Gov Mead addresses Wyoming challenges
Cheyenne – “I was asked to speak about the challenges Wyoming faces,” Governor Matt Mead told attendees at the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation meeting and Young Farmers and Ranchers Legislative Conference in Cheyenne on Feb. 14.
“I was also told you may interested in hearing about wolves, and I’ll tell you little bit about wolves. The biggest book I have on any issue in my office is on wolves. It’s really a very sad statement, because wolves, in my mind, are not the biggest issue Wyoming faces. But they’re symbolic of the biggest issue Wyoming faces, and that is the situation where the federal government has an idea, and they place their idea on us and place the burden of their idea on us,” explained Mead.
He continued, saying that in December he joined Idaho and Montana governors in meeting with Secretary Salazar to discuss wolves, with the hope that legislation on the wolf issue could be promoted prior to the end of the year.
“Once Secretary Salazar understood the dual classification plan, he made some very interesting comments. One of which was that it seemed that if wolves were out in somebody’s cattle, they ought to be shot. We’ll, that’s kind of what we’ve been talking about too,” commented Mead.
Following the discussion, Secretary Salazar and Governor Fredeunthal’s people met to hammer out a deal said Mead.
“Everybody seemed to be sort of on the same page. After eight days, when everyone got their fingers in it, including everyone from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the environmental groups, the final proposal was something that I thought actually put us in a worse situation than we had been.
“There is no easy answer on wolves, and I recognize that every day we don’t have a solution there is greater frustration. It’s not just a loss of cattle, sheep, elk and moose. The fact is that when you have your cattle, or your sheep, up on public grazing, even if they aren’t killed, they don’t have the weight gains they normally would if they weren’t being chased.
“In my mind, whether it’s Judge Malloy in Montana, or another judge, trying to get the wolf litigation solved by compromise is not the way we ought to go. Every time Wyoming takes a step closer to where the environmental groups want us, it doesn’t do us any good. I will continue to work on this, and hopefully eventually we can reach a Congressional fix,” stated Mead.
“One of the other things Wyoming faces as a challenge is there is a great interest in cleaner energy, and the interest stems from the belief, by many, that we have global warming and climate change as a result of greenhouse gases. Our Supreme Court has told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that in fact the EPA has the duty to regulate greenhouse gases, which are any number of gases,” explained Mead.
“The EPA, as a result of that, has put together what they call the Tailoring Rules, and they say to a state and to the country, ‘Here’s what we’re going to allow in terms of emissions, here’s how we’re going to allow the development of new coal-fired plants,’ and it goes down the list.
“On Dec. 13 the EPA said we need you to have a state implementation plan (SIP), and you need to do it right away, or else you won’t be able to continue to build and modify any of these identified industries over the next year,” explained Mead.
He added that the EPA gave Wyoming very little time to respond. They also disregarded the fact that Wyoming legislation and the law on the books says the state is not able to regulate greenhouse gases, and when it comes to air and water the state has primacy.
“While a state is normally given three years to implement a plan, we were, in effect, given nine days. If we didn’t do it within that time period, they were going to do it for us, and they would have effectively shut down for a year, until the legislature had time to consider it, any new development or construction on old development.
“While Wyoming did get a plan, and tried to do in accordance with the federal requirements, they are still saying we haven’t done it right, and we didn’t do it on time, so we’re in trouble. So, rather than just sit and take it, I filed a lawsuit through my attorney general. We’re going to challenge on three different fronts what the federal government has done. Part of the basis of the lawsuit is this: while we did sign off on a state implementation plan in December, we did so under duress. We filed in the Tenth District Court, and we anticipate there will be a move to move it back to D.C., but we’re fighting,” said Mead of the current situation.
Another December issue Mead spoke on was Secretary Salazar’s Wild Lands Policy, and the potential negative impacts on Wyoming.
“The concern is that once they’re identified as Wild Lands, they may get up to the Wilderness Area designation. But, even as Wild Lands, they can stop development. I sent a letter to Secretary Salazar, and I can’t quote you the letter, but in essence it said I don’t like this very much – I want you to stop. I don’t anticipate that letter will stop it, so we’re now looking at what legal options we have to fight the wild lands policy.
“We, as a state, are owned about 50 percent by the federal government, and it would have huge consequences if the Wild Lands and the policy regarding Wild Lands was allowed to continue in Wyoming,” said Mead.
The final challenge Mead addressed was the Affordable Care Act.
“The Affordable Care Act is a job killer, because what it will do is place too many companies in a position where they say either we can’t hire people, or if we hire them there is no way we can comply with the federal law that they have insurance at this level because we simply can’t afford it,” noted Mead.
“Shortly after I got into office I looked at the law and asked my attorney general to join the Florida lawsuit. Shortly after we joined we won in the Federal District Court in Florida. Subsequent to that I signed a letter, as did 26 other governors, to President Obama, saying we would like to have this issue resolved as soon as possible. Let’s get it in front of the Supreme Court – and the letter was neutral. It was from whatever perspective a state may have on this, it’s important that the Supreme Court resolve this now, because there are consequences, and have been consequences for over a year with what Wyoming is doing,” stated Mead.
“It’s interesting that during his campaign, he said if you could force people to buy a product to solve a problem, we could force people to buy homes to solve the foreclosure problem, but we can’t do that. But, he did it on this, and if you can be forced to buy a product as a citizen, what else can you be forced to buy? That’s why I challenged it, and that’s why it should be before the Supreme Court.
“It’s important to fight on all of these things, whether it’s wolves or whether it’s this. Wyoming needs to stand up because there’s simply too much at stake for our state to just sit and listen. Just because it came out of the federal government doesn’t mean it’s right.
“Even if it is right, you have to reasonable in the way you address Wyoming and the other states. Nine days from the EPA was ridiculous, and a patronizing move that is a pat on the head to that states that says, ‘You don’t really matter. We’re going to do what want anyway.’ That’s why we filed those lawsuits. We’ll see what happens and we hope for the best,” added Mead.
Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.