Minerals Committee Considers Coal Plants, Oil And Gas Laws At Interim Session

May 17, 2019

Credit Catherine Wheeler

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee met in Gillette this week to discuss potential closures of coal power plants in the state. Rocky Mountain Power's parent company is considering early retirements of its coal plants finding many of them are uneconomic.

The committee is considering how to extend the facilities' lives by possibly repurposing the plants.

House committee chairman Mike Greear said he thinks an option is working with carbon capture technology, adding it could help create low-carbon energy plants.

"Really what we need to do is tie that in with this ongoing conversation we've had with carbon capture sequestration. And how do we kind of combine those together?" Greear said.

Greear said the committee will work on drafts for a research funding source for carbon capture technology that's based on recommendations from Gov. Mark Gordon.

The committee also discussed changes to the state's oil and gas laws.

The committee is evaluating updates to laws to keep up with changing technology. Wyoming's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has been overwhelmed for the past year with applications for permits to drill. Greear said Wyoming oil and gas regulations were designed for vertical drilling and that the laws are behind.

"The problem with our regulations not keeping up with it is now we have created a race to operatorship. That was a big issue we discussed. The second one deals with forced pooling because our forced pooling statues need to be looked at in light of this new technology," he said.

This first meeting served as a way for the committee to learn about potential solutions, Greear said. Several bills on the topic arose during the legislature's session this year but were postponed.