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

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.

Michael Curran

A University of Wyoming Ph.D. student is looking to improve reclamation on well pads for oil and gas. Michael Curran developed a way to monitor out-of-the-way areas with drone imagery hoping to get faster and more accurate data collection at a lower cost.

Ultra's production and expected declines over 2020
SEC Filings

On May 14, Ultra Petroleum Corp. filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

The largest natural gas producer and taxpayer in Wyoming operates exclusively in western Wyoming with 3000 producing wells in the Jonah and Pinedale fields. The company has 151 full-time employees.

From Brook Mine Revised Permit Application: Extent of declared alluvial valley floors (AVFs) at and adjacent to the proposed Brook Mine in the upper Tongue River Basin, Wyoming.
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) held an informal conference Wednesday to hear comments and objections to a revised permit application from Brook Mining Co., LLC, a subsidiary of Ramaco Carbon. The company hopes to mine thermal coal and then research, develop and manufacture products using it as the feedstock.

The rough map of Pacificorp's transmission expansion throughout the Mountain West
Pacificorp

A large western utility with customers in 10 western states including Wyoming is preparing to make its largest request for new renewable energy ever. It's a step towards executing its October 2019 Integrated Resource Plan.

In the past decade, the Decker Coal Mine sent its coal to several locations around the country. Since 2015, though, it's primary customer has been a Minnesota coal-fired power plant
U.S. Energy Information Administration

The past few months, COVID-19 has taken its toll on employment in the Powder River Basin. Weak market conditions have struck again with a new round of furloughs at the Decker Coal Mine just north of the Wyoming border in Montana.

Downtown Laramie, Wyoming
Bob Beck

Listen to the full show here.

Local Government Fears Loss Of Tax Revenue

This is a tough financial time for a lot of Wyomingites. But impacts on the general public also impact funding for local governments, which directly impacts a wide variety of services from law enforcement to streets.

Cooper McKim


The sun is beating down on a nearly empty gravel plot. Just a few weeks ago, trailers owned by oil field and pipeline workers lined this man camp.

Several members of the Joint Minerals Committee meeting over Zoom for the first time before the Special Session
Wyoming Legislature Youtube

The Joint Minerals, Business & Economic Development Interim Committee amended a bill that will determine how federal relief funds will eventually reach Wyoming businesses. Among other changes, the committee decided to double the allotted funds from $25 million to $50 million available.

BNSF Subdivision Map in Wyoming
BNSF Railway

BNSF Railway announced this week it will close two facilities in Wyoming and lay off the related employees within the next two months. The Guernsey shop is set to close on July 7, 2020 laying off 92 people; the Donkey Creek facility in Rozet is set to close on June 5, 2020 laying off 38 people.

Public Domain

Recent statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis interpreted by The Wall Street Journal show the downturn in the energy sector is affecting Mountain West states very differently.

Test site for the geologic carbon capture project in Campbell County
University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources

The Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory announced it will fund the next phase of an ambitious project developed by the University of Wyoming, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and other partners.

An announcement posted at one of Arch's PRB mines submitted to Wyoming Public Radio
Anonymous

As other Powder River Basin (PRB) coal companies lay off miners by the hundred, Arch Coal, operator of the Coal Creek and Black Thunder mines, is asking its Wyoming employees to volunteer for unpaid leave without benefits.

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

Two coal companies with mines in the Powder River Basin (PRB) announced lay-offs today in Peabody Energy and the Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC).

A 5-day look at WTI pricing
Market Watch

On Monday, domestic oil prices dropped more than 200 percent, settling at -$14.05 by day's end; the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil price benchmark momentarily hit -$40.32. This marks the first time oil prices have ever dropped into the negatives.

State of Wyoming

Listen to the full show here.

Governor Gordon Favors A Conservative Approach Towards Dealing With The Pandemic

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon says despite calls to reopen businesses he prefers to take a more conservative approach as Wyoming approaches the COVID-19 peak for the state.

Kagan Sims; Ian McGivney


It's a calm Wednesday afternoon with snow falling down over a ranch in southern Wyoming. Normally, high school sophomore Kagan Sims would be sitting in English, but due to COVID-19 he's outdoors feeding pregnant cows. He said he's figuring out a new balance between work and school.

A map of the proposed CO2 pipeline corridors from the draft environmental impact statement released April 17
Bureau of Land Management

A project meant to support carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery in Wyoming has passed a regulatory hurdle. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative (WPCI). It's now seeking public comment.

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