OPINION: Clean Energy v. Fossil Fuels; Where is Wyoming Headed?

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"Today's gas station tomorrow." Photo and caption provided by Denis Gagnon.
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The following was written and submitted by Tom Gagnon.

“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!  Biggest news in Wyoming since the Yellowstone ERUPTION!” the newsboy hawked his papers.

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California Governor Jerry Brown signed, on Monday, September 10, 2018, a bill that will require all utilities in California to get 100% of their electricity from zero-carbon sources by 2045.

In the meantime, California, with a population 68 times bigger than Wyoming’s, has moved up other clean-energy targets.

And California is the “second” state to do this, Hawaii being the first.  Oregon and Washington are not too far behind with their own clean-energy mandates, and even Arizona is going that way.

In the northeast, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts very strongly support 100% clean energy mandates, too. The combined population of these eight states is 87,000,000.

For Wyoming, this would be no problem if we were just talking about a rumble, because they only outnumber us 158 to one, so we could easily beat them up, but what if we’re talking about selling energy?

Did you hear the news?

On September 10, by a strange coincidence, absolutely no one in Wyoming read a newspaper or the news on the internet, or heard the news on the radio or television.  This is irrefutably proven by the total lack of reaction in Wyoming to Brown’s announcement.

So, I was talking to an acquaintance about these thoughts and said, “No one cares about us and our jobs in Wyoming.”  She said, “I care about us”. Then I really blew it, “Does anyone care that you care?” She gave me a dirty look.

Remember when coal-company stock prices were high?  About a decade ago, Peabody stock reached a high of $81.54, then natural gas, renewables, and efficiency, cut into its market share by just a small percentage, and Peabody stock lost 98% of its value.

At this point, it has regained about half of that, but only because of a bankruptcy; that is, they weaseled out of their obligations, including health and retirement responsibilities to many Wyomingites, and paying their bills.

When market share shrinks, investors divest. It ain’t love, babe, it’s just math.

It’s only a rumor and speculation, of course, but if clean energy and better efficiency cut into, say, natural gas and oil market shares, by only a little bit, what will happen to the prices of these commodities, and to the companies that are associated with them?

Which brings us to this huge drilling-lease sale all around us.  It will be the biggest, by far, in Wyoming’s history. There will be little review, or public say-so, and to hell with the environment.

Boom, boom, boom

Great news, right?  Lots of work for everyone.  Boom, boom, boom, but back to the top of this article, what about Jerry Brown’s announcement?  Could Ryan Zinke and Donald what’s-his-name know something about market share?

The latter is “a business man”, after all, and not exactly a paragon of caring and morality. Could this be a case of sell now while the price is high?

What if something kicks the value out from under oil and gas stocks, like those eager-beaver Californians putting up lots of solar panels.  Will oil and gas stocks follow coal stocks?

Should this be the case, many of those leases will never be developed, and investors will never come back to fossil fuels. Would you?

Now, remember that day you were heading out to the job and you were listening to NPR? They are elite liberals and never get anything right -right? Remember when they said that drilling operations don’t typically get their operational funds from banks, such as Bank of the West, but from other investment institutions, well, actually, they were right for a change.

Bank of the West Redux

Bank of the West has a clean-energy direction, as announced publicly, and the cash and knowhow to help regions like ours transition their economies to clean energy.

Several of our counties and cities, however, are running them out of town, purportedly because they are opposed to fossil fuel, but also because they are San Francisco yuppies and wear French berets.

To their credit, however, the city of Rawlins, and Carbon County, are not acting hysterically and withdrawing funds from the bank.

It’s just rumor and fear-mongering, of course, and certainly all those withdrawals from Bank of the West were not heists.  Clearly, however, many Wyoming politicians have been making weird and rash decisions, and saying some pretty-hysterical things.

Are some politicians gaining personal advantages from all the money moving around, from a global bank to cowboy banks? This has to be either criminal or out of ignorance, or both. It is extra-extra important that we do not forget to vote.