October 16th, 2015

Listen to the full show here.

Credit Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

In Search Of A Future For Coal


In Wyoming, as in other coal-dependent states, climate change is sometimes outright denied or more often, simply ignored. But its effect in Wyoming is unavoidable. Demand for coal is shrinking, as is the state’s revenue from it. And so Wyoming is looking to work with other coal giants like China to figure out what to do with coal, aside from burn it. Inside Energy’s Leigh Paterson reports.

Overburden Weighs On Wyoming Coal Producers

How much coal does a Wyoming coal miner mine? Quite a bit less than he used to, it turns out. Regulations have received most of the blame for coal’s current dire straits but that’s not the whole story: it’s also getting more expensive to mine in the nation’s largest coal producing state. Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports.

Natrona County's New Career Academy High School Program Opens In A Year

In one year, a new high school building will be open to students in Natrona County. The first day of class will debut a bold endeavor to transform secondary education in the school district that has been in the works for nearly a decade. It’s a shift to ‘academy-style learning,’ where students’ lesson plans and activities are designed around their career interests. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank reports, Natrona County educators are hustling to create a system that will bring results.

Casper Smoking Ban Pits Health Vs. Property Rights

To put it mildly, eliminating smoking from bars has been in tough in Casper. Since 2000 the Casper City Council has twice approved smoking bans, they were both overturned. Now the issue is up for another vote. The public has a chance to undo the council’s support of smoking in bars in November. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck says it’s being framed as a battle of business rights versus health.

Is That A Horse Race Or A Slot Machine? Depends On Who You Ask

The horse racing industry in Wyoming was hit with a huge financial blow a few weeks ago, when state officials voted to suspend operation of historical horse racing machines in the state. Those machines offer play similar to a slot machine, but the outcome is tied to a horse race from the past. The Wyoming legislature approved historical horse racing machines two years ago, but in late September the state Attorney General released a report saying the machines’ bonus rounds were illegal because they relied on chance, not skill. The machines could be closed for business for as long as fourth months while the vendor that sells them rewrites their software. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Miles Bryan reports, that could place an unbearable strain on live horse racing in the state, which relies on income from the machines to survive.

Carbon Dioxide: Liability Or Asset?

Wyoming has started looking for new ways to use coal, beyond simply burning it for power. The state is also starting to look at new ways to use a coal byproduct that has become a serious liability: carbon dioxide. The recently announced, 20 million dollar Carbon X-Prize is intended to spur innovators to address that very problem. Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce sat down with Paul Bunje of the X-Prize Foundation to learn more.

Is Wyoming's Red Desert A Wilderness Or A Wasteland?

Wyoming’s Red Desert…it’s treasured for different reasons by different people. For some, it should be left alone for its natural beauty. For others, it should be open to use for resources like energy and grazing. But those two different ways of seeing the desert can create conflicts with how to manage it. And that’s put the Bureau of Land Management in a tight spot as they tackle a new broad scoping resource plan, intended to last two decades. Much of the desert is currently open to development, but conservationists want to see that plan include more protected wilderness areas. As one of a two-part series on the Red Desert, Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards took a flight over the area to see how wild the place really is.

Debate Over De-listing Grizzlies Heats Up

Cody area lawmakers want the federal government ot take Grizzly Bears off of the Endangered Species List. They say there are more bears than ever outside of Yellowstone, but others say the numbers don't matter. Penny Preston reports.

Nat Geo Writer Says At 100 Years, Yellowstone And Other National Parks Facing Huge Challenges

The National Parks Service celebrates its Centennial next year. To mark the occasion, National Geographic Magazine is devoting its May 2016 issue solely to the country’s first national park – Yellowstone. And not only is this issue focused on one place, all of the content has been written by just one author – a first for the publication. David Quammen is the writer and journalist who has been tasked with this feat. He tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard he got involved at the brainstorming stage, and thought he’d perhaps like to write one article for the issue.