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Mead's developed energy policy over two years

May 14, 2013 - By Mead Gruver, The Associated Press

Among other things, it recommends creation of an "energy campus" in which different fuel sources could be blended in production.

CHEYENNE -- Gov. Matt Mead on Monday unveiled a state energy policy two years in the making that calls for maintaining Wyoming's position as the top energy-exporting state while preserving its wild, scenic and pristine landscapes.

Mead's report outlines four priorities: Economic competitiveness, efficient regulation, natural resource conservation and developing new technologies.

Lack of a national energy policy, Mead said, inspired him to develop the state policy. At least a dozen agencies play a role in federal energy development oversight, the 63-page report pointed out.

"Before we started throwing stones about that, I started thinking we in Wyoming needed to have an energy strategy," Mead said. "We hope they can take a cue from us."

Wyoming's coal, oil, natural gas, wind and uranium industries make it the second-leading state, after Texas, for total energy production. As the least-populated state, Wyoming exports more energy than any other, including Texas.

Specifics of the state policy include requiring baseline groundwater testing before oil or gas drilling occurs, something long sought by environmental groups. Such testing would seek to avoid inconclusive finger-pointing about groundwater contamination that occurs near petroleum development, as has been the story for more than five years with pollution in the Pavillion area.

Mead's policy also calls for Wyoming to promote development of liquid natural gas for export as well as compressed natural gas to power vehicles.

Wyoming will encourage creating a statewide network of pipelines to carry carbon dioxide to boost pressure -- and production -- in aging oil fields. Developing "hybrid" industrial sites is another goal.

"This might mean combining coal, natural gas and wind in a large energy campus to produce liquid fuels, chemicals and power," the report said. "In the long-term, small, modular nuclear plants could be part of this value-added conversion process."

Wyoming will continue to assert influence over managing potentially threatened or endangered species, such as sage grouse, that could get in the way of energy development if they ever came under federal protection.

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