By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
President Joe Biden’s recent moratorium on oil and natural gas leases on federal lands was a “direct attack” on Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon said during an appearance on Fox and Friends Monday.
“Forty-eight percent of our state is federally owned. Anything you do here in the energy space probably has some aspect of federal leasing tied to it,” Gordon told host Steve Doocy. “Losing that revenue is devastating to our schools, our communities, those small businesses that depend on the energy sector.”
Gordon added that the moratorium wasn’t just devastating to Wyoming, but that it will have wide-ranging and “bipartisan impacts.”
Biden issued an executive order in late January halting new oil and gas leasing on federal land to allow the Department of Interior to conduct a comprehensive review of the federal leasing program and existing fossil fuel leases.
Doocy asked Gordon if the federal government had offered to help Wyoming’s coffers in other ways since the moratorium was enacted, but the governor said such an offer wouldn’t make up for all of the impacts of the order.
“I think the wages that are paid in the energy sector are remarkable,” he said. “They’re longstanding jobs. Look at a town like Gillette, which has benefitted from years and years of energy development, it’s established itself as a remarkable town.”
A University of Wyoming study commissioned by the Legislature concluded that a moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal land could reduce Wyoming’s production by $872 million per year, costing the state more than $300 million a year in tax revenue.
Last week, Gordon directed state agencies to determine how the state will be affected by a ban on oil and gas leasing on federal land and help him plot legal strategies to battle the ban.
“The president’s decision to halt federal leasing on oil and gas under the guise of a ‘pause’ is beyond misguided,” Gordon previously said. “It is disingenuous, disheartening and a crushing blow to the economies of many Western states, particularly Wyoming. No matter how it is framed, this action is still a ban on leasing.”