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Cheyenne Refinery To Shift To Renewable Diesel, Cut 200 Workers

in Business/Economy/Energy/Jobs/News
4710

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

HollyFrontier’s Cheyenne Refinery will shift from refining petroleum to producing a diesel fuel made out of soybean oil, the company announced Monday.

HollyFrontier announced in a news release that the conversion from petroleum refining will take 12 to 18 months and by the time the work is completed, about 200 workers will have been released.

The reduction in the refinery’s workforce will occur over a period of time, said Liberty Swift, manager of corporate communications for the company.

“Everyone’s learning today what the plan is so no one would be taken by surprise,” she said. “We’re working with everybody to try to assist them through this process.”

The refinery on the south side of Cheyenne has been processing petroleum for 86 years, according to Mike Jennings, HollyFrontier’s president and chief executive officer.

But Jennings said given the crash in oil prices caused by both oil price wars and the coronavirus, the company did not believe petroleum refining was a sustainable business.

In addition, the company was looking at high operating and maintenance costs related to the refinery over the next three to five years, he said.

Swift said there is a growing demand for diesel fuel made from renewable resources, particularly in California, but also in Colorado.

The Cheyenne refinery was well-suited for the conversion because some of the equipment already in place can be used to produce the renewable diesel, she added.

Any equipment not used in the production of renewable diesel will be idled, Swift said.

The conversion process is expected to cost about $125 million to $175 million, the company said.

When the work is finished, about 80 employees will remain at the refinery.

The company will work where possible to put employees removed from the refinery to work at other HollyFrontier plants, Swift said.

She added the company wants to continue working with Cheyenne as it has in the past.

“We want to continue to be in the Cheyenne community and want to continue to be a strong community partner,” she said. “This is a way we can stay in the community.”

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Minerals Industry Recovery From Pandemic Will Be Long Process

in Coronavirus/Energy/News
4317

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The closure of businesses across the state has led to a drop in demand for energy, resulting in a downturn for much of Wyoming’s energy industry, industry representatives said Friday.

During Town Square Media’s “Economy Town Hall” on Friday morning, Travis Deti, executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association, and Pete Obermueller, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, agreed the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on their industries.

Obermueller noted that there wouldn’t be one single moment when miners, oil rig workers and other industry employees would head back to work, but that recovery would be a “long-term process.”

“When people start driving and flying again, we’ll get the demand back,” Obermueller said. “It’s a demand issue right now and until that comes back, oil and gas in Wyoming won’t come back.”

Deti agreed, adding that the Wyoming coal industry has been on a downward trend for a few years due to competition with low-cost natural gas and other alternative forms of energy. But with much of Wyoming’s businesses being shut down, there has also been a decline in demand for coal.

The WMA executive director wouldn’t speculate about whether or not the coal industry in Wyoming would see long-term effects from the virus, but felt the situation would ultimately “get better.”

The two men also discussed how federal and state social distancing guidelines would change the way miners and oil riggers would work.

Obermueller noted that for the most part, employees on drilling rigs are usually physically distant, but for Wyoming miners, the situation has been a little different because they work nearer each other.

“We’re essential, so we have to keep operations up and running,” Deti said. “We have to provide appropriate work conditions for our employees to be safe, so we’ve put restrictions on vendors and visitors to the sites. Certain sites are implementing temperature checks. All of the operators are taking appropriate steps.”

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Gordon: Energy Decrease Catastrophic For Wyoming; “Country Needs to Get Back to Work”

in Coronavirus/Energy/News
File Photo
4311

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A lengthy recovery in the price of oil will be needed to return Wyoming’s oil production to where it was before the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Mark Gordon said Friday.

Gordon, speaking during Town Square Media’s “Economy Town Hall” broadcast on the company’s Wyoming radio stations, said a rise in the price of oil alone will not be sufficient to sustain a recovery of the industry.

“It is going to take a serious recovery on two fronts to make that work,” he said. “One is it has to recover price to get back to where it’s economic in Wyoming to produce and then it has to stay there for some time because a lot of companies are idling their rigs. Those rigs don’t go back up with just a click of the fingers.”

Oil prices have declined significantly in recent weeks due to a decline in demand for energy with the coronavirus pandemic and an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

At least part of the problem could be solved with the resumption of normal business activities in the country, Gordon said.

“The demand destruction has just been catastrophic,” he said. “People aren’t flying. People aren’t using electricity like they used to. We’ve got to get this country back working again.”

The state’s role will be to make sure Wyoming’s mineral industry is ready to meet that demand once things return to normal, he said.

“Today I’m going to be talking about the things we can do to try to stimulate our economy to make sure we have all the oilfield service companies, the miners … available so when our economy does rebound, which it will, that we’re ready to be right in the lead.”

The Legislature is expected to meet in special session later this year to address how to spend $1.25 billion in funds received from federal aid programs and how to adjust the budget its members approved in March to compensate for an anticipated drop in mineral revenue.

Gordon has already ordered state departments to freeze hiring and the issuing of contracts and has asked department heads to look at ways to cut their spending, although exact income cuts are not yet known.

“Unfortunately, we won’t really know the impact of this quarter for a while yet,” he said. “Probably around May 20, we will see numbers that will make our eyes pop. I think it does mean we’ve got to re-examine our budget pretty substantially.”

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Why Aren’t Wyoming’s Gas Prices Lower?

in Energy/News
3840

By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

As oil prices plummet worldwide, the price of gasoline at the pump in Wyoming is following a similar trajectory across the nation, albeit not as dramatically. 

“I call it the rocket-feather effect,” said Rob Godby, a University of Wyoming energy economist. “Gasoline prices go up like rockets and fall like feathers.” 

Wyoming’s average price for a gallon of regular gasoline as of Wednesday, April 1, was about $2.17, not quite 20 cents higher than the national average of about $1.98, according to AAA’s gas map at gasprices.aaa.com.

GasBuddy’s price map, at gasbuddy.com, displays a more detailed summary of national gasoline prices, but both maps show the same thing — west of Wyoming, gas is more expensive, and for the most part, gas to the east is cheaper.

The price a consumer pays at the pump is affected by numerous factors — from the price of oil per barrel to the distance between gas stations — but for the sake of brevity, Godby, the director for UW’s Energy Economics and Public Policies Center and a college of business associate professor, boiled it down to three factors: the regional taxes or additive requirements at play, a pump’s proximity to large clusters of oil refineries and demand in an area.

“Typically the West Coast is more expensive than the rest of the country, because it’s more difficult to get oil there,” Godby explained. “And, the lowest prices for gasoline are in the Gulf states to the Southeast. That’s simply because that’s where all the gas is made.”

Hawaii boasts the nation’s highest gasoline prices with an average of about $3.35 per gallon, and California comes in second at about $3.02 per gallon. 

Gas prices around the Gulf are lower than much of the nation, but the lowest prices are in Wisconsin with an average of $1.53 per gallon and Oklahoma at about $1.54 per gallon.

While Wyoming is home to a number of petroleum refineries, the lack of demand can inflate pump prices. What Wyoming has in oil assets, it lacks in population. Fewer people attracts less competition, allowing gasoline providers to keep their prices higher for longer.

“In a small town in Wyoming with only one gas station, you’re not competing against anybody,” Godby said. “So, why lower the price?” 

Ultimately, gas stations are forced to reduce prices at pumps near neighboring towns to remain competitive, but Wyoming’s gas trends trail the national average.

“Wyoming’s holdout can’t last forever,” Godby said.

Rocky Mountain Power Asks for Residential Rate Increase

in Energy/News
3243

Rocky Mountain Power is seeking state approval for a rate increase that would boost residential energy prices by 4.7 percent while providing a 0.8 percent rate cut for its industrial customers, it announced Tuesday.

The company, Wyoming’s largest energy provider, said in a news release it will use much of the extra income from its first rate increase in five years to finance its renewable energy initiatives.

“That’s the direction our customers are asking for,” spokesman Spencer Hall said in an interview. “As a company, we’ve made it clear there are huge benefits to providing power from no-fuel-cost sources.”

If approved by the Wyoming Public Service Commission, the rate increase would take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

Under the proposal, the costs for residential users would increase by an average of $3.69 per month, Rocky Mountain Power’s news release said.

The cost for commercial users would go up by 4.1 percent, while rates for industrial users would drop by 0.8 percent.

The decline for industrial users is based on the fact that power consumption by such users is easy to predict, Hall said.

“Supplying always-on industrial users is one thing, we know pretty much what the usage will be,” Hall said. “Commercial customers come in, turn on their lights, do work and go home at night. It’s more volatile.”

The added revenue from the rate increase will cover implementation of the company’s “Vision 2020” renewable energy initiative, as well as the refurbishment of wind turbines at the company’s Foote Creek Wind Farm near Arlington. Other items to be paid for with the increase will include the conversion of a coal-fired energy plant near Kemmerer to burn natural gas and the installation of catalytic reduction equipment on some power generating units.

The changes will help Wyoming stay in the forefront of the energy industry, Hall said.

“Its a great opportunity for Wyoming as the industry changes and moves away from coal,” he said. “We want Wyomign to continue to be the center of the energy exporting world.”

The company’s news release noted Rocky Mountain Power has invested in its Wyoming operations for the last five years without asking for a rate increase. It also said Rocky Mountain Power’s average electric rate is 10 percent lower than the average price in Wyoming and 34 percent lower than the national average.

Rocky Mountain Power provides electric service to more than 146,000 customers in the state. It is part of PacifiCorp, which serves more than 1.9 million customers in six states.

Gordon Slams FTC Attempt To Block Joint Coal Venture

in Energy/News
Mark Gordon file photo
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An attempt by a federal agency to block a joint venture between two major coal companies was criticized by Gov. Mark Gordon on Wednesday as “wrongheaded.”

Gordon’s comments came in response to the Federal Trade Commission’s decision to file an administrative complaint challenging the joint venture between Peabody Energy Corp. and Arch Coal.

“I believe this complaint by the Federal Trade Commission is a wrongheaded attempt to drive a nail into an industry which is struggling to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace,” he said. “It could also result in significant impacts to the workforce of the North Antelope Rochelle and Black Thunder coal mines.”

The two companies announced last summer they would merge their assets in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin and in Colorado. The move was seen as a way to allow both companies to better compete in the ailing coal industry.

The FTC, in its complaint, alleges the transaction will eliminate competition between the two companies and lead to higher coal prices for power utilities and ultimately, energy consumers.

But Gordon said the complaint does not take into account the competitive forces already at work in the energy sector.

“Today’s energy marketplace is broad and includes wind, solar, natural gas, hydroelectric and geothermal, all of which have become more competitive since 2018,” he said. “The FTC appears to have ignored this fact and seems intent on extending the uncertainty facing coal companies in the Powder River Basin. I don’t believe the broader energy marketplace will benefit from a challenge to this merger.”

Natural Gas Faces Difficulties as Market is Flooded with Cheap Product

in Energy/News
Jonah Field
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By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

A victim of its own success, Wyoming’s natural gas industry has faced plummeting prices in recent years, leaving only one operator with active rigs in the state, the Petroleum Association of Wyoming (PAW) reported.

“There are 23 active rigs in the state, and of those only two are natural gas,” said PAW Communications Director Ryan McConnaughey. “There are a lot factors impacting natural gas, but a big one is sustained low prices.”

More than a decade ago, natural gas experienced a surge in popularity with the advent of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that boosted production, but a University of Wyoming researcher said the mining process was almost too successful.

“In the last decade, we’ve become so good at getting oil and gas out of the ground through unconventional methods — fracking and horizontal drilling,” said Rob Godby, the director for UW’s Energy Economics and Public Policies Center and an associate professor for the College of Business. “Prices have fallen through the floor. There’s just too much natural gas on the market.”

In 2008, national natural gas prices were around $7 per 1,000 cubic feet (MCF), Godby said. The price as of Wednesday was $1.77 per MCF.

“It’s only gone one direction, which is down,” he said. “The other thing that’s scary about that price is we’re in the middle of winter, and if you’re going to have a coldest month, it’s February.” 

As energy companies switch over to renewable power sources for electricity generation, natural gas and coal have stepped into backup roles to ensure the lights stay on during major winter storms. Previously, natural gas prices spiked to around $150 per MCF during these events, but Godby said those instances are becoming less frequent.

“In real terms, taking inflation into account, we’re essentially at the lowest point in gas sales history,” he said. “Operators are having a very hard time making money with natural gas.”

Permian Basin 

The hydraulic fracturing process is not selective, so when oil operators frack, they often capture natural gas as a free and marketable byproduct, Godby explained.

“People often think of oil and gas drilling as a jelly donut, and operators are trying to get that jelly out,” he said, crediting the analogy to Mark Watson, the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission director. “But, it’s really like Tiramisu.”

Operators horizontally drill through layers of rock containing oil and gas, then pressurize the hole with water and other additives, which fractures the rock and releases both oil and gas.

“In the last year or so, the U.S. just became the largest producer of oil, and all that oil growth brings with it a lot of natural gas,” Godby said. “And the most prolific field where this is happening is in the Permian Basin on the eastern half of New Mexico and Western side of Texas.”

Natural gas producers in Wyoming are typically producing only natural gas while competing with oil producers, whose get their natural gas essentially free.

Further complicating the situation, McConnaughey said Wyoming’s tax on natural gas is higher than New Mexico’s.

“Wyoming’s tax rate on energy production is not competitive with our peers,” he said. “It’s typically about 4 percent more than other states, and New Mexico takes 4.5 percent less than Wyoming does.”

Coronavirus

With less extraction comes less revenue for the state, a major challenge when considering mineral revenues paid for more than 50 percent of the state’s budget in 2017, the Wyoming Taxpayer’s Association reported.

Coal’s decline is well documented in Wyoming, but Godby said natural gas is not far behind.

Since 2015, Wyoming’s projected natural gas production declined by 18 percent, and natural gas severance tax payments have dropped 19 percent, UW documents state.

“Our economy has gone from riding a tricycle with coal, natural gas and oil to a bicycle with natural gas and oil, and now,” Godby said, “we’re down to riding a unicycle with oil, which is the most volatile of the three.”

Oil production is projected to increase 14 percent from levels in 2015, bringing the state a 9 percent increase in oil severance tax, but that income might not be reliable, he said.

“Oil production could rise and offset some of the declines,” Godby said. “The problem is oil is still the most difficult commodity to forecast for, and as the transportation industry moves away from fossil fuels in the future, it will become even more volatile.”

China is one of the two largest oil consumers in the world, and the coronavirus epidemic has “slowed their economy to a crawl,” decreasing their energy demand, Godby said.

“This is why gas prices at the pump are so low,” he explained. “Oil prices right now are really low, because demand has dropped.”

Industry Leader: Wyoming Uranium Industry on ‘Its Death Bed’

in Energy/News
Uranium
3061

By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

A potential addition to President Donald Trump’s budget for the purchase of domestic uranium might not be enough to save Wyoming’s uranium mining operations, an industry leader said.

“The uranium market has been extremely depressed for a number of years,” said John Cash, Ur-Energy’s vice president of regulatory affairs. “So much so that is not profitable to sell into that market at this point.”

After speaking with White House adviser Larry Kudlow, Gov. Mark Gordon recently announced the president is slated to add $150 million to his budget for replenishing the nation’s military supply of uranium.

But Cash said even if the funds were approved, new uranium enrichment facilities would need to be built, which could take up to 10 years — precious time the industry might not have.

“The uranium industry is on its death bed,” said Cash, whose company operates a uranium mine in south-central Wyoming. “We’re already shutting down most everything. We can’t wait any longer.”

Domestic market

Wyoming leads the nation in uranium production with about 665,000 pounds produced in 2018, which was about 78 percent of America’s production, the Wyoming Mining Association (WMA) reported.

Unfortunately, Cash said that production was down to about 200,000 pounds in 2019.

“At one time, the U.S. produced 30 million pounds of uranium a year,” he said.

RELATED: Wyoming radio personality Glenn Woods explores former uranium town Jeffrey City

Humans have used uranium for centuries in products such as paint pigments, but today, most uranium is used to generate electricity at nuclear power plants. 

Militaries use uranium to create high-density, armor-piercing projectiles, armor plating for tanks and to power naval vessels. 

On the civilian side, uranium radioisotopes are used in smoke detectors and ballasts for yachts and airplanes, according to the WMA. 

The U.S. is home to 98 nuclear power reactors and houses the world’s largest fleet of nuclear-powered naval vessels, but Cash said the nation doesn’t produce enough uranium to power even one nuclear reactor for more than a few months.

“America’s nuclear reactors consume about 50 million pounds of uranium each year,” he said. “Each one of those requires about 500,000 pounds of uranium a year to operate.”

Flooding the market

Uranium is most commonly sold as the compound U3O8 and fetches about $25 a pound on the global market, WMA Executive Director Travis Deti said. 

“The problem is a pound costs about $35 to $45 to produce here in Wyoming,” Deti explained. “Countries like Russia, China and Kazakhstan have basically flooded the market with cheap uranium, because they don’t have the same regulations American companies do, and their operations are heavily subsidized by their governments. They’ve effectively driven the U.S. out of the domestic market.”

Further complicating the issue is the fact the uranium potentially purchased for military use by the U.S. if Trump’s budget addition is funded would need to be converted and enriched. 

“It all starts off the same when we mine it and process it into yellowcake, or U3O8,” Cash said. “From there it has to be converted into UF6 uranium hexaflouride. The U.S. has only one conversion facility in Metropolis, Illinois. And that facility shut down in 2017.”

After conversion, the uranium is enriched to increase its concentration of the isotope uranium-235, needed to sustain a chain reaction. 

The natural concentration of uranium-235 in ore is usually less than 1 percent.

For commercial nuclear reactors, the uranium-235 content needs to be about 4.5 percent, for military applications, it needs to be above 90 percent.

“We have no domestic enrichment facilities anymore,” Cash said. “At this point, we have no physical structure (in the U.S.) to enrich uranium for our military.”

One uranium enrichment facility does exist in New Mexico, but it is owned by foreign governments, which are legally prohibited from enriching uranium for U.S. military uses, Cash explained.

“The story is there is effectively no uranium mining in the U.S. — the numbers in 2020 will be near zero — our one conversion plant is shut down and we have no enrichment facilities at all,” he said. “Our ability to supply our military or nuclear power plant fleet domestically is gone.” 

Congressional efforts

In 2018, Ur-Energy and Energy Fuels, another uranium producer, asked the U.S. Commerce Department to investigate the effects of foreign-owned firms’ uranium imports on America’s national security.

In support of the request, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso led congressional efforts to press for the investigation, a spokesman for a Senate committee said in an email.

When the Commerce Department determined the imports did pose a threat to national security, President Trump created the Nuclear Fuel Working Group to look into uranium producers and the nuclear energy industry.

Serving as chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Barrasso was among several Republican senators who sent a letter to Kudlow calling for the Nuclear Fuel Working Group to help America’s uranium producers, EPW Communications Director Mike Danylak wrote.

“Barrasso has been personally engaged with the White House throughout the Nuclear Fuel Working Group’s process to highlight the important role uranium mining plays in Wyoming,” Danylak said. “Maintaining a vibrant American uranium industry is a critical economic issue in Wyoming and a vital national and energy security issue for our entire country.”

With help from Barrasso and the Trump administration, uranium could make a comeback, but Cash said the industry will need time.

“At $150 million a year, that could support about 2.5 million pounds of uranium production annually,” he said. “It’s likely Wyoming mines would get a pretty good percentage of that.”

But with no conversion or enrichment facilities available, the U.S. would need to purchase and store the uranium.

“I think what would happen is the conversion facility would be incentivized to open back up and convert the uranium, so it could be stored,” Cash speculated. “And it would need to be stored until an enrichment facility could be built.”

Without the revenue from annual purchases, Cash said the U.S. uranium industry would collapse before an enrichment facility could be built. 

Deti said the president’s budget addition could revive Wyoming’s uranium operations, but nothing is set in stone.

“We haven’t passed a budget in this country for years,” he explained. “Where the rubber hits the road is whether Congress authorizes and appropriates the money. It’s a good step in the right direction, but we’ll have to see if Congress follows up.”

Energy Development Part of Complex Problem in Wyo Mule Deer Decline

in Energy/News/wildlife
2778

By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

Research indicates energy development played a role in declining mule deer populations, but it’s only one part of a complex problem, a University of Wyoming researcher said.

“When mule deer are present on winter range, we tend to see movement away from energy development,” said Kevin Monteith, a UW assistant professor of natural resource science. “And, when they are near development they tend to be more vigilant and less interested in feeding. I wouldn’t say (energy developments) are the primary factor of declining populations, but with certainty, I can say they are contributing factors.”

In a draft plan for mitigating Chronic Wasting Disease, Wyoming Game and Fish reported the state’s mule deer populations are down about 40 percent since the 1970’s, and for years, researchers across Wyoming have tried to answer the question of why.

Working through the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Monteith’s team researches how large ungulates such as deer, moose and pronghorn interact with their habitat. 

Using data collected since the 1990s, Monteith and fellow researchers were able to determine deer traveling from their winter range to their summer range ate less than usual when traveling near oil and gas well pads. 

“We’ve known for sometime that deer tended to avoid energy development on winter range,” Monteith said. “But on the surface, there wasn’t a great connection between that behavior and the population declines.”

From 2015 to 2017, Monteith gathered data on mule deer in the Upper Green River Basin with the intent of drilling down on the connection between habitat usage, energy development and population flux. 

The study did not yield a definitive connection, but rather expanded on the scientific community’s understanding of mule deer behavioral patterns near well pads. 

“We tend to see (the deer) are not making as complete use of food on land near energy development as they are in other places,” Monteith said. “Food is that ultimate building block. If we lose food on the landscape, we would expect a population decline to occur thereafter.” 

In response to his research, many people pointed out an abundance of deer traveling near developed areas.

“These results are not counter to those observations,” Monteith said. “Our results are not saying the animals we monitored were never next to a well pad. They absolutely were.” 

But after comparing all the places they lived throughout the winter, his team determined the deer didn’t eat as much when near to energy developments.

Gadget science

Much of Monteith’s work is made possible by advances in GPS technology since the turn of the century, said Hall Sawyer, a wildlife biologist who published research papers with Monteith in 2017 and 2019.

“There’s two tools that have certainly revolutionized the way in which we collect animal movement data,” Sawyer said.

The first is GPS tracking collars. 

Sawyer conducts research similar to Monteith’s, but for the private sector through Western Ecosystems Technology (WEST), Inc., based in Laramie.

To help with Monteith’s winter range studies, Sawyer shared data his company collected since the late ’90s.

“GPS collars get better every year,” Sawyer said. “Before GPS, people used VHF collars. You’d have to go out with a big ol’ antenna and listen for an animal.”

The results were varied, and at times, inaccurate, he said.

“Fifteen years ago, we had collars that could collect a couple hundred locations and would last about six months,” Sawyer said. “Nowadays, we have collars that can collect locations every hour, 24 hours a day for several years at a time.”

The second significant advancement is the use of helicopters and net guns to capture animals prior to collaring.

“The challenging part is you have to put those collars on the animals,” Sawyer explained. “Before helicopter-net gunning, the techniques were really labor intensive and not very efficient.” 

With the help of these advancements, wildlife research entered a new era of understanding animal behavior.

“If you’re going to manage any wildlife population you need to understand when and why animals move,” Sawyer explained.

What’s next?


While neither Sawyer’s nor Monteith’s research determined energy development played a primary role in mule deer population declines, it will serve to educate the scientific community and help wildlife managers mitigate potential damage future developments could cause, Monteith said.

“The hope is this sort of research can help wildlife managers make more informed decisions,” he said, explaining managers have to sign off on development permits. “The unknowns and uncertainty can create tension between different groups.”

Speculation can slow or even halt the permit process, causing problems between the permitting authority and the applicant. With an in-depth analysis of cause and effect in hand, Monteith said he hopes his research can benefit everyone involved in the energy development process.

The field work on winter range may be complete, but the research continues, he said. Monteith is currently working to publish another paper related to his findings.

“Now that we understand the effects, the next step is to develop better strategies for habitat management,” he explained. 

Sawyer said the research conducted by WEST, UW and the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit helped developers create a pipeline for liquid waste removal which reduced herd disturbance. And the studies showed directional drilling from a single well pad also mitigated some of the unproductive behaviors exhibited by mule deer near well pads.

“Directional drilling multiple wells from a single pad and liquid gathering systems are really good practices,” Sawyer said. “But while they help minimize disturbances, they do not eliminate them.”

Wyoming, Montana to Sue Over Coal Export Terminal

in Energy/News
2767

By Bob Geha, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming and Montana will join forces to sue the state of Washington over its refusal to allow the construction of a coal export terminal, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Tuesday.

Gordon, during a news conference, said the two states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether Washington’s decision to block construction of the Millennium Coal Export Terminal amounts to a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Specifically, Wyoming and Montana officials feel Washington’s decision violated the Interstate Commerce clause, which gives only the federal government the authority to regulate the flow of goods between states, Gordon said.

“This case is about the right of states to conduct commerce,” Gordon said. “A question as old as our Constitution. In the case of Washington state’s actions, we believe Washington has offended that right and we seek to restore all the rights afforded to the states by our Constitution.

The coal port terminal, seen as a way to provide Wyoming coal with access to overseas markets, was rejected by Washington officials under terms of the Clean Water Act.

However, Gordon said Washington’s actions amount to an embargo coal from Montana and Wyoming mines.

“In denying the Millennium Bulk Coal Terminal, Washington officials used political considerations to block our ability to export one of our state’s greatest natural resources,” he said. “Using this same logic and tactics, Washington could block access to foreign markets for almost any product we or any other state might wish to export.”

Gordon also said Washington refused to let the company proposing the terminal address the state’s concerns.

“In effect, Washington’s actions indicated there was no way way, no how that Washington would work with the applicant,” he said. “The state just didn’t want the project to export commodities from the interior West and was willing to use any tactic it could find to make sure.”

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