CO2

Cooper McKim

A $7.5 million competition to develop products out of carbon dioxide is less than a year away from its final stage. The NRG Cosia Carbon XPRIZE competition will take place at the Integrated Test Center outside of Gillette. Five teams are nearing the point where they can set up operations. Wyoming Public Radio's Cooper McKim speaks with Marcius Extavour about how teams are progressing and what's still to come.

A recently-published study shows alpine tundra soil high up on Colorado's Rocky Mountains is releasing more carbon dioxide into the air than it is absorbing. 

Logo for Governors' Partnership on Carbon Capture
Matt Fry / Office of Governor Matt Mead

Montana and Wyoming’s Governors Steve Bullock and Matt Mead announced Tuesday the formation of a new group focused on supporting carbon capture policies and projects: the Governors' Partnership on Carbon Capture. While the two will lead the group, Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Utah will also be involved.

U.S. Department of State

President Trump has decided to leave the 2015 Paris climate agreement and many advocates in the coal industry say the move will be beneficial for Wyoming.

Coal production has been in decline for close to a decade and Wyoming’s congressional delegation says that leaving the climate agreement could help turn that around. Economists, though, often blame natural gas and renewable energy as reasons for coal's decline - not regulation.

Governor Matt Mead said Wyoming will need more than this for the coal industry to rebound. 

Carbon emissions from burning natural gas are projected to surpass emissions from coal by around 10 percent this year. 

Stephanie Joyce

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. fell by 12% in 2015, compared to 2005 levels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

The EIA explains that this drop is largely the result of changes in our electricity mix. Over the past decade, shifts in sources of electricity, from coal to natural gas for example, have accounted for 68% of the total decrease in energy-related CO2 emissions. 

In a surprise move earlier this month, the Supreme Court put the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan on hold while legal challenges are resolved.

On Thursday, speaking at a conference in Cheyenne, an official with the Environmental Protection Agency suggested that the delay may give states more time to comply with the rule if it is ultimately upheld. 

Department of Energy EIA

 

One of America’s largest coal companies is running out of options after a judge ruled against a move by the company that would have reduced its debt and interest payments. 

Arch Coal had hoped to improve its balance sheet with a debt swap deal. But last week a New York judge denied the company’s request to protect the deal, instead siding with a group of lenders who want to block it.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

Wyoming provides nearly 40 percent of the coal we consume in the United States, but demand for coal-fired electricity is shrinking in response to a variety of factors – including low natural gas prices and environmental regulations aimed at slowing climate change.

XPRIZE

As we have reported recently, 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 Carbon XPrize is intended to spur innovators to address that very problem. Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce sat down with Paul Bunje of the XPrize Foundation to learn more.

basinelectric.com

Governor Mead announced that the so-called Integrated Test Center will be built at the Dry Fork Station, a coal-fired powerplant near Gillette. The state has pledged $15 million dollars in funding for the lab. Another $5 million will come from the Denver-based power company Tri-State Generation. The goal is to develop new technology to turn carbon dioxide into useful products, instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.

Rebecca Huntington

The future of coal was the focus of the International Advanced Coal Technologies Conference in Jackson Hole this week.  

Researchers, officials, and advocates came from all over the world to discuss, among other issues, new ways to use coal. 

Imagine if carbon dioxide emissions, instead of being released into the atmosphere could instead be made into useful everyday products. A $20 million dollar prize was unveiled last week aimed at figuring out just that.

The call to submit ideas for how to actually do that came with the official announcement of the Carbon XPRIZE competition at a recent conference in Texas. 

The XPRIZE foundation itself is a non-profit that manages contests in five areas, one of which is energy and the environment. 

Philip Brewer / Flickr Creative Commons

Chemicals used in refrigeration and air conditioning can emit potent greenhouses gases. This week, the Environmental Protection agency passed regulations to curb these emissions. 

This week, lawmakers in Washington are examining the cost and legality of the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial plan to reduce carbon emissions.

The issue also came up over the weekend during a panel about clean power at an energy conference in Colorado. 

Stephanie Joyce / Inside Energy

The window to comment on the EPA's Clean Power Plan closed on Monday with over 1.6 million comments. A quick search of the 22,718 comments that are publicly posted (less than 1% of the total) showed that Wyoming-ites sent their thoughts in to the EPA at six times the rate of the average American.

This week’s Supreme Court ruling on the EPA and its ability to regulate carbon is a mixed bag for Wyoming officials and energy producers. It sets the stakes even higher for Republicans in the state who are determined to derail a pending EPA rule on climate change.  

Like most all things here in Washington these days, the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of the EPA is being read along party lines. But Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi says it’s not just partisanship. He says your opinion also hinges on where you’re reading.

Jason Lewis - U.S. Dep't of Energy

New EPA rules aimed at cutting carbon emissions are expected to be unveiled June 2nd. Coal generates nearly half of this country’s electricity and is the largest source of air pollution. The new rules are expected to spur the use of clean coal technology. At least that’s the hope of both the coal industry and some environmental groups.

Carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector increased about 2 percent in 2013 from a low point in 2012. The Energy Information Administration did the analysis. The agency attributes the increase to a small comeback by coal from a dramatic market share low in 2012.

(Photo by hitchhacking via Creative Commons)

The University of Wyoming is hosting a conference to help energy companies use enhanced oil recovery to increase their yields. That’s a technique in which carbon dioxide is pumped underground to help extract oil.

  Glen Murrell is the Associate Director of UW’s Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute. He says this year’s conference is putting a major emphasis on helping small operators.

Wyoming environmental regulators say carbon dioxide bubbling up from the ground may have killed six ducks and polluted a stream.
 
The leak happened in an area where CO2 is injected underground to help revive an old oil field and boost oil production.
 
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has ordered Anadarko Petroleum to identify and control the carbon dioxide leak into Castle Creek in central Wyoming. DEQ also is telling Anadarko to monitor the stream's acidity until three consecutive tests show normal pH.