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Gordon Announces Steps to Boost Wyoming Energy, Tourism, Ag

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A series of steps aimed at improving Wyoming’s primary economic drivers has been proposed or endorsed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

Gordon on Thursday announced the actions he will take or support to improve conditions in the state’s agriculture, tourism and energy sectors.

In the area of energy production, an industry shaken by recent executive orders halting the leasing of federal land for oil and gas production, Gordon said he will pursue an “all the above” energy industry that encourages the development of new industries such carbon capture technology and rare earth production in addition to oil, gas and coal.

Along those lines, Gordon is backing proposed legislation that would grant several tax reductions to the energy sector.

“Our traditional industries will adapt and continue to provide the reliable, affordable and dispatchable power they always have, only better,” he said in a statement. “Our economic recovery will hinge on the health of these industries and their ability to adapt to changing market demands. Wyoming can continue to grow even as our mix of energy supplies evolve.”

At the same time, Gordon welcomed steps to increase the ability of the new Wyoming Energy Authority to encourage the development of non-traditional resources.

“Carbon capture and the development of carbon byproducts will be part of Wyoming’s energy future,” he said. “So too should be efforts to research extracting the rare earth elements and critical minerals associated with coal that will be needed for the batteries powering the anticipated worldwide build-out of wind and solar power.”

Gordon is also backing measures that help the state’s tourism industry, its largest employer.

He singled out House Bill 85, which would let Wyoming State Parks use money raised through entrance fees to finance a large portion of their operations and outdoor recreation rather than construction projects. The measure is expected to allow for a $1.1 million reduction in money given to the parks from the state’s general fund, its main bank account, without affecting the visitor experience.

A number of bills aimed at bolstering the state’s agriculture committee are also part of Gordon’s initiative, including one that would give the state attorney general the authority to look into antitrust matters.

The measure is a response to consolidation of 80% of the meat packing industry within four major companies. Beef producers in Wyoming have long complained the four companies have kept prices for producers artificially low.

The state now lacks the authority to investigate such charges.

Gordon is also backing HB 52, which would increase Wyoming meat products used by school districts to feed students.

The governor said he is also working with legislators to expand the state’s meat processing capacity.

“This is only a part of an ambitious initiative focused on adding value to products across the entire spectrum of agricultural enterprise,” he said. “This effort is essential to grow this key part of our economy.”

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Wyoming Energy Sector Strategizing Response To Biden Ban On New Drilling

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By Sarah Downey, The Center Square

Wyoming energy producers are preparing to fight the Biden administration’s recent halt to new energy exploration leases on federal lands.

The ban is part of a slew of executive actions President Joe Biden has undertaken as part of a new climate policy.

“The Biden administration’s energy policies will do nothing to combat climate change while shifting oil and natural gas production from domestic sources to foreign countries,” Ryan McConnaughey, communications director at the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, told The Center Square by email.

“These actions will dampen the economy, harm national security, lessen environmental standards, and destroy good-paying jobs for the middle class,” he said.

The ban on leasing is a precursor to the Biden administration’s stated goal of ending all natural gas and oil production on federal lands, McConnaughey said.

“It will have immediate impacts on where companies invest for future production,” McConnaughey said.

Half of the state of Wyoming is federally owned. McConnaughey said that a recent study by University of Wyoming economist Tim Considine found that a leasing ban would result in the state losing $300 million in tax revenue annually.

“Experts tell us that a long-term ban could cost us 33,000 jobs in Wyoming, for a state of only half a million people,” U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-WY, said on the Senate floor.

Without robust oil and gas production, stakeholders predict Wyoming won’t be able to economically recover from the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We hope that cooler heads within the Biden administration will prevail,” McConnaughey said. “Should these misguided policies be enacted it will result in devastating impacts to Wyoming’s economy.

“The Petroleum Association of Wyoming is committed to protecting the livelihoods of the hard-working men and women of the natural gas and oil industry. We will use all legal means at our disposal to fight any attempts on our way of life.”

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Gordon Asks State Agencies To Evaluate Oil, Gas Lease Ban Impact

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon is directing the state’s agencies to determine how the state will be affected by a ban on oil and gas leasing on federal land and help him plot legal strategies to battle the ban.

Gordon on Friday issued an executive order in direct response to the moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal land put in place last week by President Joe Biden in his own executive order.

“These orders issued by the new administration are a direct attack on Wyoming and our way of life, Gordon said in a statement. “I am directing members of my cabinet to examine the economic, financial and workforce impacts of the President’s actions. I will continue to fight these misguided and destructive policies by all means necessary. The way to move America forward is not through crushing her Western states.”

On his first day in office, Biden halted oil and gas leases on federal land for 60 days. Last week, he issued a second executive order on the subject extending the moratorium for an unspecified amount of time to allow the Department of Interior to thoroughly review the federal leasing program and existing leases on federal lands.

Gordon’s executive order directs state agencies to determine how their budgets will be affected by the ban and how jobs in the oil and gas industry in Wyoming will be affected.

It also directs the agencies to identify any tools that could be used to challenge Biden’s executive order, along with opportunities for litigation “to protect and preserve the strength, vitality and independence of Wyoming’s energy industry.”

The executive order does not contain a timeline as to when the governor should receive the information.

“We will be communicating with the impacted state agencies over the next several days regarding this,” said Michael Pearlman, a spokesman for the governor’s office.

A University of Wyoming study commissioned by the Legislature has concluded that a moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal land could reduce Wyoming’s production by $872 million per year, costing the state more than $300 million a year in tax revenue.

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Wyoming Delegation Proposes Bills To Halt Biden Lease Moratorium

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation have introduced legislation aimed at stopping the Biden administration’s efforts to halt mineral leasing on federal land.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, have both introduced legislation that would require congressional approval for any executive branch effort to stop energy or mineral leasing and permitting on federal land.

Lummis’ bill, co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso and 24 other members of the Senate, is called the “Protecting Our Wealth of Energy Resources Act” and would require congressional approval for mineral and energy leases on federal land.

Cheney actually introduced two bills, one dealing with oil and gas leases and the second with coal leases. Both would require a joint resolution from Congress to approve any moratorium on leasing on federal land.

Cheney’s bill on oil and gas leases is co-sponsored by 21 other representatives, while her bill on coal leases is co-sponsored by 14 others.

The bills were introduced in response to President Joe Biden’s executive order on Wednesday halting all mineral leases on federal land until the Department of Interior can conduct a thorough review of federal leasing programs.

“The Biden Ban would be nothing short of catastrophic for western states that are already reeling from the decline in energy usage brought on by the pandemic and continued volatility in energy markets,” Lummis said in a statement. “Through the POWER Act, Congress would reiterate that federal lands should serve not the whims of a radical progressive minority, but the needs of all Americans.” 

“The executive actions from the Biden Administration banning new leasing and permitting on federal land endanger our economy and threaten our national security,” Cheney said. “The legislation I am introducing today would safeguard against these damaging orders, and prevent the job loss, higher energy costs, and loss of revenue that promises to come with them.”

Gov. Mark Gordon expressed support for all three measures, citing the economic impacts of a long-term moratorium on mineral leases on federal lands.

“Oil and gas industries across the West are hit hard by the Biden administration’s executive action — eight western states … could lose $8 billion in (gross domestic product) and over $2 billion in tax revenue per year,” he said. “This is a bipartisan issue.“

Since federal laws provide for the leasing of fossil fuels and minerals, it is appropriate that Congress would have to agree to such a departure from the intent of federal law,” he continued. “It is disappointing that such a law is necessary, but it is.”

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Jonah Energy: Uncertainty Worst Aspect Of Biden Rule

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

While an executive order imposing a moratorium on oil and gas leases on federal land will have immediate impacts on the state, what is more concerning is the lack of solid information on how long it might go on, an oil and gas industry leader said Wednesday.

Paul Ulrich, vice president of Jonah Energy, said it could take some time to determine the full extent of the impact of President Joe Biden’s executive order on the state.

“Between the executive order and the various actions the federal agencies are going to have to take … I don’t think we’re going to see clarity on how it might impact Wyoming and our producers for quite some time,” said Ulrich, whose company is operating the state’s only natural gas rig. “The challenge we face now is the uncertainty.”

However, the order may also create an opportunity for Wyoming to have a voice in federal efforts to promote more efficient and cleaner fossil fuel production, Ulrich said.

Biden on Wednesday issued an executive order placing a moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal land until the Department of Interior can complete a “rigorous review” of its permitting practices and its existing fossil fuel leases. The order is part of Biden’s climate change strategy.

The order extends one signed the first day Biden took office that halted leasing on federal land for 60 days.

The executive order includes no timetable, Ulrich said, which adds even more uncertainty to the situation.

“What that leads to is a significant amount of uncertainty in investing, operational planning, all of the other work that needs to be done to effectively and efficiently develop on federal land,” he said. “Clearly, the lack of certainty about what the future holds should be concerning for everybody in Wyoming.”

The longer the moratorium is in place, the bigger the impact on the state will be, Ulrich said.

“We all know the positive impact the industry has on revenues, on our job base, on our way of life,” he said.

A study conducted by the University of Wyoming at the direction of Wyoming’s Legislature predicted that an end to federal leasing would cost the state more than $300 million a year in lost tax revenues if it was in place for five years.

However, the review of federal leases as the Department of Interior looks for ways to make the production of fossil fuels could provide an opportunity for Wyoming and companies like Jonah, which Ulrich said produces some of the cleanest natural gas in the country, to have some input on the department’s ultimate decisions.

“What I see is an opportunity for Wyoming to step up and continue to lead in the conservation space, in innovation in producing natural gas and oil and coal cleaner and more sustainably,” he said. “It’s my strong desire that the new administration reaches out to us, allows us to sit at the table and demonstrate the success we’ve had to reduce all of our impacts.”

Wyoming has been recognized for its conservation efforts and its work to reduce carbon emissions and the federal review might give the state a chance to share its expertise, he said.

“We’re one of the few companies in the country to have certified low-emission natural gas,” he said. “We believe that can be part of the solution.”

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Wyoming Officials Slam Biden’s Oil and Gas Moratorium

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Officials from across Wyoming didn’t have positive reactions to President Joe Biden’s halt on oil and gas leasing on federal lands Wednesday.

A number of state officials and organizations spoke out against Biden’s decision Wednesday, agreeing it would economically impact Wyoming.

“Today’s executive orders signed by President Biden will endanger our economy in Wyoming and threaten our national security. The negative ramifications that will be felt across the country because of this ban will be real and painful. Energy costs will rise. Domestic energy production will fall. Jobs will be lost,” U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said in a statement.

Biden issued an executive order Wednesday that will suspend new oil and gas leasing on federal land to allow the administration to conduct a comprehensive review of the federal leasing program and existing fossil fuel leases.

“Let me be clear, the #BidenBan would decimate our economy and energy security, costing nearly $700 billion in GDP by 2030 and destroying nearly a million jobs by 2022,” U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis said on Twitter.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso slammed the decision on the Senate floor Wednesday.

“Despite all of the talk about unity, one of the first things that President Biden has done in office is to directly attack energy-producing states like Wyoming,” he said. “In Wyoming, energy production does a lot more than just keep the lights on. It puts food on the table, and it does it for thousands of families. In Wyoming, we produce coal and oil and natural gas. Uranium, as well, for nuclear power.”

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming predicted the moratorium is the first step to stop the production of fossil fuels on federal lands.

“Today’s announcement is another step in the administration’s plan to eventually shut down all production of natural gas and oil on federal lands,” the Petroleum Association of Wyoming said. “This misguided policy does nothing to reduce the demand or to improve environmental outcomes, but rather increases reliance on foreign sources of energy not beholden to America’s environmental, labor or safety standards while increasing energy costs for consumers.”

Biden, in his first day in the Oval Office, issued an executive order halting new oil and gas leases on federal land for 60 days. Wednesday’s order expands on the original.

“I was taken aback by swift orders executed by the Biden Administration last week after months of rhetoric around bringing unity to our nation,” Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said. “A federal ban on oil and gas leases will defund schools. Wyoming depends on some $150 million a year in oil and gas federal mineral royalties to fund our K-12 schools.”

Gov. Mark Gordon also noted his displeasure at the order on Tuesday, before it was even official.

“It is a reinvigoration of top-down, Obama-era policies that only served to divide and alienate the very working-class American communities with whom the Biden administration has pledged to unite,” he said. “It is clear President Biden has caved in to a loud segment of the Democratic Party that is pushing to require all policies and decisions to meet a litmus test of climate change, regardless of consequence.”

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Report: Wyoming Will See Gas Price Increase This Year

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming will see an increase in gas prices this year, a petroleum analyst told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.

According to gas comparison website GasBuddy, both Wyoming and the United States will see sharp increases in gas prices during the year, with the national average possibly peaking at $3 per gallon at some point this year, likely in July.

However, for the year as a whole, average gas prices will increase by only about 27 cents per gallon, the report said.

Wyoming’s gas prices will follow the same pattern, said Patrick De Haan, head petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.

“I don’t expect Wyoming to be much different in 2021 than what’s prescribed in the outlook, as the themes we expect to impact gas prices in every of the nation’s 50 states is common – COVID COVID COVID, unfortunately,” De Haan told Cowboy State Daily.

However, De Haan said Wyoming’s fluctuations would probably occur several weeks after changes in the rest of the country.

“Wyoming gas prices typically lag the national average by several weeks, so that may mean prices rise after the national average does, and they may also take time to fall should there be a circumstance in which the national average decline,” De Haan said.

The GasBuddy report predicted that the nation’s yearly spending on gasoline will rise to nearly $326 billion dollars in 2021, an increase of over $45 billion from last year, as the average household sees its annual gasoline spending rise to $1,670.

While much of the U.S. population will see prices remain in the $2 per gallon range, major cities in California and Hawaii will spend the entire year over $3, while others, including Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Seattle are also at risk of seeing average prices over $3 per gallon in 2021, the report said.

Most of the increase an be traced to the coronavirus and oil production, GasBuddy said.

However, De Haan said he expected gas prices nationally this year to remain below previous records.

“I’m very optimistic that we’ll see improvement in the pandemic and see gas prices stay far under their previous records, leading Americans to perhaps turn to the nation’s highways to seek happiness after a year of stress and challenges, slamming the door on what was an awful 2020,” De Haan said.

Current gas prices ranged widely throughout Wyoming in GasBuddy’s latest survey, with the lowest being found in Laramie ($1.89 per gallon) and the highest being in Jackson ($2.67). The average price found across the state is around $2.15.

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Wyoming Oil, Gas Industry In Position To Thrive With Better Markets, Report Says

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Once market conditions align to pull the oil and natural gas industry out of its slump, Wyoming will be in position to take a national role in the industry, according to the Wyoming State Geological Survey.

“When supply, demand and price factors align, Wyoming’s oil and gas industry is well positioned to rebound,” said the survey’s report on the industry. “Overall, Wyoming is in a position to remain a major player on the national oil and gas stage for years to come.”

The report, written by Erin Campbell, the WSGS director and state geologist, said Wyoming was on track early last year to produce oil in quantities not seen since 1991.

“Within months, however, a perfect storm of dynamic national and international market conditions and a global pandemic drastically changed the trajectory of Wyoming’s production, especially of oil,” it said.

The report said surpluses of both oil and gas have contributed to market declines, as did declining demands for fossil fuels caused in part by fuel economy gains, increased energy efficiency and above-average winter temperatures.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns abruptly slowed most of the economy, the combination of an oversupplied market and severely diminished demand worsened the supply-demand imbalance and briefly forced April oil prices in to the negative,” the report said.

The global oil and gas industry is now in what the WSGS described as a “holding pattern,” with oil prices recovering slightly.

Looking to the future, the WSGS said a number of factors must improve before the industry will see significant gains.

“The timing of Wyoming’s oil and gas industry recovery will depend on demand for oil and gas returning to levels that will draw down and balance supplies, future OPEC decisions, and prices returning to a value at which production from Wyoming reservoirs is profitable,” the report said.

However, it added that once conditions do improve, Wyoming’s oil and gas industry is in a good position to take advantage of the situation.

“Unconventional reservoirs in the Powder River and Denver basins contain substantial oil and associated gas reserves,” it said. “In the Greater Green River Basin, horizontal drilling has greatly increased the production potential of Wyoming’s large gas fields. Recent investment in pipeline infrastructure ensures the continued distribution of the state’s resources.”

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Wyoming Loses 14,400 Energy Jobs In November Compared To 2019

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

After being hit by both a downturn in the energy industry and economic restrictions imposed by the coronavirus, Wyoming lost 14,400 jobs in November compared to one year ago, according to state figures.

The Wyoming Economic Analysis Division, in its report on economic conditions in the state in late 2020, said most of the loss came in the mining sector. However, the state’s retail trade industry actually gained jobs.

The division’s regular report “Wyoming Insights” looks at the various statistics that point to the health of the state’s economy.

In the area of employment, the report said the state had 274,600 jobs in November, a decline of 14,400 from November 2019.

Most of the decline, about 6,000 jobs, was traced to the mining industry. In addition to losses in the state’s coal industry in the past year, Wyoming’s oil and gas industry was hit by a global price war that forced prices so low that at one point, the state contained no working oil rigs.

Also posting declines were state and local government jobs, which fell by 2,600 in the 1-year period, the report said.

Professional and business services lost 1,900 jobs and the leisure and hospitality workforce was reduced by 1,800.However, employment in the state’s retail industry grew by 5.6%, 1,600 jobs, during the year, the report said.

The declines in the state’s mining industry made themselves felt in the form of lower tax revenues, the report said. Sales and use taxes paid by the mining industry in December dropped by $6.7 million, about 67%, from 2019 figures, the report said.

Sales and use tax payments increased in December over 2019 figures for three segments of the economy, the wholesale trade industry ($253,000), public administration ($73,800) and professional and business services ($27,800).

The drop in sales and use tax income was felt in most Wyoming counties, with Campbell County seeing the biggest decline at almost $4.1 million. Carbon County’s share of sales and use taxes dropped by $2.8 million in December from December 2019, a decline of 58.9%.

Teton County saw an increase from 2019 in its December tax collections of $787,000 and Albany County’s tax collections increased by $42,500.

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How A Biden Presidency Could Impact Wyoming Energy

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

President-elect Joe Biden made some big promises that, if kept, could prove disastrous for the Wyoming energy economy, but it’s not likely to happen given the outcome of the election, one energy economist says.

In little more than a week, sitting U.S. President Donald Trump will hand over the reins to Biden, who has publicly committed to take steps to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions starting on day one.

By the end of first day in the White House, the soon-to-be president has promised executive action that will ban oil and gas leasing on federal lands in addition to implementing “aggressive methane pollution limits for existing oil and gas operations,” according to Biden’s energy plan.

But it’s unlikely that those bans and restrictions will be a permanent energy development moving forward, according to Robert Godby, energy economist and acting associate dean at University of Wyoming’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources.

The Democratic Party now has control of both the legislative branch and the White House, but the newly won Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate is razor thin, Godby said, which means any dissenting opinion could derail such radical energy-related actions on the Senate floor.

“Within that, it means that moderates will most likely prevail despite what people consider,” Godby said.

He noted it is important to remember that one of the most prominent Democratic Senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, comes from a state second only to Wyoming in coal production.

It is only speculation at this point, but it is logical to believe that Manchin will do what he can to protect coal within his state, Godby said, which is good news for pro-Wyoming coal efforts by Republican Senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis.

Godby also believes, that given the outcome of the recent election, the Democratic Party will not do anything to endanger their precarious margins in the body.

It is Godby’s contention that Democrats will instead work hard to avoid taking on drastic climate legislation which may result in backlash from their constituents in states reliant upon fossil fuel production. Past discussions of major climate legislation are believed to have contributed to Democrats losing control of the Senate in 2014.

Additionally, Biden is generally considered more of a moderate and made it known during the presidential debates that he is not anti-fracking, despite his contrary stance during the primaries. Biden has worked hard to thread the needle by calling for ending oil and gas leasing upon public lands while also not calling directly to outlaw fracking, a decision which could have cost him votes in eastern states which have benefitted greatly from America’s newly accessible and abundant supplies of natural gas.

The decline in the coal industry can be partly attributed to cheaper energy production available through natural gas, Godby said, which in turn is now being pushed out by even cheaper renewable energy options, both of which are cheaper to build than utility-scale coal fired power plants.

More important for utilities, the operating costs associated with renewables, irrespective of depreciation and long-term maintenance, are significantly lower than those for coal or natural gas. There is a cost that can be attributed to each ton of coal burned or each MCF of natural gas used and those specific costs are how utilities decide, based upon demand at any one time, whether to run the wind turbine, gas turbine, or coal plant within their portfolio.

Climate change concerns are gaining momentum as well, according to a 2019 poll conducted by Pew Research, with most Americans wanting their government to do more to reverse the effects of climate change and 72% of those polled urged prioritizing the development of alternative energy options over expanding fossil fuels.

Similar trends have been seen in Wyoming with 61% of residents participating in a 2016 study from Yale University acknowledging that global warming is real.

“Most people recognize that climate change is an issue, that it’s human caused, and we need to do something about it,” Godby said, adding that some are beginning to understand that, in order to address climate change, the current concentrated use of fossil fuels can’t continue.

Coal markets are changing, too. There are too many coal mines chasing too few customers, according to Godby.

In the short term, coal could be looking at a brief resurgence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the oil and gas industry, which has served to bolster coal’s ability to compete with natural gas, Godby said.

This resurgence could increase coal production as high as 235 million tons in 2021, according to Godby, but it will only be a temporary situation.

As the nation moves out from underneath the COVID-19 umbrella, oil production is expected to pick back up and drive natural gas prices down, once again placing strain on an already strained coal market.

“I don’t think any president, any administration, or any change in Congress can really do much to stop the market momentum and the international recognition that energy technology has changed,” Godby said.

It might not happen in the next two years or even in the next decade, but coal markets are changing to the negative, he added.

Oil and Gas

Natural gas could be facing issues moving forward with the incoming administration, but they might not be as severe as some have argued, Godby said.

It’s not likely that permanent drilling and leasing bans on federal lands will occur given the political climate, but the industry could still see some negative impacts if emission rollbacks instituted by Trump are reinstated.

“And those can be done without Congress through executive order and through agency orders,” Godby said, which could make it more difficult for natural gas to compete with other fuels like coal.

If any bans were implemented, Godby predicts they would most likely happen in places where oil and gas drilling is not likely to upset the thin Democratic majority in the Senate.

“There’s too much at stake for the Democrats to lose and not enough to gain there,” Godby said.

But a transitioning energy market, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic and growing climate concerns, means oil could very well follow the trends in coal.

The pandemic has shown us one thing: that the nation can conduct its business without as much travel, which means fundamental structural changes in the transportation sector could reduce the demand for oil, according to Godby.

“That means that the outlook for oil long-term, and I mean a decade-plus, is also likely negative,” he said, adding that the sooner Wyoming starts recognizing these realities and adapting to them, the better.

Gillette

Gillette and Campbell County are in for a challenge regardless of who sits in the White House, a fact evidenced by the last four years and favorable coal conditions, Godby noted, but that doesn’t mean the end of the road.

“I’ve always been optimistic about Gillette,” Godby said, adding that Gillette is a dynamic place being the third largest population center in the state with airport access and higher education opportunities.

The decision to avoid going anti-fracking sparked concerns within Biden’s own party and raises the possibility that we may see an attempt from more progressive voices in the party to resume a more anti-energy stance, according to Godby.

Places like Gillette have the human capital, the knowledge, and the willingness to find new uses for coal, he said.

Campbell County Commissioner Del Shelstad advised that efforts to find new uses for coal outside of thermal energy are already underway at places like the Wyoming Integrated Test Center (ITC) and the Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center.

“We’ve never seen coal in the state that it is now. I don’t know that coal will ever come back like it was, but we’d like to think there’s a sustainable future for coal somewhere,” Shelstad said.

He added that he would like to see the commercialization of new coal technologies that would result in boots on the ground and jobs created.

Godby agreed, saying that the economic opportunities are becoming more readily apparent as Wyoming residents come to grips to the fact that coal could be on its way out the door.

“Long-term, I think Gillette has a bright future. Whether it will be the energy capital of the nation, that remains to be seen,” he said. “Things change that way, but that doesn’t mean the long-term success of Gillette is predetermined.”

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