CASPER, Wyo — Governor Mark Gordon presented a mixed, but hopeful outlook for Wyoming’s energy industry in his opening address Tuesday to the 66th Legislature.
There is “good reason to be concerned,” Gordon said, that the incoming Joe Biden Presidential Administration will “further dampen the economic outlook for energy and mining here in Wyoming.”
“Signals being sent during the transition period indicate that the substantial progress we’ve made to reduce obstructionist, counterproductive regulation could be in peril.”
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Part of Biden’s “Clean Energy Revolution” platform includes an immediate ban on new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters. Such a ban could cost Wyoming over $300 million per year in annual tax revenues, Gordon’s office said, citing a study by the Wyoming Legislature.
The governor noted that about half of the state’s minerals are federally owned.
Gordon referred to the pending Supreme Court case that Wyoming and Montana have filed against the State of Washington for blocking a proposed coal export terminal that would provide access to Asian markets.
“It was an unlawful restraint of trade,” Gordon said.
Gordon urged continued support Senator John Barrasso’s efforts to amend Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which Washington state has cited as foundation for blocking the terminal.
Gordon said he hoped new presidential administration would appreciate the role that energy independence has as a matter of national security.
Gordon did say there were hopeful signs for Wyoming’s energy future.
He said he expected federal Department of Energy support for coal capture technologies to continue in the coming years.
Efforts have been underway in Wyoming to retrofit existing power plants with carbon capture, utilization and storage technology. A DOE study said aggressive investment in the technology could boost employment as well as reduce CO2 emissions.
The $900 billion pandemic relief bill passed by Congress in December included tax credits and other support for carbon capture technology, and was hailed by Senator John Barrasso.
Gordon said Wyoming has been “responsibly” leading the way to a new energy picture that values “all sources of energy,” including nuclear, oil, gas, and coal, as well as renewables like wind and solar.
Gordon said renewables would “complement” fossil fuel industry. The pandemic relief bill also included funding for those industries.
“It’s never been about one enterprise or one commodity,” Gordon said. “It’s the principal of states rights and access to markets.”