Header Menu

Fuel Factories: Communities at Risk

CASPER — Wyoming Refining Co.’s oil refinery is situated literally on Main Street in Newcastle and a mere half-mile away from Newcastle High School. The school is equipped with a “panic button” that shuts off all ventilation in the building …

Fish & Wildlife nominee could face tough questions over wolves, other species

Dan Ashe's road to becoming director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may hit speedbumps from northern Rockies senators, who likely will pose tough questions over plans to remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves and other species. Ashe, a 15-year agency employee who served as science adviser from 2003 to 2009 before becoming deputy director, was picked in December to succeed the late Sam Hamilton as director of the agency with a $2.5 billion annual budget that manages fish, wildlife and their habitats.

A Reluctant Move Away from Coal

Scores of new coal-fired power plants that were being planned across the nation six or seven years ago have mostly been shelved. Last year alone, utilities and power-generating companies dropped plans to build 38 coal plants, according to the Sierra Club, while announcing they would retire 48 aging, inefficient ones. Stepping into the void is natural gas and renewables. Utilities have also more aggressively embraced demand-side management strategies to bend down the growth curve.

Drilling Industry Says Diesel Use Was Legal

After three members of Congress reported this week that drilling companies have been injecting large amounts of diesel fuel underground to hydraulically fracture oil and gas wells, the industry is fighting back — not by denying the accusation, but by arguing that the EPA never fully regulated the potentially environmentally dangerous practice in the first place.

‘Citizen lobbyists’ learn how pros influence, persuade lawmakers

Though residents in Wyoming enjoy virtually unparalleled access to their elected representatives, participating in person during the annual winter sessions is often hampered by weather, distance, timing and other factors, leaving paid professional lobbyists wielding disproportionate influence over the process. Sharing an opinion with a lawmaker can be as easy as dashing off an email. But for those willing to take the time, learning to lobby like a pro can help ordinary citizens play a more influential and fulfilling role in shaping the laws that govern their own lives.

Coal industry seeks exports to Asia while U.S. market falters

America’s No. 2 coal-producer, Arch Coal Inc., announced last week that it paid $25 million to acquire 38 percent interest in Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview, LLC, one of dozens of companies scrambling to boost coal export capacity from the West Coast to customers in Asia.With the Millennium Bulk deal, Arch joins Peabody Energy Corp. — both major producers of Powder River Basin coal in Wyoming — in banking on the Asian coal market for growth. Wyoming coal producers Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, Cloud Peak Energy and railroads Union Pacific and BNSF Railway have all expressed interest in boosting coal exports from the West Coast.

Niobrara oil drilling saps county road budgets

Local officials know their rural roads were never meant to handle this kind of industrial traffic. “We’ve seen some of the roads disintegrate. These roads were designed for pickups and horse trailers, not the 100,000-pound loads we’re seeing,” said State Rep. Matt Teeters, R-Veteran. Laramie County Road and Bridge Supervisor Don Beard said bad weather conditions worsen the damage caused by heavy trucks. “They don’t care if the road is frozen, if it’s raining, or snowing, too hot, too dry, too windy, or too cold. They’ll operate on those roads and that’s where the damage begins to occur,” Beard said.

Group with ready-made legislation spurs calls for more disclosure

Though members of Wyoming's citizen Legislature pride themselves on being closely connected to their constituents, voters might be surprised to learn that some laws proposed and passed in Cheyenne are first shaped by state lawmakers and major corporations during privately funded junkets in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. As the 2011 legislative session convenes this week, some watchdog groups — and at least one legislator — are calling for better disclosure from lobbyists and greater transparency from groups that seek to influence or propose specific laws.