WYOMING

WYOMING

WYOMING

Home to 578,759 people spread out over a vast 97,093, Wyoming is the least populated state in the nation with a population density lower than any state except Alaska. Wyoming is covered by Rocky Mountains to the west and High Plains to the east. Because it is in the rain shadow of the Rockies, the state is fairly arid, though it has a lot of glaciers and snowpack. Almost half of Wyoming is owned by the federal government, and the state is home to many national parks and monuments, including Yellowstone, the country’s first national park. Wyoming was the first territory in the nation to grant women the right to vote. It was also the first state to elect a female governor all the way back in 1925

When it comes to climate change, Wyoming is vulnerable to increasing heat, melting snowpack and glaciers, reduced water availability, and more frequent and severe wildfires. 

In 2020, Wyoming and the rest of the Northern Great Plains are experiencing an average of 159 days a year with temperatures below freezing. It is projected that, as the planet continues to warm, the number could drop to an average of just 79 days per year by 2100. As the cold recedes, extreme heat will accelerate in the Great Plains region. Days where the maximum temperature exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit are projected to double by mid-century in Wyoming’s region. This is extremely harmful to Wyoming’s residents and agriculture industry. 

The growing heat has additional consequences. Snowpack and glaciers are declining in Wyoming, reducing the reliability of surface water for cities, farmers and ecosystems. By 2030, many of Wyoming’s 1,500 glaciers are likely to retreat or disappear completely if we continue on our current climate path. With more warm days, snow comes later and melts earlier, leaving less time for accumulation. The reduced water availability combined with increasing temperatures threaten crops and animal agriculture in Wyoming, as well as Wyoming’s local ecosystems

Wyoming’s high temperatures and low water availability make more common the factors that contribute to wildfires:wildfires, drought, and dead trees. These are expected to increase harming property, livelihoods and human health

Rising temperatures, persistent drought and aquifer depletion could threaten the long-term sustainability of the Great Plains, with scientists hesitantly predicting a second Dust Bowl. This could have absolutely devastating effects on local agriculture, the industry to which the majority of land in the Great Plains is devoted, producing $92 billion in products each year. Climate change’s blow to agriculture will have a major negative impact on Wyoming’s economy. 

As of now, Wyoming’s only climate action plan dates back in 2013. Without any deadlines for carbon emission reduction or long-term planning, all action items were to be instigated in the year of publication. It calls for no green energy, just the promotion of more natural gas. The plan mentions vague “efficient, effective regulation,” but does not go into specifics. It  does call for some resource conservation, but calling the plan a “climate action plan” is weak at best.

It’s no surprise that Wyoming’s 2013 “climate action plan” does not focus at all on green energy. Fossil fuels are the state’s biggest business. Wyoming has been the top coal-producing state in the nation since 1986, accounting for 39.2% of all coal mined the country as of 2019. Wyoming also ranks among the top 10 states for both the largest natural gas reserves and the highest marketed natural gas production. Wyoming is also the eighth-largest crude oil-producing state in the nation in 2019, accounting for nearly 3% of U.S. total crude oil output. All of this energy output makes Wyoming the biggest net energy supplier in the United States, putting out nearly 15 times more energy than it consumes. Wyoming’s large energy producing sector and small population makes it, after Louisiana,  the state second in per capita energy consumption and the second most energy-intensive state economy.

For its own consumption, Wyoming relies mainly on coal, which produces 86% of Wyoming’s electricity generation. Surprisingly, wind energy produces 9%.  Small hydroelectric facilities and natural gas-fired and petroleum-fueled generating units account for most of the remaining 5% of Wyoming’s state-used generation. Overall, renewable energy accounts for 11% of the electricity in Wyoming.

Wyoming has some of the largest wind resources in the nation. Sustained winds are funneled through the state’s mountain passes and out across the high prairie, which enables Wyoming wind farms to operate at high capacity levels. The amount of wind-powered generating capacity installed in Wyoming has grown rapidly in the last decade, and the state ranked 17th in the nation at the end of 2019 with nearly 1,600 megawatts of generating capacity from just over 1,000 turbines. Several large wind projects are in development or under construction. Energy companies seek customers for Wyoming’s wind power in several western states that have significant renewable energy requirements. Consequently, there are several large transmission projects in Wyoming to transport the state’s wind-generated electricity to Nevada, Arizona, and California.

Coal Mining States and Climate Change

CURRENT NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

Wyoming State Profile and Energy Estimates

10/10/21
Wyoming is a major producer of coal, natural gas, and crude oil—the fossil fuels that were created from the remains of life in the ancient seas that covered the state many millions of years ago.…

Energy State Bill Tracking Database

09/10/21
The searchable Energy Storage Legislation Database displays information in interactive maps and charts, tracking state activity from 2017 to the present.

Environment and Natural Resources State Bill Tracking Database

09/01/21
The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks environment and natural resources bills that have been introduced in the 50 states, territories and Washington, D.C.

Wind Energy in Wyoming

10/20/20
Find wind data and information in Wyoming, including maps, capacity, ordinances, and more in these areas.

Wyoming Solar Rebates And Incentives

10/20/20
Wyoming Rebates and Incentives Summary

Wyoming Solar

10/20/20
Data Current Through:Q2 2020

Wyoming

10/20/20
Wyoming does not have a renewable energy portfolio standard and no renewable energy credits to incentivize solar customers. Its net metering program is limited to systems of up to 25 kW, hindering an additional income…

The First National Flood Risk Assessment

10/06/20
The First Street Foundation Flood Model represents the culmination of decades of research and development made possible by building upon existing knowledge and frameworks regularly referenced in the identification of flood risk.

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in Wyoming

09/19/20
Between 2017 and 2019, Wyoming experienced three severe storms and two wildfires. The damages of each event led to losses of at least $1 billion.

State-by-State: Climate Change in Wyoming

08/07/20
Wyoming is vulnerable to increasing heat, melting snowpack and glaciers, reduced water availability and wildfires

MORE NEWS

The Clean-Power Megaproject Held Hostage by a Ranch and a Bird

By Josh Saul and Others  Photo: Chet Strange , Bloomberg   04/12/22  
There’s a big piece of land in lonely northwest Colorado where the grassy plains meet the mountains, wide-antlered elk drink from icy rivers and sage-grouse pump their chests in wild mating dances each spring. Ranch…
npr

A wind energy company has pleaded guilty after killing at least 150 eagles

By Associated Press  Photo: Chris Szagola , AP   04/06/22  
A wind energy company was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay more than $8 million in fines and restitution after at least 150 eagles were killed over the past decade at its wind farms…

These Towns Are Fighting Climate Change at the Local Level

By Heather Hansman  Photo: Getty Images   02/16/22  
If I read too much national news these days, especially about how little our federal government is doing to pass climate legislation, it’s hard to stop myself from feeling nihilistic about our ecological outlook. We’re…

EPA nears deal with Wyo. over massive coal plant

By Benjamin Storrow  Photo: Rick Bowmer , AP Photo   02/07/22  
After months of trading barbs, EPA and Wyoming officials say they’ve had a breakthrough in talks over the future of one of America’s largest coal plants. The reversal comes after a meeting between EPA Administrator…
PNS

Wyoming Defies U.S. Supreme Court Over Crow Tribal Hunting Rights

By Eric Galatas   12/30/21  
Wyoming will appeal a recent district court decision affirming Crow tribal hunting rights granted under treaties signed in the 19th century, rights recently affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Dan Lewerenz, staff attorney for the…

Cloud seeding gains steam as West faces worsening droughts

By Maddie Stone  Photo: David Bogie/Idaho Power Company   11/21/21  
As the first winter storms rolled through this month, a King Air C90 turboprop aircraft contracted by the hydropower company Idaho Power took to the skies over southern Idaho to make it snow.

Report: Climate Change at Yellowstone Threatens People, Wildlife

By Matt Alderton  Photo: Kevin McNeal , Getty Images   07/06/21  
“Beautiful.” “Gorgeous.” “Breathtaking.” “Magnificent.” These are just a few of the words that tourists often use to describe the splendor that is the Greater Yellowstone Area, comprising approximately 22 million acres of wilderness in northwestern…
AP

Justices deny Wyoming, Montana coal suit against Washington

By Mead Gruver  Photo: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File   06/29/21  
The U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday that it won’t allow Wyoming and Montana to sue Washington state for denying a key permit to build a coal export dock that would have sent coal to Asia.…

Bill Gates’ next generation nuclear reactor to be built in Wyoming

By Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici  Photo: Charles Platiau   06/03/21  
Billionaire Bill Gates' advanced nuclear reactor company TerraPower LLC and PacifiCorp (PPWLO.PK) have selected Wyoming to launch the first Natrium reactor project on the site of a retiring coal plant, the state's governor said on…

Wyoming Passes Measure to Sue States that Refuse to Buy Coal

By Amy Lupica   05/09/21  
While environmentalists celebrate commitments and progress made by the Biden administration, some stakeholders aren’t so happy. Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon (R) has passed a new state law providing the state government with $1.2 million in funding to sue…

A Wind Farm in Coal Country

03/16/21  
Wyoming has powered the nation with coal for generations. Many in the state consider the industry part of their identity. Wyoming is also strongly Republican, and President Donald Trump’s promise to protect and revive coal…

Orphaned Wells a Billion Dollar Mess

By Peter Sinclair   03/04/21  
Jill Morrison has seen how the bust of oil and gas production can permanently scar a landscape. Near her land in north-east Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, where drilling started in 1889, more than 2,000 abandoned…

Wyoming Coal Country Pivots, Reluctantly, to Wind Farms

By Dionne Searcey  Photo: Benjamin Rasmussen   03/03/21  
The coal layered underground helped bring settlers to this scrubby, wind-whipped part of southern Wyoming, where generations found a steady paycheck in the mines and took pride in powering the nation...

The US Senate flipped. What does that mean for Wyoming’s energy sectors?

By Camille Erickson  Photo by Cayla Nimmo   02/03/21  
As the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob captured the attention of the nation and world this past week, quieter shifts were already taking place in Washington, D.C., to make way for…

Another coal plant to retire early; Wyoming’s biggest utility delays discussion on coal

By Camille Erickson  Photo by Cayla Nimmo   02/01/21  
Another coal-fired power plant will retire earlier than originally planned just south of Wyoming’s border.
AP

Biden to pause oil and gas sales on public lands

By Matthew Daly   01/27/21  
President Joe Biden is set to announce a wide-ranging moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on U.S. lands and waters, as his administration moves quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the…

How Biden’s executive orders on climate change could change Wyoming

By Camille Erickson   01/27/21  
President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday suspending the issuance of new leases to oil and gas companies from federal land, a move scorned by Wyoming political leaders and industry groups fearing the economic fallout but…

Wyoming watches as Biden targets fossil fuels

By Greg Johnson Gillette   01/25/21  
GILLETTE — President Joe Biden wasted no time this week in beginning to make good on one of his key campaign promises — eliminate power generation from fossil fuels by 2035.

This town powered America for decades. What do we owe them?

By John D. Sutter   01/23/21  
Gillette, Wyoming (CNN)This Wyoming coal town is a place of contradictions. At dawn, the land looks heavenly: Winds rattle the sagebrush; cotton-candy skies make a dusting of snow glow in pastel hues. Later in the…

US government approves routes for Wyoming CO2 pipelines

Photo by Michael Bell   01/22/21  
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The U.S. government has approved routes for a system of pipelines that would move carbon dioxide across Wyoming in what could be by far the largest such network in North America,…

Petroleum Association of Wyoming vows to fight for state’s oil and gas industry

Photo by Jim Parkin   01/20/21  
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming (PAW) congratulated President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris Wednesday but vowed to fight for the state's oil and gas industry.

Bill would repeal Wyoming’s rules for home wind, solar power

By Associated Press   01/20/21  
Wyoming lawmakers have advanced legislation that would change how the state regulates home-scale wind and solar power. The bill endorsed by a legislative committee Tuesday would repeal Wyoming's net-metering rules for how homeowners with their…

Carbon County maybe epicenter of wind turbine renewable energy?

By David Louis  Photo by David Louis   01/20/21  
Medicine Bow — For more than a decade, power companies throughout the Western states – including Texas which has the majority of wind investments of all states — have embraced the vision that the region…

Wyoming Ready To Take Advantage Of Massive Federal Carbon Capture Support

By Cooper MCKim   01/08/21  
"We looked at Texas. We looked at North Dakota. We looked at Colorado, New Mexico... We homed in on Wyoming for a number of, I think, right reasons," said Steve Krimsky, senior vice President of…

Major Wyoming coal company suffers huge losses, plans to divest from thermal coal

By Camille Erickson  Photo by Cayla Nimmo   11/27/20  
Coal giant Arch Resources, Inc. plans to aggressively shrink thermal coal operations in the Powder River Basin, outlining a shift toward coking coal and steel production in an investor call on Thursday.

New solar generation research facility in the works near UW

By Camille Erickson  Photo by Susan Montoya Bryan   11/26/20  
A technology company envisions transforming the University of Wyoming into a beacon for solar energy innovation nationwide. The new firm, called 9H Energy Development LLC, has ambitious plans to create a solar generation research facility…

A little-known utility plan could have big implications on small towns in Wyoming

By Camille Erickson  Photo by Cayla Nimmo   11/22/20  
When Americans switch on their lights, less and less of that power is coming from coal. Fifteen years ago, thermal coal was responsible for generating 50% of the country’s electricity. Last year, coal’s contributions were…

New agency aims to build an energy strategy for Wyoming

By Camille Erickson  Photo by Cayla Nimmo   11/21/20  
The Wyoming Energy Authority is on the lookout for help developing its new and improved “energy strategy” for the state. As the newest governmental body to form here, the Wyoming Energy Authority is tasked with…

Wyoming’s ‘dark money’ coal campaign

By Andrew Graham  Photo by Cayla Nimmo   11/17/20  
At a Sep. 3 press conference, Gov. Mark Gordon introduced a nonprofit that’s been advocating for Wyoming’s coal industry for years: the Energy Policy Network. He announced a new contract with the group in which…

Energy Journal: Wyoming’s Public Service Commission finds utility’s plan deficient

By Camille Erickson  Photo by Cayla Nimmo   11/15/20  
Wyoming regulators deemed a utility’s plan for providing power to Wyoming ratepayers deficient on Thursday, when announcing the results of an investigation.

Federal court backs decision to block Peabody and Arch proposed joint venture

By Camille Erickson  Photo by Cayla Nimmo   11/09/20  
A federal court announced on Tuesday it would uphold the Federal Trade Commission’s decision to block a proposed joint venture by leading coal firms Peabody Energy Corp. and Arch Resources Inc., in a move that…

Energy Journal: How to build a wind farm in Wyoming

By Camille Erickson   11/08/20  
Building a wind farm in Wyoming isn’t easy. Developers must go through a maze of regulatory hurdles at multiple levels of government before even breaking ground. But 2020 has been a big year for the…

From Appalachia To Wyoming: Youth From Coal Country Discuss The Future After Coal

By Brittany Patterson   10/23/20  
On a recent Saturday, over Zoom, a group of seven high schoolers from Wyoming, eastern Kentucky and West Virginia gazed at an image of a gleaming, pale blue, coal-fired power plant.

Rising water stress risk threatens US coal plants, largely clustered in 5 states

By Taylor Kuykendall   10/22/20  
Many of the nation's coal-fired power plants, often heavy consumers of water resources, are in areas projected to soon face water stress due to climate change.

Oil Jobs Are Big Risk, Big Pay. Green Energy Offers Stability And Passion

By Camila Domonoske  Photo Justin Sullivan and Spencer Platt   10/22/20  
In 2008, Daimon Rhea moved to Utah to find work in the oil fields. He didn't have any experience — and he didn't need any. "I was out there for two days and I had…

Solar at Laramie centers to offset carbon emissions equal to 80,000 miles driven

By Brendan LaChance   10/20/20  
The City of Laramie have contracted Lander-based Creative Energies to install 25 kilowatt solar arrays at both the Laramie Community Recreation Center and the Laramie Ice & Event Center.  

In Wyoming, an ecologist seeks a new niche as a U.S. senator

By Eli Cahan  Photo by Nadav Soroker   10/19/20  
More than 10 years ago, Merav Ben-David encountered a bureaucratic blizzard when she launched a study of polar bears in Alaska. She had to comply with a host of regulatory policies, obtain permits from regional,…

Arundathi Nair: Wyoming must work to transition to sustainable, renewable energy sources

By Camille Erickson   10/17/20  
Every day starts with the use of energy, whether it’s our alarm clock, turning on the lights, heating, air-conditioning or driving to work. Ever since the industrial revolution, fossil fuels have provided cheap and abundant…

How These 5 Banks Are Fighting Climate Change

By Dana George  Photo by Getty Images   10/17/20  
Global warming may be the most pressing issue of the 21st century. Human activity, like chopping down forests, has raised average temperatures worldwide by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century. While that may not…

Wyoming Makes The Grade In Climate Science Standards, Report Finds

By Beau Baker  Photo by Frangofoto   10/13/20  
A recent report card on climate change education in public middle and high schools across the U.S. ranked Wyoming at the top of the class with a solid A. The rest of the Mountain West…

Wyoming criticizes utility’s plans to replace coal with renewables

By Dustin Bleizeffer   10/12/20  
Wyoming’s largest electrical provider, PacifiCorp, wants to speed up its shift from coal-fired power to renewable energy. But its plan for achieving that vision lacks proper analysis, transparency and modeling, and doesn’t adequately consider other…

Wyoming’s “dark money” coal campaign

By Andrew Graham  Photo by Michael Cummo   10/12/20  
At a Sep. 3 press conference, Gov. Mark Gordon introduced a nonprofit that’s been advocating for Wyoming’s coal industry for years: the Energy Policy Network. He announced a new contract with the group in which…

Wyo criticizes utility’s plans to replace coal with renewables

By Dustin Bleizeffer  Photo by Andrew Graham   10/09/20  
Wyoming’s largest electrical provider, PacifiCorp, wants to speed up its shift from coal-fired power to renewable energy.  But its plan for achieving that vision lacks proper analysis, transparency and modeling, and doesn’t adequately consider other…

Western Fires Have Become Part Of The Political Landscape

By Matt Laslo  Photo by Chip Redmond   10/09/20  
Every four years there's a near universal complaint that western issues get passed over in presidential elections. Not this year, which is mostly because large swaths of the West have been burning.
EDF

Wyoming Federal Court Overturns Common Sense Protections against Wasting Natural Gas on Public and Tribal Lands

By Peter Zalzal   10/08/20  
“We are disappointed, and deeply concerned, with today’s ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming vacating the Department of Interior’s 2016 Waste Prevention Rule.

General Electric announces No Coal Goal

By Timberly Ferree   10/05/20  
General Electric recently announced that it plans to stop making coal-fired power plants and instead focus on more renewable sources of power. This exit from the coal business could include site closings, job cuts and…

Gordon: Logging, carbon capture could help limit severe wildfires, reduce carbon footprint

By Brendan LaChance  Photo by John Roedel   10/05/20  
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said during a Monday, Oct. 5 press conference that “we have got to embrace that we have got to do a better job of managing our forests.” Gordon’s comments came as…

Expert: Blocked coal merger puts Wyoming at higher risk

By Dustin Bleizeffer   10/02/20  
A Tuesday U.S. District Court ruling increases the likelihood that eventual mine closures in the Powder River Basin will happen under the ownership of smaller, less financially stable operators, putting Wyoming miners and taxpayers at…

Wildfire destroys 29 homes, 31 other structures

Photo: Chip Redmond/InciWeb   10/02/20  
A wildfire destroyed 29 homes and 31 other structures in a southeastern Wyoming forest and threatened to remain active for weeks to come, officials said.

Wyoming Forestry Division State Forester speaks about wildfires in Wyoming

By Grace Foulk   09/28/20  
The Mullen Fire is another fire to add to the list of those burning across the western United States. “We’ve had really dry conditions, hot conditions, mountain pine beetle, bug kill in the area. A…