Cooper McKim

Natural Resources & Energy Reporter

Phone: 307-766-0809
Email: cmckim5@uwyo.edu

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He’s reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. McKim has also received numerous awards including for coverage of the Blackjewel bankruptcy and a National Murrow for Best Use of Sound. He’s an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.

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Cooper McKim

The holiday season is upon us and with it comes the Festival of Lights, better known as Hanukkah. Folks around the country are lighting their menorahs, including here in Wyoming. Cooper McKim spoke with Seth Ward, University of Wyoming professor of religious studies, about the holiday's special meaning this year.

Shale plays throughout the US
Wyoming Energy Authority

Dec. 15 was a busy day for federal oil and gas. New numbers detail the impact of possible restrictions to production, leases are being sold, and environmental groups are once again calling for a ban.

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

A state legislative committee is discussing the last stages of approval for a major oil and gas project in Converse County. The U.S. Department of Interior just has to sign the Record of Decision (ROD), which Select Federal Natural Resource Management committee members like Douglas Sen. Brian Boner is anxious to finish or even speed up.

Production at the Decker Mine according to a federal database
U.S. Energy Information Administration

Utah-based Lighthouse Resources has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will work on a reclamation plan for the Decker Mine in Montana. The company, with Wyoming employees, will lay-off more than half of its employees throughout its operations.

Peabody Energy's share price over the past year
Seeking Alpha

In a November federal filing, Peabody Energy reported it would no longer be paying into a certain healthcare benefit plan for retired miners who are on or eligible for Medicare or provide life insurance to retirees. That includes those in Wyoming.

Wyoming's Gov. Mark Gordon has tested positive for COVID-19. His office said he has only minor symptoms at this point, including a dry cough, and "plans to continue working on behalf of Wyoming remotely."

Cover page of supplemental draft environmental impact statement for the converse county oil and gas project
Bureau of Land Management

Multiple energy companies, Wyoming and Converse County are hoping to see a final decision signed that would enable a major oil and gas project to move forward before the Biden administration arrives on Jan. 20, 2021.

Several officials gave an update to the state legislature's Select Federal Natural Resource Management committee.

Location for Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project. Several in public comment spoke from the county, along with a project official
Power Company of Wyoming

The state legislature's Joint Revenue Committee set aside time during a recent meeting to learn how the wind industry is currently being taxed in the state; no bill on the subject was under discussion.

Proposed projects or LWCF funding from the Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land / The Trust for Public Land

The Interior Department is facing criticism for putting up barriers to conservation projects nationwide funded through the new Great American Outdoors Act.

Screetshot of initial court document in a case that's been ongoing for four years
Court Listener

Last March, a federal court ordered the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management to provide better analysis of the climate impacts of oil and gas leasing on public land. After receiving that analysis, the judge rules it's not enough.

McFadden Wind Farm
Leigh Paterson

The Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee voted to sponsor and move forward with a bill that would effectively raise the tax on generating wind energy in Wyoming. The bill removes the three year tax exemption given to companies before a $1 per megawatt hour tax sets in.

In May of 2020, the Converse County trailer park quickly emptied out after the pandemic hit and oil and gas activity declined.
Cooper McKim

Gov. Mark Gordon will use $15 million in CARES Act funds to create the Energy Rebound Program, a program intended to boost oil and gas activity in Wyoming. At the moment, there are five active rigs in the state compared to 25 at the beginning of the year.

2016 presidential map including vote map of Campbell County
New York Times

In 2016, President Donald Trump won Wyoming by the largest margin in the country. In Campbell County, he took 86.7 percent of the vote - the second highest margin in the state, only behind Crook County. This time, there was an even higher voter turnout. Still, Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King said it still felt different.

Stevenson's Hyrail Services, LLC early on during the pandemic
Cooper McKim

Local businesses serving the energy industry in Wyoming are expressing anxiety over expected policy changes from President-elect Joe Biden.

Cevin Iemus, owner of Land Surveying, Incorporated in Gillette, said he expects his bottom line to be greatly impacted by this election. He's thinking about Biden's potential ban of oil and gas permits on federal land. For now, Iemus expects a surge of new permits and activity to outrun those changes, "but it's going to take a quick turn and go downhill."

Rail Tie Wind Project project location based on the ConnectGen website
ConnectGen

The state board of land commissioners has voted against leasing land to a renewable energy company planning to build a wind farm in Albany County. Local opponents raised concerns during the public meeting about the project's various impacts.

Rock Springs Historical Museum

The wind roars at an archaeological dig outside the 200 person town of Fort Bridger in the southwestern corner of the state. The historic site is remembered as a supply shop and a military outpost. It was also the first place where Chinese immigrants were recorded in Wyoming back in 1857.

Caitlin McCoy

Biden's stance on fracking has been all over the news; that the Democratic presidential candidate would prohibit the practice on federal land, while allowing current permits to continue. The presidential election is also expected to impact U.S. coal markets - either way it breaks.

Wyoming Public Radio's Cooper McKim spoke with Caitlin McCoy, a staff attorney at Harvard Law School's environmental and energy law program, about what that might look like.

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.

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