Wyoming energy strategy takes shape
Casper – “Wyoming needs an energy plan that balances development with the environment – that incorporates open space and clear skies with jobs and economic progress,” said Wyoming Governor Matt Mead on his website describing Wyoming’s newly developing energy strategy.
As a result of the importance of both energy and open spaces in the state, this year, Mead began looking at development of an energy strategy to meet Wyoming’s needs.
“The Governor believes that having to choose between energy and the environment is false,” said Governor’s Policy Advisor Nephi Cole at the Wyoming Natural Resources Rendezvous on Dec. 12. “This looks at energy development, production and exports as well as being stewards and leaders of natural resources.”
“Governor Mead was approached about development of an energy policy and took a novel approach in developing it,” commented Cole.
At the event, Cole further explained the structure of the strategy and delved into several of the initiatives that will be priorities for 2013.
Goals of the strategy
“A traditional policy document can stale over time and may sit on the shelves,” said Cole, adding that Mead instead chose to embrace a business strategy, making Wyoming’s energy strategy a flexible document capable of reflecting changes the come with time.
The strategy, he added, is roughly triangular in nature, with its vision at the top, moving down into the guiding principles, objectives and initiatives within the strategy.
“The principles are concrete,” Cole explained, “but as time progresses, you will see that this strategy has been developed in a manner so that it can develop and meet the needs of the citizens in the state of Wyoming.”
In order to address those things that Wyoming citizens feel are important, comments and suggestions were solicited from the public. Cole said that input from numerous large and small group meetings, as well as the comments from Wyoming citizens were all important in developing both the vision and guiding principles.
Vision and principles
At the top of Wyoming’s energy strategy is the vision of the strategy.
The strategy’s vision statement says, “Wyoming will achieve excellence in energy development, production and stewardship of its natural resources for the highest benefits of its citizens.”
Cole noted that the vision can be broken into two major guiding principles – achieving excellence and highest benefit.
Beyond the guiding principles, four strategic themes were developed. The themes include economic competitiveness, expansion and diversification; efficient, effective regulation; natural resource conservation, reclamation and mitigation; and education, innovation and new technologies.
“We have tried to give a home to all of the concerns received from the public in one of these key areas,” Cole said, adding that the themes are further divided into objectives, under which initiatives, or specific actions, will be listed.
It is the initiatives that make the strategy unique, Cole noted.
“This is where the strategy differs from policy documents – this has initiatives under the objectives,” Cole explained. “In that framework, we hope the energy strategy will live on over time and past the Mead administration.”
The strategy, as a result, becomes a living document.
“Each year, we will be analyzing the items and objectives and defining smart initiatives that we will be employing over the next year or two,” Cole explained. “New initiatives will be added and refreshed, and if an initiative doesn’t make sense any longer, it will be removed.”
“For the first year, we will have largely foundational initiatives,” Cole explained. “Those things in planning and pipeline corridors, for example, will be initiatives in the energy strategy.”
“Those initiatives are setting the stage in 2013 for subsequent years,” he continued, “and it is how the strategy will work in the future.”
As Wyoming’s energy strategy continues to develop, Mead and his staff recognize that the strategy is in its infancy and will only continue to improve and develop.
“This is not the end zone dance,” Cole said. “This is the kickoff. We are really just seeing where we are. Having a solid framework that makes sense and will grow benefits us, but we really need input as we move forward to continue to grow.”
To continue to grow, Cole marked public involvement as increasingly important.
“This is a back and forth conversation,” he added, “and everyone will benefit from that.”
Cole added that as the strategy continues to develop, it is important for people to remember that it is a unique, one-of-a-kind strategy, and everything will not be perfect from the outset.
“This framework is a process that is going to be getting better and better over time, and it will be revisited every few years,” he said. “This isn’t going to be easy, and it hasn’t been easy so far.”
“We aren’t doing this because it is an easy way to develop an energy policy,” Cole emphasized. “We are doing it because the Governor believes this is the right way to develop an energy policy.”
“We are still taking feedback,” added Cole. “If you haven’t had the opportunity to look at the energy strategy, visit the Governor’s website and let us know what you think.”
The Wyoming Energy Strategy is available at governor.wy.gov/pages/energystrategy.aspx. Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.