One of the biggest challenges for energy development is dealing with regulatory agencies and activist groups that oppose energy development.

“Dealing with the federal government and the constantly changing rules and regulations is our biggest challenge when working with landowners,” says Barritt.

“Landowners are the stewards of the land, and the folks we deal with have been ranching here forever. We think that we, along with those landowners, can manage the land as well, or better, than the federal government. People in Washington, D.C. have no idea how to manage land and wildlife in places like Wyoming.”

Third-generation, Wyoming rancher Tom Harriet’s family has been involved in development since the 1960s, when his grandfather made oil leases. He agrees that the big issue today is dealing with federal rules and regulations.

“The challenge for me is working with all the rules and regulations passed down by the federal government, rather than the actual development company,” Harriet says. “You’ll start out with one rule, and everybody goes with that rule and determines how they can proceed. Then the regulators change everything, and the development company has to change its development strategy, which affects everyone down the chain. It can be frustrating for everyone involved.”

Barritt believes overreach by agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in what should be a state-run regulatory environment is becoming a big concern.

“It’s indicative of our country’s political environment as a whole. EPA doesn’t understand western issues, and if EPA gets its way, the impact will be felt in a lot of major industries – commerce, commercial development and several others. It’s not just an agriculture, and oil and gas issue,” Barritt says.

Heather Hamilton is a rancher and freelance writer based in Lance Creek, WY.


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