Long Gone Railroad
Pavement, roadways, fire departments, schools… “Sounds like people who want free stuff.”
Wyoming is a big place. Not many people live here. There is no income tax. Sales tax is 4%. Then fossil fuel tax subsidies flow from Washington DC to the states, kicking dollars out the door to fossil fuel companies that end up helping subsidize Wyoming’s public spending programs. Fair enough until now.
Wyoming levies taxes on coal, gas and oil from the coal mine or pumpjack meter generating more state revenue, this is known as a production tax.
Libertarian bent Republicans have long praised Wyoming’s low taxes on individuals looking the other way about all these fossil fuel levies that are raised to run the affairs of state, county, and city governments.
Republican fundraisers promising to forever defend coal miners, gas and oil operators take campaign contributions to fund elections then go back to Washington DC and stifle, block and gripe about the climate change induced energy revolution barreling like a brahma bull right toward the status quo sweet deal they’ve had going for the past century.
Instead of recognizing the fossil fuel energy system is coming to an end Americans are treated to Texas sized nonsense. Sen. Ted Cruz released a press statement saying that by rejoining the Paris climate accord, Biden is showing that “he’s more interested in the views of the citizens of Paris than in the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh.”
Yeah, the roughneck wildcatting coalmining wingers have toiled to power our economy for a good long while, but same as a buggy whips and rotary dialed telephones the industries days are numbered. Policy is important. Displaced workers will require new opportunities. I’ve got about a baker’s dozen list of ideas to help our Trump voting, libertarian leaning, don’t need no stinking Bureau of Land Management agencies getting into our affairs types still too seething and steaming about the Big Lie to realize concerned citizens from across the nation are going to help them through the energy transition.
Wyoming folk know all about wildfires, heatwaves, droughts and deer droppings. “Fact of the matter is climate change is inevitable, part of the natural world, and even if there was something to do there’s no real sense of doing anything since all it is going to do is take our sweet deal here in Wyoming and bring it to an end. No sir, ain’t nothing to do but keep doing what we’ve been doing.”
Hard to think of Las Vegas as having a moderating effect on Nevada’s politics, but with almost 3 million people living in Clark County, Nevada, this block of voter’s values trend center to progressive, net outcome is that Carson City is the first majority female legislature in the country. Soon enough there’ll be nothing but daycare centers for as far as an eye can see, and that’ll be a good thing.
Elko’s politics is all red state, rural, grievance based but with Las Vegas and Reno voters in the mix they can’t bring their anti-government “throw all the bums out and leave us the hell alone ideas to the rest of the state.” Our lady legislature majority acting with inherent matriarchal instincts intends to nurture their Elko neighbors back from the Trumpian brink.
Mural fragment Tonopah
If you add up the towns near my residence in Northern California, that includes Pittsburg, Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, San Ramon and Pleasanton, this list of municipalities would equal all the citizens of the state of Wyoming. Left coast liberals, moderates and conservatives are packed together in California where in Wyoming a vast sea of Republicans in name only are spread out across all manner of mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes. Wyoming’s got all the fossil fuel jobs and all we’ve got is Facebook, Google and the dirtiest air in all of the United States.
Boiling beneath the surface of our nations fragmented rural versus urban nervous system is a collision between an obsolete industrial revolution energy system and the deployment of our modern emerging new economy energy system. Water scarcity only makes matters that much more complicated. Our depleted grazing lands pressurizes local economic opportunities all that much more. It’s not that citizens are against livestock, the scientific fact is that the range was overgrazed, and it will require decades for the land to recover. No rancher alive today will ever run herds the size and scale of last century. Cliven Bundy’s days of free grazing are coming to an end. Just the fact of the matter, and facts do matter.
Great Basin Rush Hour
America is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, we just need to use our heads and choose wisely. Lithium is up and coal is down. Photovoltaic solar panels are in and uranium mining is out. Choking on air from internal combustion engines in the Los Angeles is coming to an end and flying down the freeway in the lap of luxury in one of these newfangled electric automobiles that is parked in your driveway plugged in and by smart meter either being charged or by use of networked software engineering it is lending back some of its electrons to the grid it is plugged into to help power the neighbors microwave oven, washer or videogame console.
The American frontier consists of more than some vast space where are disbursed a vast treasure of natural resources. Out in the rural west there abounds opportunity to live closer to the land. There is no rat race, no traffic congestion, no long lines. Advanced technologies will provide unanticipated opportunities. Offshored manufacturing will be re-shored, some will be located like the Gigafactory in less populated regions of the American West. Life will be good, bingo will be played, and our babies will have a future. Don’t ever pretend that women in the Nevada legislature are going to turn on voters and throw the key to their loving hearts away on our future. They’re just not, can’t, isn’t in their nature. Saddle up pilgrims.