By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
The state’s top five officials on Monday will consider offering a bid for about 1 million acres of private land in southern Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Wednesday.
Gordon, speaking during a news conference, said the state’s top five elected officials, meeting as the State Loan and Investment Board, will decide whether to offer a bid to Occidental Petroleum for the purchase of the land and about 4 million acres of accompanying mineral rights.
Occidental had originally set a deadline of July 1 to accept any bids for the land, but Gordon said the company extended the deadline by a week because of complications created by the coronavirus.
He added members of the public will be able to comment on the proposal during Monday’s meeting. If a bid is made and accepted, triggering a start to negotiations, a series of public meetings will also be held where input will be accepted, he said.
“I want to assure the people they will have every opportunity to understand the details of this bid and not only that, they will have a chance to comment,” he said.
He added the decision of whether to offer a bid will depend entirely on whether the purchase makes sense as an entry into the state’s portfolio of investments.
“This is strictly a case of will this investment pay dividends back to the state,” he said.
The Legislature, during its general session, approved a bill authorizing the executive branch to look into the purchase. Gordon vetoed the bill because he said it imposed too many restrictions on the executive branch, but he vowed to continue reviewing the possible deal and to keep both the Legislature and members of the public informed as to its progress.