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Articles written by Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

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  • Creeks tainted by drilling unable to sustain aquatic life, regulators say

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Mar 28, 2024

    Wyoming DEQ acknowledges years of built-up pollution from Moneta Divide field but has no plan to remove black sludge 6 feet deep Two creeks tainted by decades of dumping from Moneta Divide oilfield drillers are officially "impaired" and unable to sustain aquatic life, state regulators say in a new report. Parts of Alkali and Badwater creeks in Fremont County are polluted to the point they don't meet standards for drinking, consumption of resident fish or sustaining aquatic life, a report by the...

  • UW to lead workshops on BLM plan that would protect resources, cost jobs

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Nov 16, 2023

    Residents can weigh in on controversial effort to conserve elk birthing areas, buffalo jump, rock art, golden eagle nests and other sensitive sites. As Wyoming residents gather this week to weigh in on how to manage federal public land in the Rock Springs and Red Desert area, they’ll grapple with the fate of some of Wyoming’s most storied landscapes — the sage grouse “Golden Triangle,” the Hoback-to-Red-Desert mule deer migration route, the Steamboat Mountain buffalo jump and the Pony Express Trail. The federal government’s preferred p... Full story

  • Rockfall changes world-famous Teton skyline forever

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|May 18, 2023

    A 'big chunk of the mountain' fell off last fall, altering the profile of the Grand's East Ridge so drastically that people can see the difference from the valley floor. A giant rockfall has forever changed what's arguably the world's most famous natural skyline - the iconic Cathedral Group view of the Grand Teton, Teewinot and Mount Owen. What's being called "a big chunk of the mountain" fell off last fall, altering the profile of the Grand's East Ridge so significantly that people can see the... Full story

  • Game & Fish: West Fork Dam would cause 'substantial negative impacts'

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Apr 13, 2023

    Wyoming Game and Fish Department comments cast doubt on irrigators’ claims that a 264-foot-high dam proposed in Carbon County will benefit fisheries, riparian zones and wetland-wildlife habitats. The dam proposed for the West Fork of Battle Creek above the Little Snake River on the Medicine Bow National Forest would provide 6,000 acre-feet of late-season irrigation to ranches near Baggs, Dixon and Savery and in Colorado. The 700-foot-long concrete dam and associated 130-acre reservoir would also provide a “minimum bypass flow” to improve fisher... Full story

  • Senators kill 'physical force' trespass-termination bill

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Feb 16, 2023

    Senators have killed a bill that would have legalized “physical force” to “terminate” a perceived trespass, rejecting an expansion of criminal statutes backed by 57 representatives. House Bill 126 – Trespass-removal of trespass ran into heavy criticism in a Senate committee for what many saw as its potential to accelerate violence, reliance on individual interpretations of the law and other problems. Sens. Mike Gierau (D-Jackson), Affie Ellis (R-Cheyenne) and Stacy Jones (R-Rock Springs) out-voted supporting Sens. Wendy Schuler (R-Evanst... Full story

  • Bill would allow 'physical force' to 'terminate' suspected trespass

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Feb 9, 2023

    The Legislature has advanced a bill that legalizes use of physical force by a landowner or landowner’s agent to “terminate” what they believe is criminal trespass. HB-126 — Trespass–removal of trespasser would update the current Wyoming criminal trespass code to state: “A person who is the owner or legal occupant of land or a premises upon which a criminal trespass is occurring, or their agent, is justified in using reasonable and appropriate physical force upon another person when and to the extent that it is reasonably necessary to terminat... Full story

  • Cost of proposed Alkali Dam has doubled to $70M

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Sep 15, 2022

    Cost estimates for the proposed Alkali Creek Dam in Big Horn County have jumped to more than double the original $35 million price tag. It will take some $70 million to $75 million to build the dam and reservoir, the interim director of the Wyoming Water Development Office told legislators at an August committee meeting in Afton. The anticipated cost has already jumped once — from $35 million to $59 million in 2020. The Legislature appropriated that amount for the project. Now the price has been revised upward again. “Obviously, we’re going...

  • Born in a Wyo blizzard, Breezy Johnson skis up a World Cup Storm

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Dec 30, 2021

    VICTOR, Idaho - U.S. women's downhill ski champion - Wyoming native Breezy Johnson - races into three World Cup events in January after storming the podium earlier this season and nipping the heels of the reigning Olympic gold medalist. With just weeks to go, the Beijing games are in her sights. With three second-place finishes in three downhills this season, Johnson is closing the gap on Italy's Sofia Goggia, trimming the leading speedster's victory margins from more than a second to mere... Full story

  • Judge prevents drilling-site work, citing threats to sage grouse

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Jun 17, 2021

    A federal judge has prevented drilling and construction on 449 oil and gas leases covering 334,762 acres in Wyoming, saying the federal government didn’t examine potential effects to imperiled greater sage grouse when it leased those lands in 2017. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management “failed to take a hard look at the direct and indirect impacts to greater sage-grouse,” Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush of Idaho wrote in a June 9 ruling. He sent the leases back to the BLM for additional scrutiny. The BLM also failed to consider a reaso... Full story

  • Groups appeal plan to pump oilfield waste into aquifer

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Apr 8, 2021

    Conservation groups are challenging Wyoming’s approval of an energy company’s plan to inject oilfield waste into an underground aquifer, telling federal regulators the state plan fails to meet Clean Water Act requirements. The Powder River Basin Resource Council, Wyoming Outdoor Council and Natural Resources Defense Council say Wyoming relied on flawed economic analyses by Aethon Energy, the company seeking the permit to inject “produced water” from the Moneta Divide oil and gas field mainly into the 15,000-foot deep Madison Formation. Represen... Full story

  • Adverse solar bill advances after heated subsidies debate

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Jan 21, 2021

    Lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a bill authorizing regulators to set reimbursement rates for home-generated solar power and requiring them to “prevent subsidization” of small renewable-power installations. Supported unanimously by the Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee, Senate File 16 — New Net Metering Systems represents the third time in 18 months legislators have sought to cut the amount paid to customers who generate more solar electricity than they use. The bill reignited a debate over subsidies, who controls... Full story

  • Volunteers begin Grand Teton National Park goat shoot Monday

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Via Wyoming News Exchange|Sep 3, 2020

    Grand Teton National Park has selected 70 teams of volunteer wildlife shooters and is ready to launch a mountain goat culling operation Monday. Volunteers randomly selected for the first week’s cull will participate in a mandatory orientation Sept. 14, including a marksmanship test for designated shooters. To pass, gunners will have to place three of five bullets in an 8-inch group at 200 yards. Successful teams have between two and six members each. They will seek to shoot goats in one of 10 areas during one of seven six-day culling periods t... Full story

  • U.S. Justice Department 'actively monitoring' Wyo health orders

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Jun 18, 2020

    The U.S. attorney for the District of Wyoming has told health-order critics he is monitoring state- and county-imposed restrictions to stop the COVID-19 pandemic but stopped short of saying he found any violations of the U.S. Constitution. Although the Department of Justice will not “unduly interfere” in states’ health-order judgments, U.S. Attorney Mark Klaassen wrote, “we are actively monitoring,” for constitutional violations. The exchange occurred amid increasingly politicized debate over government response to the pandemic during wh... Full story

  • Two prominent Wyoming gas drillers in financial peril

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Via Wyoming News Exchange|Apr 23, 2020

    A top financial ratings service has listed western Wyoming gas drillers Ultra Resources and Jonah Energy among issuers of “top bonds of concern” whose securities could face “imminent” default. Fitch Ratings named the two companies that operate in the Pinedale Anticline, Jonah Field and Normally Pressured Lance, or NPL Field in an April 13 report detailing broader energy industry woes. Together the companies provide hundreds of jobs and generate hundreds of million of dollars in tax revenues from Sublette County operations annually. The energy... Full story

  • EPA knocks Wyo plan to bar public's water pollution data

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Via Wyoming News Exchange|Apr 16, 2020

    Wyoming can’t ignore water pollution data submitted by the public or academic institutions when that’s the only information available to determine whether streams, lakes and rivers are polluted, the U.S. EPA has told state officials. That was one federal regulator’s response to the state’s plan to limit data it uses to determine surface water quality. Under a draft plan, the state seeks to use only data that is collected by governmental entities or contractors to support water-quality determinations. Wyoming’s Department of Environme... Full story

  • FROM WYOFILE: Employers face worker-safety challenges during pandemic

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr., WyoFile Via Wyoming News Exchange|Apr 9, 2020

    With many employees still reporting for work during the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may have to adopt new measures to comply with regulations requiring safe workplaces. Employers have an obligation to protect workers from “recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm,” the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration states in a 35-page publication offering COVID-19 guidance in the workplace. Employers should use the guide to identify the risk their workers face and to determine appropriate... Full story

  • Wyoming doc works around COVID-19 testing bottleneck

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Mar 26, 2020

    A shortage of viral transport medium has slowed COVID-19 testing in Wyoming and nationwide. Now, at least one Wyoming doctor is working around the bottleneck by using a simpler, more common, CDC-backed, substitute: medical saline solution. Dr. Brent Blue of Emerg+A+Care in Jackson is sending patients’ samples to a laboratory “with a simple swab in a saline solution,” he wrote WyoFile. Until recently, public health agencies have recommended that samples be sent in a liquid viral transport medium that’s more complex to make than medical saline... Full story

  • Game and Fish documents first agency trap-related grizzly death

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Jan 30, 2020

    Wyoming Game and Fish department staff discovered a dead grizzly bear in one of the agency’s baited traps early Sept. 30 — a first-of-its-kind capture-related fatality that nevertheless sparked dismay among conservations and other bear advocates. A diagnostic report based on a necropsy obtained by WyoFile stated that the bear died after suffering capture myopathy, a condition during which animals become extremely exhausted. Trappers found the 326-pound, approximately 7-year-old male grizzly dead in a box trap at the Shoshone Lodge outside the e... Full story

  • DEQ backs off plan to dump more oilfield pollutants into Boysen

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Jan 23, 2020

    The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has backed off a plan to allow Moneta Divide oilfield operators to increase pollutants they dump into creeks above Boysen Reservoir, and proposed new monitoring of existing salty effluent. Aethon Energy and Burlington Resources will not be permitted to dump up to 8.27 million gallons a day and more than 1,000 tons each of sodium and sulfate a month into Badwater and Alkali creeks as they requested last year, according to a revised DEQ draft permit. Instead a “significantly different” plan would ma... Full story

  • DEQ to investigate whistle-blower complaints about Black Hills Bentonite

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr.,|Oct 31, 2019

    Wyoming environmental regulators will investigate complaints that a bentonite mining company regularly violated rules and escaped proper oversight, Gov. Mark Gordon’s spokesman confirmed. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality will investigate complaints made by a former employee of Black Hills Bentonite, LLC., according to the governor’s chief energy policy advisor Randall Luthi. He made his commitment in an Oct. 22 email that responded to at least 14 complaint letters from former Black Hills employee Bruce Lawson, who retired in Sep... Full story

  • Elk populations 'above objective' as hunting season heats up

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Wyofile Via Wyoming News Exchange|Sep 12, 2019

    Elk are plentiful in Wyoming as the state’s famed elk hunting season gets underway, according to Game and Fish Department estimates. The agency early this year estimated populations to be 29 percent above objective for those herds it counts, according to WyoFile calculations from agency data. The agency expects hunters will kill 25,955 wapiti this season. Officials anticipate 62,155 hunters will have a 41.8 percent chance of bagging an animal, according to a population summary presented to the Wyoming Game and Fish commission earlier this year.... Full story

  • Wyoming sage grouse count falls by 21 percent

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr., WyoFile Via Wyoming News Exchange|Aug 29, 2019

    Trained observers across Wyoming counted an average of 21 percent fewer male sage grouse on breeding-ground leks in 2019 compared to 2018, the state’s sage grouse biologist said Wednesday, an expected decline that continues a three-year trend. This year’s count of strutting males marks a 44 percent slide from a most-recent high in 2016, according to calculations made by WyoFile from Game and Fish figures. There was an average of 35.6 males per lek in 2016 compared to 20.1 in 2019, Game and Fish reported Wednesday. Wyoming’s numbers reflect othe... Full story

  • Governor makes sage grouse 'expansion' voluntary in new order

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Wyofile Via Wyoming News Exchange|Aug 22, 2019

    Gov. Mark Gordon has drawn praise from conservationists in adopting “the vast majority” of recommended changes to his greater sage grouse protective order. But in the new executive order Gordon signed last week, he balked at a recommendation that called for “expansion” of the bird’s population and habitat, making such actions voluntary in the statewide conservation plan. Gordon also drew criticism for sticking with development guidelines critics say don’t meet the best practices recommended by science. Two conservation groups nevertheless laude... Full story

  • Groups: Current Moneta oilfield discharges violate law

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr., WyoFile Via Wyoming News Exchange|Aug 15, 2019

    Two conservation groups allege that existing flows of produced water from the Moneta Divide oil and gas field violate federal and state environmental laws, this amid a contentious public debate over the proposed permitting of additional discharges. The Wyoming Outdoor Council and Powder River Basin Resource Council Thursday asked the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality for an investigation into what they say is the discharge of a million gallons a day into Alkali and Badwater creeks. The two ephemeral waterways in Fremont County drain i... Full story

  • Lawmakers explore storing spent nuclear fuel

    Angus M. Thuermer Jr., WyoFile Via Wyoming News Exchange|Jul 11, 2019

    Wyoming legislative leadership voted by email Monday to explore temporarily storing spent nuclear fuel rods in the state, a prospect one senator says could bring in $1 billion a year. A legislative committee has appointed six of its members to investigate the idea with the U.S. Department of Energy, Sen. Jim Anderson (R-Casper) told WyoFile on Friday. Anderson is co-chairman of the Joint Minerals Business and Economic Development Committee which received approval and funding from the Legislative Management Council in an unannounced vote to... Full story

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