In the next several days, Wyoming Public Radio will be chatting with some of the folks seeking Wyoming Congressional seats. We begin the series by speaking with Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Robert Short.
Mr. Short is a Converse County Commissioner, an entrepreneur, and a businessman whose worked in areas such as energy, agriculture and tourism. We begin the conversation discussing energy and some of the things that need to be done to help Wyoming's industry get through tough times.
Robert Short: We do not have that value-added proposition. We extract raw minerals and we ship them off. That's pretty much what we do. Or as you mentioned, we flare, because we don't have that collection system in place, nor do we have the facility in place to actually take that raw material like gas, the most valuable hydrocarbon there is being the CH-4 molecule that is so versatile, and we can turn it into so many different products that we need. But we just flare it off because, quite honestly, we haven't done any investment in the infrastructure necessary to turn those raw materials into a more usable form here and we just ship it off to other locations throughout the country or, indeed, flare it off. And we're doing that because we don't see the opportunity to grow industry here. We haven't had that discussion on a wider basis around the country, that shows folks this is a great place to do these kinds of investments that have long term positive impacts for the nation. And I think having worked in the vast majority of the states around our country, that I have the ability to carry those conversations to different viewpoints, and help have a civil conversation about the fact that, yes, we know that there are pluses and minuses and everything that we do. But if we, if we invest, if we're willing to do the difficult work, we can minimize the minuses whilst maximizing the pluses.
Bob Beck: And the minuses that I do know there are people in this state that are concerned about are the environmental minuses. The occasional thing that can frequently come up if you don't have enough regulation. I know that some people are worried about that we have too much regulation and then there's the other side where people think you don't hardly have any, which is where I think some people think the Trump administration is going. Should things be balanced?
Short: Absolutely, we have to balance. And of course, in Wyoming, I feel like we've done a really good job of balancing ecological concerns, environmental needs, as well as our energy needs. And of course, it's evidenced by the fact that we have such a wonderful outdoor space here, however, left to our own devices. Some of us may wander into territory that may not have the greatest benefits. So, it's helpful to have a structured environment in which to work that says, I think sometimes we get a little overzealous about things and build too much regulation and restriction and end up killing ourselves to try to over-protect ourselves. Now that said, I'm all about clean water, clean air, fertile soil because quite honestly, we have to eat, we have to drink, we have to breathe in order to maintain life. So that balance is so incredibly important for us. We need to have a balanced approach to how we address these concerns. Energy is the fundamental underlying basis for prosperity in our nation: affordable, reliable electrical power specifically. And of course, we are the one of the largest producers and a massive exporter. So, if we can capitalize on that, and bring industries into our state that realize that this is a great place to have access to that resource, but also with the mindset that we have to keep an eye on tomorrow, and do everything we can to minimize our footprint so that our great great great grandkids can still experience and enjoy this wonderful place, then then we'll achieve that balance and promote opportunity, for folks in the state and around the nation.
Beck: I'm going to change gears on you a little bit, in your materials, you talk about replacing the Affordable Care Act. Is it better to just replace it…why not just fix it?
Short: Well, that's a really good question. The mantra has been to repeal it. And whilst there are aspects of the Affordable Care Act that were maybe well-intended, but terrible implementation brought on unnecessary burden for small business and as a small business owner, I can speak to this with absolute clarity. We have a very high expense associated with providing health care insurance to many of those folks who are employed by the array of companies that my wife and I operate and own. It's been a bit of a burden. I think there may be better ways for us to help folks have that critical access to health care, that is so important for us in this country, that we have to fix the issues that were brought on with the Affordable Health Care Act, but not just throw it away because we leave too many people vulnerable and ultimately, the taxpayer ends up picking up the bill. And that's something we have to steer away from.
Beck: What are a couple of fixes that absolutely have to happen?
Short: Well, the loophole deaths associated with pre-existing if we could allow for folks to have portable health care coverage, then we could keep them from falling into the pre-existing condition loophole currently, if you have helped provided a health care provided from your employer and for whatever reason you lose your job and let's say it's the COVID-19 issue. That's caused us to lose our jobs, we might ultimately end up losing our health care coverage. And when our opportunity comes again, to get health care, we could find ourselves locked out of the market due to whatever fine print might be in potential providers policy, that says because of X, then you're no longer qualified for Y and our premiums go skyrocketing. So, we need to make sure that folks have the ability to port their healthcare between jobs and not just be locked into whatever is available from employer X versus employer Y.
So, that's really critical for us and then, during that time, we may lose our employment, having the ability to have health care coverage, in some form debts, that doesn't require folks to go bankrupt. That's something we have to work on. Because again, ultimately, when folks end up in that situation, through no fault of their own, and they are no longer able to pay for their medical care, the rest of us all end up ultimately paying for it through energy care coverage. And it's just unfair for all folks involved.
Have questions about this story? Contact the reporter, Bob Beck, at email@example.com.