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High Country Fabrication

A fabricator grinds down welds on a project on recently at High Country Fabrication in Casper. The business expects to see their costs rise as a result of the presidents recent call for tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, some of which can only be bought overseas. 

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

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Last week in numbers

Friday oil prices: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) $62.12, Brent (ICE) $65.55

Natural gas weekly averages: Henry Hub $2.7, Wyoming Pool $2.3, Opal $2.34

Baker Hughes rig count: U.S. 984, Wyoming 31

Quote of the Week

“There is a risk to his entire energy agenda, energy dominance, national security, if the steel tariffs have the effect of suppressing the development of U.S. oil and natural gas."

-- Lee Fuller, vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America on the steel and aluminum tariffs 

Surprise, the methane fight is not over. Wyoming, and other industry states, asked a district court in Wyoming to consider staying compliance on the contested rules. The court agreed. In the meantime the rules are in effect until the Interior Department rewrites them -- revised rule expected in the next few months.

Oil and gas improvements have soothed the taught nerves in Wyoming, but what the job numbers look like since the start of the year is not yet clear. In the meantime, the economy continues to distance itself from the bottom of the bust with more spending, more tax dollars.

A coal company has succeeded in changing zoning, rarely a small feat in Wyoming, from agricultural to industrial in Sheridan County. Ramaco Wyoming Coal Company wants to build a coal research and manufacturing center on its land. The firm's push to open a coal mine has been tangled up in red tape for years now, most recently the mine plan was deemed insufficient on a number of environmental concerns raised by landowners and sent back for improvements. 

The iconic bird that troubles the West is back in the news because the BLM apparently missed more than 100,000 public comments in favor of sage grouse protections. If you've forgotten why sage grouse matter in Wyoming, here's a helpful guide with the main points

It seems the oil and gas industry will not get a tax break on production. Proposed by Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, the cut in taxes on the third and fourth year of production was meant to entice industry to the Cowboy State. Detractors said it was a strategy built to fail. The bill made it through the Senate, but failed in the House. 

In other news, Baker Hughes reported the first drop in the oil rig count in seven weeks, by seven, but a rise in gas rigs.

The Bureau of Land Management is beginning the process of reevaluating the emissions impact of large coal leases near Wright. The Obama administration oversaw some of the largest coal leases in history on federal lands, but these four lease in Wyoming stoked pushback from environmental groups. In short, the bureau judged that the amount of carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal that was dug from these leases would not increase. If the coal wasn't dug in Wright, it would be dug up and burned elsewhere. A court disagreed and now the BLM has to go back and set their records straight. Either way, production continues in the Powder River Basin. One of the leases was withdrawn, but production has already begun on some of the leases. 

Don't forget, next week our podcast will be up, a quick take on the large Converse County oil and gas project that's in the wings. If you missed last month's pod, have a listen. It's about an interesting, but challenging push from a small town mayor to save a coal-fired power plant. 

Follow energy reporter Heather Richards on Twitter @hroxaner


Energy Reporter

Heather Richards writes about energy and the environment. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, she moved to Wyoming in 2015 to cover natural resources and government in Buffalo. Heather joined the Star Tribune later that year.

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