Tag archive

Wyoming PBS

Barrasso: Trump Administration Definitely Focusing On Science

in News/Coronavirus/politics

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso dismissed any notions that President Donald Trump’s administration doesn’t listen to scientists, saying White House officials are “definitely” focusing on science in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The senator appeared on PBS News Hour this week to discuss various topics, from the Trump administration to the Republican National Convention.

Host Judy Woodruff referenced Trump’s recent touting of using blood plasma as a potential coronavirus treatment, noting scientists urged him and other White House officials to not say that, as there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove the theory yet.

When she asked the physician/senator if Trump was listening to science, Barrasso laughed.

“Science is being focused on, which is why so much effort is being done in coming up with a vaccine,” he said.

He added that the coronavirus vaccine would be the fastest vaccine development in history.

Woodruff also questioned Barrasso’s opinion on what the president’s responsibilities were and should be when it comes to a pandemic.

Barrasso said President Donald Trump was acting boldly earlier this year when he shut down travel between the United States and China, where the coronavirus originated.

He also pointed out that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized Trump’s actions for shutting down travel, even though the virus was proven to be originated in China.

Barrasso added the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed with coronavirus testing in the early days of the pandemic, but then said the CDC’s performance had improved over the months, with more than 72 million coronavirus tests completed as of late August.

He then criticized New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, noting the most coronavirus-related deaths in the United States have occurred in New York.

“We know that the governor of New York let people go, with the disease, from the hospital back to nursing homes,” he said. “We can always do better. As a doctor, I will tell you, we’re still learning a lot about this disease.”

However, Barrasso said he was hearing from fellow Republicans and Wyomingites that they want a path forward from the coronavirus that allows them to go back to work and get the disease in the “rearview mirror.”

Barrasso again criticized Pelosi before ending his appearance, saying she wanted to pass a bill over the weekend relating to the United States Postal Service but “unrelated to jobs, the needs of the American people, trying to get kids back to school or the vaccine.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming filmmaker looks at plan to use nukes in fracking

in Energy/News/Community
Atomic Fracking in Wyoming

By Seneca Flowers, Cowboy State Daily

A Wyoming filmmaker will soon share the results of several years of document research and interviews to tell a story many people have never even heard of—atomic fracking.

Greg Asay’s documentary “Atomic Fracking in Wyoming: The Story of Project Wagon Wheel” is a visual exploration into a slice of Wyoming history often forgotten. It will air on Wyoming PBS on Nov. 19.

Asay originally learned about Project Wagon Wheel while he attended law school. It was the story of how atomic fracking was nearly put into practice in Wyoming, and it ignited his interest.

After law school, while working in Cheyenne, Asay found time to go to Laramie to explore the forgotten history of atomic fracking in the state.

He spent about two years rifling through various boxes in the American Heritage Center searching for anything that gave him clues, examining thousands of historic documents.

“The whole thing was so gradual,” Asay said. “I just kept getting a little bit more and then, a little bit more.”

He eventually discovered about 2,000 photos and a slew of documents. He journaled his findings. As much as he enjoyed the process, there were times when he had to take breaks—up to months. But he always went back. 

Eventually, after nearly exhausting his search, he stumbled upon the last box that would hold the cornerstone of his video—eight original audio interviews of people directly involved with the project recorded by writer Chip Rawlins. These cassettes would begin to tell the story of atomic fracking in Wyoming.

After World War II, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission explored peaceful and useful ways to expand the use of nuclear energy in the United States. In cooperation with El Paso Natural Gas Company, the commission used nuclear explosives to extract natural gas from sandstone formations at test sites in New Mexico and Colorado in the 1960s and ‘70s, Asay said. These tests were to play a large role in the company’s gas extraction future.

When El Paso Natural Gas wanted to conduct tests 19 miles south of Big Piney at the Wagon Wheel site, some community members held a meeting to discuss the project and learn more. The town hall meeting drew about 1,000 people to the town with just a few more than 500 residents.

Some of the residents assumed if the government was part of the project, it was probably safe; but some community members weren’t so trusting, said Ann Chambers Noble.

Noble is a historian who included a chapter about Project Wagon Wheel in her book “Pinedale, Wyoming: A Centennial History, 1904-2004.” Not only has she researched the topic in-depth, but she also remembers first-hand how the town had concerns for the nuclear fracking. In her middle school years, while the project was under consideration, she and her family would spend summers in Pinedale. She noted area residents were curious as to what atomic fracking would truly mean to them.

In 1971, locals formed an exploratory group called the Wagon Wheel Information Committee to learn more about how the El Paso Natural Gas Company would extract the gas. The committee was comprised of non-experts, such as ranchers, looking to understand more about the process, Asay said. 

After learning more about the project, members the committee began to feel uneasy about it. By 1972, area residents opposed the project by a 2-to-1 margin as tallied by a local straw poll, according to Asay.

Eventually, the controversy and delays caused by the committee’s work quelled support for the project.

Asay kept researching the committee’s journey and how members helped stop a potentially dangerous practice in their community. His narrative, actually the community’s narrative, began to take its first crude form. During the process, Asay found Noble’s book and contacted her.

Noble said she wasn’t sure what to think of his inquiry at first.

“You get a lot of these random emails as a historian,” she said. “and Greg sent me a cold email.”

At first she didn’t think much of it, but Noble said she began corresponding with him. It wasn’t until she realized Asay fully grasped the significance of the committee that she began to take him seriously. She shared with him photos and stories, which became part of the final version. Eventually, Asay shared his first rough cut of the video with her — nearly two and one-half hours, he said.

Noble reviewed a draft of the film and gave feedback to Asay. She said he really tried to achieve a correct depiction of the community and include subtle but accurate details. He wanted his film to be the community’s story.

“I love what he did,” Noble said. “I feel he really captured the story.”

Asay said he went through a couple of edits before finally polishing the 60-minute product that will soon air on PBS.

The story has become a part of Asay, One that he is compelled to share even on the road.

“There’s a turnoff near Pinedale,” Asay said. “I always point to it.”

Atomic Fracking in Wyoming: The Story of Project Wagon Wheel” airs on Wyoming PBS Nov. 19.

Go to Top