Gov. Matt Mead’s energy plan stresses innovation, education, production and natural resource protection — among other things — and could include finalized initiatives by the end of the year, a top advisor said Monday.
Shawn Reese, Mead’s policy director, released a draft version of the governor’s energy strategy at a legislative committee meeting Monday. The plan doesn’t include specific initiatives, but Reese expects working groups to craft some by the end of the year.
“We should be the state other states look to,” he said at a Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee meeting in Casper.
The state will “achieve excellence in energy development, production, and stewardship of its natural resources for the highest benefit of its citizens,” according to the plan’s mission statement.
The document prioritizes creating jobs, generating “affordable and abundant” power, protecting natural resources and heritage, and leading the way in resource development and research.
The plan was intentionally crafted to resemble a corporate plan, which can be annually updated and refreshed beyond Mead’s time in office.
Reese said the group crafting the strategy opted not to include language specific to different energy industry sectors — such as oil and gas, uranium or coal — to avoid picking “winners and losers.” They instead identified “themes” for prioritization, which will soon include specific initiatives.
Among the themes identified by the state are economic competitiveness, expansion and diversification, efficient and effective regulation, reclamation and mitigation and education, innovation and new technologies. Each topic is broken into smaller subcategories.
The state plan’s production-related goals include maintaining or expanding Wyoming’s total energy output or national market share and fostering new energy-related industries and infrastructure. Reese said he expects the subtopic could include initiatives related to compressed natural gas-powered vehicles and infrastructure.
The plan would also aim to shape how the energy industry is regulated. The latest draft includes identified needs to give state and local governments primacy in energy regulation, streamline state agency operations and remove redundancies from permitting processes, create authoritative state data sets and emphasize public education aimed at conflict resolution.
The document also prioritizes reclamation and mitigation, a state priority which Reese said has only been intensified with the reduction of abandoned mine lands funding.
The plan doesn’t include specific measures related to reclamation and mitigation, but makes becoming an innovator and leader in the processes a “priority.” Reese said measures created under the plan could include a conservation bank for off-site mitigation funded by developers. Under the latest draft, the state would also develop a “consistent” approach to bonding for reclamation.
Education is another of the state’s priorities. The strategy includes encouraging energy literacy in schools and utilizing work programs for use in community colleges and other work force services. Reese said the plan could include some sort of K-12 energy development and conservation lesson plan.
The state also identified increased energy efficiency, scalability of energy systems and applied research as priority areas under the plan.
The plan will create a clear long-term vision for the state, but details are still not yet specified. Reese said the state’s next step is to bring together “diverse” working groups — which could include industry, regulators and private citizens – to further shape the plan with specific initiatives.
The latest plan has not yet been approved by Mead, but Reese anticipates it will be soon.