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Last week in numbers
Friday oil prices: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) $58.01 Brent (ICE) $63.32
Natural gas weekly averages: Henry Hub $3.06, Wyoming Pool $2.72, Opal $2.76
Baker Hughes rig count: U.S. 923, Wyoming 25
Quote of the week
“We probably need to move away from the mindset that states need to prove they are doing their job." -- Doug Benevento, Region 8 administrator for the EPA, on building a new relationship with Wyoming.
A new era
Very little of what the new regional EPA administrator in the West has to say will cause alarm for most of Wyoming.
He echoes what politicians and state regulators and energy companies have said for some time, that the feds should let the states take the lead on issues close to home.
Environmental advocates have pushed back on the direction of the EPA under President Donald Trump, and worried over the sweeping, and rapid, rollbacks the administration has attempted.
But as far as politics go, Benevento is right in line with the state on some issues.
Take the Clean Power Plan, which he said wasn't a sound or cost-effective regulation.
In an interview with the Star-Tribune, Benevento said climate change regulationss dominated the EPA's work in recent years, downgrading other important priorities like clean drinking water.
That is changing, he said.
You can listen to the full conversation here.
Wyoming doesn't need to lose anymore revenue, but the tax bills going through Congress right now threaten mandatory sequestration of funds -- including mineral payments owed to states.
The state only gets under half of the money from federal oil and gas leases, fees and royalties, another bone some have to pick with the state-fed deal.
And right now the state gets delayed payments on about 7 percent of that income.
It's not clear what sequestration would mean for Wyoming, whether it would increase the percentage of cuts going on currently or create a double whammy.
The state's delegation says not to worry, they wrote the rules and they can work around them.
Too much, too soon at Two Elk
A group of investors still wants to build a coal facility at the old Two Elk site despite its bad reputation. But it retreated on a request to Campbell County to use $100 million of its tax exempt industrial bonds.
The group felt pressured by the deadline and by hesitation from county commissioners who wanted answers in regard to one of the investors' business baggage up in Montana.
Ultimately, the bonds are just a tool to attract investment. They don't risk the county except in name if the deal goes south. The push to treat Powder River Basin coal and make it more valuable continues. They may ask again next year.
Neither up nor down
Casper's economy has shrunk, and the sector that serves the oil and gas fields has too. But the holdouts through the difficult years of low oil prices, layoffs and bankruptcies say things are improving, albeit slowly.
Most are familiar with the Bureau of Land Managements sage grouse protections, and that those management plans may be up for some big changes.
But the Forest Services has cooperative management with the BLM. It's lands have sage grouse restrictions, too.
So, they too are up for review, the agency announced last week.