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.

 

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Wyoming Department of Workforce Services

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services has released a report analyzing occupational fatalities in the state between 2012 and 2016. The report breaks down the numbers into industry and cause, while showing broader patterns as well.

WildEarth Guardians Logo
WildEarth Guardians

Conservation groups WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club recently filed a complaint with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, OSMRE, over two coal leases approved in 2012.

The groups say Peabody Energy’s North and South Porcupine leases, which expanded the North Antelope Rochelle mine in the Powder River Basin, were improperly approved and that the company should no longer be allowed to mine there. 

Cooper McKim/WPR

On an overcast day, an old golden retriever named Ruby walks around the edge of a warehouse in Casper. She’s stops and looks out, standing in the square light where a truck might pull in. Behind her is a large room stacked high with boxes full of rock, some of which have gold inside.

This warehouse is home to GFG (Go For Gold) Resources, a Canadian company that set up camp in Casper back in 2015. They explore and drill for gold out in the Rattlesnake Hills – a unique geologic region in the center of Wyoming. The company’s project area is 33,500 acres.

Statewide Chronic Wasting Disease Distribution in Wyoming
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

A case of chronic wasting disease, or CWD, was found in a deer outside Meeteetse. The white-tailed buck was legally harvested by a hunter southwest of the town, and was later sampled by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Testing confirmed the buck positive for CWD.

United States Capitol in daylight
Kevin McCoy

The U.S. House and Senate disagree over whether to slash subsidies for the wind industry.

In 2015, Congress agreed to five more years of a tax credits for wind production. If a company could make headway or finish development of a new project by 2020, they would receive a tax break called a production tax credit, or PTC. It’s helped launch investment in new projects around the country, including Wyoming. The surge in development is expected to add 38 new megawatts of wind energy by 2020 in the states, according to a Bloomberg-related research group.

This largely nocturnal mouse lives primarily in heavily vegetated, shrub dominated riparian (streamside) habitats and immediately adjacent upland habitats along the foothills of southeastern Wyoming south to Colorado Springs along the eastern edge of the
USFWS

The Center for Biological Diversity and Rocky Mountain Wild, both conservation groups, filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue protections of the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse under the Endangered Species Act. 

The small mouse is considered threatened and occupies stream-side habitat in the front range of Wyoming and Colorado. 

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality logo
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is changing how coal companies secure clean-up costs. For years, the department has accepted a kind of IOU based on a company’s financial strength. That’s called self-bonding.

Issues with self-bonding were highlighted in 2015 when several large coal companies went bankrupt, and were left without funds to cover reclamation costs.

(NPS Photo/ Tim Rains)

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is beginning a series of public meetings Wednesday, November 8, to discuss state management of grizzly bears. The Interior Department announced in June of this year that Yellowstone-area grizzly bears would be taken off the endangered species list.

BLM Scoping Meeting at the Little America Hotel in Cheyenne
Cooper McKim/Wyoming Public Radio

The state Bureau of Land Management held its first public meeting Monday, November 6, to discuss current sage grouse management plans and potential changes to them.

This “scoping” meeting was held as an open house at the Little America Hotel in Cheyenne. Posters were spread throughout a conference room discussing adaptive management, livestock grazing, resource management plans and more. Specialists were also on hand at each station to help answer any questions.

The BLM explains the purpose of the scoping meeting on their website:

A male Sage Grouse (also known as the Greater Sage Grouse) in the USA
Pacific Southwest Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Wyoming’s Bureau of Land Management office is holding two public meetings this week to discuss sage grouse management plan changes. 

Tony Webster from Portland, OR

Rocky Mountain Power is one of many around the country turning up their investment in wind.

 

Ramaco Logo
Ramaco

On October 31, Ramaco announced they will appeal a decision made this month by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. The DEQ denied the company's permit application for a coal mine in Sheridan. The state agency said the company's proposed Brook Mine application was deficient and needed more information on hydrology, subsidence, and blasting schedules, among other concerns.  

Bob LeResche, chair of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, said this appeal shows Ramaco is trying to avoid fixing their application.

Peter Fitzgerald, Wikimedia

A draft of the Interior Department’s five-year strategic plan has been leaked - it was first obtained by The Nation. The 50-page document draws a road map for how the federal agency intends to prioritize energy dominance.

Powder River Basin Province of northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana.
USGS

After about an eight-month process of discussion and negotiation, the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources solidified a relationship with a New York-based clean-coal company this week. Clean Coal Technologies Incorporated, or CCTI, has developed technologies focused on making coal cleaner. UW hopes to work with them to help develop their products and make them more commercially viab

Peabody Energy Logo
Peabody Energy

Peabody Energy, the largest privately held coal company in the world, experienced it’s third straight quarter of sizable profits with revenue totaling $1.48 billion this quarter - a 22% increase from last year’s third quarter. Total profit this fiscal year adds up to around $500 million. 

Peabody Energy went into bankruptcy in 2016, weighed down by billions in debt partially due an investment made in Australian metallurgical coal. In 2015, the company also saw $2 billion in losses. This past April, the company came out of bankruptcy.  

Western Values Project

A Montana-based environmental watchdog group is hoping to uncover e-mails from energy lobbyists and the Interior Department.

The Western Values Project is concerned coordination between the federal land management agency and representatives from the energy industry resulted in proposed changes to the sage grouse management plans.  

CC0 License

Jackson's town council made way for more solar investment last week, allowing customers to buy into the soon-to-built solar farm. 

The shared solar system would be based out of a farm at Jackson’s wastewater treatment plant. The solar farm, itself, was approved by the town council this past August. The idea is for new customers to buy solar power from a farm, rather than buying panels themselves. 

Johnny Ziem, Jackson’s wastewater plant superintendent, co-developed the idea for a shared solar farm. He said the next step is to solidify new customers.

Peabody Energy

At the University of Wyoming’s College of Law, Professor Sam Kalen was looking through old case files. His office had law books and binders of cases strewn on chairs and tables as well as computer miscellany, like keyboards and old monitors, sitting on top of them.

At his desk, he rifled through a thick law book, co-authored by him, then switched to his dual-monitor computer screens. He was looking for any mention of climate assessments in old federal leasing cases back to the 1990s. It didn’t take long.

“So for example, here’s an earlier one,” Kalen said.

Center for Western Priorities' Scorecard
Center for Western Priorities

The Center for Western Priorities, a Colorado conservation non-profit, has released a scorecard that ranks states based on their policies on public land, outdoor recreation, and energy issues. The group sought to highlight where western states are doing well and where there’s some room for growth.

POWDER RIVER BASIN RESOURCE COUNCIL

Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality has denied a proposal for a new coal mine to be built near Sheridan… for the time being. Ramaco’s proposed Brook Mine has been embroiled in controversy for the last year over what many saw as an insufficient permit application. The Environmental Quality Council, or E.Q.C., an independent board, identified deficiencies in hydrology, a blasting plan, and land subsidence, or sinking, among others.

Well with holes rusted through on John Fenton's property
John Fenton

Pavillion homeowner John Fenton is questioning whether abandoned wells near his home were properly addressed to eliminate contamination. The Fremont County town has been plagued since 2008 with contaminated water from underground natural gas with citizens complaining of discolored and foul smelling water. Since then, gas-producer EnCana has worked to plug abandoned wells and pressure test them to ensure there’s no interaction between gas and water.  

Logo for the Environmental Protection Agency
Public Domain

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday signed a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan — President Obama’s signature climate change legislation. The 2015 rule aims to was meant to move the country’s electric grid away from coal and towards other sources with less greenhouse gas emissions.

Wyoming provides about 40 percent of the country’s coal, and most of that goes towards electricity generation. It’s no surprise the state has opposed the Clean Power Plan — or CPP — from the start.  

Stotting mule deer. Seen at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada.
Steven Fine

Mule deer can migrate a little bit easier starting this year thanks to new fencing along their migration route. Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department replaced old livestock fencing this summer with the help of several partners including the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Fund, Upper Green Muley Fanatics, Jonah Energy, and the Conservation Fund.

Mule deer migrate from Hoback, south of Jackson, to the Red Desert every year. It allows them to get the best vegetation and find the safest areas to raise fawns.

A Wyoming rig on federal land used for long directional drilling
BLM Wyoming / Bureau of Land Management

The Department of Interior, or DOI, plans to begin the process of changing the methane rule that’s currently in effect, and possibly end it permanently. The Methane and Waste Prevention Rule aims to reduce unnecessary gas and oil emissions by improving technology, reducing flaring, and spotting leaks early.  

Cooper McKim

Experts from around the country gathered Monday to discuss Wyoming’s wind energy future. The free conference was organized by the Ruckelshaus Institute and the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy. Wind is widely considered a growing industry with consistently decreasing price sand Wyoming is considered to have one of the best wind resources in the country with high potential for growth.

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