Markets believe in climate change, according to Landon Stropko, who sees firsthand the ripple effect that policies like the Green New Deal have on the national energy market.
Stropko, a Republican energy lobbyist and former legislative director for Sen. Mike Enzi, has spent his careernavigating partisan politics and pushing for energy policy change. And though the Green New Deal resolution, introduced in February by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y, and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., was voted down in March, it nonetheless underscores the nation’s growing distaste for fossil fuels and increased demand for clean energy.
“This is not good for coal,” Stropko said to the roomful of participants at the sixth-annual WBR Energy Summit in Gillette last week.
Policy is slow to change, he noted, and though President Trump verbally supports a pro-gas and oil agenda, that sentiment alone is not enough to drive policy nor can it undo past legislation, such as pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, which will not go into effect until December 2019.
“The impact of the Green New Deal technically does nothing but make a statement,” Stropko said, “but it underscores an agenda supported by many in Washington.”
Much of the current energy policy, which has been in effect since 2005, is pre-determined by prior rulings, according to Kip Coddington, director of energy policy and economics at the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources. One example he cited was the 2007 Supreme Court ruling that declared carbon dioxide an air pollutant subject to regulation.
“It’s the law,” he said, “not a market preference.”
As an attorney with more than two decades of experience in the fossil and renewable energy market, Coddington is an expert on low-carbon technologies and navigating precariously changing markets and legislation, such as the ruling by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras this spring that blocked new oil and gas drilling onnearly 500 square milesof Wyoming’s public land.
Like the majority of other presenters at the summit, he sees the changing market as an opportunity to innovate and be a leader.
He sees the advantage in studying how other states, like Colorado, have adapted to clean energy policies augmented by fossil fuels. Legislatively, he’s in favor of incentivizing the development of low-carbon technologies and developing specific low-carbon policy strategies that support diversifying resources to maximize return. Opportunities like grid-scale storage and low-carbon projects could have significant commercial relevance, he noted, and huge economic impact for the state.
“Diversification is imperative,” he said, “and I’m ruthlessly optimistic in our potential.”
He’s not suggesting giving up the fight to save coal but notes that it’s in the state’s economic best interest to take a realistic, hard-look at the changing face of energy.
“Transitions are hard, difficult times in general,” he said, “and there’s no reason that Wyoming can’t continue to be a predominant supplier, but in a clean, carbonized way.”