By Governor Gary R. Herbert
Utah is fortunate to have abundant natural resources ranging from breathtaking vistas to vast underground mineral wealth. Utah’s uniquely diverse economy helps the state remain competitive and surge ahead even in tough economic times. However, it is critical that we are proactive in the responsible, balanced development of our natural resources to retain our competitive edge.
What does responsible energy development mean?
Energy resource development has long played a consequential role in Utah’s economy, and it’s important that we not forget that history as we plan for the future. Various stakeholders, including the state, must continue to support these critical energy industries that have bolstered our local and state economies for generations. As we endeavor to support those industries we often face challenges related to the protection of water, land, air, and artifacts. It is our duty to creatively and responsibly address those challenges, keeping in mind both the preservation of the state’s environment and its economy. While some of these issues may make it more difficult to develop our energy resources, I am encouraged by how companies are stepping up to meet the challenge.
As one example, Newfield Exploration Company is centralizing collection methods with placement of facilities next to paved roads to cut down on dust, reducing particulate matter and decreasing the release of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into Utah’s air. Bill Barrett Corporation provided another example in 2010, when it worked diligently with conservation groups to protect Nine Mile Canyon’s precious pre-historic cultural resources.
In two more recent developments, Anardarko Petroleum Corporation and Gasco Energy’s projects in the Uinta Basin recently received final approval on their Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), both huge steps forward for energy production in Utah. These companies plan to invest $10 billion in the coming years, drilling 5,000 new gas wells and creating 4,000 jobs. Both companies have worked closely with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other stakeholders to plan their projects, which will use directional drilling technologies and other techniques that will reduce surface disturbances and environmental impacts. These projects were praised by the BLM for their ability to eliminate floodplain impacts, protect viewsheds, and reduce impacts to water, soil and air quality.
These examples are very encouraging to me, and speak volumes about the future of responsible development in a state with boundless resources.
Moving forward, I will continue to place an emphasis on the free market principles and sensible government policies that have been so important to fostering a stable business environment. We will continue to attract energy companies most able to generate high-paying jobs and stable revenues, while preserving the natural wonder that defines this state.