By Chad Greenhalgh
The Uintah Basin Conference Center in Vernal was the home to the Uintah Basin Energy Summit on August 31 – September 1. The event brought attendees from across the great state of Utah, neighboring states across the intermountain west and a few from outside the country. Entertainment in conjunction with the conference included a live concert featuring the band Little Texas, open golf, trap/clay shooting, petroglyphs and Wall of Bones tour.
Speakers on the agenda ranged from private businesses introducing new innovations and technologies, to members of the Governor’s office, U.S. Department of Energy, Utah Division of Oil Gas & Mining, Congress, Ute Tribe, Rocky Mountain Power, SITLA and many more. Though the speakers came from a wide array of employment and backgrounds, they all shared in the concern for rural Utah energy.
The theme of the conference was “optimism through innovation.” The reality of the current “adversarial challenges” bombarding the area’s energy sources was not left untouched. Many of the experts who spoke addressed the issue and agreed that prices were probably going to continue to be volatile for a while, but with optimism felt that 2017 was going to bring rise to oil prices due to a decrease in the “existing overstock” of oil in the nation’s inventory. Along with optimism looking into 2017, many innovations were presented. Among these were more efficient use of fossil fuels, utilizing unwanted bi-products as fuel sources, improved well maintenance practices, pre-combustion control for coal fired power plant boilers, ground penetrating radar and more.
Governor Gary Herbert recognized the difficulties that energy is facing in rural Utah. “I won’t rest, and we should not any of us rest, until all 29 counties…are having opportunities of economic success and expansion,” he said. “We are all on the same team.”
Dr. Laura Nelson, Energy Policy Advisor to Governor Herbert, shared her belief that together we can succeed. She counseled to come together using creativity, commitment and connection. Nelson went on to reveal a new program that will help students learn more in depth about Utah energy fields and their opportunities in it. Through partnering efforts between the Governor’s Office of Energy Development, Utah businesses and involved citizens, students desiring to earn a degree in the energy fields of study will now be more empowered to do so. The new program will be giving away four scholarships to successful applicants. To learn more about these efforts and opportunities, visit their new website at www.utahenergyed.org.
Other highlights included: the discussion of the oil pipeline from the Uintah Basin to Carbon County, and Congressman Rob Bishop’s words about his enthusiasm for a positive outcome of energy despite the outcome of the upcoming election. Keynote speaker Marc Morano advocated for carbon and fossil fuels and gave a presentation about global warming and how he feels that it is all just an “agenda” and “propaganda” to set energy policies.
Attendees went away from the conference having been well informed and with the message that, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
“The reason we are here today is for future generations,” SITLA Director David Ure said.