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Teton County's extreme inequality

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Rockies Today

December 18 · Issue #54 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

Teton County's extreme inequality
Teton County, Wyoming, leads nation in per capita income Teton County, Wyoming, leads nation in per capita income
For the first time in American history, the “average” resident of a U.S. county earned more than a quarter-million dollars last year. Surprise — it’s us.
In other words, if you were to take all the income generated by Teton County’s 23,000 residents in 2018 and divide it equally among those residents (including children), each would go home with about $252,000, according to recently released data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
That may be a shock to the actual people reflected in the data, the vast majority of whom can only dream of such cash. It’s not the reality for most working people here, but rather the distorted result of a highly concentrated inflow of investment income: money from shareholder dividends, loan interest and rent payments.
Cottier’s story quotes from Justin Farrell’s forthcoming sociological case study of Teton County’s moneyed class, titled “Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West.” On Tuesday, Worth published this Q&A with Farrell, a Yale professor who was born in Wyoming:
How wealth impacts the environment
Why focus on a specific county in Wyoming?    
It’s the richest county in the country. It’s also the county, because it’s the richest, that has the biggest gap between the rich and the poor.
What draws the wealthy there, as opposed to someplace else?
Two things. They’ll say, “It’s beautiful” and “I needed to get away from Wall Street; I needed to get away from Greenwich, Connecticut, where all people do is talk about their work. I needed to become a more authentic person and connect with nature, connect with rural ways of life and just slow down.”
Also, Wyoming also doesn’t have an income tax, and the corporate taxes are low. It’s just insanely financially beneficial to live there.
Do they view themselves as environmentally conscious?
Yes, but it often has to do with their own properties, or saving the moose in their neighborhood or the stream quality behind their house, rather than climate change or larger and more important environmental issues. There are not going to be any moose around if you don’t start dealing with climate change.
Trade winds
Xcel Energy announces it will join forces with California, western states Xcel Energy announces it will join forces with California, western states
Xcel Energy, Black Hills Colorado Electric, Colorado Springs Utilities and the Platte River Power Authority announced Tuesday that they will join the California Western Energy Imbalance Market. (WEIM)
Starting in 2021, the four utilities will be able to trade electricity in real time with utilities in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming.
“The decision is an important next step in our efforts to keep our customers’ bills low and provide more 100% carbon-free energy like wind and solar,” said Alice Jackson, president of Xcel Energy Colorado, in a statement.
The utilities, with the exception of Colorado Springs, which will join in next year, currently have a joint dispatch agreement, the equivalent of a mutual aid society.
If someone is short of electricity on a given day, say because a gas turbine went down, the others will step in and fill the gap. If they have a surplus, the others will see if they can make use of it.
Within two years, if everything goes as planned, they will have dozens of other partners to turn too, all on the fly.
As E&E News reporter Ben Storrow says…
Ben Storrow
This is a BFD folks. Cali solar can head to Colorado in the day. Rocky Mtn wind can head to Cali at night. This is what the renewable electric grid of the future looks like

https://t.co/3sQZfKaqcd
8:01 AM - 18 Dec 2019
More energy news from around the region:
Bernhardt order gives tribes more power over energy resources
Colorado regulators continue hearings on tougher controls on oil, gas emissions
Bringing Utah coal country back to life
Groups to sue Colorado's West Elk Mine for air emissions
Oil pumpjacks and the changing Alberta landscape
North Dakota oil production tops 1.5 million barrels per day, a record
A decade in which fracking rocked the oil world
A road through Red Cliffs?
Feds may let major highway cut across southern Utah tortoise preserve Feds may let major highway cut across southern Utah tortoise preserve
After a decade of dead ends, environmental reviews are now underway for a controversial highway across protected desert tortoise habitat and public land outside St. George, a project Washington County officials say the feds promised them to accommodate increasing traffic in the fast-growing region.
Despite previous reservations about the proposed “Northern Corridor,” the Bureau of Land Management is now exploring whether to allow the Utah Department of Transportation to cut the four-lane divided highway through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area (NCA) in the face of intense opposition from open-space advocates and conservationists.
The road connecting Washington City with St. George would slice up habitat set aside since 1995 for the Mojave desert tortoise, potentially setting back the threatened species’ recovery.
More news relating to public lands:
Durbin rolls out massive Utah wilderness bill
Interior Department, states appeal sage grouse ruling
Retired Grand Teton rangers, superintendent leery of heli tours
National Bison Range finalizes conservation plan focused on ecology, not visitors
Governor releases plan to preserve, develop outdoor recreation in Montana
White Sands’ national park status in Trump’s hands
What's killing Montana's grizzlies?
Scientist: Grizzly bear conflicts 'will not go away' Scientist: Grizzly bear conflicts 'will not go away'
The types of conflicts and the mortality of the grizzlies vary depending on the location in the state, but some generalities are consistent. Development of property, an influx of people into Montana, and a growing bear population spreading into areas they haven’t existed in recent years are three reasons that grizzly and human conflicts — and at times, the ensuing bear mortality — will continue to be a challenge.
Other issues include attractants stored where grizzlies can easily access them and an increase in the number of people who are raising chickens, which are treats for bears. Also, more people are heading into the backcountry to hunt or recreate, and only a handful of people in the front country — where grizzlies are starting to roam — carry bear spray regularly.
Those issues are especially apparent in locations between the grizzly bear recovery areas, which generally include the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to the south; the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) that includes lands in and around Glacier National Park; the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem in northwestern Montana and the nearby Selkirk Ecosystem.
“Connectivity is kind of happening; we just don’t have genetic evidence yet,” von Manen said. “The bears are not doing anything different but they are in different landscapes with different contexts.”
More wildlife news:
White-tailed deer in southwest Montana tests positive for CWD
Barrasso’s CWD task force clears committee
2 Yellowstone wolf pups killed by vehicle; habituation to blame, biologist says
Snowy Mountains elk herd 800% over population shows Montana's challenge managing elk
What else we're reading today
'Nobody saw me': Why are so many Native American women and girls trafficked?
Navajo Nation to create its own managed health care entity
As Spokane grows, is it leaving low-income renters outside?
Mental health: A crisis in Colorado
Weyerhaeuser agrees to sell Montana timberland
New Belgium Brewing workers approve of sale to Kirin subsidiary, ending employee ownership
The human toll of the 2019 media apocalypse
Rockies Today is edited by Matthew Frank, Fellow in Regional Journalism at the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.
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O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812