Gordon: Wyoming In Crosshairs Of Anti-Fossil Fuel Biden Administration

Gov. Mark Gordon vowed Wednesday that Wyoming will fight an onslaught of Biden initiatives that have put fossil fuels and the state's legacy energy industries in the crosshairs of the administration.

Pat Maio

May 02, 20245 min read

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon speaks at an energy summit in Cheyenne on Wednesday where he vowed to fight the federal government’s new regulations designed to limit coal and oil and gas production.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon speaks at an energy summit in Cheyenne on Wednesday where he vowed to fight the federal government’s new regulations designed to limit coal and oil and gas production. (Pat Maio, Cowboy State Daily)

CHEYENNE — Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon delivered a cautionary message to an energy summit in Cheyenne that a recent onslaught of Biden administration federal regulation has the potential to cripple the Cowboy State’s energy industries and economy.

He also said Wyoming will fight the anti-fossil fuels rules, but that it’s “going to require an enormous amount of legal challenge.”

“We are going to do everything that we can make sure that our legacy industries share the same opportunities that our new industries coming on board have, because they all have a place in a future that is going to see growing energy needs,” Gordon said.

Gordon delivered his message Wednesday before an audience of more than 200 people attending the Next Frontier Energy Summit, sponsored by the Wyoming Energy Authority’s annual conference held in the Blue Community Events Center.

With growing federal regulation, the government is attempting to limit coal, natural gas and oil production in Western states — particularly Wyoming — leading to a sudden decline in America’s ability to provide reliable and dispatchable energy, according to Gordon’s assessment of the Biden administration’s approach to energy policy.

Keeping with a familiar theme, the governor said that he wants a well-balanced approach to energy production in Wyoming to include alternative forms of power, like wind and solar, along with strong coal, oil, gas and nuclear.

He highlighted Wyoming’s emergence in the nuclear arena.

The state has become ground zero for a rebirth of the U.S. nuclear industry, with construction beginning this month on the Bill Gates-backed TerraPower LLC’s miniaturized nuclear reactor in Kemmerer, Wyoming.

Cutting Russian Ties

“That’s rekindled a market that has been almost entirely Russian,” Gordon said about a race to ramp up Wyoming’s uranium production.

He also highlighted the standout in Wyoming’s energy future with a visible turnaround in the uranium industry that has gone through tough times for decades..

On Tuesday, U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, both R-Wyoming, announced that legislation in Washington, D.C., was passed by the Senate that bans the import of uranium from Russia — a move that should serve as a catalyst for Wyoming’s uranium industry.

The legislation had been tied up in political infighting since December.

“I have fought for years to end America’s reliance on Russian nuclear fuel. Our efforts have finally paid off with passage of our bill to ban these imports once and for all,” Barrasso said in a statement.

The legislation should revive American uranium production and jump-start investments in America’s nuclear fuel supply chain, he said.

Lummis said that the legislation will lay the ground for capitalizing on its vast resources and boost Wyoming’s mining opportunities to support national security needs.

Many of the uranium stocks trading on Wall Street with a presence in Wyoming saw an uptick in their value at the close of sessions on the exhanges in New York City on Wednesday. These included Casper-based Ur-Energy, Wyoming-based Uranium Energy Corp. and Texas-based Encore.

‘Wind Is Not The Savior’

Other than nuclear, Gordon said that the Biden Administration is putting too many eggs in some forms of alternative energy — particularly wind turbines.

“Wind is not the savior,” he said.

“It (wind) has a place. The technology has improved. To say that this can’t happen with coal and oil and gas is absolutely ridiculous,” Gordon said, pointing to the value of coal-fired power plants with carbon capture technologies that electric utilities can attach to smokestacks to lower emissions.

It’s an area of investment in Wyoming that Gordon has supported through financing and funding provided through the WEA.

“We are the top coal producer. We are the top uranium supplier. We are in the top 10 in oil and gas production,” Gordon said. “We are in the top 15 in wind.”

Despite that, “We’re being restricted,” said Gordon of onerous regulations hurting Wyoming’s coal and oil and gas industries.

“We have this incredible headwind that we’re pushing against, that is attempting to sort of skew the way we’re going to generate electricity out of Wyoming that has an affect on our revenue streams,” he said.

Gordon cited last week’s action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take steps to tighten the grip on coal-fired plants and possibly push the relevance of coal as an income stream to the backburner in America.

Gordon has directed Wyoming Atorrney General Bridget Hill to investigate forming a coalition of states to challenge the new EPA rules in court. A decision on pursuing a legal remedy is expected soon.

Last month, the state’s oil and gas industry also got hit by federal rules that limit oil and gas drilling on U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The independents say the BLM rules effectively make the process for bidding on leases more expensive because of the government’s misunderstanding of orphan wells and how many exist on public lands — and leading some in the industry to threaten litigation to alleviate some of the pressure.

Gordon warned that the rules could hurt Wyoming’s energy industry.

“We have reliable power. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but we usually can get it back up and running because we know how to prepare for it,” Gordon said. “But when we cut that lifeline and suddenly a whole bunch of dominoes fall, we find ourselves not having to fix one thing, but having to fix about nine.”

Pat Maio can be reached at pat@cowboystatedaily.com.

Share this article



Pat Maio


Pat Maio is a veteran journalist who covers energy for Cowboy State Daily.