Money Management

Wolski: Cowboy in Wyoming | Columns

FE “Wally” Wolski, has served as Wyoming State Director for Rural Development for USDA, past president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and past chair of the Goshen County Commissioners. He grows near Yoder, WY

FE “Wally” Wolski,

A few years ago, I was a member of the ENDOW Executive Board responsible for developing a twenty-year economic development strategy. I still remember our in-depth discussions on how Wyoming should be prepared to act when economic opportunities knock on the door.

Well my friends the future is upon us and we are in a major problem. Wyoming is facing an unprecedented economic crisis. Even after cutting more than twenty percent of the state budget, Wyoming still faces a $ 250 million deficit.

Our ability to depend on royalties from energy and mineral production is seriously threatened. The citizens of Wyoming have benefited from residing in a mineral rich state. We have become accustomed to receiving essential services costing about ten times the annual amount collected in personal taxes – this benefit is almost exclusively from living in a mineral-rich state.

Those glorious old days seem to be fading quickly. Federal regulators have declared war on our coal industry, while advocacy groups present fossil fuels as the root of everything negatively associated with our environment. The prohibitively expensive clean air mandates dramatically reduced Powder River’s demand for coal. Even the California wildfires last summer were blamed on Wyoming because of our coal mining.

Wyoming faces two choices. Either admit the disappearance of the use of Powder River coal as a fuel source to generate reliable and affordable electricity, or react as the people of Wyoming usually do, finding a common sense solution by coming together and working. for the best.