Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Eagle Butte mine just after its 2019 bankrutpcy
Cooper McKim

A landowners' group voiced objections to Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC's Eagle Butte mine application for a five-year permit renewal. The Powder River Basin Resource Council raised concerns in a requested informal conference regarding the company's reclamation ability, legal right to mine, and connection to violations.

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality


Anton Bocek lives on his 80-acre ranch where he deals in hay and cattle near Sheridan. His family has lived there for 42 years. It's the closest property to Ramaco's newly-approved Brook Mine.

Part of Brook Mine Location
Cooper McKim

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has approved a long-discussed — and revised —coal mine permit application.

Courtesy of Crow Creek Revival

Restoring a critical source of water in Cheyenne has been the goal of many in the area for several years. And that revival effort for Crow Creek just got another significant boost in funding.

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has released temporary guidance outlining how certain entities like wastewater treatment plants or oil and gas operations should respond if COVID-19 makes regulatory requirements unfeasible.

Keith Guille, DEQ public information officer, said that could happen for a variety of reasons.

Tested well locations around Pavillion
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality's (DEQ) confirmed its 2016 findings that Pavillion, Wyoming's groundwater contamination is not connected to oil and gas activity.

It released a 4,228 page report Monday that dug into questions remaining from the previous version in 2016. The department used improved technology to dive into its past findings and ensure there wasn't some critical compound or bacteria missed.

Wyoming Department of Health

So far this year, the Wyoming Department of Health has issued algae bloom advisories for 16 lakes and reservoirs across the state, a spike that mirrors the record number potentially toxic blooms across the country in 2019, as counted by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

Wikimedia Commons

The Northern Arapaho Tribe has come out against a proposed permit that would allow Aetheon Energy to discharge oil pollutants upstream of the Wind River.

Greg Goebel via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

A proposed expansion of Aethon Energy's Moneta Divide Oilfield could significantly increase the volume of water and dissolved solids the company sends into the Boysen Reservoir near Shoshoni.

Davide Restivo via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

When a semitrailer crashed near Woods Landing earlier this month, it spilled its cargo - water produced during oil and gas extraction - with some of it reaching the nearby Woods Creek.

Screenshot of Environmental Quality Council before hearing Mark Thrall
EQC WEB

Contura Coal West would like to renew and transfer permits for the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines over to another coal company: Blackjewel. In August 2018, Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) deemed the permit application technically complete.

Booms located at the popo agie river to prevent further seepage downstream
Keith Guille / Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Gasoline is spilling into the Popo Agie River in Lander. A citizen reported it to the National Response Center last week. The action prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to investigate what happened.

Keith Guille, DEQ spokesman, said the situation is urgent, and "that's why we have staff out there to make sure that we find some conclusions here very quickly to ensure that wherever the spill leak is coming from they get stopped and that everything can move forward here."

WyVisNet

The Upper Green River Basin is home to thousands of oil and gas wells and a cold, snowy winter. Unfortunately, those make up prime conditions for the formation of the pollutant ozone. While the area has struggled to control ozone for years, 2019 saw the highest spikes since 2011.

DEQ's air quality data at 11:59 am on March 28 for the five monitors in the UGRB
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is strongly considering additional inspectors to work in the Upper Green River Basin (UGRB) - a region in the western mountains. The agency has announced 15 days this year where the pollutant ozone could exceed safe levels for vulnerable populations in the UGRB. Last year, there were zero.

Cooper McKim

Snow is falling over a long service road surrounded by prairie. A few small pump jacks eventually give way to an unassuming metal gate. It opens up to Strata Energy and its uranium mine. Inside a simple built office building, Ralph Knode, Strata's CEO, greets me. We walk over to a warehouse.

Revised Ramaco application
Liz Brimmer / Ramaco Carbon

Ramaco Carbon has submitted a revised permit to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The Environmental Quality Council (EQC), an independent review board, refused the company’s first permit last year to begin constructing the Brook Mine in Sheridan County. 

Cooper McKim

Dave Hohl is a long-time resident of Pinedale, a town surrounded by oil and gas operations in western Wyoming. In 2008, Hohl went cross-country skiing and he noticed a heavy brown haze.

Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is helping Wyoming clean up contaminated areas for future redevelopment. Three state and local organizations will split $1.4 million. Wyoming is among 144 grantees in the competitive national process. The EPA gave out over $54 million in total.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, the City of Douglas, and the Wyoming Business Council will receive the funds. The DEQ and the Business Council are partnering to combine their grants and create a revolving loan for clean-up available to any Wyoming community. 

The foreground is reclaimed mine land, with the active coal mine behind.
Wyoming Mining Assocation

Back in 2011, the coal market looked great. Three of the largest coal companies in the world, all with mines in Wyoming, invested big in metallurgical coal, the kind used for infrastructure. Sierra Club Attorney Peter Morgan said, “Each company took on hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of debt."

DEQ Notice of Public Meeting
Department of Environmental Quality

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has released a final rule proposal that would change how coal companies self-bond. That’s when a company uses an IOU to guarantee clean-up costs based on its financial strength. 

Bob Beck

A State Senate Committee voted to unanimously support a bill that will help the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality clean up abandoned contaminated sites in the state. The DEQ has been busy repairing a number of so-called orphan sites around the state where the companies are no longer available to pay for the cleanup.  

Luke Esch of the DEQ says the legislation provides money from an account funded by taxes and fees. 

"Really allows us to get away from general funds and find a sustainable source of funding for these projects."

Several orphan sites listed on the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality online page
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Factories and dry cleaners used to dump contaminated waste wherever was convenient. Over the past thirty years, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has identified the locations many of these contaminated sites, also known as orphan sites, but the polluting companies are no longer around to pay to clean them up.

Scott Copeland-The Nature Conservancy

There are thousands of abandoned mines in Wyoming. But recently Lander middle schoolers helped plant sage brush to help reclaim one mine near Jeffrey City.

The Bureau of Land Management teamed up with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, The Nature Conservancy and other conservation groups to teach kids about the value of the sage brush steppe ecosystem. BLM archeologist Gina Clingerman said you can’t just toss sage brush seeds out and expect them to thrive. That’s why she taught kids to plant seedlings.

Penny Preston

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality held a public meeting in Cody Tuesday to update the public on the operation of the Willwood Dam and efforts to protect the Shoshone River fishery.

 

Part of Brook Mine Location
Cooper McKim

On a clear, sunny day, Jeff Barron drives over a copper-colored hill in the Powder River Basin near Sheridan. He parks, hops out of his car and walks to the edge of a large open field. Cows are grazing in the distance.

 

He says a new coal operation would start right here.

 

"It will mine out coal some 2,000 feet that way and 2,000 feet that way,” Barron says.

 

Bob Davis

Climbing down in trenches is dangerous work because they often collapse, but now a Pavillion man has invented a product so waterline installers don’t have to climb in. 350 workers were crushed or suffocated when trenches collapsed between 2000 and 2009. Inventor Bob Davis said to install water pipes, workers have long placed a five gallon bucket of gravel over the end of the pipe.

Wyoming Outdoor Council

After public outcry over the 2014 decision by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to downgrade the status of 75 percent of the state’s streams, allowing for the presence of more bacteria like e. coli, the agency has revised its decision. But outdoor recreation advocates say the new decision looks a lot like the old one.

Federal Government Recommends States Halt Self-Bonding

Aug 10, 2016
Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Media

With the downturn in the coal market, the federal government is encouraging states to reconsider whether to allow coal companies to self-bond. Self-bonding allows coal companies to avoid putting up cash or other assurances to guarantee their cleanup obligations.

The practice has come under scrutiny in the last year as many of the nation’s largest coal companies have declared bankruptcy with more than $2 billion in self-bonded cleanup on their books.

In a strongly-worded letter sent Friday, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality accuses the federal government of “political theater.”

Bankrupt Miner Arch Coal Files Restructuring Plan

May 9, 2016
archcoal.com

Arch Coal has filed its initial plan for how it hopes to emerge from bankruptcy, but doesn't contain many details when it comes to reclamation and worker benefits.

Arch Coal filed for Chapter 11 in January, in the hopes of shedding some of its $4.5 billion in debt. The company’s restructuring plan outlines how various creditors would be paid—or not paid—if the plan is approved.

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