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Energy Journal

The definitive podcast on the energy industry in Wyoming and the West, brought to you by the Casper Star-Tribune.

Episode 11: A developing Powder

In this back-to-basics episode of the Energy Journal podcast, reporter Heather Richards sits down with long time geologist in the Wyoming oil and gas industry, Jimmy Goolsby, to talk about Wyoming's Powder River Basin. 
The takeaway? The Powder may not offer off the charts wells, but the results are very good and improving as the longtime basin in Wyoming's backyard continues to get more attention. 

Episode 10: Turning on the lights

A special week for the Energy Journal podcast, episode 10 features a class of energy and policy students from the University of Michigan digging in on state issues. From why Wyomingites don't jump up and down for wind to whether President Donald Trump can indeed bring back coal jobs, the students covered some of the most pressing topics in Wyoming energy today.  (Note for parents: there is some cursing in this episode.)

Episode 9: Deep wells: heritage property and oil

The Bureau of Land Management is considering new guidance to deal with tribal consultations on private land where owners want to drill for oil and gas near historic sites. Those back in Wyoming are juggling a debate that is both sensitive and very old — the rights of ranchers, the rights of tribes and the influence of the federal government.

Episode 8: New wind a-blowin

The Vivion family has been ranching in Wyoming for a century. Now the three Vivion sisters run a cattle operation on their property near Sinclair, and they say Rocky Mountain Power's plan to build a transmission line, part of a coming wind buildout in Wyoming, risks a water well in their pasture. Just up the road, the Power Company of Wyoming has begun construction on what could be the largest onshore wind development in the country when done. 
A wind boom is coming to Wyoming, though it's mostly located in a wind alley from central Wyoming down southwest. And the reality is the state isn't of one mind about new wind. There's people like the Vivion sisters who see it impacting them in a very personal way and folks like Bill Miller, President of the Power Company of Wyoming, who have a vision that is part of tripling Wyoming's current wind capacity. 
The interviews in this podcast were edited to drown out the wind and the truck engines, in two drives near Rawlins. 

Episode 7: The new normal of working in coal and hope of a cash cow

Coal has been a stable industry for more than 30 years in Wyoming, but the downturn brought home the pressure on the industry. 1,000 miners lost their jobs and for those who are still working in coal country uncertainty has become commonplace. The industry is still there, but what kind of job does it offer and what kind of future. 
Energy reporter Heather Richards went to coal country at the end of the March, near the two-year anniversary of the biggest layoffs to talk jobs and the future of coal. 

Episode 6: Two energy nerds and a massive oil and gas project

If 5,000 oil and gas wells are drilled in Converse County, what are the impacts of that kind of development? From oil and gas potential in the Powder River Basin to environmental concerns coming to the surface, a continuing series by the Star-Tribune looks into a venture that could bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to central Wyoming. Energy reporter Heather Richards sits down with former reporter Dustin Bleizeffer to talk about the project. He's now the communications director for the Wyoming Outdoor Council, a group weighing in on this development from an environmental perspective.

Episode 5: Saving Dave Johnston

In a world where coal fired power plants are on the decline, the mayor of a small Wyoming town hopes the Dave Johnston power plant can serve a dual purpose and keep a town’s major employer burning.

Episode 4: Whispers of a boom

There are signs of an uptick in oil and gas activity in eastern Wyoming. People are even using the word boom when they consider 2018. And that means different things to different people. In Douglas, where a few years ago the boom was almost too much to handle, people would prefer steady growth. Special thanks to people in Douglas for their help on this story, the county assessor Dixie Huxtable, Purity Oilfield Services and Douglas Upper Elementary School.

Episode 3: Are small wind developers gaming the system

There is a flush of new wind development coming to Wyoming as developers and utilities try to get in before federal tax subsidies sunset. On the coattails of that push are some small developers, companies looking to build wind farms and sell them to large utilities like Rocky Mountain Power. Federal law obliges utilities to buy that power if the farm meets a number of requirements, the first being size. But, for some time now a number of Wyomingites have pushed back on these would be power producers, arguing that they are gaming the federal law, disturbing the western landscape in order to put wind power on the grid that isn't needed. Energy reporter Heather Richards speaks to one such individual, Kenneth Lay of the Northern Laramie Range Alliance. He believes it's time to change the rules.

Episode 2: Can Wyoming's Powder River Basin rival the Bakken

Oil and gas operators say the Powder River Basin could blow up like the Bakken, even at current oil prices. But, a common conflict in Wyoming could slow that down: federal regs. Some want the state to take more control or for more compromise with the feds. Others are concerned about what a boom in the PRB could mean for the environment or local communities. Either way the Powder is getting attention. Energy reporter Heather Richards talks to a local landman, Jarred Kubat, about why the PRB is sparking so much interest and what's at stake for industry. 

Episode 1: How a new Wyoming research center could guide coal's future

The coal market has changed drastically since plans were laid for the Wyoming Integrated Test Center. Now that the carbon capture research facility is about to open its doors, energy reporter Heather Richards checks in with Jason Begger, director of the state infrastructure authority, about how the project can help shape the future of coal.

Subscribe to the Energy Journal podcast on iTunes or Google Play to make sure you don't miss an episode.

(Music credit: Sundown by Josh Woodward)

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