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Utah is an energy state. To me, energy is one of the most important issues we work on as policy makers. Energy production is critical to our state economy, critical to our national security and critical to our quality of life.


More than 17,000 Utahns work for a company that produces or supplies energy. In 2012, Utah energy producers paid out $1.36 billion in wages; and the earnings rate of energy jobs is 183% of other jobs in the state. Also worth noting, the ratio of direct energy jobs to ancillary jobs (contracted services like oil trucks, water service trucks, pipe suppliers, electrical contractors, etc.) is 3 ancillary jobs created for every 1 energy job in the state.


Energy producers paid $587 million in taxes and fees to state and local governments. They also paid more than $69 million in royalties to the school trust fund of Utah, all of which is dispersed through direct payments to schools. This comes in the form of a check sent directly to the school principal and doesn’t get lost in the bureaucracy of school districts.


Utah’s energy production is not only a tremendous asset to the state, Utah energy production is a critical part of U.S. energy security and the ever-closer goal of energy independence. As of 2011, Utah ranked sixteenth of all the states in total energy production and was one of the leading exporting states in the country, given that we produce much more than we use.
Many Americans don’t realize that, but for the Obama Administration’s oppression of fossil fuel production, the US would be the global leader of all energy production. Perhaps more importantly, if the Obama Administration would facilitate instead of curtail the permitting of oil on federal and tribal lands, the US could realize oil independence and stop importing oil.
That’s not hyperbole; it’s a stated goal of this Administration to compel US consumers to use less carbon-based energy.


Many have heard of the huge Bakken oil field boom in North Dakota, but most Utah’s don’t know that we have more oil in the Uinta Basin that is found in the Bakken. Ours is deeper and of a slightly lower grade crude, but it is there. Unfortunately, most of our oil is on BLM or tribal lands which the federal government can choose to permit for drilling or choose to stall out indefinitely. In North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma and other oil states, the permitting process averages 90 days. On federal land in Utah, it takes 18-24 months, with many taking several years. The two most recent major permits granted by the BLM in Utah each took over 7 years to complete.


But the real energy game changer for Utah and the U.S. is right around the corner. This summer, a Utah company will begin the first commercial oil shale development in North America in decades. Contrary to the tired, old complaints about oil shale from the 1970’s, today’s technologies address the environmental concerns of the past. Oil shale is a critical part of our energy future because, according to both the Utah Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey, in Utah alone there are more recoverable barrels of oil trapped in our oil shale that all the reserves in Saudi Arabia. Add Colorado and Wyoming to the equation, and the Rocky Mountains of the U.S. contain more recoverable — meaning it is both accessible and economic to produce — oil from oil shale than the entire world’s known reserves of traditional oil.