Two Elk

The site of the Two Elk Energy Park, a northeast Wyoming power plant project that was delayed almost since its inception in 1996, is shown March 26, 2013, near Wright.

Mead Gruver, AP

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This week in numbers

Friday oil prices: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) $49.52, Brent (ICE) $52.38

Natural gas weekly averages: Henry Hub $2.96, Wyoming Pool $2.61, Opal $2.66

Baker Hughes rig count: U.S. 940, Wyoming 26

Lawmakers frustrated by BLM 

The Bureau of Land Management's consideration of viewshed impacts from Native American historic sites has some lawmakers and a number of oil and gas operators frustrated. 

The trouble has only recently come up, which has some wondering why conservative strength in Washington isn't in their favor on the issue. 

The Select Federal Natural Resource Committee meets and Casper next week, and the viewshed is on the agenda. 

EPA awards grant to address leaky storage

The Environmental Protection Agency gives Wyoming money every year to boost the program, which investigates and remediates sites where underground tanks have begun to contaminate the soil or water supply. 

Ruffatto sentencing delayed

Two Elk developer Michael Ruffatto won't be sentenced until October. A court date Friday was pushed back another two months

Ruffatto pleaded guilty last year to defrauding the federal government out of millions of dollars. The Two Elk energy project in Carbon County never materialized though Ruffatto courted state and federal officials for the endeavor over a period of 20 years. 

The prosecution seeks jail time. Ruffatto is 71. 

Sage grouse controversy continues 

Environmental groups say a letter from Western Energy Alliance may point to backdoor favors for industry groups in regard to sage grouse conservation

A report on sage grouse management in the West, made public early this month, included a number of recommendations that the WEA requested in a July letter to the Interior Secretary.

Western Values Project has put in a public records request to analyze communication between industry groups and the Department of the Interior regarding the grouse.  

The oil and gas advocates say they don't have special privileges with the department. 

Game and Fish finishes rules for sage grouse farming

Up to five farms at a time could apply for permits if they meet a list of enclosure and disease control guidelines. Licensed farms will be able to collect 250 wild eggs per year for their experiments. 

Scientists have not been pleased by the state Legislature's decision early this year to allow sage grouse captive breeding in Wyoming, arguing that it is no substitute for aggressive protections of sage grouse's wild habitat.

Still, a handful of people have been persistent in their requests to try it out. The Legislature has given sage grouse breeding a five-year window of opportunity. 

Quote of the week

“Having been at the table for 12 years, to suddenly be on the outside whistling in the dark? That’s the way it was.” 

Brian Rutledge, conservation policy and strategy adviser for the National Audubon Society, about being left out of Secretary Ryan Zinke's sage grouse review


Follow energy reporter Heather Richards on Twitter @hroxaner


Star-Tribune reporter Heather Richards covers Wyoming's energy industry and related issues.

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