Wyoming Officials Slam Biden’s Oil and Gas Moratorium

Officials from across Wyoming didn't have positive reactions to President Joe Biden's halt on oil and gas development on federal lands this week.

Ellen Fike

January 27, 20213 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Officials from across Wyoming didn’t have positive reactions to President Joe Biden’s halt on oil and gas leasing on federal lands Wednesday.

A number of state officials and organizations spoke out against Biden’s decision Wednesday, agreeing it would economically impact Wyoming.

“Today’s executive orders signed by President Biden will endanger our economy in Wyoming and threaten our national security. The negative ramifications that will be felt across the country because of this ban will be real and painful. Energy costs will rise. Domestic energy production will fall. Jobs will be lost,” U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said in a statement.

Biden issued an executive order Wednesday that will suspend new oil and gas leasing on federal land to allow the administration to conduct a comprehensive review of the federal leasing program and existing fossil fuel leases.

“Let me be clear, the #BidenBan would decimate our economy and energy security, costing nearly $700 billion in GDP by 2030 and destroying nearly a million jobs by 2022,” U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis said on Twitter.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso slammed the decision on the Senate floor Wednesday.

“Despite all of the talk about unity, one of the first things that President Biden has done in office is to directly attack energy-producing states like Wyoming,” he said. “In Wyoming, energy production does a lot more than just keep the lights on. It puts food on the table, and it does it for thousands of families. In Wyoming, we produce coal and oil and natural gas. Uranium, as well, for nuclear power.”

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming predicted the moratorium is the first step to stop the production of fossil fuels on federal lands.

“Today’s announcement is another step in the administration’s plan to eventually shut down all production of natural gas and oil on federal lands,” the Petroleum Association of Wyoming said. “This misguided policy does nothing to reduce the demand or to improve environmental outcomes, but rather increases reliance on foreign sources of energy not beholden to America’s environmental, labor or safety standards while increasing energy costs for consumers.”

Biden, in his first day in the Oval Office, issued an executive order halting new oil and gas leases on federal land for 60 days. Wednesday’s order expands on the original.

“I was taken aback by swift orders executed by the Biden Administration last week after months of rhetoric around bringing unity to our nation,” Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said. “A federal ban on oil and gas leases will defund schools. Wyoming depends on some $150 million a year in oil and gas federal mineral royalties to fund our K-12 schools.”

Gov. Mark Gordon also noted his displeasure at the order on Tuesday, before it was even official.

“It is a reinvigoration of top-down, Obama-era policies that only served to divide and alienate the very working-class American communities with whom the Biden administration has pledged to unite,” he said. “It is clear President Biden has caved in to a loud segment of the Democratic Party that is pushing to require all policies and decisions to meet a litmus test of climate change, regardless of consequence.”

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Ellen Fike