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Wyoming’s Natural Resources

Citation: ©[Robert]/Adobe Stock

Wyoming has a variety of resources at their disposal. From agriculture to mining—the state is a well-oiled machine when it comes to producing fuel.

The coal and gas mining industries, in particular, are the most successful. In fact, most of the country relies on Wyoming’s resources to power their regions. Learn why Wyoming’s natural resources are the key to the state’s, and the nation’s, mining economy.

Top Resources

While Wyoming specializes in a variety of exports, the state ranks among the top five states in the U.S. for the production of coal and natural gas. Ranked number one in the nation for coal production, 40 percent of America’s overall coal supply is provided by the state. In natural gas production, Wyoming ranks fifth, controlling five percent of the nation’s supply of the resource.

Since 1986, the state has led the nation in coal production. With the introduction of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, which officials would later amend in 1947, the Department of the Interior gained responsibility for 570 million acres of federal land. This land is abundant with coal resources—it has 19.7 billion short tons of minable reserves.

The Mineral Leasing Acts, as well as the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, gave the Bureau of Land Management the authority to manage those federal lands along with the Department of the Interior. This is when the production of natural gas began—the program for managing this resource included over 63 thousand oil and gas wells on the federal land.

More recently in 2018, the federal government approved of a natural gas project that would add 3,500 wells over the next ten years.

Effects on the Economy

In 2016, the Wyoming mining industries accounted for 20.3 percent of the gross domestic product. Jobs within these industries consisted of 6.9 percent of overall state employment. Three of the state’s mining companies even rank within the top ten in the world for their industry.

The low-sulfur coal that Wyoming mines produce assists in the lowering of overall pollution emissions from energy generation. It’s for this reason that it’s shipped to power plants in 29 states; some of the largest customers being in Texas, Illinois, and Missouri.

In three out of every five households, you’ll find Wyoming’s natural gas—it’s the state’s most widely used heating fuel. With 16 of the nation’s 100 largest natural gas fields, Wyoming truly is a giant within the industry.