Although Colorado imports electricity, the region as a whole is a net electricity exporter.
The Mineral-Rich Mountain states—Colorado, Montana and Wyoming—represent a transition zone between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Great Plains to the east. Millions of years of tectonic events and stratigraphic sequences have made this one of the most energy-rich regions in the United States. The Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Elm Coulee field in Montana, for example, offer some of the country’s largest coal and oil deposits. The Niobrara shale formation—one of North America’s most extensive geologic formations—surfaces in Colorado and is estimated to contain 2 billion barrels of oil.
The Mineral-Rich Mountain states, along with Idaho and Utah, are part of PADD 4 (Rocky Mountains), one of the five Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts. Because the region is sparsely populated, total petroleum consumption is the lowest of any of the PADDs. Local refineries produce enough gasoline to satisfy local market demand, but are—on average—smaller and less complex than most other U.S. refineries.
Much of the electricity in these states comes, as expected, from fossil fuels. Coal-fired power plants produce nearly 90% of the net electricity generation for Wyoming, nearly 66% for Colorado and just over 50% for Montana.
Several natural gas import/export locations are found on the border between Montana and Canada, the most important of which is the Port of Morgan crossing, where between 20% and 25% of net U.S. natural gas imports from Canada enter the country. This point also marks the beginning of the Northern Border Pipeline system, which connects the growing U.S. Midwest market with the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin.
The federal government holds 28.9% of land in Montana, and federally recognized Native American tribes hold 6%. Portions of the tribal land sit on top of a wealth of coal, crude oil and natural gas resources.
The federal government holds 48.2% of land in Wyoming, and two-thirds of its natural gas is produced on federal leaseholds.
The federal government holds 36.2% of land in Colorado. Federal agencies have begun leasing some of this land for geothermal projects.