CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said Monday he's hopeful Donald Trump's election as president will help reverse the state's decline in energy production and revenues.
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Mead, a Republican now mid-way through his second term, told The Associated Press he voted for Trump and expects to communicate soon with the president-elect's team about energy issues.
"I wasn't necessarily predicting that, I don't think many people were," Mead said about Trump's victory. "I voted for Trump in part because I thought he would certainly be better for the state of Wyoming as it related to energy."
Wyoming is the nation's leading coal-producing state but has seen production drop in recent years in response to tighter environmental regulations, cheaper natural gas and other factors.
Declining state revenues forced Mead earlier this year to cut $250 million from the state's two-year, $3 billion general fund budget that started in July.
Mead has said he intends to ask state lawmakers to draw an undetermined amount of money from the state's roughly $1.5-billion rainy day fund to help cover state programs when he presents his draft state budget early next month. He said Trump's election won't prompt him to change the budget proposal.
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"It's nice to consider that, but I will not count that egg before it hatches," Mead said. "Even if on day one he made significant changes that were beneficial to the energy industry, it takes time for production and prices to catch up."
Mead has been openly critical of the effect of President Barack Obama's energy and environmental policies on Wyoming. Those policies included imposing tighter emissions standards for coal-fired plants and imposing a moratorium on new federal coal leases.
Mead said he's hopeful Trump will roll back those regulations and work to open ports in the Pacific Northwest that could allow coal exports to Asia.
Wyoming has faced fierce opposition in the Northwest to plans to send coal by rail to deep water ports. Many residents have said they don't want the noise and dust associated with heavy train traffic.
They also oppose the prospect of burning more coal around the world because of concerns about global warming.
Mead and other Wyoming officials maintain that burning Wyoming's relatively low sulfur coal in Asia would result in less pollution than burning dirtier coal already on the market there.