Dave Freudenthal, a Wyoming native, served two terms as Wyoming's 31st governor. In 2002, Freudenthal, a Democrat and first-time candidate, won an upset victory in one of America's most overwhelmingly Republican states. After his first term, he was re-elected in 2006 by the greatest percentage in the State's history. By the end of his tenure, Wyoming was ranked as the "Best Run State in America" by 24/7 Wall St., based on a review of hundreds of data sets and a variety of metrics ranging from debt rating agency reports to median income. When he stepped down in 2011, his approval rating was over 80% ---at the top among all U.S. governors – and he left his successor with a balanced budget and a billion dollar surplus.
Freudenthal's eight years were marked by a constructive bi-partisan relationship with a Republican dominated legislature. This working relationship moved Wyoming forward on many fronts. As the nation's least populous state, Wyoming maintains a resource-based economy, relying primarily on mineral and energy extraction, tourism and agriculture for its economic livelihood. Recognizing the strengths and opportunities that this economic base represented for the state, Freudenthal's administration focused on balancing resource extraction and preservation with regulatory approaches designed to enhance long-term growth.
Wyoming was the first state to adopt meaningful regulation of hydraulic fracturing. It is also the leader in establishing a legal framework for carbon capture and sequestration. The State remains a leader in the funding of research and demonstration in this area. At the same time, under Freudenthal, significant effort was devoted to the Wyoming Pipeline Authority and the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority whose missions are to increase the pipeline capacity and electric transmission infrastructure to move Wyoming's energy to national markets. Wyoming's natural gas pipeline capacity was doubled during Freudenthal's term of office. Freudenthal's leadership on natural resource development issues led to his service as Chairman of the Western Governors Association and Chairman of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.
Freudenthal's approach to resource growth and management gave rise to a constructive tension with the federal government. Whether in a court of law or the court of public opinion, Freudenthal pushed back hard against the increasingly activist federal regulatory and land management agencies. On the other hand, where federal actions were appropriate to protect Wyoming's interests, he worked with representatives of the U.S., supporting, for example, federal legislation to protect the Wyoming Range in the northwestern portion of the state.
Freudenthal's administration also strove to ensure Wyoming's long-term future by focusing on education, community-building and resource preservation. Governor Freudenthal spearheaded legislation and funding for economic and community development initiatives, the funding of the Cultural Trust Fund for the arts, creation of the Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust Fund, and establishment of the School of Energy Resources at the University of Wyoming. Public education, long a priority in Wyoming, received unprecedented support including the creation of the "Hathaway Scholarship Fund" to provide assistance to nearly every Wyoming high school graduate seeking higher education in the State. This fully endowed, constitutionally protected trust will provide education assistance to Wyoming citizens for generations. Freudenthal advanced all these efforts and removed the sales tax on food, while maintaining significant budget surpluses throughout his terms.
Freudenthal was born and raised in Wyoming. He graduated from Amherst College in 1973 and returned to Wyoming to take a position as an economist with the State. Governor Ed Herschler appointed him State Planning Coordinator in 1975. After graduating from the University of Wyoming College of Law in 1980, Freudenthal opened his own one-person law firm in Cheyenne. The firm grew into a general practice firm representing individuals and business. In 1994, he was appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming. Dave and his wife, Nancy, have four children and live in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Admitted to practice: Wyoming
Speeches & Presentations
"Martz Winter Symposium: Natural Resource Industries and the Sustainability Challenge," University of Colorado Law School
(February 27-28, 2014).
Speaker: Dave Freudenthal.
"Energy - What the Future Holds," The 2011 Tenth Circuit Judicial Conference
(September 22, 2011).
Panelist and Speaker: Dave Freudenthal.
"The Good, the Bad, and the Not So Pretty: Public Policy Leaders and the Evolution of Technology," Gould Distinguished Lecture on Technology and The Quality of Life, University of Utah
(September 14, 2011).
Speaker: Dave Freudenthal.
Firm News & Announcements