By C. A. “Kip” Crofts, former US Attorney
I found a recent statewide news story that is perplexing and disturbing. It described how Senator Cale Case proposed to the Revenue Committee what sounds like a reasonable plan for the State of Wyoming to gain some revenue from alternative energy sources like wind and solar.
But the Committee voted against the proposal 9-4. I can’t tell if they failed to explain their “no” votes or if the reporter failed to report that, but I am confused and concerned by that action. Isn’t the purpose of the “Revenue” committee to find “revenue” for the State? So, what is their plan?
Do they intend to just hold stubbornly to our obsolete mineral severance tax and hope that someday the coal industry will be saved? That ship has sailed and even the coal companies are making alternative plans for energy.
If Wyoming is going to be the source of wind and solar energy for California and other places, to the point where every vacant acre of Wyoming has a wind turbine, a solar farm, or a transmission line, then what is wrong with having those users of our energy pay a significant tax to us in exchange for our giving up our scenic landscapes?
Already you can hardly find a place in Wyoming where there is not a wind turbine on the horizon. And one day, when they learn that these energy sources are not economical without government subsidies and tax credits, or when they wear out, we may yet again see bankrupt companies who are unwilling or unable to clean up the mess they leave behind in Wyoming.
We have seen that already with abandoned wells and mines. We are such naive fools always looking for some magic solution, and our Legislators seem to be so rabidly “anti-tax” that they are willing to sacrifice our well-being to support that naive position come hell or high water.
Car companies are falling over themselves to convert to electric vehicles, but neither President Biden, Climate Czar John Kerry, the car companies or anyone else seems to be working on a plan to supply all that electric power that will be required, and I fear that once more Wyoming will be seen only as the power source for the rest of the country.
That’s fine if they pay for it, but the money must not go only to the big power companies. Wyoming and its people deserve to be paid for enduring that as well from a fair but significant tax structure.
Next thing President Biden and that angry girl from Sweden will be demanding that Americans give up the central furnaces that heat our homes with natural gas, propane or oil, and convert those to electricity as well.
Once again, where is all of that electric power going to come from? Much will come from Wyoming but we won’t get anything for it if these Legislators continue to hide their heads in the coal dust and refuse to insist that we get paid a fair revenue for our huge part in filling this national need.