Doubts, encouragement as Wyoming proceeds with big land bid
CHEYENNE, Wyo. | By MEAD GRUVER (AP) — Top Wyoming officials heard skepticism and encouragement Monday before approving plans to bid on a Connecticut-sized area of private land and mineral rights in three states.
The State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) made up of Gov. Mark Gordon and the other four statewide elected officials faced a Wednesday deadline to bid on Houston-based Occidental Petroleum’s holdings in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.
After four hours of discussion and public comment, board members voted to go ahead with a bid.
Some online participants in the live-streamed meeting asked why Wyoming should spend $1 billion or more on the property while facing deficits.
“As the Governor mentioned, our job is to maximize the return on our investments,” Wyoming Treasurer Curt Meier said. “If we can negotiate a purchase price in line with the recommendations of the Investment Funds Committee and avoid an over-concentration of illiquidity, this opportunity could be a great addition to the State’s portfolio and benefit our citizens for decades.”
The Governor and SLIB’s intention at this time is to use funds already invested through Wyoming’s Permanent Funds for the purchase, if the bid is accepted. Those funds are constitutionally tied up and the core of the funds is available for prudent investments only, as guided by state statute, and is not available to help offset the current budget shortfalls or to directly pay for the costs of running the State Government.
The state’s bid submission is due to Occidental Petroleum on July 8.