Farmers, Wildlife Groups Target Wyo. Governor’s Race
Cheyenne, WY. – Two groups representing hunting and agriculture interests on Tuesday launched the “Wyoming Conservation Legacy” to draw attention to the need to protect the state’s air, land, water and wildlife as the governor’s race heats up.
Four Democrats and six Republicans are busy campaigning ahead of primary elections set for Aug. 21.
Scott Zimmerman, who handles Wyoming government relations for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, said conservation is a significant pocketbook issue. He said methane lost through venting, flares and leaks cost Wyoming up to $16 million a year in lost taxes and royalties.
“Wyoming loses an estimated $51 million to $56 million worth of natural gas annually,” he said. “If it would be taxed under our severance-tax system, it would help finance schools, roads and other very important parts of Wyoming’s economy.”
Zimmerman said previous governors from both parties have effectively managed oil and gas development, and added that Wyoming was one of the first states to limit toxic emissions at production sites. The Trump administration has worked to block a federal rule limiting methane waste, and some oil and gas operators have claimed that the costs of compliance outweigh the revenues of capturing gas and bringing it to market.
The new coalition is led by the Farmers Union and the Wyoming Wildlife Federation. Dwayne Meadows, executive director of the federation, pointed to a recent Colorado College study that found that 77 percent of Wyoming residents support cutting methane pollution. He said one major reason for the collaboration is to make sure the state’s booming $6 billion tourism economy is part of the debate.
“Our past governors have understood that we need to make sure we have balance,” he said, “and that’s kind of the legacy of Wyoming, balancing that natural-resource development with natural-resource protection. We just want to make sure the next governor continues to honor that legacy.”
Meadows said the coalition is planning extensive media and education campaigns leading up to the Nov. 6 general election, including a video series featuring current and past governors talking about the importance of preserving the state’s conservation legacy.
The Colorado College study is online at coloradocollege.edu.
Eric Galatas, Public News Service