Should American voters elect a conservative administration next year, the Heritage Foundation has written a presidential transition playbook that outlines reforms for all the various departments in the federal government.
In the realm of energy, Project 2025, as the mandate is called, policies in the current federal government that prioritize reliable, affordable energy over reducing emissions at any cost will be gone.
“One of our core promises is ending the war on carbon and establishing full energy independence for the United States,” Paul Dans, director of Project 2025, told Cowboy State Daily.
William Perry Pendley contributed a chapter in Project 2025 on reforming the Department of the Interior under a conservative administration.
Pendley served as acting director of the Bureau of Land Management during the Trump administration. He also participated in a similar policy mandate for leadership published in the fall of 1980 for the incoming Ronald Reagan administration.
With these credentials, Pendley was asked to participate in the latest inception of the project.
“President Reagan wanted to bring real change to the Department [of the Interior]. Jimmy Carter had fouled things up so badly with his war on the West,” Pendley told Cowboy State Daily.
The Heritage Foundation turned 50 this year, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it became the policy think tank that helped drive the Reagan Revolution with its original mandate for leadership, Dans said.
“It was the department-wide analysis of the federal government and prescriptive fix for what a Reagan Revolution would look like over the next four-year period,” Dans said.
It laid out what conservatives wanted to see, Dans said, which was a realignment in government, a restoration to its constitutional anchor of a limited federal government and the consent of the governed.
Pendley said the Department of the Interior is in worse shape now than it was under Carter.
“Carter was terrible, and certainly for the West,” he said. “Biden took it to the next level.”
Pendley said that under the Carter administration, Western issues were much more bipartisan.
“Republicans and Democrats didn’t really disagree very much on the approach to the West,” Pendley said.
Carter, like Biden, was very much beholden to the interests of environmental groups, however, Pendley said. Carter also was influenced by the belief at the time that the world would run out of oil and gas by 1990, which led to a reluctance to issue oil and gas lease sales.
When Reagan took over the White House, 1 billion acres was opened up to leasing, Pendley said.
“We knew there was energy to be found, and indeed there was,” he said.
Pendley said what Reagan started in 1981 led to energy independence under President Trump in 2019.
Leasing And Nuclear
For the Department of the Interior, the Project 2025 mandate calls for reinstating onshore lease sales in all producing states. A programmatic review of the coal leasing program would be concluded, which would allow federal coal leasing to resume.
For the Department of Energy, the “all-of-the-above” energy policy would be affirmed through which “the best resource can be harnessed for the benefit of the American people.”
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would be repealed, as would the Inflation Reduction Act.
Besides facilitating the development of oil and gas resources, the mandate has a lot of support for the development of nuclear energy, as well as the mining and refining resources to fuel reactors.
It also supports the development of sites for storing nuclear waste.
Rep. Tom Walters, R-Casper, told Cowboy State Daily that he hadn’t seen the document and couldn’t comment on it, but that he’s supportive of a sustainable American-produced energy policy.
“We shouldn't be importing energy, because we have enough here in our own borders,” Walters said.
He said the Department of Energy was created in the 1970s with the sole purpose of producing enough energy for U.S. demand. Now, it has thousands of employees and a ballooning budget.
“And we’re not self-sustaining. We’re actually producing on a percentage basis less than we were when it [the department] was created,” Walters said.
He said federal policies aligned with American energy independence would also help stabilize oil and gas prices.
With Wyoming tax revenues heavily tied to those prices, the state would enjoy more financial stability.
Dans said the Project 2025 mandate is considerably different than past efforts. It builds off of what the Heritage Foundation has done historically, but now it’s for the conservative movement as a whole.
“We’re a coalition of 70-plus influential conservative groups in the nation preparing to hit the ground running on Jan. 20, 2025,” Dans said.
In addition to developing battle plans, the program is an online training academy, as presidential appointees are 4,000 people in a federal government with 2.2 million full-time employees.
“We really need those 4,000-plus to be skilled operators,” Dans said.
Dans and his family visited Lander for a wedding in July and stopped in at Cheyenne Frontier Days.
“Watching the steer wrestling and wild horse races were kind of a metaphor for what we’re doing with the project,” Dans said, “because it’s that kind of cowboy attitude that has to be taken to the federal government.”
He said the Wyoming trip also reinforced his concerns about the nation's future when he drove across the state and saw all the wind farms spread across the landscape.
“These windmills are monuments to globalism, commissioned in China,” he said. “It was shocking for someone like me to really see what’s going on out West.”
Dans said that anyone who is thinking about serving, or have a friend or relative who would be a candidate, can go onto the Project 2025 website, create profiles, take online classes for free, read the mandate and learn what the project is all about.