For a state whose destiny is linked to energy prices, the year 2012 in Wyoming was turbulent.
Looking back on the past 12 months, the biggest news story affecting the most people in Wyoming is the fall of energy prices, which resulted in steep declines in tax revenue.
This might be an exaggeration since I am assuming that the world did not end on Dec. 21. You are hopefully alive and really reading this column. We are assuming the Mayans were wrong.
Next week, I intend to write my annual column about looking ahead in 2013. But this one deals with a look back.
Here are some points:
• Wyoming folks won some nice recognition in 2012. Never had a year like this.
Daniel Junge of Cheyenne won an Oscar for the documentary for Saving Face. Not only a well-deserved honor for good movie-making but a wonderful way to help prevent future acid attacks on women in Arab countries.
Lander’s youthful Ian Lee won an Emmy for his CNN work covering the Arab Spring. I have known this brave young man his entire life. He is still there in the thick of it. Be safe, Ian.
And Craig Johnson of Ucross has been riding high on the success of the new TV series Longmire based on a mythical Sheriff in Absaroka County in Wyoming (sort of between Buffalo and Sheridan).
I have long contended a lonely state like Wyoming can produce rare individuals with extraordinary talent because our sparse population promotes individualism. These three guys prove that.
• For about three weeks my new book was the best-selling Wyoming-oriented product in the state this Christmas season.
Then Wyoming Whiskey sold 88,000 bottles of its new bourbon! Wow, was this an event or what? Some 3,000 people showed up in little Kirby Dec. 1 for the unveiling (or sipping?).
Good job, folks.
I think it tastes like a single malt Scotch, by the way. Which suits me just fine since I am Scotch drinker, when I drink.
• We had a national election where the country reelected a liberal Democrat.
But Republicans should not despair. If the GOP runs someone like Marco Rubio next time, this whole landscape will change. Outside of Utah, Wyoming was the most Republican state in the union.
• So, back to energy. We remain the country’s largest coal producer and soon, the main market for our coal will be overseas.
China, India and other Asian countries are burning more coal, *and there is no end to their appetite for cheap energy.
Wyoming produces the second most natural gas of any state in the USA, which used to be a good thing. But because so much natural gas has now been found, prices have plummeted which has caused a big decrease in severance tax revenues. Gov. Matt Mead’s way of dealing with this is imposing cuts in state spending.
• Global warming, while apparently raising havoc with droughts in Texas and a Superstorm in the NE parts of the USA, has resulted in balmy October, November and December weather here.
Lord help us next summer if we do not get some serious snowfall in our forests, though.
• As Christmas approaches and the end of the year arrives (and hopefully, not the end of the world), the people of America are confronted with the worst school shooting possible.
How could someone kill little first grade kids?
• One of the more inspiring stories from 2012 was what KT Roes did to raise money to fight cancer up in Cody. She had been undergoing chemo and had lost her hair.
To raise money during the Oct. 19 Cody Medical Foundation fundraiser, she did something both brave and zany.
As the always-articulate Dewey Vanderhoff described it: “The effervescent unorthodox KT turned her recent consequences with chemotherapy into a big plus. For the mere sum of $100, you could autograph her hairless head. Now that’s the power of positive thinking!” Photos showed her head covered with signatures. She called it her “cancer cranium.” Wow.
• And finally, we will miss some folks who died in 2012.
The late State Treasurer Joe Meyer was a gentleman who was always a friend. He actually nit-picked this column each week for me prior to publication and always offered wonderful insights.
Happy Trails, old friend. Wyoming was a better place for you having been here. We go forward feeling somewhat lonely without your fine counsel.
Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns and blogs at www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com.