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Western States Look To Capitalize On Energy Boom

The increase in production is expected to result in the U.S. becoming a natural gas exporter by 2020. Domestic oil production is also expected to top out around 7.5 million barrels a day by 2019.

Imports represented nearly one-fifth of total U.S. energy consumption in 2011. That stood at 30 percent just seven years ago and is projected to be less than 10 percent by 2040.

However, EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski said becoming more self-sufficient still will not insulate the U.S. from changes in the global market.

The high price of oil is what has been driving drilling activity from North Dakota south to New Mexico and West Texas. In the desert surrounding Hobbs, N.M., the drilling rigs are busy, unemployment has dipped below 4 percent, and housing is hard to come by thanks to the influx of oilfield workers.

For New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, that's not a bad problem to have.

Energy development is the backbone of the state's economy. Current estimates call for energy revenues to be about 16 percent of the state's main budget account.

"Not only will development help local and state budgets through royalties, leases and permits, but it also allows the country to become energy independent," Martinez said.

As the Western governors craft their energy plan, Halvey said everything will be on the table â¿¿ from traditional fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. They will also be considering challenges to development, including transportation via pipelines and transmission lines.

"What the governors have said is not that we want to pick a winner or a loser but that we want to make sure that the rules are such that everybody can play with a degree of fairness," he said.

___

Follow Susan Montoya Bryan at http://www.twitter.com/susanmbryanNM .

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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