Gov.: Wyoming should issue energy policy next year

September 28, 2011 • Business

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, in Cheyenne, Wyo. Mead said his administration plans to release a state energy policy by early next year. (AP Photo/Ben Neary)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Gov. Matt Mead said Tuesday he expects his administration to release a state energy policy by early next year that will spell out not only what energy resources are in the state but where it wants to see future development of energy transmission corridors and other infrastructure.

Wyoming exports more energy than any other state, Mead said. Even so, he said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management recently had to delay action on a management plan for drilling in the Bighorn Basin because the federal agency wasn’t aware that operators had the desire or ability to undertake enhanced oil recovery operations involving injecting carbon dioxide underground.

The state energy plan will say, “Here’s what our resources are, here’s where we think new technologies [auth] could come,” Mead said. “And whether it’s the BLM, whether it’s the state or it’s private, they have the opportunity to look and say: ‘One, here’s where the state maps are, here’s where the infrastructure is. Two, here’s where the state at least as of today is interested in heading.'”

Mead said the lack of a national energy policy is driving his effort to craft a state policy. The Republican said he doesn’t want the state to be in the position of telling the federal government, “well, we’re not doing anything, we want you to do everything.”

Bruce Hinchey, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, said Tuesday he believes developing a state energy policy is a good idea and something that’s been needed for a long time. “I would hope that in the future maybe you would see other states and maybe Congress follow in the footsteps,” he said.

Having a state energy policy in place will benefit not only oil and gas producers but also the state’s coal, uranium and wind industries, Hinchey said. He said the policy would help industry deal with endangered species issues as well as planning decisions by federal agencies.

Hinchey said the federal government has slowed approval of drilling permits and other energy development under the current administration. “And with that comes fewer jobs, and it often means fewer tax revenues for the state as we are not able to drill as many wells as we would normally be able to drill,” he said.

Mead said his administration intends to hear from conservation groups as well as industry as it crafts the policy. He said it will address whether energy development should be limited in some areas out of aesthetic concerns.

Erik Molvar, executive director of the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance in Laramie, said his group looks forward to working with Mead to identify areas that need protection from energy development.

Molvar said he disagreed with criticism that there’s no federal energy policy. He said federal leasing reforms have allowed improvements in identifying and protecting environmentally sensitive landscapes while also reducing delays that the oil and gas companies face in getting leases.

Molvar said he regards industry claims that federal regulations are stifling job growth are false. “The reduction in drilling activity is happening across the board as a result of depressed prices for natural gas,” he said.

Richard Garrett of the Wyoming Outdoor Council said crafting a state energy policy is a worthwhile goal.

“I’m encouraged to hear (Mead) say today, as he has since he took office, that he wants to engage everyone in the discussion,” Garrett said. “That he’s going to be listening to not only industry and people on that side of the table, but also environmental groups and people that represent cultural resource interests and just ordinary folks, and try to find a policy that best represents Wyoming’s needs.”

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