Apr 20, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff WriterState Sen. Eli Bebout, a Riverton Republican, said he wants to continue working on protecting Wyoming's energy economy while fighting overreaching federal policies during his next term in office.
"The issues and the reasons for running for the Legislature when I first started are still there, and they seem to be having more and more of an effect on our state," Bebout said in announcing his re-election bid Thursday.
He represents Senate District 26, which primarily encompasses Riverton.
Bebout cited federal government policies he is dealing with as chairman of the the Legislature's minerals committee.
"The other thing is the issue of the economy and jobs," Bebout said. "I think it really behooves the people in the legislative arena to have an experienced background in small business, and that's what I've been doing all my life."
If his re-election bid is successful, the longtime legislator would continue his service in the state's political arena, which includes being a House representative from 1987 to 2000, when he retired as Wyoming Speaker of the House. He ran for governor in 2002, losing a close race to Dave Freudenthal.
The 65-year-old proprietor of Nucor Oil & Gas and Nucor Drilling, both in Riverton, returned to the Legislature in 2007 when he replaced the late Bob Peck in the Senate District 26 seat.
Bebout continues to have a strong influence in energy-related issues involving the Legislature such as serving on the Select Subcommittee on Federal Natural Resource Management.
"I will be on that subcommittee, and we will have four meetings statewide to look at the federal land policy issues," Bebout said.
He also serves on the Select Natural Resource Funding Committee, the Energy Producing States Coalition, the Enhanced and Improved Oil Recovery Commission, the Nuclear Legislative Work Group, the CSG West -- Western Economic Development and the Energy Council.
Issues involving poor water quality in an area east of Pavillion remain a priority for Bebout.
"The Pavillion issue is one where we were able to work with the governor," he said. "We sure stepped up and got some funding in there at least for a possible solution to those people there east of the town.
"Those are the kinds of things you do when you're elected."
Bebout pointed to diversification of Wyoming's energy economy as a priority. He noted the need to continue to evolve coal-fired energy plants to make them viable in the future and continue to generate upward of $1 billion annually for the state.
"Those kinds of issues are out there, and those are some of the things we'll be working on with the experience that I have," Bebout said. "It effects all of the people -- the jobs, the mortgages, it's hard to buy a home. And without a minerals income, look what it does for our foundations program" for K-12 education.
During the legislative session earlier this year, Bebout fought to rein in a massive amount of funding benefiting Natrona County's schools in order to distribute wealth to help Fremont County and elsewhere.
Bebout also serves on the Senate Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee and the Management Council, which he described as a board of directors for the Legislature.
"I'm a very fiscally conservative legislator," he said, noting he was against raises for judges in Wyoming earlier this year after other state employees would not get any pay hikes.
"If we're not going to give any raises for anybody ... I was consistent and did not support it."
He said he wants to continue to ensure the state's financial outlook remains strong.
"I made a commitment early on to support our general fund budget at the same level it was a year ago and not expand it," he said.
"We're looking at a very tight fiscal profile as we move forward," he said, noting the falling price of natural gas is expected to continue throughout the summer.
"We've just got to be careful," he said. "When you don't have the revenue you don't spend the money."
... It's totally different from what they're doing in Washington, D.C."
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