Carbontech provides potential solution

Iman Mehdipour of CO2CONCRETE walks along infrastructure used to turn waste carbon dioxide emissions into concrete at the Integrated Test Center at the Dry Fork Station power plant north of Gillette. CO2CONCRETE is one of first NRG COSIA Carbon XPrize finalist teams competing for a $20 million pool of money awarded to the research teams that demonstrate the best economically viable ways to capture and reuse waste CO2.

President Joe Biden’s orders to halt federal oil and natural gas leases and permitting has energy-producing states and industries scrambling to respond.

Facing projections that put annual financial losses for Wyoming and other Western states in the billions and job losses in the tens of thousands, Wyoming stands to be “impacted disproportional to other states,” said Kris Koski, a lecturer with the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources.

Koski was among the panelists to present during a Tuesday afternoon online roundtable to examine some of the economic and legal impacts of Biden’s executive orders that put a halt to new oil and gas leases and permits on federal lands.

Wyoming could see a financial hit of anywhere from $300 million to $1.7 billion a year in tax revenues along with the loss of thousands of high-paying jobs, according to a report authored by Tim Considine, a business professor at the UW School of Energy Resources. Considine produced the report for the Wyomign Energy Authority late last year after Biden made campaign promises to curtail fossil fuels.

During Tuesday’s roundtable, Considine said the impact of Biden’s orders miss the mark in that they likely won’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions because any loss in domestic production will be picked up by other countries.

He also said that because 54% of Wyoming’s oil and 80% of gas production comes from federal lands that the impact on the Cowboy State will be especially difficult.

It’s “nearly impossible” in Wyoming to produce oil or gas without involving the federal government in some way, Koski said.

Biden’s focus on climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are extreme and “may have the opposite effects of what they’ve intended,” Koski said. “Stopping oil and gas development in Wyoming could push it to other countries.”

Impact on research

Another potential impact of the moratorium is on the state’s carbon research. Efforts to develop ways to capture, repurpose and sequester carbon dioxide emissions, along with other carbon-related industries, could be slowed or derailed, Koski said.

While admitting there aren’t any sure ways to fight the executive orders, Koski and the other panelists said there are four things Wyoming and industry officials can do now: advocacy, litigation in federal court, congressional action and state legislation and/or regulatory response.

Wyoming’s Washington, D.C., delegation already is part of a bill introduced last week that seeks to reverse Biden’s orders, Koski said. As for the state loosening its regulations to allow more development of non-federal resources, that’s “not ideal.”

“How can we incentivize oil and gas development in the face of these orders?” Koski said.

While that could allow more freedom for producers and bring in more money, that wouldn’t come close to making up for the losses in federal revenues.

Read this weekend’s print edition of the Gillette News Record for more from Tuesday’s roundtable and more on what the hard data says about the United States and greenhouse gas emissions.

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