State House Candidate Responses: What’s Your Position On Mineral Taxes?
As part of our goal here at County 17 of informing voters for this year’s elections, in the lead-up to the primaries, we sent out unique questions for candidates in state, county, and city elections, to let you better know your candidates.
To avoid overwhelming people with information, we skipped races that were uncontested. After the primaries, challengers to the incumbent stepped forward in House districts 31 and 32. This week we’ll be posting responses from the Republican incumbents and their independent challengers.
We also reached out to the candidates in District 40, but we did not receive responses from either candidate.
Previous answers can be found here:
The general election is Nov. 6.
Many believe that the world is undergoing a fundamental change with regard to the use of fossil fuels. How do you think Wyoming should prepare for this change given that nearly 75 percent of the state’s funding comes from mineral extraction? (limit 500 words)
Scott Clem (Republican-District 31)
Many in the world have bought into the lie of man-made climate change. Many will argue that the science is settled and quote fanciful statistics to support their claims. This comes despite the fact climate data in the past has been deliberately altered (remember climate-gate) and often relies on computer models based on select criteria of assumptions. What those who believe in man-made global warming fail to consider is the effect of naturally occurring processes, such as the solar & oceanic cycles, CO2/O2 cycles (plant life uses CO2 for photosynthesis), the earth’s wobble/tilt, etc. Climate change is an idea perpetrated by the left and elitists who want gov’t control over the energy sector, and who want to manipulate the market to line their pockets. Controlling energy means you can control people’s behaviors and get rich doing it.
How has this been evident? Under the Obama administration, when the war on coal really ramped up, Obama ended coal leases on federal public lands within Wyoming’s borders, weaponized the EPA, took decision making away from states, instituted burdensome and unconstitutional rules/regulations, entered into the Paris Accords, closed down coal-fired power plants, and subsidized “green” energy by billions of taxpayer dollars. Under President Trump, many of those damaging policies have been reversed, but we still feel the effects and another rogue president could reverse President Trump.
Am I against green energy? No, I just want it to pay its own way without subsidies. I want environmental policy to serve humanity, not the other way around. And before opponents rush to say fossil fuels get subsidies too, lets clarify the issue. The tax breaks that fossil fuel companies get pale in insignificance to the subsidies (and tax breaks) that “green” companies currently benefit from.
Leave-it-in-the-grounders want us to abandon coal and fossil fuels altogether. These geniuses don’t consider that solar and wind won’t produce reliable 24/7 energy. The 100% green energy phrase is a lie as companies who promote that they’re 100% green buy carbon credits to offset their use of coal/gas/nuclear powered 24/7 energy. Hospitals can’t save lives on 100% green energy. What should we do in light of all this?
First, we must fight the lies and misperceptions—especially regarding 24/7 (baseload) power. We should raise taxes on wind energy producers to level the playing field with fossil fuels, and to make up for the opportunity cost that’s lost with these wind farms taking up vast land and skyline vistas. We should continue to fund research and development at the University of Wyoming for carbon capture technology and alternative uses of coal/carbon. We should pursue ways to market and ship our coal oversees. We should capitalize on new technology and advancements made at the ITC. Finally, we should continue to lay the infrastructure needed for private companies who want to use coal or CO2 to make new or value-added products. The more we can diversify, the better off our legacy industries and our state will be.
David Hardesty (Independent-District 31)
It seems like a weekly headline, coal fired power plants closing before they should, combined with other headlines of the difficulties of shipping coal to new markets. Fossil fuels will always be a part of our nation’s energy portfolio. On cloudy and windless days people still need power and fossil fuels will provide that.
About the only way we can prepare for change is to be proactive and diversify our economy. A goal with merit would be to create one job for every one job lost. I have many friends working in the gas, oil and coal world. I don’t want to see them leave due to their job being lost. Supporting initiatives, such as ENDOW, projects like the Integrated Test Center, and attracting companies like RAMACO, is important.
We do rely heavily on mineral extraction for funding, when sales are down revenue is down, and replacement ideas surface. These talks are serious and mostly unpopular discussions, but are discussions that need to happen. In the past few weeks many people have told me about tax loopholes. At this time I’m not exactly sure how or why some of these exemptions came about, but as a representative I will research each of these leads and judge each of them.
Tim Hallinan (Republican-District 32)
I don’t believe that the world will be able to do without fossil fuels at least for the foreseeable future. When that day comes I don’t think that we have any idea now what will be needed in economic terms. What we should do now is run our state in an efficient way with low taxes that would allow new enterprises to come in that provide work or our people. During that time we must give attention to infrastructure and the education of our work force. Whatever the future brings these items will determine whether we will successfully meet the challenge.
Chad Trebby (Independent-District 32)
Let me start by saying that I strongly support the use of fossil fuels for energy. Our nation is not yet ready —or able—to cut its dependency on fossil fuels. However, I agree that on a national level there are fundamental changes occurring and these changes have clearly impacted our state’s economy in a negative way. Although not yet a realistic replacement, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar have come to the forefront of discussions and the front page of newspapers across the US. Regardless of these discussions, as a state, we have to continue the support for our fossil fuel industries.
One way we can continue to support the industry is to maintain a global perspective. While we realize there may be a shift towards other energy sources nationally, there is still demand on a global level and we need to work towards opening up that trade and not allowing other states to restrict or block access to the global trading of our resources.
Looking at other approaches, we can continue to support current industries while at the same time start exploring new industries to make up for the deficits we are seeing from fossil fuels. One area that would compliment, and not compete with current industries, is the development of other carbon technologies. We can continue to be the energy capital of the nation while at the same time becoming an epicenter of research in the area of carbon technologies. This capitalizes on a resource that we already have, provides economic diversification and does not compete with current industries. The value of coal may continue to fall as a commodity for electrical generation so we need to identify new value, and that may very well lie in carbon technologies. An example of this potential is the work being done with the Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center.
Finally, as discussed elsewhere, we need to work on diversifying our economy to stabilize the boom and bust cycles which are associated with our dependency on the mineral industries. Now is the time to take a serious look as some long term solutions to help bring diversification to the state. Economic diversification is a like a leaky roof; when it’s raining you can’t fix it and when it’s sunny, you don’t need to. When the economy is down, we can’t afford to invest in development and when the economy is up, there isn’t a need. The reality is that we know these cycles will continue until such a time we are able to stabilize through a diversified economic structure. There will never be a better time than now to start looking at long term diversification strategies.