Wyoming governor pushes back on Biden ban on oil and gas leases
Governor stresses that cancellation of federal oil and gas leasing sales was unnecessary in letter to Secretary of Interior
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Gov. Mark Gordon is standing up for Wyoming’s oil and gas industry in a letter to the Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. He stated that the cancellation of federal oil and gas lease sales during a “review” of the program was unnecessary and discriminatory to the people of Wyoming.
Among other concerns, the governor highlighted the lack of consultation with Western governors before the lease sale moratorium was put in effect. In addition, the governor stated “Western states such as Wyoming are disproportionately affected by the freeze because of the amount of federal land and leases within our borders.” He pointed out that “the eight Western states with federal oil and gas leasing programs will have investment losses of $2.3 billion, production value losses of $882 million and tax revenue losses of $345 million in the first year of the moratorium.”
The letter was issued in response to the Department of Interior’s call for informal public comment on the Biden administration’s federal fossil fuel program review, which included a virtual public forum on March 24.
The governor also stressed that the assertion that oil and gas companies have more leases than they can develop is not accurate for Wyoming. Wyoming’s unique mix of federal, state and private surface and mineral rights requires oil and gas companies to make long-range plans for sensible and efficient development of oil and gas and prevent waste. It often takes many years for a company to successfully put together a drilling spacing unit for development.
In addition, the governor noted that federal lands are not over-leased. Approximately 66 percent of the federal mineral acreage considered leasable (not including national parks, national monuments, Wind River Reservation or geographically unsuitable areas) is currently unleased.
The governor also pointed out that Wyoming is a leader in the ability for oil and gas development to coincide with protection of wildlife. Examples of that ability include the state’s extensive experience setting policies to conserve Greater sage-grouse and wildlife migration corridors. He also highlighted the state’s effective program of plugging abandoned or orphan wells. Over 1,000 wells were successfully plugged in 2020.
Finally, Gov. Gordon asked the secretary to allow State Bureau of Land Management directors to “dedicate time for deliberate and thoughtful consultation with Wyoming and other states that have effective regulation of development, solid environmental protections, and whose economies, livelihoods and way of life are dependent upon the federal energy programs that this administration proposes to reform. Policy changes to our bedrock program should not be based on a predetermined outcome without meaningful input from all stakeholders.”
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