Guest Column: Gordon Was Standing Tall In The Saddle Until He Backed Down

Guest columnist Gregory Wrightstone writes, "Gov. Gordon was standing tall in the saddle when he accepted an invitation to debate publicly his so-called carbon-negative policy in a state heavily engaged in the production of fossil fuels. However, he ultimately backed down."

November 23, 20234 min read

Gordon 11 23 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon was standing tall in the saddle when he accepted an invitation to debate publicly his so-called carbon-negative policy in a state heavily engaged in the production of fossil fuels. However, he ultimately backed down.

As reported by Cowboy State Daily, it all started when:

"Gordon came under fire late last month for comments he made at Harvard University, where he said Wyoming needs to urgently address climate change by becoming the first state to go 'carbon negative,' and that carbon dioxide is the 'major contributor' to the Earth’s warming climate."

Being head of the Western Governors' Association, Mr. Gordon is chief promoter of a "Decarbonizing the West" initiative that would include the development of a plant to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to avert the purported catastrophe of global warming.

However, the governor received fire from the Wyoming Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative state representatives, then a letter signed by 30 legislators and the Wyoming Secretary of State who invited him to debate the matter. As executive director of the CO2 Coalition, I was proud for our group to have been included:

"We, the undersigned members of the Wyoming legislative and executive branches, joined by our allies, the scientists of the CO2 Coalition, took notice of the sweeping policy change you announced for Wyoming in your speech last month at Harvard University. There, you declared publicly that Wyoming 'will be the first state … [to] be carbon negative,' meaning Wyoming will emit no 'net' CO2 into the atmosphere. This is a tall order for any state, and in Wyoming not possible without overturning our state’s economy, which is largely based on fossil fuel extraction."

The mention of Wyoming's production of hydrocarbons is no small matter. In 2022, the state ranked eighth and ninth nationally in extraction of crude oil and natural gas, respectively.

Wyoming reports being the "most prolific coal-producing state," accounting for nearly 40% of U.S. output. Any attempt to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide is sure to discourage use of these fuels.

While those supporting the removal of carbon dioxide from the air and industrial emissions present it as a way to extend the employment of fossil fuels, to say CO2removal on a large scale is unproven is an understatement.

Even with huge government subsidies, the technology is prohibitively expensive and would make no difference in the climate in any case. 

More importantly, decreasing the amount of atmospheric CO2 would be deleterious to the well-being of the planet and its people.

Carbon dioxide is a beneficial plant food, whose increase since the Industrial Revolution has boosted yields of corn, soybeans and wheat by 56% to 140% and contributed to an overall greening of Earth. A 2014 study reported:

"The rising level of atmospheric CO2 could be the one global natural resource that is progressively increasing food production and total biological output … The effects know no boundaries, and both developing and developed countries are, and will be, sharing equally … [for] the rising level of atmospheric CO2 is a universally free premium."

This, and more, would have been discussed had the governor followed through with a debate. But he ultimately chose to decline in a letter to legislators, saying, "The debate about whether the earth is warming (because of CO2) ... has raged for over two decades without rendering a convincing conclusion for all people. Minds are made up on this point."

Rather than "join in the unfruitfulness of that fray," the governor chose to pursue a decarbonization scheme he claims will ensure that "Wyoming's industries continue to thrive."

We only wish good for the state's economy but disagree that people are beyond learning the truth about CO2's benefits.

Engaged as volunteer members of the CO2Coalition in revealing "made-up minds" to the facts are more than 150 scientists and researchers.

I regularly witness people shift their view upon hearing but a sample of the overwhelming evidence countering the apocalyptic climate narrative. 

Whether we are dueling it out with climate alarmists in an auditorium or the OK Corral, we always expect to prevail. Not because we're necessarily the quickest on the draw but because the truth is on our side.

Gregory Wrightstone is a geologist; executive director of the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Va.; and author of “Inconvenient Facts: The science that Al Gore doesn’t want you to know" and "A Very Convenient Warming: How modest warming and more CO2 are benefiting humanity."

Share this article