Friday, January 21, 2005

Wyoming Lawmakers Reject Legislation Creating Renewable Energy Commission

The Laramie Boomerang reports this morning that Wyoming lawmakers have overwhelmingly rejected creating a renewable energy commission that would have looked into developing wind farms, solar power and other forms of energy conservation.

The bill, H.B 157 proposed to establish a 13 member commission to "develop strategies and legislative recommendations to diversify and expand energy production and distribution systems in Wyoming with energy from renewable resources, alone and in conjunction with new and existing electric and natural gas generation and transmission facilities."

The commission would also have considered legislation to establish a state renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS), similar to those enacted by 19 other States.

Although the bill provided only $250,000 in funding for the commission, opponents criticized the legislation as not cost-effective and, according to the article, "argued that the state has failed to actively use its energy commission, which was formed several years ago to look at all aspects of energy, including renewable forms."

The article on Renewable Energy Access.com is a little more blunt: "It appears that until renewable energy technologies can match the tax income that coal generates for Wyoming, state legislators will be uninterested in exploring options for clean energy sources."

According to Renewable Energy Access, the dissenting lawmakers main detraction was that renewable energy investments won't bring in as much tax revenue as traditional, more polluting energy sources like coal, which is subject to a severance tax for exports in addition other taxes and royalty payments.

Other states in the area, including Colorado, Nebraska, and North Dakota are actively pursing state renewable energy development programs, and the bill's proponents fear that Wyoming may miss out on the significant benefits associated with an aggressive state policy promoting renewable energy generation, including increased job opportunities and increasing tax revenue.

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