Powder River’s statement on Governor Gordon’s 2022 State of the State Address:
As the 2022 legislative session opened on Valentine’s Day, Governor Mark Gordon delivered an ode to Wyoming. It is wonderful to be led by a person who has had some of the most awe-inspiring and authentic experiences that our state has to offer. We at Powder River Basin Resource Council were happy to hear praise for those who work to protect our state and our nation through their military service, and we support the governor’s call for increased wages for state employees. We also concur that the people of Wyoming are amazing in their concern for their fellow citizens, and that the kindness shown to one another can be heartwarming. The work of the First Lady to provide locally-grown food for hungry or under-served Wyomingites has been outstanding. It made us proud that the Governor recognized the contributions made by Native citizens to the State.
Some Wyomingites who have had similar experiences as Governor Gordon interpret other issues differently than he does. We all wish to see a strong economy that does not put our values at risk and to see our limited financial resources used wisely. We all hope that there will be future generations who also appreciate and experience the richness of this beautiful and challenging landscape. We diverge when we try to find the path to that future. When we reach that fork in the road, how to “just take it” is less obvious. Millions of dollars are already flowing into this state from the federal government, and those dollars do benefit the people of the state. It is very popular among the leaders of Wyoming to say we are not beholden to the federal monies on one hand but then sing the praises for certain pet programs on the other. Our governor celebrates federal dollars for projects such as nuclear facilities but then refuses to follow the rules set for responsible oil and gas drilling on federal lands. It is up to Wyoming citizens to call out our leaders when they fall into this pattern. Even better, we could set more stringent rules that allow us to preserve the landscape to which Governor Gordon sings his praises. We could demand that the rest of the nation get in line to protect our water, our air, our open spaces and our climate.
Wyoming citizens recognize that our economy is terribly narrow; it is based almost exclusively on producing energy for the rest of the nation. Diversifying to a different type of energy really does not really diversify our economy. Education, mental and physical health, innovative agricultural practices, and non-consumptive recreation are just some routes to the future we all want. We look forward to joining the Governor in deciding which fork of the road leads in that direction.
Joyce Evans, Powder River Basin Resource Council Chair