The Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States (IPAMS) met with lawmakers in Salt Lake City last week, stressing the essential role of natural gas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while addressing economic and security issues. IPAMS members discussed Utah's vast energy resources and their importance in meeting the nation's energy needs in a presentation to the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee.
"We have enormous opportunity here in Utah, where we are the eighth largest natural gas producing state in the country," said Lowell Braxton, IPAMS Utah representative. "The expanded use of natural gas is the most obvious and cost-effective way, immediately and over the long term, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," continued Braxton.
"Unfortunately, decisions are being made in Washington DC that are limiting the ability of independent natural gas producers to explore and produce Utah's resources," said Braxton. "The Department of the Interior is making decisions that could shift development to other states, and with it the economic stability, good paying jobs and tax revenue that should be staying in Utah."
The Department of the Interior (DOI) has called into question three Utah Resource Management Plans (RMP) completed last fall that govern the development of natural gas on federal lands. Actions such as a BLM report released last week concerning 77 lease parcels withdrawn by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, signals according to many, a disregard for a seven-year effort made by the State of Utah, tribal and local governments. This uncertainty from the federal government could possibly threaten the economy in Utah, where 58 percent of natural gas production and 42 percent of oil is found on federal lands affecting 11,000 direct and indirect jobs.
"In an economic recession like we're having now, how can you disregard exploration and production jobs that carry an $84,795 average annual salary compared to a state average of only $32,000," continued Braxton. "Not to mention the $395.7 million in government revenue from industry."
"It's important for our legislatures to remember that the natural gas we produce right here in Utah is playing an essential role in our transition to a clean energy future," Braxton said. "Utah's natural gas will play an important role in a carbon-constrained world. Since clean-burning natural gas emits about half the CO2 of coal, it is an essential part of any plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
The IPAMS presentation was given to the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 in the Capitol Complex Senate Building, in Salt Lake.