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wyoming getting serious

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    CHEYENNE, Wyo.- Marking Wyoming’s groundbreaking effort as the first state to establish a regulatory framework for carbon capture and sequestration, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal is expected to take action on House Bill 89 and 90 (HEA 18 and 25) in a formal signing at noon on Tuesday, March 4, 2008, in the Capitol Rotunda.

    Earlier this year, Freudenthal told the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee that the Wyoming Legislature had an opportunity to lead the nation in regulating long-term carbon capture and sequestration.

    “These bills are the result of a lot of hard work on the part of the Judiciary Committee,” Freudenthal said. “I commend the members, and the Legislature as a whole, for not getting sidetracked and instead passing some very targeted legislation that moves Wyoming forward in the practical application of this important process.”

    House Bill 89/HEA 18 gives the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality the authority to regulate the long-term storage of carbon dioxide. Its companion, House Bill 90/HEA 25, recognizes that surface owners control the underground pore spaces where carbon dioxide could be stored or sequestered.

    Wyoming legislators in both the Senate and the House spoke favorably of the legislation.

    Senate President John Schiffer said the two bills are a beginning that will allow the state to be ready for the changes coming in the energy industry. “These two bills go together,” he said. “The coal train of the future may not look the coal train of today, but we’re still going to need to move coal. It might be in a pipeline or it might be through electricity - it will certainly look different than it does in 2008. But we’re still going to have to move coal.”

    House Speaker Roy Cohee said that as a producer of carbon-based fuels, Wyoming has a lot at stake.

    “We can continue to be a part of the problem, perceived or not,” Cohee said. “Or, we can proceed to be a part of the solutions placed before us. HB 89 and HB 90 take Wyoming to the front of the discussion of responsible mineral development.”

    Sen. Tony Ross, R-Laramie, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the legislation “visionary.”

    “This legislation will lay the groundwork for our minerals to compete on a global basis,” Ross said. “I applaud the efforts of my committee members who worked hard on this legislation in the interim.”

    Majority Whip and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Ed Buchanan, R-Torrington, said, “Wyoming’s carbon resources are our foundation to a strong economy. These carbon sequestration bills are an integral piece of the development of clean coal technologies which will help to ensure the continued viability of Wyoming coal in supplying the nation and the world with a reliable energy source.”

    Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Tom Lubnau, R-Gillette, called the passage of these two bills “an example of what can happen when good people from both parties roll up their sleeves and work to a shared vision of the future.”

    “Our economy and national security depend upon the production of environmentally responsible and cost effective energy. Wyoming must continue nationwide leadership in energy production,” Lubnau said.

    “These two bills together make Wyoming a leader in this issue, which is where we should be as the nation’s top coal producer,” said Rep. Mary Throne, D-Cheyenne. “They will build a good foundation for projects that we hope will come to the state.”

    Gov. Freudenthal said he expects the federal government to move in the next few years on the issues surrounding the capture and storage of carbon dioxide. If Wyoming already has a regulatory system in place, the state will be better positioned to define the issue in a way that works for Wyoming, he said.

    He noted that neither bill will interfere with enhanced oil recovery efforts in Wyoming that will remain subject to regulation by the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

    Freudenthal said the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, rather than the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, should oversee the capture, injection and sequestration of the gas underground since it poses clear environmental protection issues. On the federal level, the Environmental Protection Agency seems poised to assume that role.

    Source: Wyoming Governor

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