Nov 16, 2012 The Associated Press

Judge adds land to coal mining suit

CHEYENNE -- A judge has added a second coal lease to an environmentalist lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service that contests Wyoming coal mining on grounds that include climate change.

The Forest Service argued for the lease to be litigated separately. U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson granted the plaintiffs' request to add it to their lawsuit Thursday.

He wrote he saw no reason not to grant the request by the groups WildEarth Guardians, the Sierra Club and Powder River Basin Resource Council.

The groups' lawsuit now contests two coal tracts containing over a billion tons of coal reserves next to Peabody Energy Corp.'s North Antelope Rochelle Mine in the Powder River Basin.

The groups initially filed suit over the South Porcupine coal tract. Their lawsuit now includes the North Porcupine coal tract.

Investigators blame ice for crash

CHEYENNE -- Federal investigators say ice most likely caused the crash of a small plane near Rock Springs last year, killing both people on board.

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board says the single-engine Bellanca 17-30A Viking descended rapidly after flying into an area where forecasts expected precipitation with supercooled droplets.

Investigators say that likely resulted in rapid ice accumulation on the plane. They found no indications of problems with the airframe, flight controls and engine before the crash.

The plane went down about 30 minutes after taking off from Pinedale en route to Fort Collins on May 18, 2011.

Pilot Gilmer Mickey of Englewood, Colo., and passenger Bob Albert of Fort Collins, Colo., both 55, were killed.

Search resumes for oil/gas boss

Wyoming is resuming its search for a new oil and gas supervisor.

The top candidate for the job so far turned down an offer to accept the job on Tuesday. Interim supervisor Bob King said he had been told that the unidentified candidate had already chosen "to take a different career direction" before getting the offer.

Forty-one people applied for the job and seven applicants were interviewed.

A state statute requiring that the person hired for the job must be a geologist or engineer licensed in Wyoming has limited the number of qualified applicants. Legislation is in the works to change that.

The state has been looking for a new supervisor since Tom Doll resigned in June over comments he made about residents in Pavillion.

Proposed fee hikes advance

CHEYENNE -- A legislative committee has voted to sponsor legislation that would raise fees for dozens of hunting and fishing licenses for both residents and non-residents.

The amounts depend on the license type, with many going up about 22 percent and others more than doubling their current price.

The fee hike proposal is designed to help cover an $8 million to $10 million annual revenue shortfall that the state Game and Fish Department faces.

The Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee voted 8-6 to advance the bill during its meeting in Lander last week.

The bill will be considered by the full Legislature when it meets in January.

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