By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming’s public services will all suffer with the halt in energy development on public lands, Gov. Mark Gordon told a congressional committee Tuesday.
Gordon spoke in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, telling the senators why President Joe Biden’s energy moratorium is unnecessary and how the policy is harming Wyoming’s economy.
“This leasing ‘review’ is a crafty way of establishing a moratorium on federal lease sales, making continued progress ever more tenuous, more difficult, and more likely that good-paying, family supporting jobs will migrate somewhere else,” Gordon told the committee. “That is bad for this country, for the climate, and especially for Wyoming.”
In addition to Gordon, testimony came from Vicki Hollub of Occidental Petroleum, Pueblo of Acoma Gov. Brian Vallo and U.S. Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director Nada Culver.
Gordon noted that Wyoming ranks first in natural gas production on public lands and second in oil, and that this production is vital to the funding of schools, health care, public safety and other essential services.
Energy-related tax revenues from public lands in Wyoming totaled $457 million last fiscal year. Approximately $5.7 million of that was due to lease sales, but Wyoming has seen no lease sale revenues this year because of the moratorium.
“Doing something as extraordinarily draconian as we are with the policies of this administration doesn’t give us time to evolve,” Gordon said.
In his first seven days in office, Biden issued two executive orders that have halted oil and gas leasing on federal lands pending a review of the federal government’s leasing programs. Gordon and a number of western governors wrote letters protesting the moratorium and members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation have also expressed their opposition.
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, who invited Gordon to the meeting to testify, also spoke about how the moratorium will hurt the state.
“Wyoming’s energy has powered this nation for decades, but today, Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West is under attack,” the senator said. “There are benefits that solar and wind will never be able to replicate.”