Select Economic and Energy Data Value State Rank
Real Gross Domestic Product, per capita $40,837 11th highest
Unemployment 7.5% 15th lowest
Gasoline Price, per gallon $2.76 23rd lowest
Electricity Price, per kWh 6.08¢ 1st lowest

Wyoming benefits greatly from its abundant coal, oil, and natural gas resources. Wyoming has the nation’s most affordable electricity prices, in large part because over 90 percent of the electricity generated in Wyoming is from coal. Wyoming’s embrace of its incredible energy portfolio has help strengthened its economy, and as a result, Wyoming has low unemployment and a high per capita state gross product.

Wyoming has the top coal-producing region in the Powder River Basin accounting for nearly 40 percent of U.S. coal production, is one of the top natural gas-producing states providing for almost ten percent of the nation’s natural gas production, and provides about 3 percent of the United States’ domestic oil supply. Wyoming also has extensive untapped coalbed methane and oil shale resources. Its coalbed methane resource accounts for over 20 percent of the state’s natural gas production.  Over 30 states receive coal from Wyoming, and many states use Wyoming coal exclusively. Renewable resources in Wyoming are mainly wind and hydroelectric power together contributing almost 7 percent of the state’s electricity.

Regulatory Impediments to Affordable Energy

Although affordable energy is a vital component of a healthy economy, regulations frequently increase energy costs. Regulations imposed in the name of reducing carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions are especially costly. Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of the combustion of all carbon-containing fuels, such as natural gas, petroleum, coal, wood, and other organic materials. Today, there is no cost-effective way to capture the carbon dioxide output of the combustion of these fuels, so any regulations that limit carbon dioxide emissions will either limit the use of natural gas, petroleum, and coal, or dramatically increase their prices.

Below are some facts about Wyoming’s regulatory environment that are likely to affect the cost of energy or the cost of using energy. Wyoming has thus far avoided many of the costly energy policies other states are implementing.

  • Wyoming does not cap greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Wyoming is an observer of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a regional agreement among some American governors and Canadian premiers to target greenhouse gas reductions. The central component of this agreement is the eventual enactment of a cap-and-trade scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. As an observer of the WCI, Wyoming would not be bound to agreements made by WCI members.
  • Wyoming does not require utilities to generate from renewable sources a certain percentage of the electricity that they sell.
  • Wyoming does not require gasoline to be mixed with renewable fuels.
  • Wyoming does not impose automobile fuel economy standards similar to California’s, which attempts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles.
  • Wyoming does not require new residential and commercial buildings to meet energy efficiency standards.
  • Wyoming does not impose state-based appliance efficiency standards.
  • Wyoming does not allow utilities to “decouple” revenue from the sale of electricity and natural gas. Some states decouple revenue from actual sales, allowing utilities to increase their revenue by selling less electricity and natural gas.[i]

Data Sources: Real GDP per capita 2008: Bureau of Economic Analysis, News Release: GDP by State (June 2, 2009), http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_ state/gsp_newsrelease.htm; Unemployment: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment–February 2010 (Mar. 10, 2010); Gasoline Prices: American Automobile Association, AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report (Mar. 30, 2010); Electricity Prices: Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly, Table 5.6.B., Average Retail Price of Electricity,  (March 15, 2010), http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_b.html; Electricity Generation Data: Energy Information Administration, Electricity Generation 2009, http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/generation_state_mon.xls.

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