By SEAN MORTIMER
Staff Reporter 

Sen. Cooper optimistic about future Wyoming energy legislation

 

December 22, 2022



TEN SLEEP – State Senator Ed Cooper, Republican representing Senate District 20 that includes Big Horn, Fremont, Hot Springs, Park and Washakie counties since 2021 gave insight into his duties and the issues he will face in the upcoming year.

Cooper’s committee assignments have not changed since last year; he is still the Chairman of the Select Natural Resource Funding Committee. He is also a member of the following committees: Senate Judiciary, Senate Minerals, Business & Economic Development, Enhanced and Improved Oil Recovery Commission, and the Small Business Assistance Program Advisory Panel.

Cooper said that most of his interim work with these committees has been completed this year. There will be one last meeting of the Natural Resource Funding Committee this month to finalize their plan to bring forward to the Legislature for funding during the General Session that begins Jan. 10.

He anticipated that major topics of this General Session will be education funding, and the energy sector. He said he thinks that there will be “some serious work on energy through the minerals committee for continued growth and business development.” Further, he said, “We need to look at how electricity generation is being taxed and exported and as it continues to displace our coal severance tax, we can recoup that from the exported energy needs in the state.”

Cooper is currently working on legislation through the Senate Judiciary and Senate Minerals, Business & Economic Development committees.

One notable piece of legislation coming from the Judiciary Committee is the Game and Fish Trespass Statute, which would streamline the process of issuing a trespass citation. Cooper said that hunters trespassing on private land as they go to and from hunting grounds is a “significant issue,” and that as things are right now, a game warden who wishes to issue a trespass citation has to go through other law enforcement entities. He said this statue would “clean this process up, and give the game wardens the tools to do their job.”

In the Minerals, Business & Economic Development Committee, Cooper and his constituents have been laying the groundwork for a new Wyoming industry, the capture and sequestering of carbon dioxide (CO2). This is a process by which CO2 is obtained as an industry byproduct or directly from the air and stored for later use. The proposed storage method would primarily be deep underground in porous rock formations, where, over long periods of time, the CO2 would be safely contained and eventually through geochemical processes would become mineralized, adding to the composition of the rock formations.

While the CO2 is being stored, research into possible uses for CO2 is being conducted, and in the future when there is a commercial market for CO2 he said Wyoming will have it ready.

Cooper said that legislation for this industry has been ongoing for about 16 years, the most recent of which has been to establish legislation for landowners to redeem benefit from the use of their land for CO2 sequestration. He said that it would be very similar to the situation of landowners that have mineral rights for resources being drawn from their land.

“The whole purpose of it is to move forward with CO2 sequestration within Wyoming, and if we can do that it opens up some really significant future projects within the state energy-wise.”

 
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