Wyoming, state, United States: The Energy Industry and Agriculture since the 1920s

The Energy Industry and Agriculture since the 1920s

By the mid-1920s the state ranked fourth in the nation in the production of crude oil, but the valuable finds at Teapot Dome are probably remembered best as the symbol of corruption in the administration of President Warren Harding. Under the New Deal, Wyoming was well served by national soil conservation programs, which benefited dry farmers who had extended operations into semiarid regions and had suffered severely in the drought years beginning in the late 1920s. The cooperative movement in agriculture also gained ground in this period and has since grown.

One of the most important events in the state since World War II was the discovery of uranium. New oil finds also helped to offset economic losses resulting from a disastrous four-year-long drought in the 1950s. The decade from the early 1970s to the early 1980s was a boom period for Wyoming as high energy prices boosted the state's coal, oil, and natural gas industries. By the mid-1980s, however, energy prices were falling and the economy was hurt by its lack of diversity, but tourism and recreation subsequently developed as an important sector of the economy. Wyoming also has suffered from the injurious environmental effects of the energy industry, and pollution has become a serious problem in some mining towns. The state had the seventh slowest growth in population between 2010-20 at 2.3% (compared to the national rate of 7.4% growth),and is the least populous in the nation. With the increase in energy prices in the early 21st cent. Wyoming again found itself in an economic boom, although the industry declined in the second half of the 2010s.

Republican Jim Geringer won the governorship in 1994 and was reelected in 1998. He was succeeded by Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, elected in 2002 and again four years later. Republican Matt Mead was elected governor in 2010 and 2014, and fellow Republican Mark Gordon won the office in 2018.

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