Energy and Environment

Fourteen large wind turbines spin at the Spring Valley Wind facility near Ely, Nevada.
Jeff Moser / Creative Commons

Nevada is a big player in renewable energy. But while it ranks among the top five states for both solar and geothermal energy production, it lags well behind in wind energy production, where it falls 33rd. This fact surprised KUNR's Benjamin Payne, who last year moved to Reno from his native Illinois. Whereas that state boasts more than 50 wind farms, Nevada has only one. He decided to look into this gap, and figure out why wind makes up such a small sliver of Nevada’s energy mix.

A field of wind turbines.
Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management is charging back-due rent on renewable energy projects on public lands, as the Department of Interior simultaneously works to give oil and gas operators financial relief.

Sheriff's vehicle sits near a large crack in a highway
Nevada Department of Transportation

Officials are looking for damage in and around the unincorporated area of Mina, Nevada, after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake nearby struck just after 4 a.m. Friday morning. 

A tree with a carving on it in the snow.
Fil Corbitt of Van Sounds

During this time of social distancing, local podcaster Fil Corbitt has been drawn to remote forests in the Sierra Nevada where they can spot tree carvings, a historic tradition of Basque immigrants. Fil explores these arborglyphs in this audio postcard from the mountains around Lake Tahoe.

An image of the Truckee River at sunset.
Travel Nevada

The city of Reno is getting some help from the federal government in redeveloping its downtown core and riverwalk districts.

An image of a firefighter fighting a wildfire
Colorado's West Metro Fire Protection District

As the pandemic decimates local budgets across the Mountain West, another threat looms large at local fire stations across the region: wildfires. That has lawmakers and firefighters demanding more federal support.

An image of a mountain slope with a receding snow line.
Nathan Anderson / Unsplash

In much of the West, snowpack levels have historically been one of the more reliable ways to determine whether a drought was coming. But a new study says climate change could soon make snowpack data much less reliable.

An image of a single oil derrick situated in the open spaces and mountains of Utah.
Bureau of Land Management

A federal report out this week shows that the Bureau of Land Management has more than halved the time spent reviewing oil and gas drilling permits, a reflection of how the agency's priorities have shifted under the Trump administration.

Graph of annual average temperatures in Reno since first Earth Day in 1970.
Climate Central

April 22 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day back in 1970. Much has changed since then, from climate science to renewable energy. Dr. Kristen Averyt is Nevada's State Climate Policy Coordinator, and she spoke with KUNR to talk about how things have evolved over 50 years.

A new government watchdog report published Wednesday says taxpayers are shouldering the burden of cleaning up the nation’s thousands of abandoned hardrock mines on public lands.

An image of a dusty parcel of land showing crops completely dried out from drought.
NOAA

Researchers in our region are arguing for new models to better plan for a recent climate phenomenon: flash droughts. According to a new paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, these events present new challenges for climate predictors.

An image of a train hauling large pipes to be used for oil and gas pipelines.
Nate Hegyi / KUER

The deadline is tonight to submit public comment on sweeping changes to one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws.

An image showing a large, overpass made of dirt that allows widlife to cross Interstate-80 in eastern Nevada.
Nevada Department of Transportation

In today’s partisan political climate, one thing most Westerners seem to agree on is the need to protect wildlife corridors.

Wildlife corridors are historic wildlife migration routes. And sometimes, those routes need protecting. It could be as simple as restoring some native species, or it could involve building a grassy overpass over a busy highway.

A  mass of splayed, clover-like orange flowers on leafy stalks.
Neysa King / Nevada Irrigation District

Originally published on February 14, 2020 on The Hitchcock Project.

ENGLISH MEADOW, Calif. — Come spring, when the snow melts, this high mountain meadow near Truckee, Calif., will be covered in wildflowers. Bright orange-red flowers with clover-like heads will bob on the summer breeze amid green grasses. As the season unfurls, the meadows will spring up with yellow buttercups, purple larkspur, blue camas, white bistort and more.

The Bureau of Land Management’s plan to move its headquarters out west is costing the agency around half the employees asked to make the move, according to a new report from federal watchdog Government Accountability Office.


Federal lands are much better at reducing habitat loss and protecting endangered species than private lands, according to a new study out this week by researchers at Tufts University and the conservation group Defenders of Wildlife.

Wild mushroom foragers in the Mountain West may soon have a new and easy way to tell if their pickings are poisonous. 

The U.S. Forest Service is rethinking how it employs firefighters.

A close-up image of a sage grouse, a wide, chicken-like bird.
Bureau of Land Management

A federal judge in Idaho has ruled against the Trump administration’s decision to limit public input when leasing the West’s public lands to oil and gas drillers. The decision voids five oil and gas leases in three states.

An image of oil drills on public lands.
Bureau of Land Management

On the 100th anniversary of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, the nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense published a report Tuesday calling for an increase in the royalty rate on publicly owned oil and gas.

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