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The following was written and submitted by Tom Gagnon.
Harriet Hageman, who is running for governor of Wyoming, has a lovely photograph of herself on her brochure, taken in 1970. She singlehandedly caused a shortage of turquoise in the southwest. I recently went to hear her speak in Rock Springs, and I heard her pretty interesting outline of what she plans to do to save Wyoming’s coal economy.
If the west-coast states do not let Wyoming and Montana build a huge coal-exporting terminal, to load up coal on ships to sell on the Asian market, we will attempt a Restraint of Trade lawsuit against those states and Indian tribes. I interrupted Harriot to point out that such a lawsuit could take decades, and it would take several additional years to build the maritime terminals, and these in states that are dead set opposed to it. She was annoyed by my comment and said that the “time horizon” would be much shorter than I had suggested.
A backup plan is to lay some new miles of rail from here to Mexico, and export our coal from a port that we could easily build on Mexico’s Pacific coast. I asked, in light of Trump’s antagonizing of Mexico, why would that country be eager to do us any economic favors? What if Mexico built a wall (making us pay for it) and charged us to pass our coal trains through it? Even if this deal could be achieved, it might take so long that the Asian market will have moved beyond any desire to purchase coal from anyone.
In answer to China and India shutting down coal plants, Harriet has this notion that she can order Japan to build thirty-four coal burning plants. Who gave Harriet this authority? A couple of problems with Wyoming staking hopes on coal are: Lots of other places in the world can produce coal, and I bet for cheaper than we can; and coal’s pollutants have become globally odious.
Incidentally, Harriet does not believe that carbon is a pollutant. She says that “Carbon really helps plants grow better,” and that, “We’re starting to see it all around us.” This is quack “science” if there ever were any. If we extrapolate from here a bit we could end up with a flat Earth. Differing opinions are one thing, but this is nutty.
The world is racing to replace coal with cleaner renewables. Renewables are cheaper, quicker to get up and running, and much less controversial. Of all the countries in the world, only the U.S. federal government is not on board with the Paris Climate Agreement, and that will change as soon as Trump is gone. California may soon pass a mandate for 100% clean power, as soon as 2045. By then, Harriot should just be starting, with pick and shovel, to move rock and mud to build her port somewhere on the Pacific coast.
Toward the end of her speech, Harriet’s entire crowd, ten people, had become annoyed by my interruptions and rudeness, and they were absolutely right in telling me to “Shut up!” So, I thought I’d help Harriet. While she was going on and on and on about how as a kid she loved to read and read, and she read everything and read all the time, and kids today don’t read enough, and so forth, I reached into my backpack and pulled out a blank sheet of paper and a red marker. I wrote out, “MAKE AMERICA READ AGAIN.” This I held up and got everyone’s attention by clearing my throat, and said, “Maybe we can print this on a baseball cap.” People laughed for a moment, but then they suddenly stopped, realizing that I had just made fun of Donald Trump and his MAGA dunce caps, and by extension Harriet and the entire Republican program.
I’ve gone to political speeches for a long time, starting about 1978 in New Hampshire, and Harriet’s speech was truly one of the more memorable and awful. The parts about Mexico, China, Japan, and I think she threw in Canada at some point, and that awful west coast, carbon and plants, and our brilliant and popular president, were unbelievable. Call it “A difference of opinion,” if you would like, but if she becomes Wyoming’s governor, our state will be the laughingstock of the nation.