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The Two Elk Saga: How one man’s dream became state, federal nightmare

WyoFile is featuring a special investigative series, “The Two Elk Saga,” by former Los Angeles Times correspondent and regular WyoFile contributor Rone Tempest. Wyoming has a long history of uncritically embracing, then giving public money to, dubious and expensive energy projects. The proposed $2 billion DKRW Advance Fuels — coal-to-liquids — plant near Medicine Bow is the latest example. The aborted $100-million GE-UW High Plains Gasification project — which cost the state $7 million before GE abruptly backed out in 2011 — is another.

This Two Elk series, supported by grants from the Fund for Investigative Journalism and WyoFile founder Christopher Findlater, is an extensive case study of one such troubled project; its audacious Colorado-based promoter, and the state and federal officials who kept the project alive despite numerous warning signs that it was a scheme beyond saving. It is also a human story of dreams — outsized American dreams — and of one man’s ingenious but fruitless 20-year quest to build an energy empire in the heart of Wyoming coal country. In this regard it is an example of WyoFile’s continuing commitment to report fearlessly on the people, places and policies of our mountain state. Stories in “The Two Elk Saga” have appeared on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the series concludes on Tuesday, June 10

Part 5 runs today. Read the entire series here.

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