Enzi: Post-election concern about energy, missiles

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Sen. Mike Enzi said Wednesday he's concerned about the natural gas industry in Wyoming after the re-election of President Barack Obama and a Democratic majority in the Senate, and about the possibility that a deficit-reduction deal could affect F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne.

Low natural gas prices are afflicting the gas industry, Enzi said Wednesday, but he worries Democrats, on top of that, might abruptly end tax benefits that help businesses involved in gas development.

"If those are ended overnight, a lot of businesses will go out of business. And I've been talking about the need to transition any of that tax reform that dealt particularly with energy so that they would have the chance to adjust," Enzi said in a postelection conference call with reporters.

Approval for the full Keystone XL pipeline to import Canadian oil to U.S. refineries is in doubt after the election outcome, Enzi said.

"I don't think there will be more drilling on federal properties. I think that's pretty well stopped or slowed down. So again, we'll have more emphasis on the green energy with the subsidies," Enzi said.

He also expressed worry that steep cuts to the military could occur under a deficit reduction deal called "sequestration" that's set to take effect in January.

The agreement reached by Democrats and Republicans last year would implement automatic tax increases and steep spending cuts next year if Obama and the lame-duck Congress don't agree to a more modest deficit reduction deal by the end of this year. Half of the cuts would come from the military, including a $55 billion cut in military spending in 2013.

"We've been working very closely with the military to make sure that everybody understands both the relationship with the community and the base, and the job that the base is doing there. But the whole missile thing will undoubtedly be taken a look at, and we have to be very nervous about what could happen there," Enzi said.

F.E. Warren oversees dozens of nuclear missiles in silos scattered around the prairie outside Cheyenne. The base helps the city's economy in part by employing upward of 1,000 civilian employees.

Enzi is next up for re-election in 2014. He dismissed rumors that he might retire then.

The last time he ran for office, in 2008, he didn't decide until March of that year that he would seek re-election. Likewise, he doesn't expect to make his next decision about running again any sooner than March 2014.

"At the moment, I'm certainly doing everything I can to make sure I'm re-elected," he said. "I like my job, and I hope that the people in Wyoming think that I'm doing an effective job with it."

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