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Chesapeake Gas Drilling

A Trinidad Drilling rig leased by Chesapeake Energy bores a natural gas well in Converse County north of Douglas.

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Last week in numbers

Friday oil prices: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) $59.04 Brent (ICE) 67.03

Natural gas weekly averages: Henry Hub $2.85, Wyoming Pool $2.69, Opal $2.73

Baker Hughes rig count: U.S. 1,016, Wyoming 36 

Quote of the Week

“It’s a well-worn adage at this point that for roughly every $3,000 that a family of four pays in taxes, they get about $30,000 in … benefits, from the mineral industry. We obviously as a state have to recognize that.”

Gov. Mark Gordon on Wyoming's need to consider how its tax structure contributes to mineral reliance

New taxes?

Gov. Mark Gordon said in a press conference Thursday that he was disappointed the Legislature reversed course on potential sources of revenue aside from taxing the mineral industries in Wyoming, despite the topic receiving attention throughout the session. 

The governor also said he would call on Endow, the group formed as part of a long-term economic diversification effort, to perform a tax structure comparison of Wyoming and other states. Wyoming needs to take a realistic look at its mineral dependence, Gordon said.

Court's rebuke of Wyoming oil and gas

In a story that gained traction nationally, a Washington D.C. district court judge has blocked potential development on about 300,000 acres of Wyoming land that had been leased to oil and gas companies.

The leases were granted during the Obama administration. 

The stay on drilling is temporary. The Bureau of Land Management has been instructed to evaluate the climate change effects of leasing the parcels -- a precursor to potential mineral development on the federally managed land in the West. A similar decision was made after environmental groups sued regarding Wyoming coal leases under the Obama administration, which a judge also ruled had failed to appropriately examine and note the leases' impact on climate change.

Environmental groups hope the court has set a precedent for requiring calculation of how fossil fuel development contributes to climate change. The decision could have implications for all oil and gas leases, current and future, on federal land or intersecting federal minerals. 

The Boulder problem

An ozone monitor in Boulder, a small community in the Upper Green River Basin, has picked up consistent ozone spikes this season

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has forecast more than a dozen ozone action days -- days when oil and gas firms institute preventative measures to cut emissions that contribute to ground-level ozone formation. 

It's a record number of ozone days in recent years, but only in Boulder where a handful of large oil and gas firms are active, is ozone consistently climbing above safe levels. 

State regulators said they are looking into the Boulder case, unsure yet why the area is spiking and what implications it has for practices to prevent ozone in the future. 

Wyoming coal trouble to persist

The report from the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis argues that the PRB of Wyoming and Montana is at the greatest risk in this transition. 

Coal port denials

In an official letter explaining his veto of a coal legislation bill,  the governor repeated his argument that he opposed Wyoming's Legislature and the state Attorney General's office overlapping in their legal approaches to a blocked coal port development on the Washington coast. 

The bills proponents have argued that an overlap would not happen and that the bill allows the Legislature to sue following the closure of the current case against Washington. 

Fee deterrent

Wyoming environmental regulators have encountered the first public records requests likely to exceed the estimated cost cap before fees kick in, and in one case those fees deterred the group seeking records. 

The Powder River Basin Resource Council, one of the most active citizens groups tracking the state's environmental department, dropped one of two records requests filed with the DEQ after receiving and estimate that it would cost $1,000.

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Follow energy reporter Heather Richards on Twitter @hroxaner

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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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