Happy Monday! Note that this will be the last Energy Journal Newsletter for a few weeks as the Star-Tribune seeks a new energy and natural resources reporter. Heather Richards, who covered energy for the Star-Tribune for three years, has taken a position at E&E News in Washington D.C.
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Cloud Peak files for bankruptcy
Wyoming's third-largest coal producer, Cloud Peak Energy, filed for bankruptcy Friday after weeks of treading water on unpaid debt payments. The company, one of the largest employers in coal country, failed to pay about $8.3 million in taxes that were due Friday.
Cloud Peak's bankruptcy follows Westmoreland Coal's bankruptcy in October which cast uncertainty over the local community in southwest Wyoming. Cloud Peak is the first of the large coal firms in the Powder River Basin, in northeast Wyoming, to face crisis in the new normal for coal.
The Chapter 11 filing was expected for some time given the company's poor financial results, thinning margins and falling production. It paid land taxes in Campbell County earlier in the week, but left production taxes unpaid.
In other news...
A liquefied natural gas terminal proposed for the West Coast has been blocked by Oregon regulators who have denied a water permit. The state's refusal echoes similar decisions regarding water certification and energy projects which have irked Wyoming, such as a proposed coal export terminal in Washington.
U.S. uranium production hit a 70-year low in 2018. Wyoming uranium producers have struggled with low prices, beaten out by competitors overseas where production costs are far cheaper.