SWEETWATER COUNTY — The Sweetwater County Commission voted 4-1 Tuesday to become a member of the Western States and Tribal Nations Natural Gas Initiative.
According to their website, “Western States and Tribal Nations (WSTN) is a state, county and tribal government-led 501(c)4 initiative working to facilitate economic development and tribal sovereignty through the development of domestic and global markets for natural gas produced in the Western United States.”
Andrew Browning, President of WSTN, said that one of the primary goals of the initiative, which was organized last year, is to find export opportunities for Western gas to supply Asian markets through facilities on the North American west coast.
“Gas produced from our basins… are produced under the strictest environmental standards, it’s the cleanest gas in the world,” Browning said. “As companies continue to evolve their regulatory standards and operating under environmental, social, and governmental principals, we feel that should be a comparative advantage for our gas versus gas that’s not produced under environmental standards and not produced in democracies with sanctity of contracts and rule of law.”
WSTN sources gas from four different North American basins including the Green River Basin, Piceance Basin, Uinta Basin, and the San Juan Basin.
Last year, the Wyoming Coalition of Local Governments (CLG), which is comprised of Lincoln, Sublette, and Sweetwater Counties, paid the $5,000 membership fee on behalf of those three counties. However, this year the CLG does not have the funds to pay the membership, according to Commissioner Mary Thoman.
Therefore, the Sweetwater County Commission voted 4-1 to pay the fee and become members as Sweetwater County separate to the CLG. Commissioner Roy Lloyd was the vote against becoming a member and paying the fee.
“I do think it’s beneficial and we need to be advocating for our natural resources, but as we continue to go through our budget and look at budget cuts and changes, I just want to ensure that if we continue where we move forward with that $5,000 allotment that we’re getting our bang for our buck, and that that money couldn’t be used in other places,” Lloyd said.
The Commission voted unanimously to approve a resolution supporting Sweetwater County as the future location for the Natrium Nuclear Facility.
Sweetwater County has been working to bring the Natrium Nuclear Facility to Rock Springs since Rocky Mountain Power and TerraPower announced their plans for an innovative and advanced nuclear reactor facility to be located in Wyoming. Efforts have included a county wide marketing proposal and a written letter of support.
Additionally, the Commission unanimously approved the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport to go out for a $1.1 million Airport Rescue Grant. According to the grant agreement, the Airport Rescue Grant is provided under the American Rescue Plan Act and can be used for costs associated with “operations, personnel, cleaning, sanitization, janitorial services, combating the spread of pathogens at the airport, and debt services payments.”
The Rock Springs City Council will consider approval for the airport to seek this funding during its meeting Tuesday night.