James Byrd, who is running for Wyoming Secretary of State as a Democrat, says finding ways to add value to Wyoming's energy products could be the key to diversifying Wyoming's economy.

In a Tuesday morning interview with KGAB radio in Cheyenne, the Cheyenne native used coal as an example. "There are people who want to hold fast and say 'we're going to stick to coal. We're going to make sure we can burn coal.' Well, that's fine, but that day has passed," Byrd said. He added, a better approach would be to find products that are made from coal and use those products to diversify the state economy.

He pointed to synfuels, fuels made from coal that can be used in place of petroleum products, as the sort of value-added product he is thinking of. Byrd said there is a wide range of such products that can be made from Wyoming coal, oil, and natural gas.

Not only would the new products directly bring jobs and tax revenues to the state, but they would also employ people in building the plants needed to make the products as well as shipping and marketing the value-added products.

Byrd, who has served in the Wyoming House of Representatives for a decade, says he is running for Secretary of State in part because he believes political careers have a "shelf-life," and after a decade in the legislature, he felt it was time to do something else.

He said he was specifically interested in the Secretary of state's office in part because he has been impressed with that agency during his years as a state lawmaker. Byrd is the only Democrat to file for the office for the August 21 primary election.

Ed Buchanan, who was appointed to the position after former Secretary of State Ed Murray resigned earlier this year, is the only Republican to file for the office.