CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The last of six statewide meetings has been held on Gov. Matt Mead’s plan to boost Wyoming’s energy sector and protect the state’s natural resources and an update to the plan is expected to be released early next year, according to an official in Mead’s office.
The plan was originally released in 2013 and included 47 energy, conservation and economic development initiatives.
Nephi Cole, a policy adviser to Mead, said many of those “action items” have been accomplished or are close to being completed.
This includes putting in place a baseline water-testing rule before companies drill, promoting liquefied natural gas and updating the setback requirement for oil and gas operations.
Cole said the strategy is intended to be a living document, and a new set of initiatives will be included in the update.
“We are asking for a frank discussion about energy, about stewardship, what we have and what we can do better,” he told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. “We are looking for ideas we can act on, places where we can help or places where we can get out of the way.”
The final public meeting on the plan was held Wednesday in Cheyenne. About 20 industry officials, academics, policymakers and local residents attended.
Cole said this meeting was the least attended, and many of the other meetings attracted 50 people or more.
But he said it’s still important to get any amount of suggestions from the public instead of having them all coming from “a guy sitting behind a desk.”
During the Cheyenne meeting, those attending were split into three groups. During an hour-long breakout session, the groups discussed what they would like to see be part of the updated energy strategy.
Darrell Moran, a business development representative with Signet Stone, said he wants state agencies to work together better so they can create more consistent regulations and provide more timely responses.
“Living by the standards is not the question,” he said. “It’s just how do you streamline it.”
Rep. Jim Byrd, D-Cheyenne, was one of several current or former lawmakers who attended Wednesday’s meeting.
He said Wyoming needs to do a better job of explaining to the rest of the nation why energy development here is so important.
“The population wants it all – I mean all of it – clean air and everything like this,” he said. “But they don’t want any interruption in their electric grid or anything that would bother their lifestyle.”
Other ideas from Wednesday’s meeting included focusing on value-added products, promoting wind energy and making government buildings more energy efficient.
Cole said the governor’s office is now in the process of reviewing the public comments they have collected during the last several months.
These ideas will be summarized and presented during a public meeting planned for late September in Casper.
After getting more public comment, Cole said Mead will review the suggestions and select the final initiatives that will be added to the energy strategy. The update is expected to be released in early 2016.
Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, http://www.wyomingnews.com
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