By Jonathan Gallardo
Gillette News Record
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
GILLETTE — Fossil fuels have a future, despite the federal government’s attempts to hobble the industry.
That was the message that Gov. Mark Gordon had Wednesday afternoon for those who attended the annual governor’s luncheon, hosted by the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce.
He compared the conversation on the nation’s energy portfolio to ranching.
“We have people who are being lead cows, they’re taking off and going in so many directions,” he said. “Then you have a bunch of dudes from the East that are out there trying to drive cows in one direction or another.
“The fact of the matter is, our future is just really remarkable if we can get out of our own way,” Gordon said.
He reiterated, as he has over the past few years, that coal, oil and gas have a role to play, and that “Campbell County and Wyoming can solve the problems that the country is wanting to face.”
Carbon capture and sequestration look to be part of the plan moving forward, he added.
“It is kind of interesting that new EPA rules will recognize that if we want to meet our climate goals, we are going to have to have carbon capture on our existing power plants,” he said.
Carbon capture research is happening and will continue to happen in Campbell County. Two businesses recently broke ground at the Integrated Test Center.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and its partner Japan Carbon Frontier Organization, will be launching onsite activities for their solid sorbent capture technology.
And Membrane Technology and Research will use the ITC’s large test bay for its membrane carbon capture project, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s large-scale pilot carbon capture program.
“So we’re finally, hopefully, going to see some light at the end of the tunnel that says, ‘Coal has a future, oil and gas have a future,’ and a realization that the fantasy land that we’ve been dealing with, the anticipation we’re going to go off fossil fuels, isn’t going to happen right away and may not happen at all because our technologies can get that much better,” Gordon said.
One problem that still needs to be addressed is the red tape. Gordon said he’s working with the governors of other western states to make it so that the states, not the federal government, take the lead on regulatory structure.
The nuclear plant in Kemmerer will have to go through seven National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, analyses before it’s ready to go online, Gordon said. And the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, which will be the largest wind farm in the country when completed, took 15 years to get the transmission lines put in place.
If the administration wants to deal with the “urgency” of climate change, it has to deal with all of the regulations and make it more efficient to get projects off of the ground, Gordon said.
Manufacturing companies also are moving to Wyoming, and the governor also touched on the tourism industry. People are realizing that there is more to see in Wyoming than the national parks, he said.
The International Pathfinders Camporee is projected to bring in 60,000 people from all over the world to Gillette in August 2024.
“Look at the number of people suddenly coming to Gillette, what that’s going to mean for our industries here,” he said, adding that he’s confident Campbell County will make it work, based on how it’s hosted the National High School Finals Rodeo.
“You are at the very cusp of a very exciting time in our state’s future,” he said.