Energy producing states should have supremacy in establishing regulations for energy production, Gov. Matt Mead said at the Energy Expo banquet Wednesday.
The annual event brings hundreds of companies and agencies involved in the oil and gas industry, and is vitally important to the future of the state and the country, he said.
As a major factor in costs for transportation, food and housing, affordable energy is a must in ensuring the nation can live the American dream, said Mead, who wants Wyoming to continue to be one of the major energy-producing states.
“Currently, this administration fails to recognize the value of affordable energy. And what I mean by that is certainly we talk about the jobs energy provides, we talk about it in terms of state revenue and supplies for businesses. But when we talk about affordable American energy, we should go further,” he said.
“It’s hard to think of anything that you do on a day-to-day basis where energy isn’t part of the system and part of the cost. If you want to get America going again, we need a sound American policy from the federal government, from the Congress, and frankly, from the state of Wyoming.”
Since last year, Mead’s office has been collaborating with the industry, environmental groups and state agencies on developing an energy policy for Wyoming.
Once completed, the Wyoming Energy Plan will help energy producers in the state to align their operations with the state’s goals for energy production.
“These things need to be done because we need to drive the energy policy based on sound science, sound principles, recognizing what it means to this country. We can no longer afford for the EPA to be the de facto energy guidance agency for this country,” Mead said, pointing to recent attempts by the Environmental Protection Agency to link hydraulic fracturing to groundwater contamination.
Let the states do it
Instead of establishing blanket rules for the industry, the federal government should delegate that responsibility to individual states, industry insiders said.
“The state knows what’s best for the state. Each and every state is different in their energy and how they can do it,” said Bob Latham, Gillette resident and retail sales representative for Cummins Rocky Mountain, referring to federal rules on sage grouse and emissions. “As far as I’m concerned, they need to relax and let the states determine what needs to be done.
“We create habitat every time we place a hole in the ground because when the gas comes up, it comes up with water. We separate the gas and here’s this water,” Latham said. “We build the reservoirs, we create habitats not only for the sage grouse, but the deer, the elk and every animal involved. The farmers and ranchers get free water.”
In addition to hydraulic fracturing, federal regulations on emissions from coal-fired power plants threaten the coal industry, one of the main providers of affordable energy for the nation, Mead said.
EPA’s regulations on emissions controls are already effecting power generation in Wyoming. Earlier this month, Black Hills Corp. said it will shutter two coal-fired power stations near Gillette — the 34.5 megawatt Osage plant, which has been idle since October 2010, and the 22-megawatt Neil Simpson 1 unit at the Wyodak complex east of Gillette. The decision could affect as many as 13 employees, but the company decided it wasn’t economical to retrofit the facilities with EPA’s emission controls.
Restrictive federal policy
“We all know we’ve got a federal government in Washington, D.C., that’s become bigger, increasingly arrogant and intrusive in our lives,” said Liz Cheney, a U.S. attorney and political analyst for Fox News, who attended the banquet.
“More than ever in American history, the political elite in Washington lacks a basic understanding or appreciation for how our economy works and just who makes it work. And I think this manifests itself across the board, but there’s no other way to describe a federal policy that restricts domestic production, puts up insurmountable roadblocks to power generation and plays political favorites,” Cheney said.
“And it doesn’t just undermine the energy industry. This undermines every single sector of our economy,” she added.
The banquet audience applauded Cheney’s speech on the national energy industry, federal regulations and current administration multiple times.
“I don’t think there were two people in the audience who disagreed with what she said,” Latham said.