For several in Castle Country, the months leading up to and after the Presidential Election of 2016 was a time of great fear and unrest.
Following the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump, “An America First Energy Plan” was published on the White House’s website, outlining the 45th president’s plan for energy production in the United States.
President Trump has also started work on his plan, publishing a memorandum on Tuesday, Jan. 24, dealing with the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, pushing construction work forward at a heightened rate.
Despite mentioning the goal of ending several “burdensome regulations,” increasing the use of domestic oil and natural gas resources and remaining honorable stewards of the environment, the plan also mentions its aims in regards to coal.
“The Trump Administration is also committed to clean coal technology,” the website shares, “and to reviving America’s coal industry, which has been hurting for too long.”
Such a plan to revive an industry so prevalent in Castle Country fell on welcome ears. “I think there’s some optimism in some people,” Carbon County Commissioner Casey Hopes said. Hopes was re-elected for a second term in the November election. “I really see a lot of good things happening,” he said in regards to the next four years in Carbon County, talking of not just coal but other natural resources as well.
Hopes mentioned new breakthroughs in the realm of carbon fibers as another plus for the future with fellow Carbon County Commissioner Jae Potter mentioning coal production as well as other projects that could mean an economic upturn for the county in the future.
Potter explained how he has already felt positive outcomes, with several new hires starting work in local mines as well as leases for mines being processed, which can increase both the life and, possibly, the output of the mines.
Potter shared how he feels that diversification is also part of the future of Carbon County, mentioning the hope of bringing other business to Carbon County that before has stayed mainly in other, more developed parts of the state.
The feelings and attitudes have crossed county lines and made an impact on Emery County as well “We are coal country,” said Emery County Commissioner Keith Brady, “We’d like to see that revived.” The commissioner also spoke of an overall hopeful attitude within the county.
Recently-elected fellow commissioner Lynn Sitterud also expressed his observation of a pervading feeling of hope within the county, specifically mentioning the desire to see the Hunter and Huntington plants open and thriving.
Brady further mentioned public lands, another hot topic in recent years, as one of his points in the future of Emery County. Brady explained how over 90% of the land in Emery County in tied up through programs such as SITLA or federally owned, which creates growing pains for the county as it cannot grow and expand as it could otherwise.
While much work has been done in past years with Congressman Rob Bishop for this issue, Brady also explained the current opinion of moving forward with Emery County’s own bill to help purchase lands and diversify the economy.
Much of the work for the bill has already been performed, and Brady remained hopeful that results would be seen in the near future.
“I think we’re setting ourselves up in a positive way,” he said.