2016 News Releases
December 20, 2016
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Matt Mead is pleased with today’s decision in a long-running dispute with the state of Montana over the Yellowstone River Compact. The case began in 2007 with Montana’s claims that Wyoming did not properly interpret the Compact in the Tongue and Powder River basins. The case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court who appointed a Special Master to hear the case and issue a ruling.
“The Special Master has issued a solution with two practical options for the damages owed to Montana,” said Governor Mead. “We look forward to working with our neighbors to quickly bring this case to a close. I thank the Special Master for his work as well as the Attorney General’s and State Engineer’s offices for their exceptional work.”
“This outcome reflects the enormous work and dedication by the team in the Natural Resources Division of the Attorney General’s office and the State Engineer’s Office,” said Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael.
Today’s ruling awarded Montana either approximately $35,000 in damages or 1356 acre feet of water. The Special Master divided the litigation costs equitably based on the issues won during the various phases of the case.
The Special Master’s ruling is available on the Attorney General’s website: http://ag.wyo.gov/current-issues
December 12, 2016
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Matt Mead applauded the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Park Service (NPS), and the Grand Teton National Park Foundation for finalizing the purchase of the 640-acre Antelope Flats parcel of state school trust land within Grand Teton National Park. The NPS purchased the parcel for $46 million - $23 million from the federal government and $23 million from private donations through the Grand Teton National Park Foundation. That money will go to the Common School Trust Fund to support Wyoming schools.
"This is the best outcome for this land. The parcel was generating no revenue for Wyoming schools which raised the possibility of it being sold at public auction. That option was unacceptable to me. This tract will now be available for the public in perpetuity,” said Governor Mead. “I thank Secretary Sally Jewell, the Grand Teton National Park Foundation and every private donor that contributed to make this day a reality. I also want to thank the Legislature, Treasurer Gordon and Auditor Cloud for their support, and Bridget Hill and her staff."
The income generated on the Common School Trust Fund account varies, however it is anticipated that funds from this sale will generate more than $1 million annually for public education. The funds are also available for the Board of Land Commissioners to acquire land assets held by the federal government.
“It is extremely pleasing that all the continued years of hard work and effort regarding this parcel have been rewarded today,” said Bridget Hill, Director of the Office of State Lands and Investments. “This sale represents a huge win for Wyoming’s schools and education funding. As an added benefit, not only were we able to fulfill the Board’s fiduciary obligation to generate revenue from the state school trust lands both now and into the future, but at the same time we were able to help preserve the long-term beauty of one of our State’s real treasures, the Grand Teton National Park.”
December 9, 2016
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Wyoming Governor Matt Mead is pleased to announce that Magpul Industries will be the title sponsor of the first annual Governor’s Match action shooting competition, to be held in Cheyenne, Wyoming August 3 - 6, 2017. The “Magpul Governors Match,” held at the Otto Road Shooting Range in Cheyenne, will bring shooters from throughout the United States to compete in challenging courses of fire. Competition Dynamics, the events promoter, describes the match as a “modern action two-gun match for semi-automatic rifles and handguns.”
“Hunting, firearms and the shooting sports are part of the history, tradition and culture of Wyoming and the West,” said Governor Mead. “I am proud that we can host competitions like this in Wyoming – bringing these great athletes here to test themselves against each other and the event.”
The match will contain 8 action shooting “stages” - testing the speed and accuracy of competitors with both handguns and rifles. Each stage will be unique, with stage designers such as Navy Seal Commander Rorke Denver, Northern Red Training’s Scott Steiert, long-range specialist John Burns and the instructors from Magpul CORE.
“Access to shooting sports and shooting ranges increases public participation and benefits our sportsmen and our local communities,” said Governor Mead. “Participation and investment in the shooting sports is an investment in future generations of sportsmen and sportswomen. It is good for Wyoming.”
More information on the competition can be found at http://governorsmatch.com.
November 30, 2016
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Matt Mead held a press conference today to discuss his supplemental budget for the 2017-2018 biennium. The Legislature will consider the Governor’s recommendations during the upcoming General Session which begins January 10, 2017. The Governor reviewed cuts he has already made due to declining state revenues and discussed the steps being taken to keep Wyoming moving forward.
“Wyoming has prepared for times of reduced revenue and remains fiscally sound,” said Governor Mead. “In June I asked agencies for $249 million in reductions. Those were difficult but necessary cuts. It is worth noting that the executive branch standard budget was $2.9 billion in 2010 and is now $2.589 billion – it has gone down not up,” continued Governor Mead.
The Governor’s budget contains limited exception requests, including $5 million for local government, $500,000 for the University of Wyoming Science Initiative and $2.5 million for Economically Needed Diversification Options for Wyoming (ENDOW). Earlier this month Governor Mead announced the ENDOW initiative. The goal of ENDOW is to bring together key business leaders to help create a strategy for growing and diversifying the state’s economy years into the future.
“We need a strategy that keeps Wyoming moving ahead with diversification efforts long after my term as Governor,” continued Governor Mead. “We have seen success but we need to do more. It is important that we continue to send the message that Wyoming is open for business and open to business diversity.”
Other recommendations in the Governor’s budget include:
Governor Mead emphasized the need to act quickly on the key challenge – school funding. The shortfall in the School Foundation Program Account has been estimated at $1.5 billion over the next six years. The Governor asked legislators to work with him to find a long-term funding solution.
The Governor’s budget message is available on his website: governor.wyo.gov/documents/legislative.
November 21, 2016
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – At the request of Governor Matt Mead, the Wyoming Attorney General’s office filed a petition for review of final agency action on the “Methane and Waste Reduction” rule promulgated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The State of Wyoming asserts the rule is outside the agency’s authority and further complicates development of federal resources.
“The BLM is once again overstepping its bounds and imposing unnecessary regulations,” said Governor Mead. “Congress has delegated regulation of air pollution to the states and EPA, not BLM. Wyoming has successfully regulated air pollution emissions from oil and gas activities for over 20 years and has effective limitations on venting and flaring of natural gas.”
The petition filed by the Wyoming Attorney General’s office outlines how the BLM’s rule conflicts with the Clean Air Act and interferes with Wyoming’s air quality regulations.
“Wyoming has been a leader in air quality requirements,” continued Governor Mead. “This rule only adds more federal red tape and bureaucracy.”
The state’s petition is available at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_4EQ9PebvQINHJ2WTNUOWdvZUk/view
November 10, 2016
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Citing the need for a comprehensive approach to diversify the Wyoming economy, Governor Matt Mead announced today that he is creating the ENDOW initiative. The initiative will coordinate and expand ongoing efforts across the state, as well as produce measurable results expanding the Wyoming economy. He made the announcement during the Governor’s Business Forum, hosted by the Wyoming Business Alliance.
The ENDOW acronym represents “Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming.”
“We need immediate and measurable results now,” Mead told the forum audience. “We need to build on recent success in establishing technology as a fourth leg of Wyoming’s economic strength. We need to build on the efforts to add value to coal, minerals and natural resources. We need to build on our success in a growing manufacturing industry.”
Governor Mead cited several decades of economic studies and plans – some dating to the period when his Grandfather, Cliff Hansen, was Wyoming’s Governor. Many of these recommended addressing issues still pressing in 2016.
“For decades we have wanted to grow opportunities that keep our young people in Wyoming,” Mead said. “We have known for more than 50 years that it is important to add value to our natural resources, to improve air service and to expand research. The problem with the past plans is that they have addressed the next four years – or next eight years. These are connected with political terms and we need economic action that spans the next 20 years -- efforts that go beyond this Governor and the next.”
Governor Mead and Greg Hill will co-chair an executive steering committee to establish a vision and action plan. Greg Hill is a senior executive with the Hess Corporation. As a graduate of the University of Wyoming’s college of engineering, he has been active in multiple efforts to improve programs at UW and across the state.
The effort will include multiple state agencies, the Wyoming Business Council, the University of Wyoming and the state’s community colleges.
Jerimiah Rieman of Governor Mead’s staff will serve as the coordinator of the ENDOW initiative.
ENDOW will include current economic development efforts, including research into the creation of one or more industrial parks in Wyoming. The executive committee will be identified over the next several weeks.
November 10, 2016
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Today the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) released its final report and palatability study on domestic water wells in the rural area east of Pavillion, Wyoming. The DEQ final report is available at http://deq.wyoming.gov/wqd/pavillion-investigation/. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) earlier issued reports on well bore integrity of all oil and natural gas exploration and production wells within 1420 feet of fourteen domestic water wells identified for further investigation and the status and reclamation of historic production pits in the Pavillion Field. In its final report, the DEQ evaluated the data, conclusions and recommendations contained in the WOGCC’s reports, which are available at http://wogcc.state.wy.us/pavillion_wrk_grp.cfm. The WOGCC and DEQ retained the services of independent experts to assist staff with the reviews, investigations, analyses and preparation of final reports.
On June 30, 2013, with the support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State of Wyoming announced it would further investigate drinking water quality for the Pavillion oil and natural gas field. As part of the State’s investigation, thirteen domestic water wells were further evaluated, including two additional rounds of sampling, for water quality and palatability concerns. In its review the DEQ considered all relevant data for each of the thirteen domestic water wells and the sampling data obtained throughout EPA’s groundwater investigation.
WDEQ and WOGCC will work with EPA, Encana and other stakeholders to determine next steps.
“From the beginning I have believed it was in everyone’s best interest – particularly for those citizens concerned about their water – that Wyoming and the EPA reach an unbiased and scientifically supportable conclusion. I commend the work of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, and the experts they engaged for the thoughtful and productive manner with which they conducted their investigations,” said Governor Mead.
The controversy surrounding the Pavillion gas field highlighted the importance of collecting baseline water quality data and proper water quality information and education. In 2013, the WOGCC enacted groundwater baseline sampling, analysis and monitoring requirements, which require oil and gas operators to test existing water sources before and after drilling an oil or gas well. Landowners must give consent for operators to sample the permitted or adjudicated water sources. These sources include domestic, stock, industrial, irrigation, municipal or other permitted uses of water.
To date, the State of Wyoming has spent $929,268 for the design, construction and installation of residential cistern systems and a water loading station in the Town of Pavillion. A total of 31 cisterns for 28 landowners have been installed. In 2014, Wyoming committed $400,000 to pay for water delivery to those cisterns. For those landowners not participating in the cistern program, a bottled water delivery program was available and has been extended through March 31, 2017. The delivery program is provided to 11 homeowners.
October 25, 2016
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Matt Mead has selected Paul Phillips as Circuit Court Judge for the Sixth Judicial District in Campbell County. Phillips fills the vacancy created by Judge Terrill Tharp’s retirement effective January 1, 2017.
Phillips has engaged in the private practice of law in Gillette for over 10 years. Prior to that, he served as a law clerk for the District Court Judges of the 6th Judicial District. From 1982 to 2002, he served in the United States Army, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. He concluded his military service at the Pentagon, serving as a spokesman for the Secretary of Defense. He attended George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia, during the evenings while assigned to the Pentagon.
“Paul has a long record of service to country and community. For 20 years, he distinguished himself in the military, earning many commendations throughout his active duty service. He has served Campbell County in numerous capacities, including as Circuit Court Magistrate, District Court Commissioner, Hearing Officer for the Campbell County Board of Commissioners, and Judge for the Campbell County Adult Felony Treatment Court,” said Governor Mead. “Paul brings a great wealth of experience to the Circuit Court bench and I am confident he will serve the citizens of Campbell County well.”
In addition to a diverse law practice and civic activities, Phillips also assists veterans, including disabled vets, with claims and other legal needs.
“I am grateful for and humbled by the trust and confidence placed in me by Governor Mead, and I look forward to serving the people of Campbell County and the State of Wyoming,” Phillips said.
October 28, 2016
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Matt Mead has appointed Tori R. A. Kricken to be District Court Judge for the Second Judicial District in Albany County. Kricken fills the vacancy occurring with Judge Jeffrey Donnell’s retirement effective January 2, 2017.
Kricken has served many years, including currently, as staff attorney for the Second Judicial District. She has also worked in private practice in Laramie, as a hearing examiner for the Office of Administrative Hearings in Cheyenne, and as a law clerk for the Second Judicial District. For well over a decade, she has served as District Court Commissioner, Circuit Court Magistrate, and DUI/Drug Court Judge – all in the Second Judicial District. Since 2014, she has served as a Municipal Court Magistrate in Laramie.
“Tori is deeply committed to Laramie and to her family. She has brilliance in the law and has earned respect for her community commitment, legal acumen, and work ethic,” said Governor Mead. “I have no doubt Tori will continue to work hard and serve the people of Albany County well.”
Kricken received her law degree, as well as a bachelor’s degree in business administration, from the University of Wyoming, earning both degrees with highest honors. She has taught as a visiting or adjunct professor at the UW College of Law for the past 12 years. She has authored numerous published law articles and served on rules and other committees of the Wyoming State Bar. She has held leadership positions in the Indian Paintbrush Elementary School PTA and on The Open School Board of Directors for a number of years.
“I am honored and humbled by Governor Mead’s decision to appoint me to the District Court in Laramie. I am dedicated to upholding the honor and integrity of the Court and to serving the citizens of Albany County and the State of Wyoming,” said Kricken.
October 25, 2016
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Matt Mead held a press conference Monday to discuss the latest update from the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG). The CREG’s October report is a projection of state revenues used to help shape the state budget.
The report shows a General Fund shortfall of approximately $156 million for the remainder of the 2017/2018 Biennium. However, $104 million of that is due to a statutory requirement to refill a savings account leaving $52 million as the more accurate figure for the shortfall. The Governor reiterated he will not submit further budget reductions prior to the 2017 legislative session and he asked the Legislature to create guidelines for using the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account, also known as the Rainy Day Fund.
“The cuts made by the Legislature during the Session and the cuts I made in June have put us in a manageable position,” said the Governor. “People understand we need to tighten our belt as we make these difficult cuts. But they may not understand that we make these cuts as we keep filling savings accounts.”
“There is an appropriate amount of the Rainy Day Fund that can be used during this time to ensure we take care of our roads, healthcare and other important services. Additional cuts to the Departments of Health and Corrections, for example, will be very difficult,” continued Governor Mead. “My hope is that we can work closely with the Legislature to smooth out this downturn by using some of our savings – especially as those funds are growing.”
The Governor thanked the CREG for their work. His budget will be completed by December 1, 2016. The full CREG forecast can be viewed here: http://eadiv.state.wy.us/creg/GreenCREG_Oct16.pdf.