CHEYENNE (WTE) – Governor Mark Gordon in a press release on Thursday announced steps he is taking to extend Wyoming's economic recovery and highlighted a number of proposals and initiatives to strengthen the state's energy, tourism and agriculture sectors .
Gordon sheds light on "all of the above" energy industries and plans to redouble efforts to protect the state's energy and mining industries, which generate the largest revenue from Wyoming and which has a huge impact on overall employment trends in the state.
Gordon's efforts became even more important after the Biden government announced last week that it would suspend new state oil and gas leases. The governor supports laws that give severance tax relief to the oil and natural gas industry, particularly House Bill 11, as well as laws that enhance the newly created Wyoming Energy Authority's ability to develop carbon capture technologies, trona, rare earth elements and critical minerals.
"The energy and mining sectors are the main pillars of our economy and they have provided what it takes to give this nation the luxury of searching for new forms of energy," Gordon said in a statement. "Let me be clear. Our traditional industries will adapt and continue to deliver the reliable, affordable, and shippable energy they always have, only better. Our economic recovery will depend on the health of these industries and their ability to adapt to changing market demands Wyoming can continue to grow as our power mix evolves.
"While some are suggesting the demise of coal soon – and there are many challenges ahead – we believe coal, combined with new technologies, is an integral part of the solution to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere," continued Gordon. “Carbon sequestration and carbon byproduct development will be part of Wyoming's energy future. This also applies to research into the extraction of rare earth elements and critical minerals associated with coal, which are required for the batteries that drive the expected global expansion of wind and solar energy. "
Tourism remains a major engine of the state economy and occupies most of the Wyomingites. 2020 brought record numbers of visitors, supported businesses in Wyoming, and secured jobs for residents. House Bill 58, sponsored by the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee, would allow a $ 1.1 million overall funding reduction for Wyoming State Parks with no impact on customer service or safety as it is self-generated Funds (fees) could be used to a greater extent for outdoor operations and recreation instead of capital building.
"Our state parks offer world-class experiences and opportunities for tourists and residents alike, and have seen visitor numbers grow approximately 36% nationwide over the past year, a trend that is expected to continue through 2021," said Gordon. "It is important to ensure that we continue to properly fund these parks and historic sites that are vital to our state's economy."
Several laws related to meat processing are under scrutiny by Wyoming lawmakers, and the governor is working with lawmakers to expand processing capacity in the state.
"This is just part of an ambitious initiative aimed at adding value to products across the farm spectrum," said Gordon. "These efforts are essential to growing this important part of our economy."
Of particular interest to both Governor and First Lady Jennie Gordon is House Bill 52, sponsored by the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee. Not only would this bill help school districts improve Wyoming meat products in school feeding programs, but it would also provide another opportunity to feed the children who do not get enough to eat every day, a focus of the First Lady’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative.
Gordon also welcomed the passage of House Bill 53 Thursday. The legislation would implement several of the recommendations made in the Governor's final report of the Invasive Species Initiative and give local districts more leeway to implement specific management programs for invasive species.
Senator Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and House Speaker Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, are developing a draft law to improve the Wyoming Attorney General's antitrust law enforcement agency that includes a much-needed update to the state statute should ensure fair competition in the Wyoming market.
In 2020, Wyoming ranchers were impacted by consolidations and acquisitions in the broader agribusiness. However, the state was banned from investigating these measures as current state antitrust laws do not allow the attorney general to investigate possible violations.
The Barlow and Nethercott Bill ensures that Wyoming does not have to rely on other states or the federal government to advance the interests of residents in a competitive market that benefits businesses and consumers alike. The bill will not only benefit agriculture but also ensure fair competition in all Wyoming markets, Gordon said.
"With Wyoming's challenging economic outlook, protecting our ranch and farming community is more important than ever," Nethercott said in a statement. “The market manipulation we saw last year when we highlighted our country's meat prices is detrimental to both producers and consumers in Wyoming. I am proud to sponsor this bill to empower our attorney general to first protect all industries and consumers in Wyoming from these illegal practices. "