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Wyoming Teams Up With MIT to Explore Energy and Climate Solutions

in Energy/News

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Representatives from the Wyoming Governor’s Office, University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources, and Wyoming Energy Authority are exploring future avenues for collaboration with faculty and researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to strengthen Wyoming’s energy economy while lowering CO2 emissions

“This moment in time presents us with an opportunity to seize: creating a strong economic future for the people of Wyoming while protecting something we all care about—the climate,” said Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon. “Wyoming has tremendous natural resources that create thousands of high-paying jobs. This conversation with MIT allows us to consider how we use our strengths and adapt to the changes that are happening nationally and globally.” 

The two dozen participants from Wyoming and MIT discussed pathways for long-term economic growth in Wyoming, given the global need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The wide-ranging and detailed conversation covered topics such as the future of carbon capture technology, hydrogen, and renewable energy; using coal for materials and advanced manufacturing; climate policy; and how communities can adapt and thrive in a changing energy marketplace.

The discussion paired MIT’s global leadership in technology development, economic modeling and low-carbon energy research, with Wyoming’s unique competitive advantages: its geology that provides vast underground storage potential for CO2; its existing energy and pipeline infrastructure; and the tight bonds between business, government and academia.

“Wyoming’s small population and statewide support of energy technology development is an advantage,” says Holly Krutka, executive director of the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources. “Government, academia and industry work very closely together here to scale up technologies that will benefit the state and beyond. We know each other, so we can get things done and get them done quickly.”

“There’s strong potential for MIT to work with the state of Wyoming on technologies that could not only benefit the state, but also the country and rest of the world as we combat the urgent crisis of climate change,” says Bob Armstrong, director of the MIT Energy Initiative, who attended the forum. “It’s a very exciting conversation.”

The event was convened by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative as part of its Here & Real project, which works with regions in the U.S. to help further initiatives that are both climate-friendly and economically just.

“At MIT, we are focusing our attention on technologies that combat the challenge of climate change—but also, with an eye toward not leaving people behind,” says Prof. Maria Zuber, MIT Vice President for Research.

“It is inspiring to see Wyoming’s state leadership seriously committed to finding solutions for adapting the energy industry, given what we know about the risks of climate change,” says Laur Hesse Fisher, director of the Here & Real project. “Their determination to build an economically and environmentally sound future for the people of Wyoming has been evident in our discussions, and I am excited to see this conversation continue and deepen.”

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No Response (Yet) To Wyoming’s Bid On Occidental Land

in Mark Gordon/News

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

State officials have received no response to their bid on more than 1 million acres of private land in southern Wyoming, an official said Monday.

Michael Pearlman, a spokesman for Gov. Mark Gordon, said Occidental Petroleum has not reached out to the state since the bid was submitted in early July.

“I can tell you … that we have not had any communication from Occidental since we submitted our bid,” he said in an email.

The state’s top elected officials, meeting as the State Loan and Investment Board, decided on July 6 to authorize Gordon, Treasurer Curt Meier and the state’s chief investment officer to submit a bid for the land now owned by Occidental. The group was also given the authority to bid on 4 million acres of mineral rights also held by Occidental.Occidental has said other entities have expressed an interest in bidding for the land.

If the bid is accepted, it will signal the start of negotiations over the land’s actual purchase, Gordon and Meier have said.

The actual purchase will also be preceded by public hearings on the deal to be held at various locations around the state.

If the state decides to purchase the land, the money will come from its investment funds.

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Grizzly Euthanized After Killing Cattle

in Grizzly Bear Attacks/News

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A grizzly bear was euthanized after killing a cow on private land in Montana last week.

According to a news release from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the adult male bear was captured shortly after it killed the cow on July 29. In consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the decision was made to euthanize the bear due to this depredation and past livestock kills in the area.

Relocating bears safely at this time of year is difficult due to many factors, including high bear densities, heavy recreation use and other land usage in nearby areas, the department said.

This is the second management removal of a grizzly bear this year within the demographic monitoring area of Montana’s portion of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 

The first grizzly bear removed in this area in 2020 was captured and transferred to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone after gaining access to food at campgrounds in the Rainbow Point area.

Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Several grizzly bear recovery areas exist in or near Montana, including the Selkirk, Cabinet-Yaak, Northern Continental Divide, Bitterroot and Greater Yellowstone ecosystems.

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Wyoming Records 40 New Coronavirus Cases; 609 Active

in Coronavirus/News

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Editor’s Note: This is a map of the active coronavirus cases in each county across Wyoming. The number of active cases is determined by subtracting the total number of recoveries seen since the illness first reached Wyoming in mid-March from the total number of confirmed and probable cases diagnosed during the same time period and taking into account deaths related to the disease.

The number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming stood at 609, a decline of two from Sunday, according to Wyoming Department of Health figures.

The drop is due to an increase of 41 in the number of patients to have recovered from laboratory-confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus since mid-March and came despite the reporting of 40 new cases in 11 counties.

Laramie County had the highest number of active cases in the state as of Monday, 127; Fremont County had 111; Teton County had 58; Carbon had 54; Uinta had 45; Park had 38; Albany had 34; Sheridan and Sweetwater had 25; Lincoln and Natrona had 23; Campbell had 18; Goshen and Sublette had eight; Big Horn and Washakie had four; Converse had two, and Hot Springs and Weston had one.

Crook, Johnson, Niobrara and Platte counties had no active cases.

According to Department of Health figures, 504 active cases were reported in people with confirmed cases of the illness, while 105 were seen in patients with probable cases.

Active cases are determined by adding the total confirmed and probable coronavirus cases diagnosed since the illness first surfaced in Wyoming on March 12, subtracting the number of recoveries during the same period among patients with both confirmed and probable cases and taking into account the number of deaths attributed to the illness.

Also on Monday, the number of laboratory-confirmed cases seen since mid-March increased by 31 to total 2,364, while the number of probable cases seen since the pandemic began grew by nine to total 484.

A probable case is defined as one where the patient has coronavirus symptoms and has been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case, but has not been tested for the illness.

The increase in recoveries means of the 2,848 people diagnosed with either laboratory-confirmed or probable coronavirus cases since mid-March, 2,214 have recovered.

The recoveries include 1,835 among people with confirmed cases and 379 among those with probable cases.

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Sixteen Wyoming Residents Sickened By Tainted Onions

in News

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

At least 16 Wyoming residents have been sickened by eating red onions infected with salmonella, the Wyoming Department of Health announced Monday.

The department urged residents to avoid onions distributed by Thomson International Inc. in the face of the salmonella outbreak that has affected at least 396 people in 34 states.

Thomson is recalling all of its onions, regardless of color, from all states.

“People ill in connection this outbreak described eating raw onions in freshly prepared foods, including salads, wraps, salsas and dips,” said Tiffany Greenlee, surveillance epidemiologist with the Department of Health.

Greenlee recommended that people look through their refrigerators and kitchens for the tainted onions or any food made with the onions as an ingredient and discard all onions with Thomson International stickers. If it is unclear where an onion came from, it should be thrown away as well, Greenlee said.

Surfaces that may have been in contact with onions or their packaging, such as countertops and knives, should also be washed and sanitized, Greenlee said.

The symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps that usually surface six hours to six days after exposure to the bacteria. The Health Department said the illness lasts for four to seven days and most people recover without treatment.

Children under the age of 5 and adults 65 and order and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have more severe symptoms, the department said.

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Gordon Grants 180-Day Extension For Expired Drivers Licenses

in Coronavirus/Mark Gordon/News

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Good news if your drivers license has expired in the last few months: You have additional time to get it renewed.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation announced on Monday that Gov. Mark Gordon has signed a 180-day grace period which will give residents more time to get it done.

The extension, which applies to credentials expiring between March 15, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2020, allows members of high-risk groups to wait to renew.

“We are open for business and encourage people that can, to come in and renew their driver license prior to their expiration date.  However, we realize our high-risk citizens, those with underlying health conditions and those who are older, may want to take advantage of this extension so they remain safe,” said Misty Dobson, WYDOT’s Driver Services program manager.

What if you get pulled over for a traffic infraction?

WYDOT advises those who have an expired license to go to its website to download and print the 180-day grace period letter and take it with them.

Word of caution: The grace period letter may not work for other transactions which require proof of identification.

One Cowboy State Daily reader said his banking transaction was not allowed because his drivers license had expired.

One other cautionary note: If you are flying soon, it would be advantageous to get your drivers license updated as TSA agents are notorious sticklers for proper identification.

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JCPenney Places Original Kemmerer Store Up For Auction

in Business/News

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Department store chain J.C. Penney Co. has placed its original store in Kemmerer up for auction, according to Forbes.

The company filed for bankruptcy in May and was given until the end of July to formulate a business plan that would appease the court and its own creditors.

On Friday, the company released that plan, known as the “JCPenney Disposition Portfolio.” The document listed 142 leased locations and 21 company-owned stores that are scheduled for a mid-September auction. These locations were targeted for closure to help facilitate the company’s sale as part of the court proceedings.

The Kemmerer store was one of the 21 company-owned locations listed for auction. Forbes stated that the store will likely be liquidated and sold after the auction.

The Kemmerer location is known as the “Mother Store” and has been in continuous operation since the company’s founding in 1902 by James Cash Penney. When it first opened, the store was known as the “Golden Rule Store.” The building is part retail store, part museum.

The bidding date for the Kemmerer location is Sept. 9. Forbes couldn’t find a particular reason for the company’s officials deciding to auction the store, and representatives were also unable to provide further details on it.

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Three Hot Air Balloons Crash in Teton County — Injured Taken to Hospitals

in News
Screen capture

Twelve people were hospitalized in Wyoming on Monday after three hot air balloon crashes.

Drone video from the Jackson Hole News & Guide shows the downed balloons in the Teton Village area.

Jackson Hole Fire Chief Brady Hansen said the hot air balloons carrying a total of 36 people crashed into the ground.

Hansen told CNN that shortly after 8am, three sightseeing balloons had gone down near the foothills of the Teton Village Resort Community.

One person was seriously injured in the mishap and was flown to a hospital in Eastern Idaho while five others were driven to St. John’s Hospital in Jackson.

One balloon rider told the newspaper it was difficult to stay onboard during the upheaval.

“We were desperately trying not to fall out. It was lifting us up and slamming us back down again,” the individual said.

Teton County Sheriff Matt Carr told the Associated Press that the balloons were owned by the same company and went down separately.

He said weather likely contributed to the crashes.

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ABC Releases Teasers For C.J. Box TV Show, “Big Sky”

in Good news/News

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

ABC recently released two teasers for “Big Sky,” the series based on Wyoming author C.J. Box’s Cassie Dewell novels.

The teasers were released Sunday on YouTube and on the show’s official Twitter account. Each video is 15 seconds long.

One teaser shows shots of the Montana landscape while viewers hear a radio announcement from the fictional AM radio station 790 when suddenly the soundtrack is disrupted by gunshots.

The second teaser features a woman narrating, again with images of Montana, ending with a person running through the woods.

“They say Montana is like no place on Earth,” the woman (likely Cassie Dewell) says. “People come here to relax, unwind or even just…disappear.”

The show is being created by TV writer and producer David E. Kelley, who has also created shows such as “Big Little Lies,” “Boston Legal,” “Ally McBeal” and “Mr. Mercedes.” Kelley will write multiple episodes and serve as the showrunner for the first season.

Box will act as an executive producer on the series.

The show will focus on private detectives Cassie Dewell and Cody Hoyt, who team up with Cody’s estranged wife, Jenny, to search for two sisters who have been kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote road in Montana. The detectives soon find out those aren’t the only girls who have disappeared, beginning a race against time to stop the killer.

The cast will inculde Kylie Bunbury as Cassie Dewell, Katheryn Winnick as Jenny Hoyt and Ryan Phillippe as Cody Hoyt.

“(The television series will) be dark and scary,” Box said in an interview in February. “A lot of people who have read it say it is one of the creepiest things they’ve ever read. The pilot I read scared me, even though I knew what was going to happen.”

The series is set to premiere later this year and has already been ordered for a full first season.

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Wyoming Lands In Middle Of Ranking For Best, Worst States For Health Care

in Health care/News
Doctor Shortage in Wyoming; “Almost Impossible to Recruit”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming landed right around the midpoint in a recent ranking of the best and worst states for health care in the nation by personal finance site WalletHub.

Wyoming was ranked 31st in the list, just between Indiana (30) and Oregon (32). It ranked lower due to a near last-place ranking for its number of doctors per capita (coming in at number 50, just above Idaho), and having some of the highest average monthly insurance premiums, tying at number 48 with Vermont, Iowa and West Virginia.

However, Wyoming did rank third when it came to having the most dentists per capita, just behind the District of Columbia and Vermont, respectively.

Massachusetts was considered the best state for health care, while Georgia was considered the worst.

To determine where Americans receive the best and worst health care, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 44 measures of cost, accessibility and outcome. According to the website, the average American spends more than $11,000 per year on personal health care.

According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the U.S. lags behind several other wealthy nations on several measures, such as health coverage, life expectancy and disease burden, which measures longevity and quality of life. However, the U.S. has improved in providing healthcare access for people in poor health and healthcare cost growth has slowed somewhat.

“Most buyers of health insurance tend to focus on identifying health plans with the lowest price; and typically, are not concerned with the level of coverage,” Virginia Commonwealth University professor R. Timothy Stack told WalletHub. “My recommendation is to pay the extra premium for a health plan that offers a broad network coverage of providers. Consumers, especially younger ones, believe they would not experience a life-threatening medical condition during their life whereby accessing a medical expert is critical. This type of coverage could benefit them medically as well as financially. “

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