Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead last week unveiled a broad state energy strategy with 47 separate initiatives, many of which have existed in draft form for more than a year.
Mead said he hoped federal agencies will take note of what Wyoming has done, trying to create a framework to balance energy and conservation needs in a state that leads the nation in exporting energy. Most of the initiatives can be implemented without new legislation, he said.
“I can’t say clearly where the agencies in Washington, DC, are on this,” Mead said. “But we are surely going to send copies of this to the Departments of Energy, Interior, Fish and Wildlife, etc. In the state, I can say that our federal partners that have been working with us are certainly aware of what we have been doing. We hope that in Washington, DC, they will take a serious look at this, and see that Wyoming is serious about being proactive on these issues, and we’re looking for better ways to do things. We hope they can take a cue from us,” he said, adding that he has been pushing for some time to have federal agencies be more proactive on the issues.
Mead called the 33-page plan a “living document” and “big step,” noting that it was harder to complain about the lack of a federal strategy when the state didn’t have one in place. The initiatives are in four broad categories: economic competitiveness, expansion and diversification; efficient, effective regulation; natural resources conservation, reclamation and mitigation; and education, innovation and new technologies. Mead said he continues to believe that there will be increased demand for renewables, but fossil fuels will continue to be a major influence in the state.
“Oil, gas, coal — the traditional fuels — will still have to play a vast majority of the energy role, but in California, with a renewable portfolio standard of 33%, the demand for those renewable energy projects will continue to increase. If there is a market for it, call it California, and we have the ability to produce it, I think we should be looking at producing it [wind energy] for them.” One initiative also addresses liquefied natural gas production.
Policy Director Sean Reese, who has overseen the two-year-plus effort, said the state plans to hold a series of energy roundtables this year to further flesh out what existing state agencies can do to address the initiatives and what areas will require new legislation.
Separately, an adviser to Mead offered a joint state legislative committee a glimpse at the governor’s proposed baseline water testing rule that would apply to oil and natural gas drillers. Lawmakers were offered an oral report on the rule development being drafted by the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which is expected to be completed in June then be available for public comment.
Mead’s natural resources policy adviser Jerimiah Rieman emphasized that the proposed state testing process was not meant to be a “game-stopper” for the oil and gas industry, and whatever eventually is put in place would have to be “scientifically justifiable.”
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