Gov. Phil Bryant is pushing for Mississippi to adopt a statewide energy policy and advocates natural gas development as a key component of a diverse energy economy.
At a news conference today, Bryant honed in on the role natural gas will play in the state's energy strategy.
Mississippi is rich in natural gas resources and infrastructure, and Bryant believes the state can turn that position into more jobs and increased energy investment.
"More natural gas flows through Mississippi than any other state, making it a hub for natural gas development" Gov. Bryant said. "We need to capitalize on our position and dominate the natural gas stage at the national level."
Bryant was joined today by T. Boone Pickens and representatives from industries that support natural gas expansion in Mississippi.
Pickens agrees with Bryant's call for Mississippi to pursue energy leadership.
"While we wait for Washington and Congress to act, leadership is emerging at the state level, and, this week, Mississippi, under the leadership of Governor Phil Bryant, is helping move America further down the road towards meaningful progress on the energy front," Pickens said.
Bryant today also added his signature to a Memorandum of Understanding with 11 other governors seeking to encourage auto manufacturers to increase production of vehicles fueled by natural gas.
Bryant has said that Mississippi is on the cutting edge of energy technology, and he hopes that the state can lead industry innovation.
He believes the Legislature should create incentives for the increased use of natural gas vehicles which would spur development of natural gas fueling stations in Mississippi and is hopeful that increased access to an inexpensive fuel source will benefit all Mississippians.
"Gasoline is averaging more than $3.80 per gallon while compressed natural gas is averaging less than $2 per gallon, with some stations charging less than $.75 per gallon," Gov. Bryant said. "Our state and our citizens need the opportunity to realize the savings natural gas can create."
Reports estimate there are about 1,000 natural gas fueling stations in the United States. Through incentives offered by the Legislature, Bryant hopes that Mississippi will become home to new stations and their associated jobs. Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas have passed incentive legislation and Bryant believes it is time for Mississippi to join them.
Bryant also hopes to expand the natural gas fleet vehicle pilot program recently launched by the Department of Finance and Administration to include more of the state's automobiles.
DFA estimates that the pilot conversion will save the agency about $2,000 annually per vehicle, and Bryant says that represents the potential for big savings in a state that operates a fleet of about 7,400 vehicles.
DFA is seeking proposals to convert the state's vehicles to natural gas power.
Bryant's pro-energy agenda also includes the Energy Sustainability and Development Act of 2012. The measure aims to grow Mississippi as a leader in energy jobs, development and research.
Introduced as House Bill 1330, the act requires the development of a statewide energy plan to forecast energy needs and deficiencies. State-owned buildings would also track energy consumption and develop cost-saving strategies to improve energy efficiency.
To encourage energy innovation in the private sector, the act defines federal loan incentives for certain businesses to make energy efficiency upgrades. Money saved as a result of efficiencies can be reinvested into a business's workforce and operations.
The act also creates the Biomass Center for Excellence to encourage and coordinate biomass research, development and industry among state research institutions, the public sector and private sector stakeholders. Increased collaboration will help maximize renewable energy research and promote Mississippi's biomass resources globally.
In June 2011, an independent report issued by the Fraser Institute ranked Mississippi as the world's most attractive spot for oil and gas investment.