Bryant unveils plan for state's energy sector - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Bryant unveils plan for state's energy sector

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

If you ask Gov. Phil Bryant, it's aggressive, challenging and demanding. However, he says it can be done. To show how, he's laying out the framework for what he believes will help grow and mold the state's energy economy.

"I see Mississippi being the leader in the future," Bryant said.

To put the state on that track, Bryant hosted an energy summit in downtown Jackson Thursday bringing together energy experts from around the country and internationally. The goal is to drive economic development by enhancing the state's energy sector and becoming the leader in doing so.

"Anything that's used to produce, deliver, enhance energy recovery, we need to be doing here," Bryant said.

Last year, an independent rating bureau named Mississippi as the best place in the country to invest in oil and gas, but recently the state ranked at the bottom of the list when it comes to energy conservation. Bryant says that's going to change.

His plan, called Mississippi's Energy Roadmap, focuses on six key areas. It lays out strategies for increasing job opportunities, enhancing energy production and expanding energy research.

"It's from sunshine to thermonuclear reactors and from the stars to the bottom of the ocean," Bryant said.

"Mississippi, the state, is becoming one of the most important strategic energy hubs in the United States of America," said Southern company President and CEO Tom Fanning.

Fanning says Mississippi is gaining traction in competing for high paying energy jobs and development.

"If we can develop a position of North American energy independence this nation will be better off. What you're doing here in this state is central to that thesis," Fanning said.

It all starts, Bryant says, by tapping into the state's natural resources, and not just natural gas.

"We've got to be able to go out and find the engineers, the chemists, the technicians that are need to make sure that we've got a 21st century energy policy in Mississippi that's leading the nation," Bryant said.

Bryant plans to introduce legislation next year to put certain policies and initiatives in place to make the plan a reality.

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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