Wyoming stands out among Western states for its exceptionally heavy dependence on oil, natural gas, and coal. Taxes and royalties from fossil fuel production provide more than half of state revenues that support schools and the health-care system. That revenue stream has been declining for years, however, and is expected to take a further wallop as the pandemic devastates the oil industry.
An even larger economic reckoning looms over Wyoming and other states that rely on fossil fuels. While today’s pandemic threat will hopefully fade in coming months, the longer-term regulatory risk from climate change remains. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, has promised to ban new oil and gas leasing on public lands. Those account for about half the land in Wyoming, including some of its most prolific drilling sites.