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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jpc.raleigh / Flickr

The Trump administration has reauthorized the use of "cyanide bombs," a controversial device that kills animals suspected of preying on livestock and threatened species.

An example of the itemized questioning by federal Judge Frank Volk of five group's expenses involved in the Blackjewel bankrutpcy
Prime Clerk

The federal judge overseeing Blackjewel's bankruptcy is disputing the "propriety and necessity" of noticeably high fees from attorneys and professionals.

In a court filing yesterday, Judge Frank Volk questioned restaurant, travel, and lodging expenses from five firms totaling $73,583. That included three law offices, a financial services group, and a research firm. It accounted for about 30 percent of the total expenses racked up by the groups in only four months since Blackjewel filed to reorganize.

US shale gas map
https://www.eia.gov/maps/images/shale_gas_lower48.jpg

Nearly three dozen Wyoming landowners are suing Occidental Petroleum Corporation and its recently acquired company Anadarko Petroleum Corporation alleging they monopolized both the oil and gas market and the leasing rights in Laramie County. Occidental Petroleum acquired Anadarko this year in a deal valued at $55 billion and is in the process of finalizing the sale.

Third-quarter 2019 data includes 529 mines that reported positive figures to MSHA. Third quarter 2019 reporting mines represent 99% of those that reported positive figures in the second quarter of 2019.
S & P Global Market Intelligence

Coal mine employment in the U.S. has fallen to nearly its lowest level since the industry began reporting it. The industry has lost 2,206 jobs since the start of this year, according to updated data from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

Cooper McKim

Your phone, your house, your car. It all originally comes from the earth. Artist Nina Elder is fascinated by the complexity of land being at once something beautiful, sometimes sacred, and often extremely valuable - providing resources that the modern world depends on. Through long journeys to mining-based communities, Elder collects found materials and creates intricate drawings that help tell the multilayered stories that lands have to tell.

She's been supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation, Rauschenberg Foundation, and the Pollock Krausner Foundation. Elder has been features in VICE Magazine, PBS and Art In America. She's also held positions as an Art + Environment Research Fellow at the Nevada Museum of Art and Polar Lab Research Fellow. Wyoming Public Radio's Cooper McKim speaks with Elder about her latest exhibit now at the University of Wyoming's Visual Arts Building called Nina Elder: Accumulations.

Joe Giersch

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) pointed to impacts from climate change in its November 21 listing of two stonefly species. The meltwater lednian and the western glacier stonefly were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Both primarily inhabit Glacier National Park, but the western glacier stonefly also has populations in Grand Teton National Park.

 Comparison of Natural Gas Production and Price Forecasts.
Consensus Revenue Estimating Group

Natural gas producers in Wyoming are facing a dramatic new normal as prices drop and supply explodes. The state Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) report estimates natural gas production is falling at similar levels to coal projected to be down nearly 40 percent this year from 2009.

Corporations Committee hears from its first public commenter
Cooper McKim

A crowd lined a room in the Wyoming Liquor Division as the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee heard testimony on two bills that would affect the solar industry. After nearly four hours of impassioned speaking, both bills died on split seven to seven votes.

Naughton Power Plant; Rocky Mountain Power's coal-fired power plant looking at early unit closures
Pacificorp

Wyoming's Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee tabled a bill that would have changed how the Public Service Commission (PSC) oversees coal-fired power plants that are closing early. The bill considered requiring the PSC to consider socioeconomic factors, reliability impacts and any other information deemed necessary when looking at early retirement.

U.S. Natural Gas dry production, consumption and exports (2000-2018)
U.S. Energy Information Administration

Natural gas had a banner year in 2018 with production, consumption and exports all hitting record highs. Production actually saw its largest year-over-year growth by volume since the Energy Information Administration began collecting the data in the 1930.

Preferred portfolio cited in the PSC's order to initiate an investigation
Wyoming Public Service Commission

The Wyoming Public Service Commission has initiated an investigation into Rocky Mountain Power's (RMP) Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) filed on October 18, 2019.

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

The company taking over Cloud Peak Energy's three mines in Montana and Wyoming has hit a snag in securing its surety bonds that are used to guarantee reclamation. The Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) expected the Navajo Nation to back its reclamation costs through a pre-existing agreement.

Four likely scenarios forecasting the next few years
Rob Godby

Gov. Mark Gordon announced an effort called Power Wyoming this week to study new revenue scenarios for Wyoming. The group presented data to the legislature's Joint Revenue Committee showing the state can no longer rely on revenues from the energy industry.

Forecasted revenue from different versions of the bill
Legislative Service Office

Wyoming's Joint Revenue Committee let a bill die without a vote that would have levied a tax on electricity generation whether it's coming from coal, hydroelectric, or wind. Members of the committee considered the Electrical Generation Tax as a way to generate additional funds for the state which is looking at a major budget deficit. This bill could have raised funds ranging from $3 million to $190 million per year.

Cooper McKim

U.S. senators have introduced a bipartisan bill that promises to protect the pensions for 92,000 retired coal miners and secure 13,000 miners' healthcare benefits.

Preferred Portfolio Coal Retirements based on its chosen IRP
Rocky Mountain Power

Wyoming's Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee used its last hearing before the budget session to discuss concerns over Rocky Mountain Power's recently announced Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The public utility's long-awaited plan detailed its shift away from coal, including the early retirement of two Wyoming coal plants.

Coal To Product Tree From A Ramaco Carbon Presentation
Ramaco Carbon

The First Judicial District Court in Cheyenne has sided with Brook Mining Company, LLC, ruling that the Environmental Quality Council (EQC) did not have the authority to reject a permit application in 2017. The Environmental Quality Council is an independent board that reviews issues relating to pollution and preservation of air, water, and land quality in Wyoming.

Cooper McKim

Darlene Rea worked in Blackjewel's warehouse before the company filed for bankruptcy on July 1. I spoke with her earlier this summer when she was struggling to find a job. Months later, she still never found one.

Logo for the Navajo Transitional Energy Company
Navajo Transitional Energy Company

Cloud Peak Energy Inc. has successfully closed its sale of three coal mines to Navajo Transitional Energy Company, LLC (NTEC).

Blackjewel Belle Ayr sign
Vikki Strande/Facebook

Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC (ESM) will soon become the operator of the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines. The affiliate of FM coal will receive $81.3 million from Contura Coal West in order to take over all reclamation liabilities and operator-ship.

Steven Barclay


David Sedaris is a humorist, author, NPR contributor and soon he'll return to Laramie on Monday, October 28th. Dubbed "the master of satire," Sedaris will spend the evening sharing his hilarious observations on the human condition. In advance of this one-night only event, the author, whose works include Santaland Diaries, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, and his most recent bestseller, Calypso, speaks with Wyoming Public Radio's Cooper McKim.

Wyoming Planning Area, Surface Management and Sub-Surface Estate from within Wyoming's 2019 Resource Management Plan Amendment
Bureau of Land Management

The U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho will maintain a 2015 policy aimed at protecting millions of acres in the western United States along with the keystone species Greater Sage Grouse. The move temporarily puts a stop to an attempt by the Trump Administration to amend the policy.

A map of all federally owned land in the United States (from 2005)
U.S. Bureau of Land Management

Judge Scott Skavdahl for the United States District Court, District of Wyoming has placed an injunction on part of the Obama-era valuation rule. That rule was intended to update how royalties are calculated from energy production on federal and native land with the goal of giving a fair price to taxpayers.

Eagle Butte mine post-bankrutpcy
Cooper McKim

Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC (ESM) can't close on its deal to own and operate two Wyoming mines just yet. The affiliate of Ohio-based FM Coal hit a snag in its attempts to replace surety bonds for the mines; an agreement that guarantees clean-up costs.

Judge Frank Volk approving the closure of Blackjewel's sale of western assets to Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC
Prime Clerk

Prior to bankruptcy, the federal government was investigating Blackjewel, LLC for possible fraud. The U.S Attorney's Office was concerned the coal company may use a reorganization to get out of debts owed to the government. In other words, that it was violating the False Claims Act. Court filings show Blackjewel owes several federal agencies upwards of $50 million.

Pacificorp

In December of last year, Pacificorp released a presentation that shook several Wyoming cities and their state leaders. It was the first hint of the utility's 20-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and it included the early closure of many coal plants including three in Wyoming.

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

On October 2, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approved the Navajo Transitional Energy Company, LLC (NTEC) to purchase Cloud Peak's assets including the Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in the Powder River Basin. It comes a month and a half after the Navajo Nation-company won in the initial auction.

Coal mines north and east of Gillette Campbell County Airport, including the Eagle Butte Mine
Public Domain

Judge Frank Volk for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia has approved Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC (ESM) as the buyer of Blackjewel's western assets including the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines. ESM is an affiliate specifically formed by Ohio-based FM Coal to purchase the assets.

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