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Tilting toward Wyoming

Jun 18, 2014 - By Steven R. Peck

Whatever the energy demand, we are likely to be the one to fill it

This is some state we've got here.

Most of us know that already, but the annual Ranger Mining and Energy Edition is good for reinforcing the idea.

The numbers tell the tale. Under the lead headline of this year's 59th annual edition, you can read that Wyoming exports more energy to the people of American than any other state.

We produce the most coal, still the biggest source of energy in the nation, and likely to remain so even as new rules on power plant emissions take shape. We'd bet on coal to come up with the scientific and technical solutions to enable power plants to comply with the new order. The industry has adapted too many times, on too many challenges, to be counted out because of this one.

All Wyoming, from the greenest to the grittiest, ought to root for coal to do just that.

One reason for coal's stress this year is the availability of low-cost natural gas. Not to worry, Wyoming -- we're the No. 2 producer of that commodity as well. Expect those numbers to grow in the years ahead.

Uranium? Nuclear power is predicted to make a comeback as well, as even some battle-tested environmentalists recognize the no-carbon footprint of nuclear energy. Modern plant designs have reduced safety hazards to levels far below those of other energy-generating industries.

And Wyoming tops the nation in uranium production, too. A new mine came on line this year, and several more are clearing the regulatory hurdles that stand between them and mining.

It's all inside our 59th annual Mining and Energy Edition, along with a lot more. While we're bragging, let's note that Wyoming also tops the nation in mining of versatile bentonite and prized trona. And in case anyone thinks that mining is all about old school consumption, experts say our state is poised to lead the way on rare-earth minerals used in myriad high-tech applications with promise for health care, transportation and communications. Soon, domestic production of those minerals will need to increase. When that time comes, the market will look to Wyoming first.

And anyone who lives here knows full well that few states have more sunshine than Wyoming -- or more wind. As energy generators, those still are far behind what coal, gas and nuclear can do, but as the technology improves Wyoming will be in middle of it all.

Whichever way the American energy demand tips, Wyoming is always at one end or the other. That is a very, very good position to be in. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.

About the big edition

From top to bottom and front to back, the Mining and Energy Edition involves the whole Ranger operation in extra duties at a level that doesn't exist any other time of year.

Staff writers Eric Blom and Katie Roenigk carried the biggest reporting loads, with Kelli Ameling, Randy Tucker and Alejandra Silva pulling more than their share of the weight too (and Alex did it while eight months pregnant), all the while generating copy and pictures for the daily Ranger as well.

You'll see all their bylines (and if it says "from staff reports," chances are that was Katie sifting through a company's annual report or a government summary of one kind or another).

Copy editor Jamie Drendel helped organize and send the stories and pictures in the right direction as they came in, and she kept the regular news operation humming better than the busy boss ever could while he hunkered down with the editing and paginating demands of the special edition. Photographers Wayne Nicholls and Tibby McDowell shot, organized and/or and processed the images for the equivalent of more than an extra newspaper per week for the past month. Ruth Urbigkeit volunteered to compile the edition index, a wee-hours undertaking Wednesday.

The edition has lots of ads inside (yay!), but they don't just walk in the door. A small sales staff that normally covers only local business made ad calls to customers around the state and nation. They, and the advertisers who support us, have made the edition well worth doing since 1956.

Nowhere is the extra load greater than in the pressroom and mailroom, where thousands of extra copies must be printed in an already busy work schedule, then combined, combined again, and combined three more times by the mailroom staff. Huge bins fill up with the Mining Edition sections as they come off the press weeks in advance.

Today, they are handed over to our army of carriers, most of them children, as they bear the heaviest cargo of the year to their customers.

Thanks and congratulations to them all. Plans for the 60th edition have begun already.

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