Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead on Wednesday promised to shield his state from economic harm caused by too much federal regulation in the energy and environmental sectors.
Wyoming currently has more than 30 lawsuits aimed at what Mead has dubbed "federal overreach." Two recent rule expansions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could significantly impact energy production, power generation and agriculture, said Mead, adding that Wyoming will remain "aggressive" is protecting its economy, which he said is one of the healthiest in the nation.
"Having a true 'all-of-the-above' energy mix is important to Wyoming and to the people here, and it's important to the whole country," Mead said in lamenting the EPA's latest proposed rule for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. "A sound energy policy is about maintaining affordable electricity and keeping the cost of living down in Wyoming and nationally."
In response to EPA's approach to CO2, Mead said coal-fired generation is going to be forced out of business. Wyoming produces about 400 million tons of coal annually as the nation's largest producer of that fossil fuel. It supplies 35 other states with coal. Mead said the latest EPA rule could limit construction of new coal-fired plants or force the early retirement of existing plants.
He accused the federal government of "piling up" rules that are mostly targeted at coal. Instead, Mead suggested that "we try to make all energy sources better...with more focus on innovations and new technologies." Mead thinks his state is "providing leadership" in this regard through investments in coal and power generation.
Mead also expressed strong concerns with EPA's approach to water protections, adding that he prefers to establish "reasonable regulations." However, he thinks that when "reason fails" to click in, Wyoming will take legal action.
In a news conference, Mead focused on his state's economy, claiming that last year Wyoming had the second-highest growth rate in gross domestic product in the nation. He said this year points to an expected uptick in tourism, which is the state's second leading industry after resources, including the oil and natural gas sector.
Mead touted Wyoming's unemployment rate (3.7%) as down from more than 7.5% in 2010. "More people are employed in Wyoming now than at any previous point in our history," he said.