A Bull in the Elevator - an "all-in" strategy for energy

If you spend much time around "bovine beauticians" (aka - folks who show cattle), you will find out there are many crazy things that have happened surrounding these furry four-legged critters.

The folks you run into that are drawn to raising purebred cattle can be interesting, and you never know who you are going to run into at the bigger shows. Mel Gibson used to own Bear Tooth in Columbus, Montana, and he was spotted at these events from time to time. Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed in Rocky) was walking up the hill in Denver carrying a hay bale beside me one day, and I was kind of shocked when I realized who he was. Carl owned Heaven on Earth Limousin. There have always been folks of fame and fortune interested in showing cattle, and they were and are quite entertaining at times. A case in point - A friend of mine was finishing up Louisville (NAILE) just before Thanksgiving one year. The ranch owner, who had just finished a successful show, decided it would be quite entertaining to put the show string in the lobby of their New York hotel during the Thanksgiving season. His employees argued their best that you do not take $50K critters and put them in a hotel lobby, but the argument went nowhere fast. Long story short, the trailer was loaded and headed off to the big city with cattle, feed, and equipment for a week of display. The plan was to overnight the cattle on the underground garage's bottom floor and then bring them up to the lobby and tie them up during the day. It was decided that the best way to get the cattle up to the lobby was to take them up in the freight elevator. The day of display arrived, and they began taking the cattle up to the lobby. Younger heifers and bulls were loaded in the elevator and taken up a couple at a time. The problem arose when a two-year-old bull, who was too big to ride the elevator with a buddy, was loaded for the ride. My friend led the bull into the elevator (no problem yet), shut the door (still ok), and punched the button (this is the point where the bull came unhinged). What only lasted about 20 seconds seemed an eternity for my friend locked in a freight elevator with a one-ton beast that was not at all happy to be there. One black eye, bruised ribs, and busted hand later the elevator stopped, and the bull was led out into the lobby to be tied up without further incident. It was believed that surely the bull would be better going down, but since no one volunteered for the job, they led the bull out the front door, into the street, and down the ramps to the tie-out location. I wish I could have witnessed the spectacle of a bull being led down the New York City street and into the parking garage. The next four days saw the same back and forth, and luckily there was no further incident, and as my friend explained, "We got the hell out of there." You may be saying to yourself at this point, "It's an entertaining story, but what in the world does it have to do with Wyoming and energy policy?" Well, here it is - it's a hard trip up the economic ladder when there is a ton of bull around you. Additionally, Wyoming is committed to the trip, just like my buddy was when he closed that elevator door. I have had a hard time understanding this argument between fossil fuels and renewable energy. According to a variety of statistical sources, ranging from the U.S. Chamber to the EIA to Statista, we will need to pursue both traditional and renewable sources of energy for the U.S. to keep up with growing demand. The fact is - if we are going to expand our economy and we expect to have electricity available 24 hours a day, we need every energy source we can lay our hands-on. Wyoming is an energy state. Regardless of whether the source is coal, oil, solar, or wind, the economic impact to areas that need it most benefit from mining, drilling, and renewable projects. I asked a rancher I know in Oklahoma how things were going? I expected to hear not well since the cattle market was in the dumper at the time, but I was surprised. He replied things were going well, and it would be better if he could get a couple more nurse cows. "Nurse cows," I asked. He replied, "Yup, wind turbines have helped, and we refer to them as nurse cows." This is only one story, but it is one that repeats itself all over the middle of the country and for our interests, all over Wyoming. Here is the deal. We can either ride the elevator up with the bull - our traditional approach to energy - or we can find an alternative path. We may not like the alternative all that well because it does not fit our world view, but regardless of our decision to let the one-ton bull beat us to a pulp or walk up the ramp, we will end up at the same destination. The only difference is we don't have to walk around with a limp for the next five years if we choose the ramp. In Wyoming, we have the same choice. We can't control the world or even the domestic demand for energy and what type of energy is used, nor can we stop the inevitable movement toward renewable energy, but we can choose to embrace the ride or fight it. Your Chamber of Commerce supports an "all-in" strategy when it comes to energy. We support a fair and healthy regulatory environment to encourage a sustainable and cost-effective plan for energy advancement. We support oil, coal, wind, solar, natural gas, geothermal and hydroelectric. We will need it all! Wyoming is known as an energy producer, and we should continue to celebrate this heritage with an "all-in" strategy. We can embrace reality and figure out how to leverage our varied resources or try to ride the elevator with the bull. If I have a choice between the "full of bull" or the path to success, I will choose the latter.


- Dale Steenbergen CEO and President of the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce

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