This story comes through a content-sharing partnership with Wyoming Public Media.
The Biden administration is kicking off a barrage of visits to promote federal spending packages like the Inflation Reduction Act — and the rural Mountain West is a big part of the itinerary. Officials will be in Jackson next week for the annual meeting of the Western Governors’ Association.
The visits are highlighting projects for public works, clean energy, high-speed internet and more, particularly in smaller communities. In a recent call with reporters, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the investments “historic” opportunities.
“I think it’s reflective of President Biden’s belief that zip code ought not to determine your economic future,” he said.
Vilsack will be in Colorado and Wyoming to discuss efforts to improve conservation and support small agricultural producers. More than $1.5 billion in new spending will go toward “climate-smart” agriculture programs that improve soil health, mitigate carbon emissions and provide new revenue streams for farmers, ranchers and foresters.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is visiting New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming to tout cleanups of abandoned mines and other legacy pollution sites, as well as investments in water infrastructure. One recent round of funding goes toward water rights settlements in tribal communities.
In Arizona, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will promote renewable energy projects. Federal officials said the Inflation Reduction Act will provide new jobs and revenue streams in small towns.
Biden is looking for greater support in rural communities as he seeks reelection in 2024. In a recent poll, seven in 10 Americans said they’ve heard little or nothing about the Inflation Reduction Act since it passed.
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon will host next week’s event in Jackson. He’ll be joined by fellow Western governors for conversations on housing, wildlife migration corridors, missing and murdered indigenous people, wildfire mitigation and restoration efforts, and more. It’ll run from Monday, Nov. 6 through Wednesday, Nov. 8 at the Walk Festival Hall in Teton Village.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
KHOL Reporter Hanna Merzbach contributed to this report.