is nearing commercialization.

Cooper McKim

Earlier this summer, organizations got together across Wyoming to give testimony about the largest utility in the state's controversial plan to make a shift away from coal and towards renewables.

Job Impact Analysis by Year from DOE-funded report on CCUS in Wyoming. It predicts nearly 20 additional years of jobs from its scenarios versus Pacificorp's baseline plan.
United States Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy

The governor's office has released a report it requested from the U.S. Department of Energy last year that explores alternative scenarios to Pacificorp's plan to retire several coal plant units early and transition to a heavier focus on renewables. The report considers the impacts of instead retrofitting the plants with carbon capture technology.

Top three list of unsecured creditors
United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District Of Alabama

A company whose ownership was once affiliated with Wyoming mines has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Alabama-based FM Coal cited consistently reduced revenue and lack of capital investment.

Orion Mine Finance

The likely new owners of four million acres of mineral rights and a million acres of land primarily in Wyoming is Orion Mine Finance, a subset of the investment management firm Orion Resource Partners. Jon Lamb, portfolio manager with Orion Resource Partners, spoke with Cooper McKim regarding the firm's thinking behind the purchase and their plans forward.

money
CC0 Public Domain

Listen to the full show here.

Taxes Continue To Be A Hard Sell For Many Lawmakers

This week, Gov. Mark Gordon started addressing Wyoming's $1.5 billion shortfalls with $250 million in budget cuts.

Below the Dry Fork Station is the Integrated Test Center where Carbon XPRIZE teams were expected to set up shop. CO2Concrete's shelter is located near the middle of the picture.
Cooper McKim

The NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition is nearing its finale, though with fewer teams on site than expected. The international carbon capture competition based in Gillette welcomed its second and last competitor to site this week after COVID-19 complications prevented all three other competitors from making the trek.

State of Wyoming

After several months of anticipation, Wyoming has withdrawn its bid for roughly four million acres of mineral rights and a million acres of land owned by the oil and gas company Occidental Petroleum. Gov. Mark Gordon had hoped to use those assets to improve the state's rate of return on investments.

Throughout the process, there were questions about what was going on behind-the-scenes. Gordon put out a statement following the state's bid withdrawal looking to answer some of those questions. Wyoming Public Radio's Cooper McKim spoke with the governor to talk through that statement.

State of Wyoming

Gov. Mark Gordon released a statement following a press release providing answers to some long-held questions regarding the state's bid for Occidental Petroleum's 4.5 million acres of mineral rights and one million acres of surface land.

Proposed Oxy Land Purchase
Governor's Office

Wyoming has withdrawn its $1.2 billion bid for land and minerals owned by Occidental Petroleum after it entered into a purchase and sale agreement with another entity.

Occidental announced it entered into the agreement with Orion Mine Finance to divest some of its Land Grant assets in Colorado, Utah, and primarily, Wyoming. It includes 4.5 million mineral acres and one million fee surface acres.

After much anticipation, the Governor's Office announced this afternoon that Occidental Petroleum moved on with another parties' bid for its one million acres of land and four million acres of mineral rights in southern Wyoming. The company alerted Gov. Mark Gordon over the weekend that Wyoming was not selected, according to his office.

Hana Vizcarra

Several policies that affect the west and the energy landscape here are back in the news, including proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, the Bureau of Land Management Waste Prevention Rule, and the Great American Outdoors Act.

On August 4, President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law. On July 29, three coalitions of environmental groups filed lawsuits challenging the final NEPA regulations. On July 29, the EPA made changes to how coal ash will be treated, including extending a deadline for discarding the waste in unlined ponds. On July 23, EPA the Nuclear Regulatory Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding hoping to boost production of uranium.

Hana Vizcarra, staff attorney at Harvard Law School's Environmental & Energy Law Program, spoke with Wyoming Public Radio's Cooper Mckim about why so much action is happening right now.

Diesel fuel cars at a trainyard in Morrill.
Alan Nash


The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released a report recommending changes to the agency responsible for keeping mines safe nationwide. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has been under pressure from unions and some federal lawmakers to create temporary emergency standards in response to COVID-19. Taylor Kuykendall, a senior reporter with S&P Global Market Intelligence, begins by discussing what actions MSHA has taken so far.

Rig count in Wyoming over the past year
Y Chart

The legislature's Joint Minerals, Business & Economic Development Committee voted in favor of sponsoring a bill they hope will incentivize new oil and gas production in the state.

Navajo Transitional Energy Company

The Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) announced it will be hiring back 73 furloughed employees, who will be able to return to work at the Spring Creek Mine on August 3. The mine in southeastern Montana employs many Wyoming residents as well.

Strata Energy is one of Wyoming's users of in situ uranium extraction
Cooper McKim

A new agreement signed in Wyoming hopes to boost domestic uranium production. Alongside Gov. Mark Gordon, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Kristine Svinicki and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a Memorandum of Understanding that shifts certain authorities to the NRC.

Units of the Jim Bridger Power Plant in Sweetwater County, pictured here, is facing early retirement under Pacificorp's preferred portfolio
The Center or Land Use Interpretation

The Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC) has wrapped up its week-long hearing regarding its investigation into a western utility's Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) released in October. The commission made no decisions or actions before adjourning other than setting a deadline for additional briefs.

Expected coal retirements based on Pacificorp's 2019 IRP preferred portfolio
Pacificorp

The Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC) has begun a week-long hearing regarding its investigation into a western utility's 20-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) released in October, 2019.

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