Governor announces updated energy strategyWritten by Natasha Wheeler
Cheyenne – On March 14, Gov. Matt Mead announced the 2016 energy strategy for the state of Wyoming, a new effort building on the strategy that was released in 2013.
“This strategy is again titled, Leading the Charge. In the process of putting this together, we had six public meetings across the state and one statewide conference broadcast live on YouTube, Facebook and Google. Over 3,500 individuals commented, and those comments were received in preparation for putting this together,” Mead said in a March 14 press conference.
The 2013 strategy contained 45 initiatives, 28 of which are now 100 percent complete or nearly complete, including a water strategy, pre-development oil and gas baseline water testing, integrating additional natural gas vehicles into the state fleet and more.
Wyoming’s energy strategy is a living document, according to Mead, who explained that some goals are attainable, others may need more effort and new initiatives will be added to the list as time goes on.
“We felt very good about the 2013 strategy in terms of the initiatives, that have been set out, the public process developing it, the progress we’ve made and what we’ve learned,” he stated.
Moving forward, the 2016 strategy contains 11 new initiatives including an infrastructure investment initiative, biomass utilization initiative and a wind energy manufacturing initiative.
“A primacy initiative will help find efficiencies in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. The goal is to help federal processes within the state,” Mead added. “Another initiative is a reclamation and regulatory review, and with that, looking at Wyoming bonding requirements and regulations.”
The new energy strategy will continue to work with the Endangered Species Act initiative and will also include an initiative for the collaborative state management of invasive species on federal land.
“The eighth initiative is public land access, where we will work with local governments to make recommendations on final designations of wilderness study areas and other management actions,” he continued.
A career readiness initiative will work to expand and grow current success in matching Wyoming jobs with Wyoming workers, and the carbon innovative initiative will embrace the challenge of finding solutions for advanced technologies and opportunities related to carbon-based fuels.
“The 11th initiative is the energy information initiative, which will help to grow understanding of the energy industries so the public and decision makers know their importance and can see ways to balance energy industries and environmental stewardship,” Mead explained.
Mead also recognized a few key successes of the 2013 energy strategy, including the integrated test center in Campbell County.
“I view that as an opportunity for some great research into how to look at a coal-fired plant and take what comes off of a coal power plant to see if we can utilize it,” he commented. “We want to continue with that because we want to lead not only in energy production. I think we also have a corresponding responsibility to lead in energy innovation and research.”
Mead also mentioned he is proud of the Natural Resource and Energy Explorer (NREX) tool that was built in a collaborative effort with the University of Wyoming Geospatial Information Science Center.
“Here in Wyoming, we have pipelines, we have endangered species, we have roads and we have transmission lines,” said Mead.
When he entered office, there was no easy way to determine how all of these different elements were laid out across the state in relation to one another. The NREX tool allows access to publically available data on Wyoming’s natural, cultural, socioeconomic and infrastructure resources.
“It is built to accelerate planning and discovery. NREX is available to the public, and it’s a web-based, user-friendly geographic information system (GIS). It has analytic capability and real time data updates, yet it maintains the confidentiality of sensitive data sets and allows development of maps, reports and downloading of public data,” he described.
Continuing into the future, Mead hopes that the initiatives of the 2016 energy strategy will encompass critical segments of energy and environmental work taking place in Wyoming, representing consensus energy and environmental policy.
The 2016 energy strategy, including updates on initiatives from the 2013 strategy, can be found on the governor’s website at governor.wyo.edu.