Wyoming files court challenges of June oil and gas lease sale
CHEYENNE (WNE) – Gov. Mark Gordon has announced that Wyoming is taking legal action to “protect the oil and gas industry.”
The state has filed a motion to intervene in a pair of cases that were filed by a coalition of advocacy groups seeking to challenge the June 2022 Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease sale.
Wyoming is joining the BLM and other states to defend the lease sale.
The coalition of advocacy groups allege that the Bureau’s lease sale violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
In its opposition filings, Wyoming challenged the groups’ claims and asked the court to allow it to intervene because the state’s sovereign and economic interests will be adversely affected if the lawsuit succeeds.
The state argues in both briefings that it has a legally protected economic interest in the outcome of this case, and the legal challenge threatens the state’s interest.
The filings note that the oil and gas lease sale collected over $13 million in bonus bids, entitling the state to more than $6 million in revenue.
Voyeurism trial begins
SHERIDAN (WNE) – The trial of Shaun Kobielusz, 38, began Monday before 6th Judicial District Court Judge Matthew Castano.
Kobielusz is accused of three counts of voyeurism, or the clandestine and nonconsensual viewing of an individual in a location in which the person being viewed has a reasonable expectation of privacy, including restrooms, baths, bedrooms and other locations.
Court documents allege the defendant installed three camera-enabled alarm clocks – including two in restrooms – to record private behaviors, without the consent of others.
Because Kobielusz allegedly used a camera to surreptitiously film three separate victims, the defendant is charged with three counts of felony voyeurism, each punishable by up to two years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both.
The trial has been pending for several months, after the case’s initial trial date in late 2021 was vacated due to scheduling issues. The defense also moved to suppress key evidence in the case under the Fourth Amendment, but Castano denied the motion.
After empaneling 13 jurors – eight men and five women – Deputy Sheridan County and Prosecuting Attorney Christina Cherni and defense attorney Jeremy Kisling presented their theories of the case in opening statements.
Kobielusz’s trial is expected to continue until Thursday.
Search continues for missing Pinedale swimmer in Fremont Lake
JACKSON (WNE) –Multiple agencies continued looking this week for a missing Pinedale man last seen the afternoon of Aug. 24 while swimming with co-workers and friends on Fremont Lake.
Tip Top Search and Rescue, Sublette County Sheriff’s Office and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department searched Tuesday around Moosehead Bay, on the lake north of Pinedale, for 52-year-old “Rick” De Ruiter Zylker.
The Sheriff’s Office first learned of the possible drowning last Wednesday afternoon after Zylker went underwater and never resurfaced. As of press time Tuesday, the team still had not located Zylker.
The weeklong search has had no shortage of assistance. Sublette County Sheriff KC Lehr said that he had received numerous calls to assist in the search but has enough volunteers.
Among volunteer teams Monday was John LaBrec and K9 Taz of Jackson Hole Search Dogs. Idaho Search and Rescue Dogs, Inc. out of Driggs, Idaho, also supported the search effort.
“One of the teams conducted a free air sniff search of the water as the other team concentrated on the shoreline,” Lehr said in a press release. “The teams then switched, and compared their findings. Both dog teams indicated on the water. Using their GPS waypoints, we were able to draw another box within our search area.”
Searchers have been using side-scan sonar by towing a device called a Tow Fish which is pulled on a cable to try to get close to the lake bottom.
Lehr explained that dive teams are unable to search the area due to water depths ranging from 150 to 300 feet where pressure would be well over 100 pounds per square inch and temperatures would be in the 30s with zero visibility. At its deepest, the lake reaches 610 feet.
Wyoming’s second monkeypox case detected in Teton County
JACKSON (WNE) – A Teton County resident has Wyoming’s second case of confirmed monkeypox, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.
Follow-up with the adult man showed no increased risk of the virus to the local community, said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist.
“We want people to realize monkeypox spreads through close, intimate contact and does not spread easily like familiar viruses such as influenza or COVID-19,” Harrist said in a Monday news release from the state health department.
Monkeypox is characterized by a rash with other symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and tiredness.