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.

Ways to Connect

Cooper McKim

Earlier this summer, organizations got together across Wyoming to give testimony about the largest utility in the state's controversial plan to make a shift away from coal and towards renewables.

Job Impact Analysis by Year from DOE-funded report on CCUS in Wyoming. It predicts nearly 20 additional years of jobs from its scenarios versus Pacificorp's baseline plan.
United States Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy

The governor's office has released a report it requested from the U.S. Department of Energy last year that explores alternative scenarios to Pacificorp's plan to retire several coal plant units early and transition to a heavier focus on renewables. The report considers the impacts of instead retrofitting the plants with carbon capture technology.

Top three list of unsecured creditors
United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District Of Alabama

A company whose ownership was once affiliated with Wyoming mines has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Alabama-based FM Coal cited consistently reduced revenue and lack of capital investment.

Orion Mine Finance

The likely new owners of four million acres of mineral rights and a million acres of land primarily in Wyoming is Orion Mine Finance, a subset of the investment management firm Orion Resource Partners. Jon Lamb, portfolio manager with Orion Resource Partners, spoke with Cooper McKim regarding the firm's thinking behind the purchase and their plans forward.

August 28th, 2020

Aug 28, 2020
money
CC0 Public Domain

Listen to the full show here.

Taxes Continue To Be A Hard Sell For Many Lawmakers

This week, Gov. Mark Gordon started addressing Wyoming's $1.5 billion shortfalls with $250 million in budget cuts.

Below the Dry Fork Station is the Integrated Test Center where Carbon XPRIZE teams were expected to set up shop. CO2Concrete's shelter is located near the middle of the picture.
Cooper McKim

The NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition is nearing its finale, though with fewer teams on site than expected. The international carbon capture competition based in Gillette welcomed its second and last competitor to site this week after COVID-19 complications prevented all three other competitors from making the trek.

State of Wyoming

After several months of anticipation, Wyoming has withdrawn its bid for roughly four million acres of mineral rights and a million acres of land owned by the oil and gas company Occidental Petroleum. Gov. Mark Gordon had hoped to use those assets to improve the state's rate of return on investments.

Throughout the process, there were questions about what was going on behind-the-scenes. Gordon put out a statement following the state's bid withdrawal looking to answer some of those questions. Wyoming Public Radio's Cooper McKim spoke with the governor to talk through that statement.

State of Wyoming

Gov. Mark Gordon released a statement following a press release providing answers to some long-held questions regarding the state's bid for Occidental Petroleum's 4.5 million acres of mineral rights and one million acres of surface land.

Proposed Oxy Land Purchase
Governor's Office

Wyoming has withdrawn its $1.2 billion bid for land and minerals owned by Occidental Petroleum after it entered into a purchase and sale agreement with another entity.

Occidental announced it entered into the agreement with Orion Mine Finance to divest some of its Land Grant assets in Colorado, Utah, and primarily, Wyoming. It includes 4.5 million mineral acres and one million fee surface acres.

After much anticipation, the Governor's Office announced this afternoon that Occidental Petroleum moved on with another parties' bid for its one million acres of land and four million acres of mineral rights in southern Wyoming. The company alerted Gov. Mark Gordon over the weekend that Wyoming was not selected, according to his office.

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.

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

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 just after its 2019 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.

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