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

Cloud Peak Energy's share price over the course of a year
Seeking Alpha

The coal company Cloud Peak Energy filed a stockholder rights plan, more commonly known as a poison pill provision, with the Securities and Exchange Commission this week. It's a way of protecting management from a hostile takeover from a new investor. 

FY 2019-2020 Biennium General Fund and Budget Reserve Account Revenue Forecast Comparison (M = millions).
CREG

Following a bout of weak oil prices, state revenue from the industry is expected to go down dramatically, according to a Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) report. It predicts the state will collect about $67 million less this biennium than forecast in October of last year. The overall contribution of severance taxes, investment income and royalties are still forecast to be higher than in the last biennium.

BLM eplanning text recounting the deadline change
Bureau of Land Management

The public is getting extra time to voice opposition for proposed changes to an Obama-era sage grouse rule. The Bureau of Land Management is extending the deadline after some technical mishaps related to the partial government shutdown.

U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management

Tom Meites is president of a small oil and gas company in Casper and he's planning a new project. He's begun the lengthy process with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to find new parcels for development, but has had to put it on hold.

CASC Regions and Consortia
U.S. Geological Survey

The government shutdown is affecting federally-funded climate centers across the country, including here in our region. 

Irina Zhorov of Wyoming Public Radio

Three PacifiCorp coal-fired power plants in Wyoming reported contamination of groundwater earlier this year above state or federal limits. That includes the Dave Johnston, Jim Bridger and Naughton plants. PacifiCorp reported detecting selenium, arsenic, lithium and many more polluting elements. A recent report from Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law firm, drew attention to the information. It highlighted 67 plants across 22 states with the same problem.

Cartoon sketch field pumpjack
sapunkele

Minority owners of oil and gas rights are seeing excessive profits from a certain practice, according to Gillette Senator Michael Von Flatern. He plans to introduce a bill that would limit some of the benefits minority owners receive in January’s full legislative session... specifically when some landowners with minimal property rights are draining oil and gas owned primarily by other operators.

Comparison of benefits treatment in bankruptcies
Peter Morgan / Sierra Club

Filings from Westmoreland show it’s taking a different approach to its financial obligations from other recently bankrupt coal companies. The coal company is seeking to default on nearly $400 million owed in pension funds, black lung claims and retiree healthcare benefits. Three other coal companies, Alpha, Peabody and Arch all passed along those obligations to re-organization debtors with value reduced in some cases.

Cooper McKim

On a vast swath of prairie lined with 79 wind turbines, new blades are delivered on the backs of 18-wheelers. Laine Anderson navigates the snow-packed service roads. He oversees wind operations at Rocky Mountain Power, an operating entity of Pacificorp. Anderson parks under a massive turbine.

ACPIC location just north of Gillette
The Advanced Carbon Collaborative Balanced Resources

The Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center (ACPIC) was expected to finish construction north of Gillette at the Fort Union Industrial Complex by spring of 2019. Now, the coordinators of the project have requested a delay from the Wyoming Business Council.

Gary Kohn, the Chief Financial Officer of Westmoreland Coal Company, has announced his resignation effective January 4 of 2019. In a statement released by the company, he's leaving for personal reasons.

DIMENSIONAL ENERGY

The $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition was narrowed down to ten finalists in April of this year, but now organizers say a new candidate is in the running: Dimensional Energy.

Wyoming Legislature

Wyoming's Joint Revenue Committee will not change how ad valorem taxes are collected just yet. The one-time mineral property tax has left counties over $50 million in the hole, as of July, due to systematic issues like an 18-month wait for tax collection and prioritizing creditors in debt collection. An agreeable solution is still out of reach, with legislature cycling through the same options year after year.

Stephanie Joyce

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced revisions on an Obama-era regulation limiting carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants. The EPA wrote that the rule discouraged new coal development by requiring unproven carbon capture technology. Wyoming Mining Association's Travis Deti said there's still a lot of uncertainty around coal, but this deregulation could help that.

Existing Wyoming Greater Sage-Grouse Habitat Management Decision Area
US Bureau of Land Management

The Interior Department just released its final proposal on sage-grouse conservation plans through six final environmental impact statements (FEIS). The iconic bird occupies 11 western states and is considered an important indicator of the overall health of the ecosystem.

State Requirements Compared to Components of the 2016 BLM Rule
The Wilderness Society

The Wilderness Society gave Wyoming a middling grade of 55 percent for its regulation of methane emissions compared to an Obama-era regulation. Wyoming still ranks third best nationally. The environmental group's report looked at nine factors including waste minimization plans, leak detection and repair, and venting prohibitions.

Wyoming State Geological Survey

The North American benchmark price of oil dropped this week to its lowest since 2017. It pulled down share prices of major producing companies with it - many that operate here in Wyoming. Wyoming Public Radio's Cooper McKim speaks with Refinitiv market specialist Carl Larry on what the drop means and how it happened.

Net generation by select fuel source - notice the share of goal increasingly goes down from 2010 to July of this year
U.S. Energy Information Administration

Domestic coal-fired power plants are set to shut down at double the rate of last year. The retirements would remove about 6 percent of all coal-generated capacity in the U.S. This comes despite the Trump administration's promise to extend a lifeline to the coal industry.

$70 BBL of Oil on Federal Mineral Acreage
Daniel Johnston and Co. Inc.

A new study from consulting firm Daniel Johnston and Company analyzed how Wyoming ranks up to nearby oil-extracting states, plus Texas and Oklahoma, in terms of tax burden and competitiveness. It was presented to the Joint Minerals, Business, and Economic Development Committee Thursday.

Fossil Fuel-Associated Emissions of Greenhouse Gases from Federal Lands
USGS

You may have missed it, but on Black Friday the federal government released a second climate-related report. The United States Geologic Survey (USGS) found nearly one-quarter of carbon dioxide emissions come from fossil fuels extracted on public lands - that's the average from 2005 to 2014. Not to mention over 7 percent of methane and 1.5 percent of nitrous oxide, on average during that same time period.

WTI Crude (Jan'19) (@CL.1:New York Mercantile Exchange)
CNBC

Since early October, the U.S. benchmark for oil prices has been down around 32 percent. Benchmark prices are set by a grade of crude oil called West Texas Intermediate, which hit its lowest price in over a year at just above $50.

Diagram illustrating how CCS works after the carbon fuel has been burned.
Explain That Stuff

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology has been a source of hope for coal country and touted by the Trump Administration as a way to keep the coal industry alive, while reducing its emissions. CCS aims to remove carbon dioxide from significant fossil-fuel emitting sites like power plants – it then either be stored or eventually used to develop products. But one report questions if its development is too slow to have a mainstream impact.

Labor force changes from June 2009, the end of the Great Recession to October of 2018
Cooper McKim / Obtained from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Numbers

The majority of states have recovered labor forces since the end of the Great Recession, but Wyoming has actually seen the steepest drop in the country.

Cloud Peak Energy

Cloud Peak Energy has announced it will review "strategic alternatives". Basically, that means the coal producer is open to major changes, including a potential sale of the company in order to improve its financial situation. The move was announced alongside bonuses to executives encouraging them to stay on.

CC0 Public Domain

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to move forward with a bill that would remove federal protections from gray wolves and limit judicial review of listing decisions.

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