Wyoming News Update

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SYDNEY (AP) — Investigators say the American tanker plane that crashed while fighting Australian wildfires had just dropped a load of retardant on a fire before it went down . Their employer identified the men killed as Capt. Ian H. McBeth of Montana, First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson of Arizona and Flight Engineer Rick A. DeMorgan Jr. of Florida. The crash occurred during an unprecedented wildfire season that has left a large swath of destruction in Australia's southeast. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau says specialist investigators were sent to the crash site and a team was working in difficult conditions to recover the victims' bodies.


CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Federal officials say the newest operator of three coal mines has fallen behind on federal and county mineral taxes. The Casper Star-Tribune reported Thursday that the Navajo Transitional Energy Company owes the federal government more than $10 million in unpaid taxes. Officials say the U.S. Interior Department filed a motion in bankruptcy court this month. Officials say the company took over the Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in Wyoming and the Spring Creek mine in Montana in October from bankrupt coal firm Cloud Peak Energy. Officials say part of the agreement was that Navajo Transitional Energy Company would pay royalties accumulated since May in payments, but the company fell behind.


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.


BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An autopsy has found that a 16-year-old girl who went missing from an Interstate 90 rest stop on New Year's Day died of hypothermia. The body of Selena Not Afraid was found about a mile southwest of the rest stop on Monday. Witnesses reported seeing her walking into a field after a van she was riding in drove off without her. She and another woman were waiting for someone to arrive and drive them home to Hardin when she was last seen alive. The woman was subsequently picked up by a relative. Big Horn County Undersheriff Eric Winburn says there was no evidence of violence.


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.


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.