2022: Big election year! Energy rebound? Cheney decision?

If 2020 was the pandemic year to forget and 2021 was a dumpster fire, just what in the heck is going to happen to us in 2022?

It is always easy to be optimistic going into a new year.

I have been writing these prediction columns for decades and I almost always have a good feeling about each new year.

As for 2022, I think it will be one hell of an exciting year. Not sure it will be a good year or not. Time will tell. Let’s get out the old crystal ball and make a few predictions:

• A year ago, we predicted folks in Wyoming would be desperately trying to stop Rocky Mountain Power from shuttering coal fired plants in Wyoming. But whoa! The big news in 2021 was that Wyoming was picked as the location for a new nuclear power plant to be built at the site of a coal-fired plant being retired. Everything changed. For the better.

• In 2020, we correctly predicted that 2021 would be a record tourism year. It was and then some. It is easy to predict that 2022 will be its equal and might even be bigger than 2021. Finding good workers will continue to be the biggest problem in the hospitality industry in Wyoming.

Hospitality is the state’s largest industry, employee-wise, with 33,000 workers. Energy will still be the largest industry, dollar-wise. Because of crowding in Jackson Hole and Yellowstone, the rest of the state will benefit big-time as tourists will finally understand that the Cowboy State is full of other amazing places to see, too.

• With all the emphasis on wind and solar, everyone seemed to want to believe that fossil fuel industries were dead. Yet 2021 was a banner year for oil, natural gas and coal and 2022 will be even better. Huge impressive new renewable energy projects are being developed, but they are likely decades away from replacing fossil fuels. Despite premature predictions of its death, the fossil fuel industry will be alive and kicking in 2022.

• Another thing that folks thought would be dead in 2022 was the COVID-19 virus. It actually killed more Americans in 2021 than the previous year. The year 2022 will continue to be deadly for the virus. It is easy to predict that another variant will come along and let’s hope that it is not as deadly.

• In the world of wildlife, the zombies of our mountains – victims of Chronic Wasting Disease – will continue to wander the wilderness. This problem will continue and, after lurking in the shadows for years, will burst out into prime time. It could even affect deer and elk license allocations.

• As I write this, it looks like former President Donald Trump will be coming to Wyoming to promote Harriet Hageman’s candidacy against his arch-enemy, Wyoming’s U. S. Rep. Liz Cheney. The Hageman-Cheney race, if it materializes, will be one for the record-books.

We could easily see candidates spending $5 million each, far more than any other race in the state’s history. My prediction is that Cheney will not run and will instead enter the race for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. I have bet some expensive cigars on this race with some pretty astute editors who predict Cheney will run. Stay tuned. 

• Gigantic construction projects like the retrofit of the missile installations at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne will be in the news. Also, with a trillion bucks budgeted by Congress for infrastructure, we will be watching for some of that money to trickle down to Wyoming.  We have lots of needs out here on the frontier. This will be an economic boon for the state.

• This year will be a big one for Gov. Mark Gordon, as he runs for reelection. Gordon will argue that he is battle-tested.  Is he ever! He endured every unpredictable situation during the 2020 Pandemic year possible, and then dealt with the Dumpster Fire year of 2021 by showing leadership.  What will be interesting to watch is who will surface as his opponent in the 2022 GOP primary. His biggest logical foe was Hageman, but when Trump picked her to run against Cheney, well, it opened up a whole new window of opportunity for challengers.  But who?

Cheyenne businessman and 2018 candidate Sam Galeotos is a definite possibility.  Not sure who else. As a former State Treasurer, it was argued in 2018 that Gordon was the best-prepared candidate to run for the office in 50 years. He endured tons of COVID-19 criticism but he managed to navigate the past three years without too many lasting battle scars. It truly was a thankless job during much of his time in the big office. 

• So, here’s a toast to 2022. God bless our country and our wonderful state of Wyoming. Let’s pray for a good year.