Green River Star -

Our View: State should look beyond energy


Is energy the only thing Wyoming has going for it?

Why must we focus solely on mineral extraction as a means of making money for the state government?

In Sweetwater County, minerals are our specialty since we have trona, coal, natural gas, oil and uranium sitting beneath our feet. We’ve even got lithium, used in those lithium-ion batteries in almost every high-tech gadget and toy on the market, though it may be decades before that resource can be tapped. As we’ve seen countless times however, when times are good, our communities are bustling, while when times are bad -- the economy is a bust.

We’ve stated this many times on this page that a solution to the state’s boom-and-bust cycles needs to be found and we’re certain it won’t come from energy or agriculture sectors. Energy is the prime reason Wyoming has its booms and busts, while agriculture won’t ever produce the kind of money needed to keep the state operating.

What about that industrial megacomplex we were hearing so much about last year; the one that would be modeled after the Industrial Heartland in Alberta, Canada? Considering excitement around the idea died down after natural gas and oil took a dive in the markets, we can be sure it won’t come up until those prices improve. What’s unfortunate is this is the sort of idea Wyoming needs to revitalize its economy. While it shouldn’t be so involved in oil and natural gas, the megacomplex should be a base for manufacturing and refining raw minerals into something other than what’s pulled out of the ground. Creation of any sort of manufacturing or refining facility would help Wyoming out, especially if it’s located near a location where raw materials are produced -- such as Sweetwater County. Regardless of if that megacomplex is realized or not, Sweetwater County and the state need to do something to end these boom and bust cycles.

Wyoming needs to find a way to step away from its dependency on the energy market and diversify its job offerings. Doing so would help the state with a number of its problems. The state’s youth wouldn’t be so quick to leave if the job market is diversified and the economy wouldn’t take such a dive when energy prices drop.

The county and state shouldn’t look to pie in the sky ideas for economic salvation, they should look at what we have and work to build upon that.


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