United States: Update From The Cowboy State: Pay Day From Lease Sale And Diversifying Wyoming's Economy

Last Updated: February 15 2017
Article by Melissa J. Lyon

As the 64th General Session of the Wyoming Legislature is in full swing, a hot topic is the current state of the budget.  I spent the weekend up in Laramie – and it was also a topic of discussion in the community there.

There is good news to help bring some money into my home state – The first Bureau of Land Management ("BLM") oil and gas lease sale of 2017 occurred last week and it has helped to provide some cash for revenue-dry Wyoming.

According to the Casper Star Tribune article from last week, "Land Sale Sparks Industry Enthusiasm in Wyoming," the BLM held a successful oil and gas lease sale last Tuesday for 285 parcels of land. Specifically, last week's oil and gas lease sale reportedly raised $129.3 million.

Of the $129.3 million sales price, Wyoming reportedly makes a whooping $63 million.

Wyoming is scheduled to hold three (3) more lease sales this year (on a quarterly basis) and these upcoming sales will reportedly no longer be held in person, but will now go forward online.

This brings up another topic that is on the forefront of discussion in my home state – diversifying Wyoming's economy to help it better weather the boom and bust cycles that have historically haunted the energy industry.

According to an excellent article summarizing the cyclical nature of the economy in Wyoming featured earlier this month in the Casper Star Tribune, "[t]he downturn in the state's fossil fuel industries meant the near-evaporation of 70 percent of the state's revenue stream."

To that end, a bill authorizing Governor Mead's "ENDOW" program, which stands for "Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming," is currently moving through the Wyoming Legislative session.  According to the Casper Star Tribune, "ENDOW is an effort being pushed by Mead that would create a 20-year blueprint to diversify the state's economy."

The full text of the ENDOW engrossed version, SF00132, can be found here.

According to Governor Mead's website, "[t]he goals [of ENDOW] are to encourage the expansion and diversification of Wyoming's existing energy and industrial sectors, stimulate new and emerging industries, create private sector jobs and encourage business development, entrepreneurship and innovation."

ENDOW is reportedly seeking to provide a long-term vision for Wyoming through assessing the state's economic situation to make recommendations on how to go forward toward a more diverse economy.  A final, 20-year "comprehensive economic diversification strategy" is said to be due under the initiative by Aug. 1, 2018.

According to the Casper Star Tribune, "[t]he report would include goals for the state to reach and a plan to "guide the evolution of Wyoming's economy in order to build a sustainable and diversified, value-added economy by 2038."

If you are interested, you can do your part – Governor Mead is asking the public to complete an online survey about ENDOW, including nominations for people to serve on the executive council. The survey can be found on the governor's website at http://governor.wyo.gov.

The good news is that the state will receive the much needed capital from the BLM lease sale while it is studying and planning on how to diversify the state's economy.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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