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Casper Star Tribune: Don’t turn out the lights on Wyoming’s energy workers

For decades, Wyoming workers and the rest of our country enjoyed a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Oil workers and coal miners provided the nation with a steady supply of energy. In return, those workers could count on well-paying, blue-collar jobs that offered an opportunity to buy a home, support a family and send kids to college.

That arrangement started to fray over the past decade, thanks in part to structural changes in how the U.S. powers itself. Demand for fossil fuels has been tempered by climate change, new technology and competition from renewables. More recently, we’ve suffered through the decline of coal, a global oil price war and a pandemic that has bled demand for fuel.

Now, it feels like the arrangement has come undone.

In the past week, President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders designed to address climate change and reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. One in particular has major implications for our state. It requires the U.S. Department of Interior to halt approval of new oil and gas leases on public lands “to the extent possible.” More than half of oil and gas production in Wyoming comes from federal minerals. So the impact of such a move will be profound.

The moratorium has sparked fear and outrage across Wyoming, which is already suffering through an economic downturn. There is ample concern about how Wyoming will pay for public schools and government services without a healthy energy sector. Wyoming’s tax structure is set up to be reliant on the extraction industries. What do we do when fewer minerals are being extracted?

The full story can be read here.