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Last week in numbers
Friday oil prices: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) $67.50 Brent (ICE) $76.44
Natural gas weekly averages: Henry Hub $2.83, Wyoming Pool $1.8, Opal $1.83
Baker Hughes rig count: U.S. 1,059, Wyoming 27
Quote of the Week
“The issue is important especially to Wyoming. We can’t underscore that enough because it’s not just our investments and our power plants, but Wyoming communities, (and) our employees that are in those communities.”
-- Jeff Larsen, senior vice president of strategic business planning for Rocky Mountain Power on Oregon pulling out of coal-fired power.
The Oregon threat
Wyoming has never been pleased by other states' opposition to coal, and that stance in West Coast states may put pressure on coal-fired power plants in Wyoming shortly. Oregon is getting out of the coal business, at least its PacifiCorp customers. Unfortunately for Wyoming that means the burden of upkeep on existing coal plants may fall to states like Wyoming, potentially raising utility rates for the average Wyomingite.
Taking over Mead's carbon legacy
As the race for governor moves through Wyoming, the candidates' stance on coal is pretty clear. They support the coal industry. Whether that means fighting legal battles or forging partnerships with other states, the candidates promise they will back the industry. In no small way, that means continuing Gov. Matt Mead's legacy. Mead was the man in charge when the coal sector began its downward slide and has set a certain course on issues like carbon capture and regulations that many candidates say they would like to continue.
Call me, maybe
Revelation Energy hasn't had a smooth transition into Wyoming. The Appalachian coal firm, an affiliate of new Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr owner Blackjewell LLC, is in a court battle back east over those two mines.
Accused of defaulting on debt payments, and breaking contract by transferring assets, Revelation said in court documents that it is the bank that is at fault. They didn't answer the phone when Revelation tried to work out a solution to stay current on the debt as it had before.
Westmoreland, which operates the Kemmerer mine in western Wyoming, may have bought some time before bankruptcy. But, the financing announced last week is a likely sign that Chapter 11 is on the way. The mine is a central job-creator in the small town of Kemmerer.
More muley trouble
Sportsmen have already drawn attention to proposed parcels for oil and gas leasing in a mule deer corridor. The issue was exacerbated last week when the Bureau of Land Management called for public comment on more leases in the corridor. Industry points out that lease sale does not guarantee free rein on development, but those concerned say the proposed parcels leave only a narrow path for the deer to pass free from oil and gas areas.
More carbon support from D.C.
Sen. John Barrasso's USE IT Act made it through committee in Washington last week. The bill, which still needs approval in the full Senate and the House, would give the EPA authority to support carbon capture research. It also includes measures to support the research arm that some hope can save coal and others hope can combat climate change.
In other news...
Mineral communities like Gillette and Casper lost people in 2017.
Conservationists are watching with trepidation the National Defense Authorization. A version passed in the U.S. House Thursday with a rider precluding the sage grouse from an endangered species listing for 10 years.
Sen. John Barrasso's spokeswoman said he supports "all efforts to ensure the sage grouse is not listed in Wyoming."
Peabody Energy, which operates the North Antelope Rochelle mine outside Wright, pledged an additional $1.5 million to carbon capture and utilization efforts at Washington University.