New energy and politics coming to Wyoming

Looking out over a Wind River Range valley of trees, a meadow, and a stream, we can see that people all over the world are busy burning fossil fuels, because there is a thick haze obscuring the mountains. No matter which “sovereign nation” creates air pollution, there’s still just one sky. Wyoming’s politicians aspire to send more coal to Asia, but they will in return only send us money for the One Percenters, and more smog for the rest of us.

Given that Wyoming’s coal miners are continually given the shaft with each coal-mine bankruptcy, at what point do we ask, “Are these good jobs?” Also, why are Wyoming’s politicians not making a big noise to defend Wyoming workers? Our Washington Congressional delegation, the undynamic trio of Mike Enzi, Liz Cheney, and John Barrasso, do not support legislation to protect health care and retirement benefits for coal miners.

Workers in gas and oil do no better. With drilling’s booms and busts, can we ask, “When will we see stability, and a diverse economy?” With drilling notoriously not helping workers injured on the job, when do we ask, “Could we hold employers accountable?”

Our state has some $21 billion invested elsewhere, so we have lots of money but no economy. That money should be intelligently invested within this state, not put into the risky stock market. Our former state treasurer, and current governor, Mark Gordon, is upholding economic conditions common in the third world. A first-world economy is partly defined by an equitable distribution of wealth, great infrastructure and strong social institutions, and steadily improving conditions for everyone.

Wyoming needs, and can afford, a kind of “State New Deal,” and make it green, so that we can see unhazy mountains again. For this to occur: No. 1 we have to stop fossil-fuel companies from running roughshod over us; No. 2, we must elect candidates who share this vision. The right people would not necessarily be Democrats or Republicans; Wyomingites are sick of these naughty children. We need to elect Independent candidates, partly Libertarian and partly moderate, depending on the issue.

We really must do this, because our repeatedly elected politicians absolutely refuse to look at our energy and economic prospects with clear eyes. As time passes, another fossil-fuel boom is less and less likely. If demand for fossil fuels spike, because of a major war or something, these suddenly more expensive fuels will only serve to make solar and wind that much more competitive, because they will not go up in price.

Fossil fuels are commodities that must be paid for. On the other hand, energy derived from solar and wind do not require the input of any kind of commodity. The energy these create is produced by physics married to technology. It’s all about scale, design, and mechanical setup. Many Wyomingites excel at these things, but most of our creative and working efforts are still focused on fossil fuels. This is bad because they are becoming globally odious, and their economic marginalization is just over the horizon.

Some interesting questions are, if coal sold for a nickel a ton, oil for a buck a barrel, and natural gas for a dime per cubic foot, could they outcompete solar and wind? Ridiculously, today’s answer is, “Probably.” As solar and wind prices continue to fall, however, tomorrow’s answer is, “No.” This is the sort of situation that political leaders are supposed to give a little thought to, but in Wyoming they clearly don’t understand, or believe, any of this. Instead, they are prevaricating with a fairy tale about a vegetative paradise we will soon be enjoying because of all the wonderful carbon being pumped into the atmosphere.

Crazily, Governor Gordon said on (May 7, 2019, “We can burn it (coal) better … than anywhere in the world and be part of the climate solution. … We will have a strong coal industry moving forward ... .” What planet is he on?

Though this is just anecdotal, in the 36 years that I have lived in Colorado and Wyoming, and according to several ole-tymers who have lived in the Rockies double that time, the sky is hazier than it was three decades ago. This is borne out scientifically, too, as is the case almost universally (Britain excepted). We have, after all, just one sky. This should concern anyone worried about respiratory illnesses, like asthma, as well as those of us who just like an unhazy view of the mountains.

Tom Gagnon,

Rock Springs

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