Weeks ago, more than 450 individuals were laid off from their jobs in Wyoming’s coal mines. Communities are reeling. Budgets are devastated. Additional cuts are expected.
Officials and organizations across the state have taken steps to help those affected by the economic downturn. For example, the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce set up a workers’ portal on their website. The goal is to connect those who lost their jobs to resources.
Helping those who lost employment, though, doesn’t fix the root problem. Wyoming’s economy is still overly dependent on the energy sector for survival. And while some stand in unemployment lines, others are playing politics.
We get it; it is an election year. But the rhetoric surrounding the economic decline and the impact of the energy sector on Wyoming’s economy hasn’t changed over the years. Research clean-coal technologies. Promote the energy economy globally. Diversify the economy.
We don’t disagree that these are all things Wyoming’s leaders should be doing. But rhetoric doesn’t fix the problem. Nearly every politician seeking office this year will pitch his or her plan to solve Wyoming’s economic problems. Some will promise they’ll battle federal overreach destroying the coal industry. Others will promise to bring in manufacturing and tech jobs to offset the booms and busts. Few will have real plans or real actions to back their promises.
Now isn’t the time to play politics with Wyoming’s economy. Election season or not, it’s time for Wyoming’s leaders to prove their mettle by delivering comprehensive and detailed policy proposals and plans that Wyoming voters can read, appreciate, and understand.