Just Passing Through Wyoming

As many of you know our family has once again relocated. My husband, having tired of Michigan’s bitter cold weather, decided it was time to take the family back to the sunny state of California.

During our recent trek across this wonderful nation of ours I had the opportunity to speak with people at our various stops.

You can tell a lot about a region just by taking in the facial expressions of its inhabitants. Take Wyoming for instance. We drove the I-80 corridor through Wyoming and though I’ve been through there twice before, I never really noticed the absense of joy in the faces I saw there.

Each one was weather-worn and serious, smiles were in short supply. I wondered out loud to my husband if the burning in my eyes and on my skin had anything to do with the expressionless faces.

As a former registered member of the Republican Party, I have never considered myself an environmentalist. The green party is just not my cup of tea. After all what do a bunch of tree-hugging, wacked-out, owl lovers know about making a living and caring for a family? Everyone knows that strict environmental controls increase production costs, leading to unemployment and a loss of jobs.

After driving through Cheyenne, I’m being forced to take a fresh look at the issue. Frontier Refining, the fourth-largest private sector employer in Cheyenne, began operations in 1937 and the plant looked like it. The refinery has a current capacity of approximately 42,000 barrels of crude oil per day, producing products such as gasoline, diesel, asphalt, liquid propane gas, coker gas oil, petroleum coke and sulfur… according to information found on their website.

We never left the highway on our drive past the refinery, which could be seen a short distance from the freeway, spewing billowing dark soot-filled smoke. Being a smoker, I, of course, had my little side-window on our Penske truck open to allow the smoke to escape from the cab of the truck. Just moments after we drove by, everyone’s eyes began to burn. You could feel something irritating your skin.

I warned my son not to rub his eyes because it would make matters worse. We stopped a short-while later to wash our hands and faces. Something we did many times driving through the state of Wyoming.

I never realized just how many refineries were located in Wyoming. Most of them old and certainly anything but efficient.

I can’t for a moment imagine living under those conditions. I wonder about the health problems the children living in the area must have. Environmental studies have indicated ground contamination. According to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, hydrocarbon contamination from refinery operations have been identified in the soils and groundwater in and around the refinery. The clean-up will take many years, long after the last barrel has been processed. In the meantime, the people who live and work in Cheyenne are the ones who will pay the price.

The environment is only one of the sobering issues citizens need to be concerned about today. The refinery caught my attention because we are all aware of the fact that President Bush has ties to the oil industry and that leads us directly to big business, tax cuts, loss of jobs, immigration and the economy.

Voters are once again facing some heavy issues again this election year.

As I contemplated the state of our nation, I began to think about our past presidents and how at one time we have had presidents who were members of other parties besides the donkeys and elephants that dominate todays headlines. So, I decided to dig a little deeper.

I discovered that the Democratic Party was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1792 as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights and against the Federalist Party.

Republicans have a long and rich history with basic principles: Individuals, not government, can make the best decisions; all people are entitled to equal rights; and decisions are best made close to home.

Those statements must have been overlooked by today’s republican party, who seems bent on making government bigger at the expense of the individual.

The Wyoming I expected to find was one of wide open spaces, clean air and rich in wildlife. The one I encountered was dirty, smelly and a shock to the system. It made me want to cry for the lives that are lived there. I was grieved in my soul for the sacrifices the people of this state have made to raise their children and attempt to earn a decent living for their families.

I’m certain that the refineries provide much-needed jobs for the area but there must be a way of providing good jobs and still provide clean air and water for those who live and work in God’s county.

As we are getting settled in back here in the majestic mountains of California, my time online will be limited. However, I want to get into the Presidential election soon. I’ll be providing some links to help you make an informed decision when you go to the polls in November.

If you have links you would like to share or if you have questions or comments you would like to share with the world, please submit them and I’ll get them up as soon as possible.