Diversify and Grow
Wyoming's dependence on energy production isn't going to do it any favors if it doesn't evolve. It's a fact we must address: fossil fuels are becoming less profitable. We must admit that an extraction economy is not sustainable. Our dependence on oil is leading to dangerous methods of extraction, which is harming our communities and tempting some of our elected officials to sell off our public lands. I know people who have had their water wells ruined by nearby fracking activity, who have made methane leaking into their home through their faucets. I believe there are better ways that Wyoming can prosper. These industries must evolve or the communities that depend on them will face hardship.
There is no need to shut down the coal plants or halt oil production, and I believe that Wyoming can transition into a sustainable AND booming economy by capitalizing on the best aspects of our renewable and non-renewable resources. Not only is Wyoming the largest producer of coal, our state also is at the forefront of scientific advancements to reduce emissions from coal production. I greatly value our coal miners; they built our state and I don't want them to have to leave. To do that we must innovate, or there is not going to be a path forward.
Fortunately, innovation is already happening, and new technologies may create lucrative new industries based on coal. The University of Wyoming has partnered with the US-China Clean Energy Research Center to accelerate the development of clean coal technology. This project aims to ensure that coal remains a viable source of energy and economic value. Coal can also be used to produce carbon nanotubes, are a new technology with a vast range of applications. Instead of just burning our abundant coal for energy, we could step into the forefront of new medical, construction, and other super-materials technologies.
A Healthy Future
If you ask just about anybody around here to describe Wyoming in five words, one of those words is going to be "windy." We have incredible potential for wind power, and big developments are already in the works. Our state also has perhaps the greatest potential for growth of any US state within the solar industry.
We need to capitalize on these opportunities. We must update old technologies and embrace new ones. Solar and wind power provide a deeply viable supplement to our energy production. It's also an alternative that is economically stable, and one that is much less harmful to the environment.