Letter to the Editor: I Traveled From Alaska To Attend Wyoming Minerals Conference

Dear Editor: I had the pleasure of traveling to Sheridan from my home in Anchorage, Alaska, last week, where I attended my first Wyoming Mining Association annual convention.

June 15, 20234 min read

Rick Whitbeck 6 15 23

I had the pleasure of traveling to Sheridan from my home in Anchorage, Alaska, last week, where I attended my first Wyoming Mining Association annual convention. The entire conference was worth the trip, but the highlight for me was the last official event of the convention, which was the congressional panel discussion. 

Wyoming’s two U.S. senators, John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, were there, along with West Virginia Congresswoman Carol Miller. They were joined by Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon for an hour-plus discussion on mining’s role in the American economy, the threats the industry is under from radical environmentalists and their “climate-first” ideologies, the steps Congress is taking to rein in the executive and administrative overreach from the Biden administration — whose anti-fossil fuel agenda has been on clear display since taking over the White House — and how Wyoming is ready and willing to continue to lead the way in balancing environmental stewardship with responsible development.

Coal, Wyoming’s leading export and a key piece of our nation’s energy security, is definitely in the climate warriors’ crosshairs, as are natural gas and oil production. It currently takes nearly a decade to permit a U.S. mine, and in doing so you must get past the “sue-and-settle” tactics of the eco-left and work through federal judges with clear anti-development biases. 

Forget permitting a new oil or gas project without seeing extremist organizations demanding financial institutions deny it financing or overcome millions of dollars being spent on glitzy public relations campaigns designed to turn public sentiment against the venture.

Listening to the three congressional members on the panel made me think about the energy champions throughout the U.S. House and Senate, including Wyoming Congresswoman Harriet Hageman and my home-state Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski.

They don’t have it easy right now. Team Biden seems hell-bent on destroying the conventional energy fabric that has led our nation to prosperity and world leadership on so many levels.  They want to transition our energy grid away from traditional, reliable and affordable sources of coal and natural gas to less reliable and higher-cost renewable projects.

That’s why legislation like congresswoman Miller’s Protect Our Power Plants Act is so vitally important to the fight.

It would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing its recently announced proposal that would force the closure of coal- and gas-fired power plants across the nation. Between that legislation and the recent Supreme Court ruling on Sackett v. EPA, which was a tremendous victory for Americans disgusted with federal agencies overstepping their authority and creating laws against the public interest, there is hope that the Biden administration’s battle on legacy energy will fail throughout the rest of his term.

Regardless of the efforts of energy champions, including Sens. Barrasso, Lummis, Murkowski and Sullivan, and Congresswomen Hageman and Miller, there still needs to be a concerted effort to battle the billions of dollars spent each year by eco-centric ideologues and their misinformation vessels in the environmental movement. 

The damage they’ve done to rural American communities by crushing opportunities, shuttering jobsites, ending good-paying jobs for hundreds of thousands of American families and doing it all in the name of the Earth isn’t going to be easy to overcome.

But, with strong congressional leadership, governors like Mark Gordon, state legislatures with integrity and backbone, organizations like the Wyoming Mining Association and America-first citizens, I’m confident that together we can turn the tide and help restore America to its rightful place as the world leader in energy creation. 

I saw that spirit and attitude during my time in your state last week, and I look forward to continued engagement with Wyoming in the months and years to come.

Rick Whitbeck

Alaska State Director for Power The Future

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