Presenter Information

Sidney Smith, University of Wyoming

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Nancy Small

Description

Coal has been part of Wyoming’s economy since the late 1800s and continues to have a major influence on the state. Since mining began, trends of rising and falling prices for coal have created economic instability. Currently, Wyoming’s coal industry is experiencing a downturn, leading to lay-offs and financial hardship for the state and municipalities. The Wyoming legislature has attempted to invigorate the industry through several pieces of legislation. Some of these include increasing the purview of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, funding the Integrated Technology Center in Gillette, and preventing new taxation on the industry. Governor Matt Mead has prioritized diversifying not only the coal industry but also the state economy as a whole. Nationally the Trump Administration is attempting to revive the industry through the removal of regulations imposed by multiple agencies. While these measures are helping in some ways to make coal viable as an energy source again, the reality is that the coal industry globally is struggling. Government can only do so much to promote industry. Rather than market coal as an energy source, one company in Wyoming is proposing to refine and provide it as a feedstock for manufacturing carbon-based products. Ramaco Carbon, a Sheridan-based company, is in the initial stages of creating a large-scale research, development and manufacturing site with several tenants engaged in carbon-based manufacturing. Their efforts could change the future of coal in Wyoming.

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The State of Coal in Wyoming

Coal has been part of Wyoming’s economy since the late 1800s and continues to have a major influence on the state. Since mining began, trends of rising and falling prices for coal have created economic instability. Currently, Wyoming’s coal industry is experiencing a downturn, leading to lay-offs and financial hardship for the state and municipalities. The Wyoming legislature has attempted to invigorate the industry through several pieces of legislation. Some of these include increasing the purview of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, funding the Integrated Technology Center in Gillette, and preventing new taxation on the industry. Governor Matt Mead has prioritized diversifying not only the coal industry but also the state economy as a whole. Nationally the Trump Administration is attempting to revive the industry through the removal of regulations imposed by multiple agencies. While these measures are helping in some ways to make coal viable as an energy source again, the reality is that the coal industry globally is struggling. Government can only do so much to promote industry. Rather than market coal as an energy source, one company in Wyoming is proposing to refine and provide it as a feedstock for manufacturing carbon-based products. Ramaco Carbon, a Sheridan-based company, is in the initial stages of creating a large-scale research, development and manufacturing site with several tenants engaged in carbon-based manufacturing. Their efforts could change the future of coal in Wyoming.