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

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.

A unit of the Jim Bridger Power Plant in Sweetwater County, pictured here, could face a 2023 retirement date rather than 2028
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.

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality


Anton Bocek lives on his 80-acre ranch where he deals in hay and cattle near Sheridan. His family has lived there for 42 years. It's the closest property to Ramaco's newly-approved Brook Mine.

Part of Brook Mine Location
Cooper McKim

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has approved a long-discussed — and revised —coal mine permit application.

Uinta, Carbon, and Sweetwater County Maps With Parcels Up For Sale Highlighted. Land grant map listed as well.
Online GIS maps, Cooper McKim

Wyoming plans to move forward with a bid on a million acres of land and four million acres of mineral rights from Occidental Petroleum. After hearing from the public for the first time since the legislative session on the deal, the State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB), made up of five elected officials, amended its motion to make room for more transparency.

Eagle Butte mine post-bankrutpcy
Cooper McKim

Employees at the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines came to work as usual on a Monday, July 1, 2019-a year ago today. Soon after arriving, miners were shepherded into a room and told the company would be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Uinta, Carbon, and Sweetwater County Maps With Parcels Up For Sale Highlighted. Land grant map listed as well.
Online GIS maps, Cooper McKim


On February 17, Gov. Mark Gordon announced the state was considering the purchase of about a million acres of surface land across southern Wyoming and 4 million acres of mineral rights from Occidental Petroleum. Now, the company has set a July 1 deadline for entities to make a bid. On May 6, Occidental confirmed it had 13 bidders.

Alan Nash

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and United Steelworkers are now demanding emergency guidelines related to COVID-19 for the country's mines whether it's for coal, trona, gold or silver. They say voluntary guidance is not a substitute for mandatory and legally enforceable COVID-19 protocols.

Cooper McKim

It's a hot, sunny day as Black Lives Matter protesters stand at a busy intersection in Laramie. It's during one of the daily protests in town that began in early June.

Wyoming Newspapers (newspapers.wyo.gov)

In 1869, journalism looked very different than it does today. There weren't the quotes or perspectives from both sides. Wyoming Public Radio's Cooper McKim dug into the archives to try and use journalism to learn more about women's suffrage. What he found wasn't much, but found out it was critical. Jennifer Helton, a Wyoming native and expert in the state's suffrage history, gives some background to the state was like in 1869 and how she used journalism to learn more about it.

Petroleum Association of Wyoming

There are currently only two oil and gas rigs operating in the state right now, down from 30 last year. The Joint Minerals, Business & Economic Development Committee approved the drafting of two bills to help the industry, whose downturn will severely hurt the state's revenue picture.

Image of HollyFrontier's Cheyenne Refinery on its website
HollyFrontier

HollyFrontier Corporation, a Texas-based independent petroleum refiner, announced it plans to transform its Cheyenne Refinery to focus on a new product and reduce its overall workforce by about 75 percent. Rather than producing conventional diesel, it will now look to renewable diesel.

Ad valorem taxes contribute to local and state-wide school funds
Pexels

The Joint Revenue Committee began a discussion on how to transition to a monthly ad valorem tax collection schedule. During this year's budget session, legislators voted to slowly shift mineral producers from an 18-month lag in collection to a monthly schedule in order to reduce tax delinquency.

National Park Service; Yellowstone Forever

Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks partially re-opened this week and visitors from around the country are already flocking to the celebrated destinations. The parks are not back to normal quite yet as many facilities remain closed including campgrounds, restaurants, and entrances into Yellowstone from Montana and Idaho. In a press conference, Governor Mark Gordon said the goal is not to have the destinations overwhelmed.

BLM's online reporting system lists lease suspensions in Wyoming, but not yet royalty relief approvals
BLM LR 2000 system

State and federal agencies are seeing an increase in requests for relief by oil and gas producers in Wyoming. The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) online records system finds 69 requests have been approved for lease suspension in May.

NTEC's Antelope Mine - operated by Cloud Peak Energy at the time of the photo
Cloud Peak Energy

The Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) has laid off eight salaried employees and furloughed 93 hourly employees at its Antelope Mine. The move comes about a month after the company laid off 130 employees between its Spring Creek, in southern Montana, and Antelope mines.

The new homepage for Arch Resources
Arch Resources

On May 15, Arch Coal officially changed its name to Arch Resources, Inc, in conjunction with the launch of its new website. The two moves are part of a larger shift in Arch's focus away from thermal coal.

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