(Dan Cepeda, Oil City File)

CHEYENNE – Gov. Mark Gordon covered numerous topics in his 2020 State of the State address on Monday morning, delving into discussions about the economy, energy, education and agriculture and more.

“Today, I am proud to report that Wyoming’s economy and the state is strong,” the governor said early in his address. “Unemployment is down and is at the lowest rate since 2008…and personal income is up.” 

“We produce energy better, more safely, and with more attention to the environment than anywhere else on the planet, and yet our industries are still discriminated against, maligned and decried as dead. Well, not on my watch. Know this, Wyoming will always advocate for our industries whether it be to protect against unconstitutional restraint of trade, or in their endeavors to deliver cleaner, more dependable, more affordable and safer energy to our nation.”

As this year is a budget session for the Wyoming Legislature, Gordon discussed his budget proposal in his speech, noting that his budget “charts a fiscally stable path.” The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee has approved the budget. His proposed budget would keep ongoing spending flat, allowing the state to think about services it can provide and what can be cut. 

Gordon specifically wanted to focus on education spending, noting that he would like the legislature to review the state’s “Basket of Goods,” the mandates required to be taught in Wyoming schools.

This is something he noted that State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow has asked the Wyoming Legislature to consider.

Gordon also said he wants to curb some constructions projects due to lack of ability to pay people to staff the new buildings being created. 

During the address, Gordon also brought up the unexpected firings of the Blackjewel employees last summer when the mine unexpectedly closed down. He praised the staffers from the Department of Environmental Quality for coming together quickly to support the miners and stabilize the mines. Mining continued to be a major topic during his speech, with Gordon going more into depth about renewable energy and coal. 

“The problem we face is not burning coal,” he said. “The problem is that we have not recognized or seized the opportunities to burn it cleaner, to use its byproducts more beneficially or to remember its role as our country’s most reliable source of electricity for over a hundred years.” 

He added that his administration, along with the state of Montana, has brought an original complaint before the United States Supreme Court to challenge Washington state’s actions against the Millennium Bulk Coal Terminal. But while coal is a major Wyoming industry under fire, Gordon also brought up the state of natural gas, as only two rigs are drilling for this energy source in the state. 

“Wyoming is exceptional when it comes to energy and minerals – we remain the nation’s leader in coal, uranium and trona,” Gordon said. “With the addition of wind and solar, we are broadening the portfolio of energy we provide to the nation.” 

With PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power planing to close several coal plants in Wyoming earlier than originally scheduled, Gordon also reiterated that he thinks their plans should be reviewed with scrutiny.

Several pieces of proposed legislation relate to coal and renewable energy.

Gordon has voiced support for proposed legislation that would establish a $1 million coal marketing program.

This legislation would add new regulations for wind and solar farm projects in the state.

Other proposed legislation that will be considered during the Wyoming Legislature’s 2020 session can found online.