energy

Dave Freudenthal

Carbon capture, utilization and storage continue to gain steam across Wyoming, with Governor Mark Gordon urging Congress last month to consider a bill that supports infrastructure for the technology. The hope is that carbon capture tech will take off in Wyoming and help offset the cost and emissions of a coal plant - and then keep it open. There's plenty of doubt about whether that can work.

Wyoming leaders have supported the tech since around 2008, when coal production in the state first began to decline. Energy and Natural Resources reporter Cooper McKim spoke with former Governor Dave Freudenthal about the origins of the state's vision for carbon capture and why it didn't gain traction right away. Noa Greenspan, producer for the audio series Carbon Valley, put together the interview.


ANDREW CULLEN / REUTERS/LANDOV

One of Joe Biden's first acts as president was to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline. Wyoming lawmakers, like senior Senator John Barrasso, hated that move and others.

The wind and solar industries made historic gains last year. Both reached new highs in energy production and capacity in 2020.


https://www.lummis.senate.gov/

As President Biden works to solidify his cabinet, Wyoming's U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis filed to block Deb Haaland's appointment as Secretary of the Interior earlier this week.

She said that her nomination is good for the American Indian community but not for Wyoming.

South-facing slope covered in cheat grass near medicine bow forest
Cooper McKim

The Colorado College State of the Rockies survey has been polling eight interior Western states for the past 11 years, including Wyoming. The poll asks questions on a range of issues affecting land, water, air and wildlife.

Bloomberg News broke the story this week about a very bleak outlook for a big industry in the West: Morgan Stanley is predicting coal will completely leave the U.S. energy mix by 2033, replaced largely by renewables.


Peabody Energy, Inc.

The Trump Administration did not weigh in on a legal case that could impact the future of coal in Wyoming and Montana, leaving open the possibility for the new Biden Administration to weigh in instead.

Janet Yellen is President Joe Biden's pick to be treasury secretary. And she's been a big proponent of a carbon tax.


pagaling via Pixabay

The state Senate Corporations Committee approved a bill that would reform the net metering system for those who use renewable energy to reduce their electricity rates. The vote comes despite opposition from those saying the change would reduce the incentive to install solar.

USFWS

The Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) is studying groundwater quality across the state.

The Sony Handycam, of all things, foretold what may soon be a massive mine on public lands in Nevada.

In the early 1990s, the camcorder became the first product to use lithium-ion batteries commercially. Since then, the technology has been used to power our laptops, smartphones, and now electric vehicles and homes.

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

A state legislative committee is discussing the last stages of approval for a major oil and gas project in Converse County. The U.S. Department of Interior just has to sign the Record of Decision (ROD), which Select Federal Natural Resource Management committee members like Douglas Sen. Brian Boner is anxious to finish or even speed up.

Wyoming Legislature logo
Wyoming Legislature

The Campbell County Commissioners have chosen a replacement for the late Roy Edwards. Former Campbell County Commissioner Chris Knapp will take over the term of Rep. Edwards and represent District 53 at the state legislature.

Many states introduced moratoriums to protect residents from having their utilities shut off for non-payment during the early days of the pandemic. But those moratoriums are coming to an end.

Elizabeth Abramson, Dane McFarlane, Jeff Brown

The Great Plains Institute and the University of Wyoming have published a new analysis on carbon capture and storage.

Strata Energy is one of Wyoming's users of in situ uranium extraction
Cooper McKim

A new agreement signed in Wyoming hopes to boost domestic uranium production. Alongside Gov. Mark Gordon, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Kristine Svinicki and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a Memorandum of Understanding that shifts certain authorities to the NRC.

Every state is wrestling with the tension between reopening economies and protecting communities from COVID-19. Some industries have remained open all along. There are the obvious ones, like grocery stores and hospitals. Then there are others, like mining.

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.

Reintroduced legislation incentivizing more renewable energy projects on public lands is getting rare bipartisan support.

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming (UW) will host the Energy and Natural Resources Fair this week with alumni of two prestigious State Department Programs: the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program and the Critical Language Scholarship Program. Both programs are U.S. State Department scholarship programs that focus on assisting students with international studies and overseas language research.

The recent court ruling that held the pharmaceutical company, Johnson & Johnson, accountable for its role in Oklahoma’s opioid crisis could influence some of the pending lawsuits seeking to hold energy companies accountable for their role in the climate crisis. That includes one case in the Mountain West.

Karin Kirk, Yale Climate Connections

In 2015 and 2016, three massive coal companies in Wyoming filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy: Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy.

Wyoming lawmakers are exploring the possibility of storing spent nuclear fuel rods to bolster the state budget as coal revenue becomes less reliable. Such storage would be temporary, they say, before the material is sent to a permanent repository. 

James Anderson, a state senator in Wyoming, says the gist would be to store containers of spent fuel at old uranium mines, but the idea is only half-baked. At this point, he and other legislators on a committee created to explore the issue are mostly compiling a list of questions.

The Trump administration may soon push for more uranium mining in the Colorado Plateau, arguing the mineral is critical for national security. The potential move prompted criticism from Democrats during a hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources on Tuesday. 

Rystad Energy

Oil giant Chevron announced it's acquiring Anadarko Petroleum for $33 billion. The deal makes Chevron the seventh largest national oil company, according to Rystad Energy.

Livestream of President Trump signing two executive orders in Texas
NBC

President Trump signed two executive orders in Texas this afternoon that would benefit the oil and gas industry. The orders will limit state barriers to new pipeline and energy projects.

Stephanie Joyce

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Washington has proposed a bill, called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019, that would impose a fee on carbon producers, passing that money along to the American people. But the idea of any sort of carbon tax is a prickly one. 

Taxes Paid ($/MWh) by State After Incentives - Wyoming's tax is still $1, not $5
University of Wyoming / Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy

Wyoming is not the best state in the U.S. to develop wind. A new report out of the University of Wyoming shows the state is actually in fourth place nationwide. Authors of the report said even that position is vulnerable since Wyoming legislators have been pushing for increases to the wind tax.

U.S. Capitol Building
Public Domain

The president's State of the Union address included him laying out his vision for U.S. energy policy, which had Wyoming Senator John Barrasso standing and clapping wildly - in part because he was on the GOP leadership team that spent two years focused on unwinding basically any regulations they could.

Enbridge Uranium Cartoon
Enbridge Inc.

A bill that would exempt uranium producers from a severance tax has passed through the House Revenue Committee. The goal is to ease the financial burden for companies when the market is particularly weak. The general counsel from Cameco, the state's largest uranium producer, said money saved would be used to improve operations and provide good paying jobs.

Pages