By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming stands to lose millions of dollars more from this year’s second cancellation of oil and gas lease sales on federal lands, Gov. Mark Gordon said Wednesday.
Gordon criticized the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s announcement Wednesday that it would cancel its second oil and gas lease sale of the year, noting the state usually receives millions of dollars from the sales.
“Over the past eight years, Wyoming has received, on average, $35 million annually from oil and gas lease sales on federal lands,” he said in a statement. “This year, we have received zero, because first and second quarter lease sales have been indefinitely postponed.
The administration of President Joe Biden has ordered a halt to new oil and gas leases pending a review of the government’s lease program.
The BLM canceled its first quarter lease sale, scheduled for March, and on Wednesday announced it would hold no new lease sales at least through June.
The halt does not affect existing leases.
“The announcement … is disappointing, disheartening and not surprising,” Gordon said. “Federal reviews of anything take months, and sometimes years.”
Gordon said the Department of Interior could have conducted the review while allowing quarterly oil and gas lease sales to continue.
“Instead, they chose to tighten the financial choke of revenue that would normally flow to the state from lease sales, all the while refraining from consulting with the very states and communities that are directly impacted by these decision,” he said.
Gordon said he will testify on the issue next week before the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The state has already filed a lawsuit challenging the administration’s halt to lease sales, saying it violates the National Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and other regulations.
It asks the U.S. District Court in Wyoming to order the BLM to resume lease sales.