CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon discussed the state’s bid to purchase some Occidental Petroleum land and mineral rights during a Wednesday, July 8 press conference.
The State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) voted on Tuesday to submit a non-binding bid for the possible purchase. While the state’s bid amount remains anonymous, the Associated Press report that bids from the state or other entities could top $1 billion.
Gordon emphasized that the SLIB would only move forward on the purchase if it is beneficial to Wyoming’s investment portfolio. If the state were to purchase the land and mineral rights, they would use Permanent Mineral Trust Fund dollars to make the purchase.
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The state would also add revenues from the land and mineral assets to the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund portfolio if the purchase moves forward. Gordon said that mineral assets the state would procure from the purchase include trona, coal and natural gas among other minerals.
“We have been doing an intense amount of research,” Gordon said of the SLIB’s efforts in approaching the decision. “We won’t proceed if we are going to see a significant reduction in investment returns.”
Gordon added that the state engaged Barclay’s Bank to help inform the SLIB’s investment decision. WyoFile reports that the state entered a $2.5 million contract with Barclay’s in April.
The governor added that the if the state’s bid is successful, the SLIB board would have to vote again before the purchase could become final.
He said that the SLIB would hold “one additional statewide, probably Zoom enabled opportunity for people to comment” prior to that possible SLIB vote. He added that public hearings in Carbon, Sweetwater and Unita County would also precede any final action by the SLIB.
“This has not been a process that has been secretive or sly or slight of hand,” Gordon said, noting that the decision to purchase is in no way final.
The governor added that the SLIB is approaching the possible purchase in a way consistent with direction from the Wyoming Legislature and that they are also considering how the purchase could potentially disrupt county tax revenues if the state were to purchase the land.
The minerals on the land would possibly lead to various tax revenues for the state and Gordon acknowledged that the SLIB is taking into consideration how the state owning the land and minerals would impact county tax revenues.
He said that his and the SLIB’s goal with the possible purchase is to “make sure Wyoming gets the best value for its buck” and are looking at “whether it would be beneficial to our overall portfolio.”
Gordon said that the SLIB is being “very disciplined” in their approach in terms of both research and considering public feedback on the proposal.