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Wyoming hosts meeting of legislators from energy-producing states

Stephanie Joyce

Energy industry representatives mingled with lawmakers from Wyoming and other states at last week’s meeting of the Energy Council.

The Council is a Texas-based non-profit, and its membership is made up of lawmakers from twelve states, three Canadian provinces and Venezuela. It holds quarterly meeting to discuss energy issues. Although industry underwrites portions of the events, states also pay about $40,000 a year in dues to be part of the council, in addition to travel and lodging expenses for legislators.

Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi was the keynote speaker at last week's meeting, which was held at Jackson Lake Lodge. He hit on a number of familiar topics in his speech, including the Obama administration’s alleged war on coal, public perception of fracking, and federal mineral royalties. Enzi said the state legislators that make up the Energy Council have a duty to fight regulation and encourage energy extraction.

“If we don’t get the job done for energy, it’s the middle class that pays,” he said.

Twelve Wyoming legislators are assigned to the Energy Council according to the Legislative Service Office, and more than half of them were in attendance at the meeting. For Senate President Tony Ross, it was his first time at an Energy Council meeting, and he says it was informative. In particular, he pointed to a presentation about proposed natural gas exports from British Columbia.

“I was taken back a little bit by the fact that we are behind the eight-ball," Ross said. "I mean, Canada’s moving ahead and they’ve got tidewater access in British Columbia, they’ve got some pipelines and so forth and they’d be able to move their product before we will.”

Legislators also heard presentations from industry, like Cloud Peak CEO Colin Marshall, and academics. Some of them toured one of Arch Coal’s mines.

The Energy Council meetings rotate among member states. Wyoming won’t host another one for five years.

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