Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Utah’s New Office of Energy Development

by Michael Orton
Licensed through ImageProviders


Appearing on Tuesday before the Utah State House of Representatives’ natural resources committee, Rep. Roger Barrus (R-Davis) presented House bill 475 which, he said, “puts into place a new “Office of Energy Development in our state.” Along with the bill which easily passed his committee, Amanda Smith was introduced as the governor’s new energy advisor, assuming a role previously held by Dr. Diane Nielson whose background was in geology and mineral exploration. Presently overseeing both the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and the new energy development position, Ms. Smith will rely upon her background in law and her experience with public lands and conservation in the dual role until other appointees can be named. In an online press release issued Monday, the Governor's office indicated that his confidence in Ms. Smith was born from her ability to find common ground between a very diversely motivated group of stakeholders in a state with vast energy resources.

Rep. Barrus, an environmental engineer, testified that his bill “gives us the framework in which the Office of Energy Development can be created, and the governor’s energy advisor will appoint a director who will be over the office and will also appoint staff members as they are needed, but will do that within the existing budget.” This fiscal reality and the present-day limitations of Ms. Smith's assignment leaves the development of her newly created office wide open in a state which leads others in its efforts at economic recovery.

The governor's office had previously announced that his newest "energy initiative" would be available Wednesday, March 2, but late Tuesday the press conference scheduled for that purpose was cancelled until mid-March "due to scheduling conflicts." The governor had been in Washington testifying before congressional committees on both healthcare and "The Impact of the [Obama] Administration's Wild Lands Order on Jobs and Economic Growth."

Video coverage of the committee hearing and testimony is available via ImageProviders.


Ashlee Buchholz, who coordinates information for the governor on this topic, indicates that his latest energy initiative document will now be released on March 18, 2011