Guest Column: Wyoming Needs To Be Bullish About Energy

Gov. Mark Gordon writes, "An all-of-the-above approach is urgent. Are there new industries entering the state? Yes. Are we abandoning traditional fossil energy? Categorically no! "

CSD Staff

December 16, 20235 min read

(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Loading an unwilling bull into a trailer can be daunting, even if it is for its own good. Bulls  tend to be testy and their size presents a special challenge.

My dad’s approach involved roping the bull, dragging it to the trailer, attaching a block and tackle and then – after a good deal of cussing and a lathered-up saddle horse or two – we might wrench it into the trailer.

We never hurt a bull, but we had some impromptu rodeos in the process. It didn’t always work, especially if the bull was distracted by somebody’s yappy dog or a party of big-hat bystanders yelling, “You're doing it all wrong!”

Having witnessed this spectacle a couple of times, my sister suggested we try a method she had read about in Western Horseman: simply by using pressure and release Ray Hunt claimed he could load any bull in a trailer in the middle of any pasture without panels, ropes, hot shots, or cussing.

We were doubtful but gave it a try. The technique worked. No lathered horses, loud unhelpful critics, or yapping dogs.

I am proud of my efforts to protect our Wyoming mineral industries from misguided federal policies and to promote the Wyoming jobs, families, and communities they support.

To be clear, I have spoken, and will continue, to speak to audiences inside and outside Wyoming with the message that Wyoming provides energy of all types, and that our future – America’s and the world’s – depends on all types of energy.

I won’t back down. Our industries are too important, those jobs are essential to our economy, and our energy leadership is something we need to maximize in order to keep our industries relevant and strong.

In contrast to standing idly by, or squawking, “You're all wrong” as we witness our most valuable industries decline and the jobs they provide vanish, rest assured I will continue to forcefully advocate for the kinds of technological advances like enhanced oil recovery that benefit from carbon capture and provide a path forward for our industries to thrive.

For the record, no matter one’s views on climate, all of our energy is valuable. New technology can make it better and more abundant. It is time for Wyoming to press her established leadership on energy, the environment, and private property to her advantage. Wyoming is a place where jobs, careers, and opportunities should flourish rather than languish.

Over the past decades we have seen coal mines go through bankruptcy. In one case, the operator literally walked away leaving workers standing at a locked front gate. 

We have seen companies rise and fall in the oil and gas sector. Our uranium industry, which once played a critical role in our economy, was brought to its knees when Russia was able to produce cheaper ore with fewer restrictions.

Remember Jeffrey City, the Gas Hills and Shirley Basin?  In over a little more than a decade coal-generated electricity has fallen from nearly 50% of our America’s overall generating capacity to somewhere near 18%.

These are not hopeful trends for the industries that support Wyoming’s standard of living. Is there an urgency to protect these industries? 100%. If Wyoming doesn’t stand by them and innovate, we will lose them.

That is why an all-of-the-above approach is urgent. Are there new industries entering the state? Yes. Are we abandoning traditional fossil energy? Categorically no!

They remain an essential part of any energy mix. What we are doing is pointing out that coal, oil and gas hold a solution to the growing calls to produce more energy and reduce CO2 in our atmosphere.

Whether warranted or not, climate concerns have shaped opinions that affect both the regulatory framework and market acceptance for the energy Wyoming produces.

No one has taken the threats to our industry more seriously than me. I am, and always have been, a steadfast defender of Wyoming’s interests, of private property, and of free enterprise.

We have used the courts, congressional testimony, and now the bully pulpit to defend our fossil production and ancillary industries. Nevertheless, attacks on those very industries persist.

I will continue to use every opportunity to promote Wyoming’s industries, protect the jobs (new and old) they provide, and promote the innovation and entrepreneurialism our people are famous for.

We need to get our bulls to spring pasture – even the chippy ones – they have a job to do. We can cuss, rope, and try to whip this effort forward, but there is the chance we could cripple or even kill it.

Or, like Ray Hunt suggests, we can find an alternative (and possibly more effective) way to assure that our kids, your kids, can look forward to a flourishing, familiar Wyoming.

In the Wyoming I grew up in, when there was work to do, my sister and I were expected to get the job done, not just bellyache about it. And right now, we have our work cut out for us.

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CSD Staff