Wyoming Mineral Rights Owners Look To Governor To Help Bring More Gas to Market

Oct 23, 2017

Credit Wyoming News Service

The Trump administration has announced plans to adjust requirements in the energy sector. Some mineral-rights owners are looking to state governments to help save royalty earnings from natural-gas reserves. 

Maggie McKenzie, a land and mineral-rights owner in southeastern Wyoming, says just because the feds say it's OK to waste millions of dollars in natural gas through leaks, venting and flaring, that doesn't mean Wyoming has to stand by and watch critical revenues vanish into thin air.

"We're struggling, with the decline in the energy business, to meet the needs of the state," McKenzie said. "It just doesn't make sense to let this revenue slip through our fingers. I think we need to not allow that to happen."

McKenzie points to research  showing more than $42 million worth of natural gas was wasted on federal and tribal lands in Wyoming in a single year, and notes lost royalties could be used to fund the state's schools, roads and other needs. 

Earlier this month the U.S. Interior Department began the process of reversing Obama-era rules limiting the waste of methane - the primary component of natural gas - on public lands, arguing the regulations were an overreach of authority and cost jobs.

McKenzie says while some developers voluntarily inspect and repair leaks, extending the protections Gov. Matt Mead put in place in the Pinedale region to the rest of the state would create a more even playing field for all operators. She adds since Jonah Energy started regularly checking for leaks, the company cut emissions by 75 percent and was able to bring an extra $5 million worth of gas to market.

"It's kind of hard for me to understand how this rule would result in a loss of jobs, if companies are actually realizing additional profits from implementing the system," she says. 

According to a recent survey conducted by Colorado College, 87 percent of Wyoming voters said they support continuing the federal Methane Waste Rule. The public comment period for the proposal to reverse protections ends on November sixth. Comments can be registered at regulations.gov.