Dennis Sun: Are We Doing Right?

Columnist Dennis Sun writes: "What worries me is what is going to happen with renewal energy development on public lands in our Western states. I keep reading more on the backlash of renewable energy from those in Eastern states."

Dennis Sun

February 25, 20234 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

As I sat down to write this column on the afternoon of Jan. 21, I was well aware another large snowstorm was looming later in the day. It took longer than usual to write the column with my mind on the storm and the effect it may have on everyone. I was happy to sit in a warm office while writing it though.

We’re really fortunate to live in Wyoming and the Northern Plains as we have vast energy resources to keep us all warm and the lights on. Although our energy sources are changing, coal, oil and natural gas are still king. I’m glad they are, because I don’t really trust renewable sources of energy yet.

I trust the electrical and gas lines supplying the energy we need, but this could be changing as we see more solar and wind development out in the hills. I don’t mind some solar and wind development, but I don’t want it blanketing the state.

I highly believe landowners have the right to what happens on their private lands.

What worries me is what is going to happen with renewal energy development on public lands in our Western states. I keep reading more on the backlash of renewable energy from those in Eastern states.

While reading an article from northern Ohio, I realized there is quite the backlash on renewable energy in this part of the country.

The article stated, “The state legislature had newly empowered – passed a bill – county governments to drastically restrict wind and solar power development, a process formerly overseen by the Ohio Power Siting Board, and the meetings of the three-member governing body for the county suddenly started becoming a lot more animated.”

The new empowerment brought out the anti-wind and solar advocates demanding local county commissioners do something. One county’s commissioners voted late last year to approve a 10-year ban on wind development.

They were reluctant to do so as they didn’t want to tell landowners what they could do on their private lands, but both rural and urban voters were for it.

The article also said across the country in Virginia, rural Michigan, southern Tennessee, Louisiana, Maine, New Jersey and Nevada, new renewable energy development has drawn heated opposition, bringing on – in many cases – bans, moratoriums and other restrictions.

In a report updated last year, the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School found “in nearly every state, local governments have enacted policies to block or restrict renewable energy facilities, and local opposition has resulted in the delay or cancelation of particular projects.”

Not including what the report called “reasonable regulations,” the 2022 edition of the report found 121 local policies, up from 17.5 percent from 2021, which blocked or restricted renewable energy, and 204 contested renewable energy facilities were up 23.6 percent.

“Not in my backyard” and other objections to renewable energy has proven, throughout the country, it can delay or stop project development, the report said.

Our current administration in Washington, D.C. and potential others down the road are not going to stop or slow down renewable energy development in this country. We’ve seen instances where they develop renewable energy programs they want on public lands in the West or recently acquired lands in the 30×30 program.

This action would not be good for public lands ranching, wildlife or recreation in the West.

Dennis Sun is publisher of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, a weekly agriculture newspaper. To view this week’s edition or subscribe, visit or call 800-967-1647.

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Dennis Sun

Agriculture Columnist