SHERIDAN — Two dozen national and more than 40 state congressional and mayoral representatives arrived in Sheridan Sunday for a five-day fact finding mission in northeast Wyoming.
“We’re hoping that people back in Washington will take a look at the coal and the energy Wyoming has,” Dayton Mayor Bob Wood said about the purpose of the tour. “I feel strongly that the resources here in the equality state both above and below ground have some misconceptions. We want to let them know we are here and we provide energy for the country.
“This corner of the state produces nearly 10 percent of the country’s energy needs,” Wood added. “One thing is to let them see how they do reclamation of the mines. They don’t just dig a big hole and leave it. They are not just tearing up the countryside and leaving it.”
The delegates began their tour in Sheridan on Sunday with a tour of Spring Creek Mine. On Monday, the group gathered at Sheridan County Museum for a presentation on the history of Sheridan County and area mining.
Sheridan Mayor Dave Kinskey said this is not the first time northeast Wyoming has hosted a congressional tour of this sort, but he feels it is important to let representatives of national leaders know the importance of energy production not only to the area and the state, but the nation as well. In particular, he said he hopes the tour will showcase Wyoming’s approach to energy development.
“It is a whirlwind working tour,” he said. “We see everyone in northeast Wyoming having a huge stake in this.
“The taxes the mineral industry pays, pays for a lot of roads and schools in Wyoming. The nation and the world needs the energy. We want to find a balance between energy development and environmental protection and we want these people to see we have struck this balance. Environmental stewardship and energy development can go hand in hand, but we have to get them out to see what we know.”
At least one tour member stated that this was a primary issue he wanted to see and learn about while on the tour.
“We wanted to see the diversity of the energy that is produced in this area and how it is done responsibly to interplay with the community around it,” said Stratton Edwards, legislative counsel for U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.
After leaving Sheridan, the group planned to visit energy development and historic sites near Buffalo, Gillette and Sundance.