Sundays News

REPUBLICANS-ENERGY - WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican U.S. Sen. John Barrasso says Democrats will increase energy costs and make the U.S. more dependent on foreign oil if they focus solely on alternative energy. In the party's weekly radio and Internet address Saturday the Wyoming senator says Republicans prefer a more comprehensive energy plan that would increase funding for energy research, develop U.S. oil and gas resources and promote clean coal and nuclear power.
Barraso says renewable energy such as wind and solar power is important, noting that Wyoming has world-class wind resources. But Barrasso says wind and solar only account for about 1 percent of U.S. electricity, far below what is needed to meet the nation's energy needs. Barrasso also says Democrats were misguided by ruling out the use of U.S. oil in places such as the Outer Continental Shelf and Alaska.

NEWSPAPER-SUIT - CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Tribune Eagle is suing the governor and two state agencies for withholding budget recommendations. Wyoming Attorney General Bruce Salzburg argues the governor can keep recommended budget-reduction plans from state agencies secret
because disclosure would harm the public interest. The newspaper's lawyer argues that release of the information is needed so the public to better understand the budget process. The suit names Gov. Dave Freudenthal and the directors of the departments of Family Services and Health as defendants. It asks the court to require public access to the records.

JACKSON LAKE - JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - Hydrologists expect ample releases from Jackson Lake Dam in Grand Teton National Park now that above-average mountain snowpack is melting in earnest. Snowpack this year is similar to last year's amounts, which proved beneficial and timely for irrigators. Mike Beus is an operations manager with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. He says releases from the dam will increase in coming weeks and reach their peak about June 8. Releases after that will drop off until they're down to about half their peak volume around July 2. Beus says the reservoir system that includes Jackson Lake is reasonably full at about 78 percent of capacity. Beus expects Jackson Lake to fill up by mid-July and then be drawn down by this
fall.

SMOKING BAN-LAWSUIT - JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. (AP) - The owners of The Virginian Saloon and three nonprofit groups are suing to block the Teton County Health District's smoking ban. The lawsuit filed Friday hopes to undo the smoke free air rule going into effect Saturday. The lawsuit asks 9th District Court Judge Nancy Guthrie to "declare that the 2009 Air Rule is void and unenforceable."
The Teton County board of health rule which prohibits smoking in all public places including bars, restaurants and places of employment. The board passed the rule after the Jackson Town
Council refused to adopt a similar ordinance. The saloon, the Wyoming Contractor's Association, Wyoming
Trucking Association and the Wyoming State Liquor Association argue the health department doesn't have the authority to enact or enforce the smoke-free air rule. The health district argues the Legislature granted them the power to protect public health.

OIL BONDING - CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - State regulatory officials are taking inventory of oil and gas company bonding and money to deal with abandoned wells in light of the sharp downturns in energy prices. The economic environment is particularly precarious for small-sized coal-bed methane producers in the Powder River Basin, where the wellhead price has dropped below the break-even point for
many. Last year, the bonding requirement tripled. The commission staff is now reviewing bonds to make sure companies are in compliance with the new bonding level. Regulators say some companies are having a difficult time meeting the new bonding requirement due to the tightened credit
market.

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