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Powder River Basin Resource Council

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment

Mission: Powder River Basin Resource Council and its affiliated groups are committed to: • The preservation and enrichment of our agricultural heritage and rural lifestyle; • The conservation of our unique land, mineral, water, and clean air resources, consistent with responsible use of those resources to sustain the livelihood of present and future generations; • The education and empowerment of our citizens to raise a coherent voice in the decisions that will impact their environment and lifestyles.

Results: Initially started by rural landowners of North East Wyoming attempting to protect their land and water from the ravages of coal strip mining.  Following the passage of the 1977 Surface Mining and Reclamation Act, in which Powder River played an important role, the members of the Resource Council have produced major accomplishments on many fronts over the years: • facilitated the enforcement of stricter blasting standards for control of nitrous oxide emissions for Wyoming coal mines, continued to monitor the blasts and reclamation. • worked with state and federal agencies to increase bonding reclamation on gas and oil wells. • prevented the expansion of animal feeding factories through legislative action and monitoring the permitting process to ensure it meets state regulations. • protected pristine watershed areas such as the Little Bighorn and Sand Creek, the former in cooperation with the Crow Tribal Nation. • enabled land owners to successfully negotiate to protect their rights concerning coalbed methane development, power, and pipe lines. • worked with state and industry officials to place monitoring devices around a refinery to measure air pollution. • been a leader in efforts to reduce the monopoly power of a few corporations in the meat packing industry, and been a leader in the evolution of country of origin labeling at both the state and national levels. • helped prevent “boondoggle” projects such as coal slurry pipelines, radioactive waste dumps and the importation of nuclear waste.

Geographic areas served: State of Wyoming

Programs: Powder river basin resource council's (powder river) mission statement remains the guiding force from which we operate: - the preservation and enrichment of wyoming's agricultural heritage and rural lifestyle. - the conservation of wyoming's unique land, mineral, water, and clean air resources consistent with responsible use of those resources to sustain the livelihood of present and future generations. - the education and empowerment of wyoming's citizens to raise a coherent voice in the decisions that will impact their environment and lifestyle. Powder river was initially started in 1973 by rural landowners of north east wyoming attempting to protect their land, water and air from the ravages of coal strip mining, powder river currently has members throughout wyoming and several other states and is affiliated with four grassroots citizen groups in wyoming. Powder river basin resource council is the only group in wyoming that actively addresses both agricultural and conservation issues. The group unites both individuals with strong conservation convictions and agriculturalists with a deep respect for the land around a shared vision to protect and improve wyoming's quality of life. Also, powder river is the only group that addresses split estate and private property rights in addition to public land issues. Powder river publishes the powder river breaks on a bimonthly basis from january/ february to november/december of each year. This 8 to 16 page newsletter contains information on the different projects undertaken by powder river in the past months. It is provided to members and is available to the public at designated drop sites. Powder river maintains a website at www. Powderriverbasin. Org that informs and educates the public on conservation issues that powder river basin resource council is addressing. Powder river basin resource council maintains two office locations in wyoming. The main office is located in sheridan and the other in cheyenne. Powder river's work is overseen by the powder river basin resource council board of directors. Board members are elected from and by the powder river membership for a two year term. As a grassroots organization, members decide the direction and focus of powder river's work. Members bring resolutions for a vote of membership approval at the annual meeting that is held in the autumn of each year and is open to the public. Every year a keynote speaker provides insights and information on selected issues and is open to questions from the audience that normally exceeds 200 people. In 2014 dr. Jeffry lockwood, professor at the university of wyoming provided the keynote. Powder river members write letters to the editors and editorials to local and state wide newspapers addressing the issues on which our organization is working on. Every year powder river sponsors scholarships at the wyoming high school state science fair for science projects that promote conservation and education on the prairie ecosystems of wyoming. The youth in conservation awards are a cash award given to participants in the wyoming state science fair whose projects best meet the criteria for the award. Each year powder river judges select the best projects out of the many they view at the state science fair. This fair is visited by thousands of students and adults each year. The youth in conservation award was started with funds received by powder river in memoriam of bill barlow one of our founding members. The awards work to engage young people in public policy debates surrounding energy development and its impacts on wyoming's land, water and air resource. Criteria for the award is on the powder river website. In 2014 the awardees were: ceirra carlson, 12th grade greybull high for her project, "nanofiber cellulose zero valent iron filtration: potential for reduction of water-borne particulate and microbial contaminants. ", and timothy love, 8th grade burns elementary for his study "heavy metal and the aquatic environment. " cartridges for kids recycling - cfk (cartridges for kids) is a recycling program that powder river basin resource council has been participating in since april 2011 to help fund our youth in conservation program. We recycle cell phones, laptops, mp3 players, pdas, laser and inkjet cartridges, tablets, e-readers and notebooks. We recycle at seven locations in the sheridan area. Powder river has been instrumental in leading the people's efforts to reduce impacts of oil and gas development in wyoming and protect their health, safety and welfare. Powder river, (representing a collection of environmental and landowner groups), the wyoming oil and gas conservation commission (wogcc), and halliburton energy services inc. Reached settlement in a court case powder river brought against the wogcc on fracking constituents. Powder river took the case to the wyoming supreme court which ruled that the wogcc must adopt more rigorous policies for scrutinizing industry requests to keep the identities of fracking chemicals secret. The wogcc must also require substantially greater factual support for oil and gas industry claims that the identities of fracking chemicals used in wyoming qualify as trade secrets or confidential commercial information, exempt from state public disclosure requirements. "our state claimed credit for being the first to require public disclosure of fracking chemicals, but included a huge loophole," said bob leresche, a landowner from clearmont, wyoming and a powder river basin resource council board member. "this settlement goes a long way in closing that loophole, and if properly administered, will make wyoming a genuine leader in fracking transparency. " the defeat of a building permit for an industrial facility in casper marked another major victory for powder river. The facility would have stored 500,000 gallons of oil field chemicals next to a rural residential community, and powder river members demonstrated to local planning authorities that the facility did not meet the requirements of county zoning rules. Powder river has also expanded its issue work to include advocating for the responsible disposal of oil and gas waste. Powder river brought the issue of commercial oilfield waste disposal facilities (cowdf) to the attention of wyoming department of environmental quality (deq) administrators and the public. The wyoming deq responded to our concerns about unbonded cowdfs by conducting a review of those facilities, some of which have a history of violations, and proposing mechanisms to acquire financial assurance for unbonded facilities. Powder river members and staff engaged in the permit review of a state of the art cowdf, and also participated in a tour of the facility. Additionally, powder river initiated discussions with state operated landfills about technically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials (tenorm) and worked with the wyoming solid waste and recycling association (wswra) to conduct a survey about how tenorm is addressed at each landfill. As a result of powder river's work on this issue, deq has begun researching tenorm to determine if low level radioactive waste from deep oil drilling is a problem in wyoming and will consider updating their tenorm guideline. In december 2014, nineteen months after powder river filed its rulemaking petition requesting the setback between homes and oil and gas wells be increased from 350 feet to 1. 320 feet, the wogcc published its notice of intent for rulemaking on setbacks. Powder river submitted numerous studies and data demonstrating a greater setback was both necessary for the protection of health and safety and could be achievable without wasting the resource. However, the oil and gas industry prevailed upon the commission to decrease powder river's proposal of 1,320 foot setback to a setback of 500 feet; industry claimed the oil and gas resource would be "wasted" at a distance greater than 500 feet. Dozens of citizens and members, many representing our affiliate, the cheyenne area landowners coalition, were engaged in the process and volunteered to meet with key decision-makers, write letters, and attend hearings. After years of advocacy by powder river, a lone voice on this issue, the state of wyoming has finally acknowledged that the lack of proper bonding for post-development reclamation of oil and gas well pads poses a huge problem for the state. The governor issued a 31 page plan, entitled the "wyoming idle and orphan well plan" that addressed quite a few of the issues previously identified by powder river. Even though there were not enough funds allocated to plug and reclaim the state's growing list of abandoned wells, the mere recognition of this problem was a win for powder river. To date, the state has plugged and reclaimed just under 500 orphaned oil and gas wells and is planning to plug and reclaim another 500 this year. Another 1,500 orphaned wells remain on the list and the state has informed us they will de

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 5

The Powder River Basin Resource Council has been instrumental in bringing attention to our area, Pavillion, WY, on gas drilling contamination to our land, water, and air. The organizer, Deb Thomas, is extremely knowledgable in all these matters and works incessently on our behalf. She helped us organize Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens, PACC. As a local group, and through Powder River Basin Resource Council,we have been in contact with the Department of Environmental Quality and other state and national organizations. As a landowner with 24 gas wells on our land, we have contaminated water, soil, and air. Powder River Basin Resource Council has helped immensely, working on our problems, calling attention of our plight. We do have the attention of state agencies. Deb Thomas and our local chairman, John Fenton, have been to the state legislature and also to Washington, D.C. to share our experiences and hope for help in solving our problems. They have appeared at the meetings of Wyoming Oil and Gas and offered rule changes to make drilling safer. We don't want to keep the gas company, Encana, from getting the natural gas, but we expect them to use safety measures at all times to ensure our water, soil, and air are not contaminated. We feel the grassroots organization of Powder River Basin Resource Council have helped us immensely in our plight.



Rating: 5

The Powder River Basin Resource Council does a huge job with very little money and a very dedicated staff. They work very hard to protect landowners and the environment in Wyoming, and also travel around the US to advise other groups. I admire the board and staff of this nonprofit, and they've made a big difference in Wyoming, and have helped educate me.


General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Powder River Basin Resource Council keeps its members informed on important environmental issues facing the state of Wyoming and urges members to respond to these threats by writing letters and editorials, calling officials, and donating money to the cuase. Without their input we would not be able to comment on issues in a timely manner with clarity and expertise. We thank the PRBRC for helping us do our part to keep the state of Wyoming and the west environmentally sound.