Wyoming is entering into a real crisis.
Wyoming is a romanticized land in American culture, a land of cowboys and endless plains — and it’s in big trouble.
The economy in the state, particularly in northeast Wyoming, is reeling. Coal mining is a major source of jobs in the region, and two big companies have announced they’re slashing 460 jobs — about 15 percent of the work force, according to a Casper Star-Tribune report.
Peabody Energy and Arch Coal made the announcement on Thursday. The cuts will come to the North Antelope Rochelle and Black Thunder Mines in northeast Wyoming, a huge blow to the local community.
“It’s just devastating for a community,” Wright Economic Development coordinator Brandi Harlow said according to the report. “We’re such a small, tight-knit community. Everybody in Wright is touched by coal mine jobs.”
It’s not just the workers who depend on coal mining. Many of these towns are coal mining towns, so if cutbacks come, schools, hotels, and even mom and pop shots are greatly affected by the cutbacks.
“While our asset position and contracting strategies give us relative strength, we are taking these actions to match production with customer demand,” Peabody President – Americas Kemal Williamson said in a statement on the decision. “We regret the impact of these actions on our employees, their families, and the surrounding communities in the Campbell and Converse county areas.”
The statement adds: “U.S. coal industry conditions have remained challenged, impacted by an oversupply of natural gas and mild winter weather. The U.S. coal industry has seen unprecedented shipment declines this year. Heating degree days year-to-date are 17 percent lower than last year, with March heating degree days down nearly 30 percent versus the 10-year average. While all basins have been impacted, the latest Energy Information Administration production estimates show that the Powder River Basin is faring better than other regions given cost advantages. In addition, the company believes the decrease in shipments is leading to stockpile reductions in excess of prior expectations.”