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Coal power 101: a layman’s guide to America’s rapidly changing power sector

February 12, 2016 in News

Dismal coal news is seemingly everywhere these days. Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, two of the country’s leading coal companies, have filed for bankruptcy. Wyoming mining hit a 13-year low in 2015. And natural gas was on track to displace coal as the country’s leading source of electricity generation for the first time in history through most if not all of 2015. Usually, each story about coal’s woes contains a line that goes something like this: Cheap natural gas, an oversupplied market and... continue reading

Wyoming and Arch Coal reach self-bonding deal

February 11, 2016 in News

Wyoming regulators and Arch Coal have agreed to a deal that would cover 19 percent of the bankrupt mining firm’s $485 million reclamation bill. The deal, which is likely to attract intense scrutiny from federal regulators and environmentalists, mirrors a similar agreement struck between the Department of Environmental Quality and another bankrupt coal company last year. A federal bankruptcy judge must still approve the agreement, but its terms were outlined in a motion filed by Arch on Monday. ... continue reading

Alpha could sell Wyoming coal mines

February 10, 2016 in News

Alpha Natural Resources’ Wyoming mines are on the auction block. The bankrupt coal company said in court filings Monday it had received a $500 million offer from its secured creditors to buy the Virginia-based firm’s core assets, including the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines outside Gillette. Read Full Story... continue reading

Where Tetons grow, continents once collided

February 9, 2016 in News

Stepping back to when the Earth was just half as old as it is today, the tectonic plates that Jackson Hole now rests upon were located in a place that nobody yet knows. The planet's terra firma at the time would have looked indistinguishable from the mosaic of land masses and water of the present, and geophysicists are still trying to determine how the continents have drifted around since. What is now known, however, is that about 2.68 billion years ago there were two continents that collided on the tect... continue reading

Wyoming experiencing odd snowpack season

February 8, 2016 in News

Recent storms have increased snowpack totals across Wyoming, but the state still lags behind in terms of yearly averages. Oddly enough, there’s been less snow in the northern part of the state — an area that typically receives more moisture than other regions of Wyoming. The snow water equivalent, or SWE — a measure of how much water is actually in the snow — for the Big Horn, Powder River and Tongue River basins range from 54 to 70 percent of median right now, according to Lee Hackleman, a water... continue reading

During overhaul, former Iris movie theater open for events

February 5, 2016 in News

There are still remnants of the former Iris movie theater, even as the building is undergoing an overhaul. The eight theaters still have the same carpeting and stadium seating. The signage in the hallways still bears the old movie house’s name. But away from the blank movie screens, changes are happening. The lobby used to smell like popcorn. Now, with help from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant, it smells like new carpeting and fresh paint, while the popcorn and soda machines... continue reading

Did flaring increase in 2015? It depends on how you count

February 4, 2016 in News

By one measure, emissions from Wyoming’s oil and gas wells rose 17 percent in 2015. By another, they fell 8 percent. Solving the discrepancy has taken on renewed urgency as state and federal regulators prepare separate plans to curb flaring and venting, two common practices for releasing natural gas from oil wells into the atmosphere. Wyoming regulators will accept public comment on their effort to curb such emissions at a meeting Thursday in Casper. The state proposal follows on the heels of a simi... continue reading

Feds grant Wyoming extension on Alpha and Arch Coal investigations

February 3, 2016 in News

Federal mining regulators have granted Wyoming officials' request for more time to investigate two bankrupt coal companies suspected of violating reclamation standards. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality will have until Feb. 12 to investigate Alpha Natural Resources and Feb. 22 to analyze Arch Coal, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Federal mining officials voiced concern last month over the pair's reclamation status, saying the t... continue reading

In Edgerton, already suffering from the bust, a cut in state funds could worsen budget woes

February 2, 2016 in News

The town of Edgerton, population 195 and dropping, has two employees, one snow plow, a pickup for year-round maintenance and an older, used truck for a crew of teenagers who mow grass in the summer. To pay for these expenses, the town has a yearly budget of about $340,000. The town — in northeastern Natrona County, about 40 miles from Casper — receives money from a handful of taxes collected on gas, cigarettes and liquor. It also collects revenue from the general sales tax. Residents provide funds... continue reading

Downtown development groups stick with plans during bust

February 1, 2016 in News

Downtown development groups across the state are bracing themselves as their projects, discussed and planned during a boom, are now confronting the realities of a bust. Fundraising might be harder, some project leaders say. But the economic slowdown also comes with a silver lining: lower construction costs. Read Full S... continue reading