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Wyoming Governor, DOE's Moniz Meet on Carbon Capture

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead talked about carbon capture projects when he met with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz Thursday during Moniz's attendance at an energy summit in Mead's coal-rich state.

As an offshoot of Moniz hosting the Quadrennial Energy Review in Cheyenne, WY, Mead said during a press conference that he discussed the lead role Wyoming is trying to take in development of an integrated test center at one of the coal-fired generation plants in the state (see Shale Daily, Feb. 6). The center would test potential commercial uses of captured carbon dioxide (CO2), a topic of interest to Moniz.

Mead told Moniz that at least two coal-fired generation plant owner/operators in the state, Black Hills Power and cooperative Basin Electric, have expressed "preliminary interest" in participating in the center. Mead envisions the center attracting scientists to help develop commercial uses for the CO2 with the incentive of receiving "innovation prizes" for successful work.

Mead said that he stressed to Moniz the leading role Wyoming plays as a major resource provider to the rest of the nation, as well as being an environmental steward.

In that vein, Mead also discussed Wyoming's program for plugging and reclaiming abandoned natural gas wells in the state as part of his press conference. The "orphan" wells are part of a program the governor has pushed to accelerate the plugging of more than 1,200 abandoned oil and natural gas wells on state and fee lands (see Daily GPI, Dec.11, 2013).

Mead said the effort is progressing well, keeping on track with his goal of dealing with at least 300 wells annually, and in fact, this year could rack up 400 completed well closings.

“I wanted to address idle and orphaned wells in a big way," said Mead, adding that in recent years the state's effort had "slowed down" on the plugging and reclaiming. "I set a realistic goal of 300 wells per year, and we are well ahead of schedule on that effort.”

Mead pledged to keep up an "aggressive approach" in coming years with the funding for the effort coming from a state conservation tax on oil/gas companies operating in the state.

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