Earlier this month, an article on my home state of Wyoming was featured in the New York Times. As I have said before, it is not often that the Cowboy State is written about in the New York Times; in fact, I think the last time I wrote about it was back in 2015 – see that old blog post here.
The New York Times article was featured on December 14, 2017 and was entitled, Where Wind Farms Meet Coal Country, There’s Enduring Faith in Trump. As I went home to Wyoming to celebrate the holiday with my family for a few days, I was able to reflect more and put together my thoughts on the article.
It is no secret that historically, Wyoming’s health and very survival has been centered on the strength of the energy industry.
The energy sector is and has always been the life blood of the Cowboy State. Revenues from mineral production have been a central part of the Wyoming budget basically since statehood. Wyoming families make their livings either in the extractive industries of oil and gas and mining, or in the service sector that relies heavily on the same. The boom and bust cyclical nature of the energy industry has always had a serious impact on the Wyoming economy. This is still the case today, and for the foreseeable future, unless the state can diversify its economy – check out this economics page from the Wyoming Mining Association.
In fact, that is why Wyoming created the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund back in 1975, to further the goal of extending the depletable nature of Wyoming’s minerals to benefit future generations – the concept had been attempted in the Wyoming legislature since the late 1880s. The fund is funded primarily by severance taxes.
The main premise of the article is that energy-reliant Wyoming, and specifically Converse County, have a lot at stake in President’s Trump promise to make the US a dominant energy force.
The truth is, in Wyoming, none of this is about who is in office or what promises have been made. At its heart, this is not a political issue for my home state.
This is about people being able to make a living in Wyoming. The crux of the issue is not Wyoming’s enduring faith in the President or his promises, it is about the ability to provide for one’s family. Wyoming people want to work in stable jobs.
Wyoming is in the Emergency Room. Its residents are leaving the state for better opportunities, and they are leaving in mass exodus. In fact, the Casper Star Tribune has reported that the state’s overall population dropped this year for the first time since 1990.
The good news is that Wyoming’s heart is good, so no major organ transplant is necessary, but the state needs critical and intensive care, and politics is no doctor. It is up to the people to breathe life back into Wyoming.
As we look into the coming New Year, that is what Wyomingites are focused on – finding entrepreneurial new ways to make their families prosper. It was easy to see this as I flew out of the Cowboy State last night.