- Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2014

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - Gov. Matt Mead told an energy policy forum he remains skeptical that human beings are to blame for climate change and said fossil fuels will continue to remain an essential energy source.

Mead said at Wednesday’s forum he was thinking about global warming as he flew into Jackson Hole during a snowstorm earlier that evening.

“In part, I’m skeptical because I think people need to be skeptical when it comes to where we are in science,” he said.

Career conservationist and Jackson resident Paul Hansen moderated the discussion. About 200 people attended the event at the Center for the Arts in Jackson.

Jackson Mayor Mark Barron, state Sen. Leland Christensen, R-Alta, and state Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, R-Jackson, also took part, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports (http://bit.ly/Lxeft8 ).

During the forum, Mead praised coal and natural gas for providing 70 percent of the nation’s electricity. Wyoming produces almost 40 percent of the nation’s coal, ranks fifth among the states for gas production and is the top energy-exporting state.

Mead said all energy sources, including renewables, are needed, but renewables take up space and could conflict with Wyoming’s scenery.

“In front of the Grand Tetons, do you want an oil rig for six months and then a pipeline and then it goes away?” he said. “Or do you want windmills and transmission there for the next 20 or 30 years?”

It is “virtually certain” that the planet is warming and the “human influence on the climate system is clear,” according to a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change white paper.

Barron said he’s a climate change believer. Christensen and Petroff did not disclose their views.

“The reality is this: If we want less carbon in our world, if we want to preserve precious resources like water and energy, then each of us must make that choice every day,” Barron said.

___

Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com