Though members of Wyoming's citizen Legislature pride themselves on being closely connected to their constituents, voters might be surprised to learn that some laws proposed and passed in Cheyenne are first shaped by state lawmakers and major corporations during privately funded junkets in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. As the 2011 legislative session convenes this week, some watchdog groups — and at least one legislator — are calling for better disclosure from lobbyists and greater transparency from groups that seek to influence or propose specific laws.
Wyoming's hydraulic fracturing regulations could be the shape of things to come. The Obama administration is looking to the Cowboy State as a model for fracturing disclosure on federal lands in the West. Interior Department officials figure it would be hard to argue against an approach developed in petroleum-friendly Wyoming. If that led to Western state governments adopting similar rules, Eastern states such as Pennsylvania could feel pressure to demand similar information from drillers tapping into the rich Marcellus Shale.