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Mar 5, 2013 The Associated Press

Plane missing in south Wyoming

RAWLINS -- A search is under way for a plane reported missing in south-central Wyoming.

Carbon County Sheriff Jerry Colson says the Cessna 172 was bound for Laramie. The plane is registered to Mountain Hawk Aviation in California. Its last stop was an airport in Bryce Canyon, Utah.

Colson's office was notified Sunday afternoon by the U.S. Air Force that an emergency locating transmitted from the plane had been activated in the area of Saratoga.

Colson says there were no reports of a distress signal being transmitted.

He says search and rescue teams have been scouring an mountainous area about five miles east of Saratoga, but so far have found nothing.

Colson says deep snow, rugged terrain and thick timber are hampering the search.

Teapot Dome oil field may be sold

CASPER -- A Wyoming petroleum reserve that was the focus of the 1920s Teapot Dome bribery scandal could be taken over by a private company.

Officials at the federally owned Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 3 as well as the Department of Energy's Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center have been told to prepare the facilities for disposal. Both facilities are located at the site.

Testing center director Clark Turner said he doesn't expect the government to keep the oil field and indicated leasing and selling the field will be options. He expects a decision this spring.

A member of President Warren G. Harding's cabinet ended up in prison for bribery after leasing the Teapot Dome field's reserves to private companies at low rates without any bidding in 1922.

Former Interior Secretary Albert B. Fall went on trial in Washington, D.C., in 1929. He was found guilty of accepting a bribe from oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny and served nine months in prison.

Doheny, however, was acquitted at trial of offering the bribe that Fall was convicted of taking.

The field and scandal were named after nearby Teapot Rock, a sandstone formation that looked like a teapot.

The Department of Energy has controlled the field since 1977. The center, established in 1993, has been used to test hydraulic fracturing and enhanced oil recovery.

Turner said a shrinking budget has led to fewer and fewer tests at the center. The field still produces oil, earning taxpayers about $5 million a year, but Turner said that's not enough to justify the government keeping it.

Petroleum Association of Wyoming president Bruce Hinchey expects there to be interest in the property.

U-mine construction can continue

CASPER -- A judge is letting construction at Ur-Energy's Lost Creek uranium project near Rawlins go on while a conservation group challenges the federal government's decision to let it proceed.

The Biodiversity Conservation Alliance filed a lawsuit in November challenging the Bureau of Land Management's decision to let the project go forward. A federal judge on Friday denied the group's request for a preliminary injunction to halt construction while the lawsuit continues.

The judge ruled that the request is moot because much of the construction work has already started. He also says the group hasn't shown substantial likelihood that its lawsuit will succeed.

The alliance is concerned about the project's effects on sage grouse.

Ur-Energy expects to start uranium production at Lost Creek later this year.

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