- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A bill to let the state invest up to $50 million in companies seeking to create value-added products from Wyoming’s minerals has passed a final vote in the House and is headed to the Senate.

Many of Wyoming’s natural resources are turned into energy or taken out of state to create what’s known as value-added products. House Bill 53 would create an in-state value-added products program under the Wyoming Business Council to generate jobs and businesses.

Examples of such products include turning coal or natural gas into products that can be used to make chemicals or fuels.

The Casper Star-Tribune reported Friday that critics contend the measure could lead to bad investments.

Under the bill, a company would need a business plan, balance sheet and sufficient cash, said Rep. Norine Kasperik, R-Gillette, who introduced the bill in the House Wednesday.

A Sheridan-based landowner group, the Powder River Basin Resource Council, opposes HB53. It says previous projects went nowhere, including a planned $50 million state investment in a coal gasification project with GE Energy in 2008 that was put on hold three years later.

Value-added products are already available on the market at lower prices than would be the case with Wyoming startups, said Shannon Anderson, a resource council attorney.

“It’s a pretty risky technology for the state to bet on,” Anderson said.

Supporters insisted the legislation could help Wyoming.

“We want to take some of our natural resources and turn them into a product with additional value so that all the people we’re educating at the university, so that our children all have jobs within our state,” Rep. Mike Greear, R-Worland, said this week.


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

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