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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Cooper McKim

The House Revenue Committee sat down on an early Wednesday morning to a full audience. Chairman Dan Zwonitzer, who represents Cheyenne, switched seats in order to testify on a bill called "Reliable and Dispatchable Low-Carbon Energy Standards."

Governor Mark Gordon announced this week that Wyoming is looking to buying a million acres of land across southern Wyoming and surrounding states along with 4 million acres of mineral rights.

The Dry Fork Station, a coal-fired power plant, sits next to the Integrated Test Center which aims to research and develop carbon capture technology
Cooper McKim

The House Revenue Committee heard testimony today on a bill that would require public utilities to provide a certain percentage of their generation from "dispatchable and reliable low-carbon electricity."

House Bill 200 describes "low-carbon" as electricity generated using carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technology - a process that can store or reuse carbon dioxide. In Wyoming, that would mean utilities have an incentive to preserve coal-fired power plants by equipping new technology. They would have until July 1, 2030 to meet the standards.

Roadside mine -entrance
Alan Nash

Campbell County Commissioners agreed unanimously to a multi-year tax payment plan from the Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) in a county commission meeting.

Blackjewel LLC Operations
Prime Clerk

The House Minerals, Business, and Economic Development Committee advanced one of two bills looking to help out-of-work coal miners receive unpaid wages.

Wind Farm in Medicine Bow, Wyoming
Tony Webster, Portland, OR

The House Minerals, Business & Economic Development Committee moved forward on a bill that would allow coal mines to become a disposal site for decommissioned wind turbine parts if it's part of the company's reclamation plan.

NPL project area in maroon. Location of National Parks, Wilderness Areas and Sensitive Lakes within the NPL CMAQ 4-km Modeling Grid
Bureau of Land Management

On February 7, the Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming State Office (WSO) vacated its approval of an oil and gas well and associated pipelines within Jonah Energy's Normally Pressured Lance (NPL) project in western Wyoming. The WSO remanded its decisions back to the local field office.

The Cordero Rojo Mine - taken when Cloud Peak was still the operator
Cloud Peak Energy

Governor Mark Gordon and the Navajo Transitional Energy Company have agreed to a Limited Waiver of Sovereign Immunity. The move resolves a barrier for the Navajo Nation-owned corporation in acquiring its mining permits.

Back in October, NTEC paid the recently bankrupt coal company Cloud Peak Energy in order to assume operations of three mines: Cordero Rojo, Spring Creek, and Antelope.

Naughton Power Plant - one of Rocky Mountain Power's plants that's scheduled to close earlier than anticipated
Pacificorp

Last year, the Wyoming legislature passed a bill called "New opportunities for Wyoming coal fired generation" requiring any utility retiring a coal plant earlier than scheduled would make a good faith effort to find a buyer.

Through the interim, legislators have been putting together a bill that would lay the groundwork for that to happen.

Natural gas prices over 5 years from Bloomberg Energy
Bloomberg

Adjusted for inflation, the natural gas spot price dropped to its lowest point in the shale revolution era. Fracking and horizontal drilling revolutionized the industry a decade ago, but the success has also cost producers with now record low prices hitting $1.77/million BTU today.

On January 27, oil and gas company Southland Royalty Company filed for bankruptcy. Wyoming's 15th largest natural gas producer said in a filing, "the debtor has suffered from the industry's general and sustained decline over the past several years." It went on to say the company would be taking drastic measures to get back to profitability.

Conceptual design of the iCam
Ramaco Carbon

Ramaco Carbon expects to open its Sheridan-based research park, iCAM, and associated campus early this summer. The Kentucky coal company wants to use the facility to research and develop new uses for Wyoming coal from rebar to car products.

Ramaco CEO Randy Atkins said iCAM will feature lab operations along with pilot facilities to work on new research and development. He said the scope of the project has actually grown.

Planning and NEPA Map
Bureau of Land Management

The Trump Administration is looking at removing environmental review requirements from public land-use plans. The possible changes by the Bureau of Land Management is one of several suggestions in a document obtained by Bloomberg News.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements have long been part of land-use planning as the Bureau of Land Management balances energy production and conservation. Any plan must include a finalized environmental impact statement.

Courtesy the Sweetwater County Historical Museum

The coal capital of the U.S. is taking a harder look at diversifying its economy. The city of Gillette and Campbell County are being forced to adjust to a world with less demand for its resource. But a former coal capital could help provide wisdom.

Blackjewel's Eagle Butte mine shipments in 2017
U.S. Energy Information Administration

Judge Frank W. Volk of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia delayed a decision over records access into the former President and CEO of Blackjewel LLC Jeff Hoops and affiliated parties.

On January 9, the bankrupt coal company requested access to a wide variety of material pertaining to Hoops, his family and related entities to be used as evidence. Those materials include pre-bankruptcy cash and property transfers

The proposed site is the former Alcoa/Reynolds aluminum plant adjacent to the Columbia River in Longview, downstream from the current Weyerhaeuser lumber mill.
Millennium Bulk Terminals - Longview

Wyoming and Montana are looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene over Washington's decision on the Millennium Bulk Terminal. The states announced today they have filed a joint motion to challenge what they call "Washington State's unconstitutional discrimination against a proposed coal export terminal."

"Right now, we believe this is our sole remedy," said Wyoming's Attorney General Bridget Hill.

Cooper McKim

South of Laramie, there's a road that goes straight into the plains. Over the hill, it's just open country, boulders and eventually, a tan house with a large porch facing the Rockies.

Stephanie Joyce

In a flurry of court filings last week, Blackjewel LLC and related entities sought permission to investigate the company's former CEO and President Jeff A. Hoops over what it called "a years-long effort by Mr. Hoops to transfer tens of millions of dollars of the Debtors' assets for his benefit and the benefit of his family and other Hoops-Related Entities."

U.S. Capitol Building
Public Domain

Listen to the full show here.

Two Wyoming Republicans Are Playing A Role In The Impeachment Debate

Two Wyoming lawmakers are playing key roles in the impeachment saga slowly unfolding in Washington. Correspondent Matt Laslo has the details from the nation’s capital.

Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming

The father of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as he was known, passed away on November 27, 2019. His name may be a familiar one if you've been to the University of Wyoming: William Ruckelshaus. The Ruckelshaus Institute is a division of the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources at UW.

First page screenshot of the 194 page updates
Council on Environmental Quality

The Trump Administration has proposed comprehensive updates to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). According to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which oversees NEPA implementation, they would the biggest changes made in over 40 years.

NEPA, established in 1970, requires all federally-related developments to show what environmental impacts they will have. There are three types of reviews: Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), Environmental Assessments (EA), and Categorical Exclusions (CE).

A map showing the area near incoming drilling - within the black box. The yellow lines signify which areas company workers can take
Cooper McKim

Samson Energy Company held an outreach meeting Tuesday night as it moves to start drilling 10 to 15 new wells east of Cheyenne as soon as April.

The closest development would be more 1,000 feet from anyone's home, according to the company. Wyoming mandates that development occur at least 500 feet from an occupied structure.

Net US greenhouse gas emissions by sector
Rhodium Group

Preliminary data shows U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell 2.1 percent in 2019 following a spike in 2018.

A report put together by the Rhodium Group, an independent research provider, estimates emissions actually increased in nearly every sector except for the energy industry.

Tested well locations around Pavillion
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality's (DEQ) confirmed its 2016 findings that Pavillion, Wyoming's groundwater contamination is not connected to oil and gas activity.

It released a 4,228 page report Monday that dug into questions remaining from the previous version in 2016. The department used improved technology to dive into its past findings and ensure there wasn't some critical compound or bacteria missed.

Samson's approved drilling and spacing units near Cheyenne
Wayne Lax

Cheyenne homeowners are raising concerns about a proposed oil and gas development that would drill close to the city.

Samson Energy Company acquired land this month where it hopes to drill 10 to 15 wells starting as soon as April of next year.

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