In the Wake of Cap and Trade, We Can Learn Something from Wyoming

President Obama’s speech to the UN on climate change last Tuesday points to an interesting and fairly recent shift in the left’s environmentalist philosophy: the definition of “pollution” has changed. Even ten years ago, concerns for pollution centered around problems of smog, litter, and toxins in the air and water. However, such concerns for largely visible pollution have been trumped recently by a concern for invisible pollution which Obama claims is the most dangerous of all: “greenhouse gas pollution” and “carbon pollution.”

While most visitors to the state of Wyoming marvel at miles of sparsely populated natural beauty, rolling mountains, open spaces, and clean air and water, environmentalists do not praise Wyoming but censure the state for its heavy coal development. In fact, Jeremy Nichols of WildEarth Guardians disapprovingly called the state “ground zero for greenhouse emissions.”

Ironically, one of the cleanest and most beautiful states in the union is labeled by environmentalists as the most persistent offender of the environment.

Wyoming produces the most coal in the United States, even though many other states have much greater coal reserves: Montana, for instance, has a lot more coal reserves but Wyoming produces ten times more coal. Wyoming also produces three times more coal than West Virginia – the second highest coal producing state.

Wyoming happens to have one of the healthiest economies in the union, and much of this economic success is due the energy development industry. Although the economy fluctuates with energy markets, Wyoming’s unemployment rates are consistently low; in August it was 5.7% compared to the 9.5% of the country. Wyoming also enjoyed a budget surplus in 2003 and 2005 and it continues to do well, achieving a balanced budget in 2009.

Wyoming may be “ground zero for greenhouse emissions” yet it is a state that has managed to wed clean air and water with a healthy economy. In the wake of onerous cap and trade philosophies, which will severely tax oil and coal production, dramatically raise energy prices, serve a huge blow to the economy, and only cool the earth’s temperature by a fraction of a degree, Wyoming provides us with food for thought on how we can be environmentally clean and economically prosperous.

Katie Brown contributed to this post.

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