A recently released report by Headwaters Economics highlights how Utah’s oil and gas industry is thriving and largely recovered from the 2008 recession. The Headwaters Report is consistent with an opinion piece that ran in the Salt Lake Tribune this past Wednesday which notes that despite the rhetoric from state and federal officials, these are good times to be in the oil and gas business in Utah.
The Headwaters report also points out that Utah’s severance tax rate is the lowest of five intermountain west states surveyed. In other words, the state’s effective 3.3% tax rate means that the Utah is not reaping all the benefits for its citizens that other states are seeing from this surge in oil and gas production.
It’s important to note that even as Utah has seen a significant uptick in oil and gas development and production, the level of conflict between the BLM, companies and conservationists has remained relatively low. That’s in no small part due to reforms implemented by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar which has emphasized a leasing policy of “think first, then act” as well as focusing on development in less controversial places.
That’s not to say that there aren’t problem projects, companies and BLM field offices – there are! The point is that energy development and wilderness protection are proving not be mutually exclusive.