The Wyoming Republican Party holds its state convention in Casper. Party members and candidate hopefuls talked about energy policies and how to best position Wyoming in Congress. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

CASPER — As Wyoming’s GOP party prepped for its Saturday night convention here, U.S. House of Representatives candidate Liz Cheney accused the Obama administration of adopting policies that aggravate coal’s woes when the industry already is suffering from a bad market.

Casper businessman John Wold (right) talks with a staff member of the Leland Christensen campaign for U.S. House of Representatives. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

“There clearly are market conditions that are part of the problem,” Cheney said regarding challenges to Wyoming’s coal, oil and natural gas industries. “But what you have simultaneously is exacerbation of those conditions by this president and government policies coming out of Washington, so when you’ve got EPA that puts into place the Clean Power Plan and says ‘Our goal is to kill coal,’ that’s more than market conditions.”

Cheney told WyoFile Wyoming residents have an opportunity to send to Washington D.C. a representative who will fight for Wyoming issues. That includes repealing the Affordable Care Act, repealing President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

RELATED: Liz Cheney and Philip Perry: A prominent couple in Washington D.C.

Cheney says she believes climate change is “junk science,” and that EPA’s regulations hurt more than just Wyoming’s energy industry.

“Folks are very, very concerned about what’s happening in Washington,” Cheney said. “They’re concerned about what’s happening to our freedom. Concerned, especially, about the energy industry.”

The convention’s main event takes place tonight with the selection of the party’s 14 delegates for the Republican nominee for president. GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz is expected to speak at the convention in Casper tonight. Cruz took nine of 12 Wyoming GOP delegates in the party’s caucuses.

Wyoming GOP U.S. House of Representative candidate Liz Cheney and her husband Philip Perry visited with Wyoming GOP state convention attendees Friday in Casper. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

Meanwhile, hundreds of Wyoming Republicans are expected to attend the GOP convention in a state that is solidly red on the political map.

“We need to take that business sense, that businessman common sense, and take it to D.C. and run it more like a business and less like a charity,” U.S. House of Representative candidate Charlie Tyrrel of Casper said. “We’re not a charity. That’s what churches are supposed to do.”

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Tyrrel, a former Powder River Basin coal miner and owner of Charlie’s Pizza in Casper, touted his experience as a successful Wyoming businessman and his outsider status as never serving in the Legislature or working as an attorney. In an interview with WyoFile, Tyrrel said Wyoming’s next U.S. representative needs to take common-sense businessman attributes to Washington D.C.

Both Cheney and Tyrrel say they want to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“Let’s go back to the system we had and work it better,” Tyrrel said. “The system we had was not broken. It just wasn’t necessarily there for everybody. But part of having a better system like that is working yourself into a better position in life and getting a job that has the better benefits.”

Party members hashed out drafts of party platforms on issues Friday, including the use of marijuana.

GOP candidate for U.S. House of Representatives Charlie Tyrrel visits with a constituent at the GOP’s state convention Friday in Casper. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

Although the party still doesn’t embrace legalization of medical or recreational use, some warned that arguments for the continued prohibition of marijuana are the same as arguments used to limit access to guns. Meanwhile, another committee in another room debated the Wyoming GOP party’s stance on vaccinations, with some arguing that the government should not mandate what people put into their bodies regarding health concerns.

On the matter of “free exchange of ideas,” one platform committee member warned against so-called safe zones for speech at universities. “There’s no right to not be offended.”

Dustin Bleizeffer

Dustin Bleizeffer is a Report for America Corps member covering energy and climate at WyoFile. He has worked as a coal miner, an oilfield mechanic, and for 22 years as a statewide reporter and editor primarily...

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