Natural Resources & Energy

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Wyoming Department of Transportation

The call for social distancing in the state is leading many people to the outdoors. But a high number of people are going to the Teton Pass west of Jackson, which is causing some public health concerns.

"With the current restrictions in certain places, we've got an extra amount of traffic that's going on up here. And generally speaking, we're okay with folks that are coming here as long as they're cooperative on our on our safety issues," said John Pistono, a Teton Pass ambassador.

Parks Canada

Environmental groups have officially sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for allowing up to 72 grizzly bears to be killed over ten years. The groups filed an intent to sue earlier this year.

Coal seam at Peabody's North Antelope Rochelle Mine
Peabody Energy

On March 30, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso and Sen. Mike Enzi led 10 other U.S. Senate signatories in a request for the U.S. Department of the Interior to administer help to the coal, oil and gas industries amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Representative Liz Cheney signed a similar letter coming from the House of Representatives today alongside 29 other Congressmen.

Some of the nation's top polluters are now running on the honor system after the Environmental Protection Agency last week announced relaxed enforcement of environmental regulations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Timeline for the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition; the final deadline was moved from June 30, 2020 to August 17, 2020
NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE

The $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE has moved back its final deadline by seven weeks. The competition aims to demonstrate viable new uses for carbon dioxide; one half of the competition is hosted by the Integrated Test Center at the Dry Fork Station in Gillette. The other half is located in Alberta which has not yet seen any deadline changes.

National Park Service

Researchers recently discovered that plague is much more prevalent in the Grand Teton area than previously thought. 

The three eastern coal companies are making changes and some mine closures amidst COVID-19
Rosebud Mining Company, Corsa Energy, Consol energy

Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), added the coal industry to its list of critical infrastructure - a list of what's considered vital to public health, the economy, and national security.

Catherine Wheeler

Since health officials are asking residents to practice social distancing and avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, a conservation group has decided to host its regular spring clean-up differently this year.

The Sheridan Community Land Trust will be hosting the clean-up of local trails and parks virtually.

As the U.S. Forest Service prepares for the wildfire season, it must also confront COVID-19.

Already the agency's put a stop to prescribed burning. And it says it will continue fire suppression and other activities with guidance from the CDC.

Jake Billington has worked at the livestock auction at the Twin Falls Livestock Commission in southern Idaho for 28 years.


One of Crusoe's computer modules
Permission from Crusoe Energy System

Crusoe Energy Systems, with operations in Wyoming's Powder River Basin and northern DJ Basin, is contributing to a global effort to find a cure for COVID-19, now with the help of Mesa Natural Gas Solutions, based out of Casper.

Brocken Inaglory via CC BY-SA 3.0

Every year, thousands of American and international tourists pass through Cody as they leave or enter Yellowstone National Park. The summer tourism season officially starts May 1, when the park's east gate opens. That's usually a busy time, but things might be different this year.

A proposed wind farm in southern Idaho could become one of the largest in the nation.

 


Main Street, looking south toward Canyonlands National Park, in Moab, Utah
Hurricanehink via CC BY-SA 3.0

Recreation-based counties are seeing higher rates of COVID-19 than other rural counties, according to an analysis from the Daily Yonder, a non-profit publication that focuses on rural issues.

By USFWS Mountain-Prairie (Mule Deer on Winter Range in SW Wyoming) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The last of five installments of funding totaling almost $2.5 million was approved by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission recently. The $560,000 has been distributed over the past five years to support the Statewide Mule Deer Initiative.

Social distancing at a WY Public Service Commission meeting
Public Service Commission

Wyoming agencies are making internal changes aimed at slowing the spread COVID-19 while keeping the public in the loop. Several are looking to hold public meetings via telephone or online including the Wyoming Public Service Commission and Department of Environmental Quality.

CC0 / Public Domain

Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are officially closed to all visitors indefinitely.

On a recent cold and rainy morning at Zion National Park in Southern Utah, Andrew Smith and Blake Cubria throw a blue tarp on top of their tent to keep the water out. They’re in the midst of an impromptu vacation out West that began after they both lost their restaurant jobs in Chicago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2017 990 Form
Energy and Policy Institute

3/27: The story has been updated to include Randy Eminger's voice - the executive director of the Energy Policy Network

An investigation published in the Colorado Sun called attention to a connection between the state of Wyoming and an organization that fought against the early closure of two coal-fired generating units in Colorado without disclosing its backing.

The Interior Department has announced it’s temporarily waiving entrance fees for recreation areas, national monuments and national parks. Secretary David Bernhardt said he wanted to make it easier for people to recreate on public lands.

Wyoming Public Radio

Ultra Petroleum Corp., Wyoming's largest natural gas producer in 2019, agreed to additional one-time bonuses to six executives totaling $1,561,250.

Update 3/18/20 at 3 p.m.: Sleeping Giant announced on its Facebook page Wednesday afternoon, March 18, that it will close.

"Due to new information and the most recent update from the Park County Health Officer, Sleeping Giant Ski Area has decided to suspend operations for the remainder of the season. This decision was not made lightly, but we must put the health of the community first. Please keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Thank you for your continued support, have an enjoyable summer and hope to see you next winter." 

As of this time Anteloppe Butte lifts remain open six days a week and all food operations are closed. 

KIEWIT

The Buckskin Mining Company laid off 60 employees across all departments ahead of schedule this week. Kiewit Corporation, the Omaha, Nebraska-based owner of the coal mine, announced March 12 to expect around 50 lay-offs due to a production decline in 2020. A public release anticipated that lay-off date to come in early April. 

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Approximately 75 pronghorn have died in a 35 square mile area north of Gillette this year. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has identified the cause: a bacteria called Mycoplasma bovis, which is usually found in cattle and has not been known to affect pronghorn.

Updated 9:11 a.m. MDT 3/17/2020

“Please. Do. More. Now.” 

That's the message Moab Regional Hospital sent yesterday to Gov. Gary Herbert. In a letter, the hospital’s leadership asked Herbert to close all non-essential businesses in Moab for two weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak. They wrote that Moab could see up to 6,000 visitors next weekend, based on current hotel bookings. 

Coal seam at Peabody's North Antelope Rochelle Mine
Peabody Energy

This is a developing story.

Coal companies with mines in Wyoming are making adjustments as COVID-19 increases its spread worldwide. Wyoming has 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 thus far with patients in Sheridan and Fremont Counties.

Peabody Energy

Peabody's three Wyoming mines are all still in operation. Charlene Murdock, director of corporate communications for Peabody Energy, said they are following the advice from government authorities to manage the spread of COVID-19.

Yellowstone National Park/Creative Commons

As international travel bans have been put into effect, Park County is preparing for potential impacts to its summer tourism season. The federal government has barred the entry of all foreign nationals who had visited China, Iran and a group of European countries in the past 14 days.

Jim Peaco / NPS

New federal guidelines say it's OK to haze a grizzly bear-even with a paintball gun.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Legislature wrapped up its work this week with concerns about the future. A downturn in oil prices and worries about a drop in investment income has lawmakers thinking that they may need to make some difficult decisions in the not-too-distant future.

www.nrel.gov

There were only six bills centered on renewables this session, but you'd be forgiven to think there were many more. Even when it wasn't the topic of conversation, renewables were on lawmaker's minds.

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