The photos of President Trump signing the order to release more coal leases with Senator Barrasso and Representative Cheney from Wyoming standing on his right leaves no doubt that I live in Trump country. The headlines in the Wyoming news blares “Coal workers excited”. Other than a handful of liberals, who hate all Republicans, Trump can do no wrong in Wyoming. That is the ugly, as everyone knows coal is not coming back. At the recent coal lease sale not one lease was sold. The anticipated coal sales to Asia have dissolved, as even Australia is lamenting the decline of exports to China. The idea of opening a deep seaport in Seattle or Portland to ship coal to Asia has been shelved. Lighthouse Coal is shipping some Powder River coal to Asia through the Westshore Terminals in British Columbia, Canada, but that is it.
Where a President Trump can help Wyoming — good or bad depending on one’s outlook — is in the rising oil and gas area. At a recent oil/gas auction all 197 leases were sold; 95 in Laramie County where I live. That is the good. At a recent oil/gas auction all 197 leases were sold, 95 in Laramie County where I live. That is the bad. The quandary that is Wyoming cannot be better explained than a cartoon in the recent “High Country News” where a fracking guy is telling a coal guy that fracking is more cost-effective than coal at polluting the air and water.
Recently a Texas oil company announced they were going to drill 13 wells that would run under an east Cheyenne subdivision. When the news broke in the newspaper and protests were raised the company said they mailed notices to all the subdivision residents about an upcoming meeting and no one showed up. The only problem was they sent those notices to the wrong subdivi,sion. Honest mistake? And it is not just here in Wyoming, but in Colorado as well. Boulder County banned all drilling in its county but now a Denver oil company is suing saying only the state can ban drilling. They want to drill 105 wells by Longmont.
I have noticed orange signs popping up on fences announcing a future development at that area. The signs don’t say what the development is but they are in areas where no one would build houses or business complexes. A couple of those signs have appeared on the back road that I sometimes take into town. It is like driving through a Pronghorn reserve as several groups feed in the open fields, The occasional fox will dart across the road. Even a few deer roam out of the tree lines at dusk. Despite the three 400-foot behemoth windmills that service Warren, hawks swoop down and grab gophers or field mice and then sit on a fence post eating their snack. I do not need my wildlife drive turned into an oil patch drive because some liberal in San Francisco or New York City can turn on their gas stove and say, “See how cleaner gas burns than coal”.
As far as renewables, the Chokecherry wind farm by Saratoga is finally getting built with most of the power going to California. Rocky Mountain Power just announced it will spend $3.5 billion on windmills and upgrading the transmission lines. Another California company proposed spending more than $8 billion on a wind farm by Chugwater, 40 miles north of me. I haven’t heard more on that. But wind will not replace coal jobs.
On immigration, Wyoming is the only state without a refugee relocation department but the liberals want to create one. Unless they are planning on reopening Heart Mountain Internment Center, how many refugees do they expect to make their way to Wyoming? A dozen? hardly worth creating a whole new government agency for. Cheyenne has a solid Muslim community that would step up to help refugees.
On healthcare, anyone following the news knows the repeal of the ACA is again dead in the water. About 25,000 people in Wyoming have signed up on the ACA but, with only one provider, options are few.
Wyoming farmers are excited that the legislators have approved hemp farming. But before I can plant five acres of hemp to supplement my retirement the state has to get the testing equipment and set up guidelines. That could take two years. As far as legal marijuana that is dead in the water. Not because of the legislature but because of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ (NORML) ineptness. Polls showed 70 percent of Wyomingites were for medical marijuana, but then the NORML groups began fighting among themselves about MMJ or MJ and the petitions never got in.
And that is the news from Trump country here in Wyoming.
Sincerely, Bruce Vojtecky, former Anderson resident.