Wyoming News Update

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HEMP-GROWING REGULATIONS

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The attorney general in Wyoming has said the state is close to setting statewide hemp-growing regulations amid concerns from farmers about missing the upcoming growing season. Casper Star-Tribune reports that the state is awaiting approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which denied an earlier plan. Officials say the Wyoming hemp plan was submitted in April with interest from investors and farmers, but it was held up because of delays to solidify regulations at the federal level. Some investors say if things are delayed the state could potentially be missing out on tens of millions of dollars in revenue for this year's crop.

COAL BANKRUPTCY-CEO CLAIMS

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — A former CEO has denied he took millions of dollars from a bankrupt Wyoming coal producer. The Gillette New Records reported Jeffrey Hoops Sr. says he went to extraordinary personal financial lengths in an attempt to save Blackjewel LLC. Lawyers for the company filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Jan. 9 asking for extensive investigation of Hoops, his family members and his companies. Hoops filed a response Tuesday saying he and Clearwater Investment Holdings loaned Blackjewel more than $41 million in the months leading up to its July 1 bankruptcy filing.

COAL BANKRUPTCY-SHOVELS

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — The new owner of two Wyoming coal mines is at odds with the owner of two huge industrial shovels. Komatsu says Eagle Specialty Materials is using its shovels without permission and compensation and has asked a West Virginia bankruptcy judge to enable Komatsu to reclaim its property. Eagle Specialty Materials claims in court filings the shovels were part of its deal to buy the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines after the bankruptcy of Milton, West Virginia-based Blackjewel in 2019. Eagle Specialty Materials says the shovels are essential to keeping the mines open and hundreds of miners at work.

GIRLFRIEND SLAIN

DENVER (AP) — A 23-year-old man who was arrested in Wyoming after police say he confessed to killing his girlfriend in their suburban Denver apartment has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Jonathan Akin entered his plea Wednesday in the November 2018 stabbing death of 21-year-old Autumn Rivera and faces 25 to 40 years in prison. Authorities say Akin surrendered to police in Powell, Wyoming, and officers found Rivera dead in the trunk of his car. An arrest warrant says he told investigators he killed Rivera in Thornton but didn't remember how because he had "blacked out." Akin then drove to his mother's home in Wyoming.

AP-US-TEEN-KILLED-CANDLE-VIGIL

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A candlelight vigil has been held to honor a Montana teenager who was missing for weeks before her body was found by investigators. The Billings Gazette reports 16-year-old Selena Not Afraid was found Monday southwest of the Interstate 90 rest stop where she was last seen Jan. 1. About 100 people attended the vigil Tuesday at Swords Park in Billings where a memorial was decorated with flowers and candles. Big Horn County Sheriff's Office says foul play was not suspected but also has not been ruled out. An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday at the state crime laboratory.

AP-US-COAL-EXPORTS

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming and Montana are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on Washington State's denial of a permit for a port facility that could boost U.S. coal exports. The coal-producing Rocky Mountain states argue in a filing Tuesday the denial violates the U.S. Constitution. Washington State in 2017 denied a key permit for South Jordan, Utah-based Lighthouse Resources to be able to proceed with its $680 million Millennium Bulk Terminals project in Longview, Washington. Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said Tuesday the denial is a “de facto blockade” on coal-mining states. A spokesman for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says Washington will continue to defend its decision.