Watching Government: Wigley sees 2012 opportunities

May 7, 2012
It was Tim Wigley's first Washington call-up as the Western Energy Alliance's president, and he liked what he saw.

It was Tim Wigley's first Washington call-up as the Western Energy Alliance's president, and he liked what he saw. While he has been in politics since 1980, he nevertheless seemed excited about what members of the Denver-based association of independent producers were finding in their congressional office visits in 2012.

"The electorate is more concerned about energy than it's been since 2008," he told OGJ on Apr. 25. "Voters are angry about it. They want to know why the United States doesn't have a game plan. It's a real opportunity for the oil and gas industry. It's a better political environment because people are paying attention."

WEA members reported that staffs of US House and Senate members who normally are hostile to the industry took time to visit with the upstream independents this year, according to Wigley. "They've obviously been hearing from their constituents about high gasoline prices," he said.

"This is an industry with very smart people," Wigley continued. "The power of real, on-the-ground people resonates with Congress, particularly when they're accompanied by county commissioners and local business leaders."

He strongly endorsed the American Petroleum Institute's "Vote 4 Energy" program and its goal of putting more public pressure on candidates to pursue realistic energy solutions that actually generate jobs instead of falling back on facile campaign rhetoric.

"I'm amazed we have a president who will say in a press conference that we can't drill our way out of our energy problems, and then take credit for increased production," Wigley added.

No. 1 issue

A survey commissioned by WEA of 1,000 highly engaged voters in six Rocky Mountain and northern Great Plains states found jobs and the economy were the No. 1 issue, Wigley said. "Nowadays, people don't want to see anyone lose his or her job. Everyone knows someone who's been affected," he observed.

WEA members also planned to visit the US Bureau of Land Management, which he considers "inherently inefficient." He added, "There's a complete lack of certainty, especially compared to working with states and private property owners. BLM asks for huge investments in exchange for a ‘definite maybe.'"

Sage grouse protection is one critical area where BLM seems interested in working with states and producers, he noted. "It knows the stakes are high," he said.

Wigley, who was president of the Oregon Forest Industries Council from 1998 to 2002, sees similarities between the timber and oil and gas industries. "Both face a massive number of rules with a high level of compliance," he said. "We need to build public trust, show that we're regulated and we're complying. The public doesn't know this. It's our job to tell them."

More Oil & Gas Journal Current Issue Articles
More Oil & Gas Journal Archives Issue Articles
View Oil and Gas Articles on

About the Author

Nick Snow

NICK SNOW covered oil and gas in Washington for more than 30 years. He worked in several capacities for The Oil Daily and was founding editor of Petroleum Finance Week before joining OGJ as its Washington correspondent in September 2005 and becoming its full-time Washington editor in October 2007. He retired from OGJ in January 2020.