Volume 7, Number 21 - August 16, 2007
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US Senator Visits Pinedale Library
Wyoming Sen. Michael Enzi traveled to Pinedale on Friday to meet with towns folk, local government officials and several different agencies. Enzi took office in 1997, but he has been a prominent figure in Wyoming politics since 1974 when he was elected mayor of Gillette. Enzi has since served on the Department of Interior Coal Advisory Committee and represented Wyoming as a state representative and senator. Since moving to the U.S Senate, Enzi has remained a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
With meetings throughout the day, from the public ice-cream social to private meetings with town and county governments, Enzi also made pit stops to visit with the local media on the different topics brought up throughout his visit to Sublette County.
“The biggest issue is always the issue I am on at the moment,” Enzi said of his time spent in the Senate. “It always seems like the biggest issue of all time, and that even changes on a daily basis because I’m working on a lot of different issues.
“Probably one of the big accomplishments is the abandoned-mine-land money – approved to Wyoming again. It ended the stealing the federal government was doing. They impounded our money and that is now supposed to be coming back to Wyoming on a regular basis and it’s supposed to have no strings. I’m still in fact overwriting the rules to make sure they are following the laws that were passed,” Enzi added. According to Enzi, Wyoming should see the money returning to the state some time in October.
Sen. Enzi has also worked with the government and legislature for wolf delisting. “(I’ve been) relaying some of the information that I’ve gathered from other parts of the United States because Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota already went through this before,” he said.
While Wisconsin and Michigan have had no issues to date with the process, Minnesota has gone to court. Enzi said that Minnesota residents and government officials are warning him to make sure he gets into the delisting process because their state currently is overwhelmed by the wolf population. “Wyoming has worked recently with the federal government and the federal government has made major concessions, because outside of the trophy area they allow the word ‘predator,’”Enzi said. “We spent a lot of time trying to teach the east about the west, because the only wolves they’ve every seen have been pictures of freshly bathed, blow-dried pups.”
One of the most important issues in Sublette County at this time is the impact, long and short-term, of the energy boom that has been consistently growing for several years.
“We’re following all of that – there’s a process for people to be involved in and see that the right thing is done and my level of that is to make sure that the process happens and it doesn’t get short-circuited,” Enzi said. “That was part of the conversation that we had this morning, about the short-circuiting ... and some of the delays and approvals that have already been given, but I will be meeting this afternoon with the county commissioners and some of the towns folk to talk about some of the impacts to this area.”
Enzi stated that he was mayor in Gillette when a similar boom was takingplace there. “We had to go through a lot of the same things and we felt kind of inundated by the development and did several things that helped alleviate the impact,” he said. “And actually we turned our county into a better place than it had been before. It takes a great deal of cooperation and coordination both from the companies and the people in town but it is something that can be done and can be achieved.”
Infrastructure is one very importantaspect of managing the current “boom” and the future of the county. In their recent meeting, the county commissioners mentioned a difficulty balancing much-needed buildings now with a hope of not having empty buildings falling apart once the “boom” has ended.
“I’ve been worried about and following the growth in Wyoming,” Enzi said. “One of the things I notice is we talk about ‘boom’ and ‘bust’ when actually its ‘boom’ and‘ level out’ ... that is, people are building for the boom and it levels out and it feels like a bust because there are a lot of houses left on the market and people are out of jobs they depend on and we’re left with a lot of slack, but generally what happens is, it levels out.”
Enzi said the important factors to remember is that many of these buildings - recreational centers and school additions for example–will benefit for generations to come once the energy companies leave the area.
Water quality is also of extreme importance as all of the industrialization takes place in such a pristine and nature-filled area, he said. This has become especially pressing since the leasing of mineral rights in the Upper Green and Hoback areas. “I’ve spoken to several conservation districts to see how that is going and to make sure it’s being taken notice of,” Enzi said. “I will be talking to the BLM about ... additional monitoring. Water is the next crisis for the world.”
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