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Nuclear energy's future unclear

Given Russia’s control over the vast natural gas resource in the region, turning off all of Germany’s nuclear power by 2034 sounded a bit drastic — or is it optimistic?Later, I mentioned to another energy official that France seems comfortable with their nuclear power — the country’s main source of electricity. Well, the official joked, who can explain how France thinks?France, like Wyoming, is a net exporter of electricity.

Wyoming fracking rules point the way for public disclosure

Wyoming's hydraulic fracturing regulations could be the shape of things to come. The Obama administration is looking to the Cowboy State as a model for fracturing disclosure on federal lands in the West. Interior Department officials figure it would be hard to argue against an approach developed in petroleum-friendly Wyoming. If that led to Western state governments adopting similar rules, Eastern states such as Pennsylvania could feel pressure to demand similar information from drillers tapping into the rich Marcellus Shale.

The Busy Bee

Hollis Voiles, Steve’s dad, was a sturdy fellow with an efficient multi-tasking manner and a gruff demeanor. He ran the place like a grumpy proprietor of a Jewish deli. No matter; It was absolutely worth standing in line for his burgers and hash browns. I would go there at 11:30 a.m. to avoid the rush, except that the other people doing the same thing were already making up the rush. People crammed into the space, waiting for a stool. At least it was a social opportunity. Hollis perceived no need to moderate his opinions, be politically correct, or even be polite.

U.S., European Diplomats Call for Renewed Trans-Atlantic Relationship

Diplomats from the U.S., Germany and the European Union seemed to agree that 99 percent of what came out in the latest Wikileaks purge came as no surprise, but it was a source of great embarrassment. Getting beyond such tensions is exactly what diplomats are supposed to do.“We will continue the best work we can do,” said Bastian Hermisson, head of the European Union/North American Department of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.The Heinrich Böll Foundation is among many German and European Union organizations calling for a renewed trans-Atlantic relationship, fearing that the United States seems to have shifted focus toward the Pacific where China is the rising power.

Hometown Hills: Struggling Community Ski Areas Explore New Financial Models

Running a small ski area in Wyoming has never been a quick path to easy riches, and a flurry of closures and sales among struggling ski hills across the state in recent years has prompted some operators to look for new business models to make their community slopes financially sustainable.With a sparse customer base, high operating costs, isolated locations, aging infrastructure and changing winter recreation habits, community ski hills across Wyoming face a daunting array of challenges in competing against major destination resorts like Aspen and Sun Valley.While most major ski resorts have earned revenue from real estate sales, lodging and high-end services, those options have not been available to smaller ski hills.Antelope Butte, between Shell and Dayton, has been closed since 2004, and efforts by a Powell group to reopen the facility as a nonprofit have so far been unsuccessful. Big Horn Ski Resort near Ten Sleep reopened with new owners as Meadowlark Ski Lodge in January, after being closed in 2008. Snowy Range ski area was kept running last year by First National Bank of Wyoming in Laramie, until new owners took over for the 2010-11 season.

Casper’s Last Neighborhood Grocery Struggles to Survive

Bill and Nancy Wayte own Grant Street Grocery, the last neighborhood grocery store in Casper. In its heyday, Casper had 99 neighborhood grocery stores. The Waytes sell high-quality goods, donate to local nonprofit groups and help distribute locally grown produce. But all their efforts may not be enough to keep the store’s doors open. Small, locally owned stores often have higher inventory and per-customer operating costs, and face intense competitive pressures from billion-dollar corporate chain stores.

Dumb but Lucky

A friend sent me a story about a rancher who decided to rope one of the deer which frequented his feeder, corral and fatten it, and slaughter it like a corn-finished beef. Things did not go well and the deer managed to beat the pulp out of the poor guy. A wonderful example of unintended consequences.The rancher underestimated the deer’s strength, instincts and Mixed Martial Arts capabilities. But he lived to write about his encounter.So did I.

‘Cluster Developments’ Slow to Catch on in Bighorn Basin

Six years after developers announced their plan to build a 104-lot gated subdivision on 550 acres between Cody and Yellowstone National Park, the Copperleaf subdivision is now owned by the bank that financed it. Critics of the project have said its homes would be spaced close together on small lots, or clustered, in a way not in keeping with the surrounding rural community. Copperleaf is not the only project in the area to draw fire for being a “cluster development.” But proponents say it is a useful technique to help preserve open space and encourage strong ties between rural neighbors. They see cluster developments as preferable to vast checkerboard subdivisions of small ranchettes, each with their own septic tank, horse pen, workshop and outbuildings.

Youth Center Rises on the Rez — Kansas Couple Gives $1 Million

Thanks to tribal casino profits, the example of a compassionate Riverton woman and a chlorophyll dog treat, the Wind River Indian Reservation has a sparkling new $3.6 million Boys & Girls Club that many here see as a hopeful development for Wyoming’s Native American community. At a time when endemic crime and drug abuse threaten reservation youth, and political tensions with surrounding white communities simmer over a federal voting rights lawsuit, the new center is a remarkable example of compassion, hope and inter-community cooperation.