Q and A: Wyoming governor highlights state’s energy opportunities

Wyoming governor gives speech on stage at CAM-PLEX in Gillette
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon reviews Wyoming energy in his June 22 speech for Energy Exposition attendees at the CAM-PLEX in Gillette. (Mary Stroka/County 17)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon highlighted why Wyoming is a pivotal region for the energy industry in a speech Wednesday at The Energy Exposition.

Before a crowd of roughly 100 energy industry members, Gordon said that while renewable energy is wonderful and Wyoming has ample opportunities in that area, including Power Company of Wyoming’s Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, reliable, deliverable power is necessary, considering adverse weather events, to fill any remaining gaps.

County 17 caught up with Gordon after his speech to ask him a few questions. Questions and responses have been shortened and slightly edited to ensure clarity.

County 17: What do you want Campbell County residents to know about energy? For everyone who couldn’t make it, what do you think, in a nutshell, that they should know about Wyoming energy?

Gordon: No matter what you’re going to do in energy, there’s going to be something for you here in Wyoming. And Campbell County, especially, has just an enormous amount of resources. It’s not only got oil and gas, but it’s got coal.

We’re now finding in the coal ash that we can do some remarkable things to find critical minerals and rare earth (elements). … Campbell County’s days as an energy capital are far from being slowed down.

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And if you look at some of the initiatives that are coming here, we’re talking about geologic sequestration, the CarbonSAFE project here. The Integrated Test Center is here, which is going to be able to make it so that we have a way to use carbon dioxide as a commercial product. It’s also a way that we can look at how we use coal, which is our most plentiful resource, in different ways than just burning it. We know we can make carbon fibers out of it. We know that we can make asphalt out of it, building materials, etc., etc.

County 17: You started the gas prices taskforce. It’s a great idea. What do you think the actual impact is going to be though?

Gordon: I think that there may be some things that we can do that we haven’t thought about, which is why I said, “just open all the doors.”

We know that, at a bulk level, about 24 cents is what Wyoming charges for tax … about $171 annually for everybody. … It’s a significant number, but it pales when you’re talking about $4 or $5 gas.

So what we’ve got to do is to figure out ways that we can get more production and more capacity.

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Tonight, I didn’t talk about one of the biggest problems with [the Biden administration].

One of the biggest problems that this administration has looked at is putting tax incentives to get renewable fuels. Renewable fuels, as they’re designed right now, start out in the Midwest with soy oil and canola oil and beef tallow. They get railroaded down to New Mexico. Then they get railroaded up here, where we’ve taken two lines of refining capacity offline. So think about all the energy you burn to just get the product here. And then the only place it goes is California.

So, having more refining capacity, being able to build something in a reasonable timeline. These are all important considerations.

Now, they take time to get there, but one of the most important things that we can do is look for any opportunity that we can reduce the price of oil.

One of the things that we’re going to look at is “Are we shutting down pipelines?” Colorado may have shut down some pipelines, and if that is affecting our supply, our ability to move product, that also is raising the price.

So we want to look everywhere to see if there’s ways to do it.