6:00am

Tue February 14, 2012
KUNC News Blog

Budget Debate Centers on Energy

Oil and gas companies doing business here in the West have sparred quite a bit with the Obama Administration since it took office in 2009… the now tabled “Wild Lands” policy is just one of the heated issues that comes to mind.

The industry’s cool reaction to President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal yesterday didn’t come as much surprise to those of us covering the announcement.   

You can take a listen to a short piece I did yesterday on companies' reaction here.

Kathleen Sgamma, of the Denver-based trade group Western Energy Alliance, told me during our interview that the Administration is trying to have it  both ways; on the one hand encouraging natural gas development for use in vehicles and other energy sources, but on the other discouraging its development by levying additional fees...etc.

Still, it’s worth noting that natural gas prices have been falling lately, and it’s not clear whether market forces might be the ultimate discouragement toward additional development in the coming months. 

Our friends to the north at Wyoming Public Radio had a piece on NPR’s Morning Edition Monday looking at how that plunge in prices is already impacting their state’s budget. 

The bulk of Wyoming’s budget comes from revenues and royalties associated with energy production; chiefly natural gas and coal. 

Here in Colorado, our state coffers are less dependent on natural resources. But it’s safe to say that most policymakers wouldn't mind being in Wyoming's position, if not for its energy revenues, but for the fact that said revenues have led to the state still having $1.5 billion in a rainy day fund, which doesn't look like it will be tapped this year.