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Potential Gold Mine Near Cheyenne Could Produce Tens Of Millions In Revenue For State

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By Elyse Kelly, The Center Square for Cowboy State Daily

Cheyenne may soon boast the only working gold mine in the state of Wyoming.

U.S. Gold Corp., a gold exploration and development company, is investigating the potential of an old copper mine adjacent to Curt Gowdy State Park to produce gold. If continued data collection bears out hopes, the Copper King (CK) Gold Project could produce tens of millions in revenue for the state.

And U.S. Gold Corp. is hopeful.

Jason Begger, project spokesperson for the CK Gold Project, says with every bit of data they collect, the project becomes more certain.

“All indications are that it could work,” he told The Center Square.

The mine site is located at Copper King, an old copper mine that hasn’t been worked since before World War II and is owned by the state. The gold deposit has been known to exist for a long time, but new mining technology has finally reached a point where experts think it could be worth opening again, Begger said.

Currently the company estimates the mine holds 230 million pounds of copper and 700,000 ounces of gold awaiting extraction, according to Begger. The operation would be hard rock mining. Begger said the ore is trapped within granite and requires forcible extraction.

U.S. Gold Corp. is in consultation with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to assess any environmental and wildlife impacts the operation could have. 

“The area is a part of what’s called critical winter range for mule deer, and so we’re working with the regulators to determine what sort of mitigation efforts can be done,” he said.

If the project moves forward, Begger said they estimate the financial boon to the state could be in the tens of millions.

“We have partnered with the University of Wyoming and their economic analysis division and they’ll be completing an economic impact analysis of both tax revenue to the State of Wyoming, vendors, sales tax – the kind of broader impacts – so that is in the works,” he said.

Begger pointed out as Wyoming and the country embrace new technologies like electric cars, manufacturers are going to require a lot of copper – copper the CK Gold Project could produce. 

The project is roughly a 10-year operation, according to Begger.

“It’s a nice shot in the arm for the state of Wyoming,” he said.

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Oil And Gas Lawsuit Will Continue Despite BLM Plan To Resume Leases In 2022

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A lawsuit filed in Wyoming to reverse a ban on oil and gas leasing on federal lands will continue despite the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s announcement it will resume leasing in 2022, according to a spokesman for the state’s oil and gas industry.

Ryan McConnaughey of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming told Cowboy State Daily the BLM continues to move slowly in issuing leases on federal land for energy development.

“In reality, the only reason the administration is doing this is because they have a court order and they were in danger of being held in contempt of court,” McConnaughey said. “We have no doubts they will continue to stall leasing on federal lands, so we believe our lawsuit should move forward.”

The PAW and Western Energy Alliance have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne to overturn the ban imposed on oil and gas leases on federal land by President Joe Biden in his first few days in office. The lawsuit argues the BLM did not follow the rules of the federal Mineral Leasing Act in stopping the leases.

A similar lawsuit filed in Louisiana resulted in a judge’s ruling that the federal government did not follow the rules of the act. The judge also issued an order for mineral leasing to resume nationally.

The BLM recently announced it will allow the lease sales for parcels offered for lease in the first and second quarter of 2021 to proceed in early 2022.

However, McConnaughey said the announcement does not address the lease sales that should have been held in the third and fourth quarters of 2021.

“At this point, at this rate, we’ll still be two quarters behind what they should be doing in accordance with the Mineral Leasing Act,” he said.

The BLM’s announcement came shortly after the PAW and WEA filed a request with the federal court asking the judge in the case to expedite proceedings so the merits of their lawsuit can be argued.

“By proceeding directly to the merits of our case, we believe we can compel the federal government to uphold its obligations under the Mineral Leasing Act,” PAW President Pete Obermueller said in a statement.

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Biden Gears Up For Renewed Fight Against Oil And Gas

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By Casey Harper, The Center Square

A federal judge has ruled the Biden administration must resume allowing oil and gas leasing on federal land and waters, but the administration is saying it will not go down without a fight.

The Biden administration said it will appeal a court ruling allowing the leases, the latest development in a months-long battle between President Joe Biden and the oil and gas industry, even as gas prices continue to rise.

“Together, federal onshore and offshore oil and gas leasing programs are responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions and growing climate and community impacts,” the Department of Interior said in a statement.

Biden issued an executive order on his first day in office banning new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters.

“The United States and the world face a profound climate crisis,” the executive order said. “We have a narrow moment to pursue action at home and abroad in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of that crisis and to seize the opportunity that tackling climate change presents. Domestic action must go hand in hand with United States international leadership, aimed at significantly enhancing global action. Together, we must listen to science and meet the moment.”

Biden’s order sparked backlash in the industry and among states that rely heavily on oil and gas for jobs and tax revenue. More than a dozen states challenged the order in court.

Wyoming commissioned a report on the impact of the order, which found Biden’s rule would cost 350,000 jobs and $670.5 billion in GDP in Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, California and Alaska by 2040. The report also found that the moratorium would cost $639.7 billion to the nation’s GDP by the same year.

In June, a federal judge in Louisiana sided with the states.

Despite the judge’s ruling, industry leaders have complained that the Biden administration has dragged its feet in reinstating the leases.

“For six months, the Interior Department cited the Biden Ban as the reason for not holding quarterly lease sales,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of Western Alliance, a group that represents more than 200 companies in the industry. “In the two months since the ban was overturned by a federal judge, department officials have ducked questions from lawmakers, media, and industry about when lease sales would resume. Now that the Interior Department has missed the deadline to hold any sales before October, it’s crystal clear there is no intention of complying with the judge’s order. At a recent Senate hearing, Interior Sec. Haaland admitted the president’s ‘ban on new leasing is still in place.’ Meanwhile, the Biden Administration has spent the summer lobbying OPEC and Russia to increase oil production.”

The decision comes as gas prices have continued to rise in recent months. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, gas prices have risen 19% nationwide in the last 12 months.

“Someone needs to explain how it makes any sense for President Biden to beg other countries for more oil while requiring a federal judge’s order to do the same within the United States,” said Larry Behrens of Power the Future, an energy workers advocacy group. “The fact that the Interior Department will appeal this ruling makes it clear: the Biden Administration prioritizes radical environmentalists first and America’s working families last. If Joe Biden wants gas prices to fall, he needs to get out of the way and let America’s energy workers get back on the job.”

The Biden administration recently called for more overseas drilling to keep gas prices down.

“Higher gasoline costs, if left unchecked, risk harming the ongoing global recovery,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in an official White House statement. “The price of crude oil has been higher than it was at the end of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.”

That statement sparked outrage among domestic oil producers. Now, Biden is appealing the court order requiring the administration to allow new leases.

“At the same time it’s encouraging foreign oil production, the Biden Administration is preventing American production and helping drive up the price Americans pay at the pump,” Sgamma added.

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Jonah Energy Joins Global Effort To Reduce Methane Emissions In Energy Production

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A Wyoming natural gas company has become the first in the country to join an international program designed to show that energy producers are working to reduce their methane emissions.

Jonah Energy has become the first American oil and gas producer to submit methane emissions data to the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership, a United Nations-sponsored program.

The data will be used to create a global uniform platform that allows participating companies to demonstrate how much they have reduced emissions and what steps they plan to take to further reduce emissions, said Paul Ulrich, Jonah’s vice president of government and regulatory affairs.

The information will be used to show buyers, end consumers and regulators exactly what steps Jonah is taking to reduce its emissions, Ulrich said.

“From an economic standing alone, pivoting Wyoming to provide the cleanest natural gas in the country is vital,” he said. “For us to be able to compete and grow in a national and global market, we have to provide the cleanest natural gas possible. This is a first significant step.”

Jonah is working to earn the “Gold Standard” emissions rating from the OGMP, Ulrich said, which will show the steps the company has agreed to take to carefully monitor and reduce emissions.

“The ‘Gold Standard’ says you’ve committed to steps you take for continuous improvement,” he said. “It gives consumers and regulators confidence in and transparency into our market.”

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Cheney Calls For Elimination Of Electric Vehicle Subsidies

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming Congreswoman Liz Cheney on Tuesday called for the elimination of federal electric vehicle tax credits, saying they target the energy industry and only benefit “elites” who make more than $100,000 a year.

Cheney made the statement while announcing she was a co-sponsor of H.R. 3796, the “Eliminate Lavish Incentives to Electric (ELITE) Vehicles Act.”

Cheney said the bill will end the electric vehicles tax credit which she said unfairly targets the energy industry and costs billions in taxpayer funds.

“Eliminating the subsidy will save taxpayers billions of dollars and also help to protect the energy industry from the far-left’s radical environmental agenda,” Cheney said.

According to a Congressional Research Service report, 78% of electric vehicle credits are claimed by filers with an adjusted annual gross income of $100,000 or more, and those filers receive an even higher proportion (83%) of the amount of credits claimed.

Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso introduced identical legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Like Cheney, he mentioned that the tax credits benefit those who have the most money.

“The electric vehicle tax credit largely benefits the wealthiest Americans and costs taxpayers billions of dollars,” Barrasso said. 

“Today, the market for electric vehicles is well established. The auto industry no longer needs these pricey subsidies. It is time to pull the plug on subsidies for electric vehicles.”

A study done by the The Manhattan Institute estimates that ending the electric vehicle tax credit would save roughly twenty billion dollars in taxpayer funds over the next decade.

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Supreme Court Will Not Hear Wyoming Coal Port Lawsuit Against Washington

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an attempt by Wyoming and Montana to sue Washington over its refusal to license a proposed coal export terminal.

The court, without comment, denied a request to hear the complaint that alleged Washington officials looked beyond the environmental impacts of the port on Washington when deciding whether to license the Millenium Coal Export Terminal and made their decisions based on the impact of using coal for fuel in other countries.

A note on the Supreme Court’s website said Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito Jr. supported hearing the case, but the other seven justices ruled to deny the request.

Gov. Mark Gordon called the court’s decision “frustrating” because It leaves open the question of whether one state can block another from selling its goods.

“This case was never about a single permit or product,” he said. “It was about the ability of one state to engage in lawful interstate commerce without the interference of another state. Today it is coal, tomorrow it could be agricultural products or any of our state’s abundant natural resources. At some point the Supreme Court is going to need to take on this matter.”

The Wyoming Mining Association, which represents the state’s coal mining companies, had backed the state’s legal action.

“We’re very disappointed,” said WMA Executive Director Travis Deti. “I really don’t have much more to add on this one.”

The case stems from a decision by Washington officials to block development of the coal export terminal, which would have provided a place to load coal for shipment to overseas markets. Washington officials blocked the project’s construction on the grounds it would violate the Clean Water Act.

However, Wyoming and Montana officials, in a lawsuit filed in January, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the actions of Washington officials, alleging the denial violated the Interstate Commerce Clause, which gives only the federal government the authority to regulate the flow of goods between states.

The two states also alleged that Washington officials looked beyond the local impacts of the port and instead based their decision on the state’s political opposition to the use of coal as a fuel.

The company proposing the coal terminal went bankrupt earlier this year, prompting the U.S. Solicitor General to ask that the Supreme Court not take up the case because it was moot.

Wyoming and Montana officials countered that justices needed to address the question of whether Washington could interfere with the sale of Powder River Basin coal to overseas clients.

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Federal Government Took ‘Insulting’ Stances In Oil, Gas Lawsuit, Says Former BLM Official

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Photo credit: Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The federal government made some “insulting” arguments in its efforts to maintain a moratorium on oil and gas leases on federal land, according to a former U.S. Bureau of Land Management official.

William Perry Pendley, a former Wyoming attorney who served as the BLM’s deputy director for policy and programs under former President Donald Trump, said he found “arrogant” the federal government’s arguments that it would find a way to halt lease sales on federal property even if a federal judge in Louisiana ruled the sales must resume.

“The government says ‘Even if you tell us to keep doing sales, we have the discretion to implement the postponement with another rationale, we will find another way not to obey the law,’” he said. “It’s pretty arrogant.”

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in Louisiana on Tuesday granted an injunction sought by 13 states to keep the administration of President Joe Biden from blocking oil and gas lease sales on federal property.

Biden several days after taking office issued an executive order halting oil and gas lease sales on federal property pending a review of the lease program.

The lawsuit filed in Louisiana alleged the halt to sales was issued without following the proper administrative steps as outlined in the Administrative Procedures Act.

The lawsuit is similar to one filed in U.S. District Court in Wyoming by Wyoming officials, who also allege that the federal government failed to follow its own rules in adopting the ban.

In his ruling, Doughty rejected several arguments by the federal government that Pendley said he found “somewhat insulting,” including one that the 13 states involved in the lawsuit did not have the authority to challenge the federal government’s actions.

“That’s pretty outrageous that a sovereign state doesn’t have the right to come into court and try to save an economy,” Pendley said.

He added that another argument that the states were not harmed by the ban because existing oil and gas leases were not affected by Biden’s actions were not accurate because of the amount of time needed to develop a leased area.

“These things take time and the leases they issue today … are going to be drilled sometime in the future,” he said. “If they are not issued today, then we will have real trouble down the road.”

Some groups have maintained that the judge’s injunction only requires the BLM to hold oil and gas lease sales and that the BLM itself has discretion over how many parcels it will actually offer during those sales.

Pendley said he could not predict whether the BLM might significantly reduce its lease offerings to comply with the desires of the administration.

“You have a Secretary (of the Interior) who says she is opposed to fracking, a president who says he is opposed to fracking and 90% of all wells are fracked, so if you lease, you are going to have fracking,” Pendley said. “It’s entirely possible, as the government lawyers told the judge, ‘We can find a way around this.’”

However, he added it might be difficult for a government attorney to argue in defense of such an action.

“I think that would be insulting,” he said. “I don’t think a court would look lightly on that. I would not want to be the state (BLM) director who goes into court and explains to the judge how I complied with the judge’s order by putting one lease up for sale.”

Doughty declared his injunction to apply to all federal properties in the country, but Pendley said he did not believe it would stop progress on Wyoming’s lawsuit, largely because of questions over whether a judge in Louisiana can issue an injunction in effect nationally.

“There is some dispute about whether those district court judges have the authority to issue nationwide injunctions,” Pendley told Cowboy State Daily. “The important thing is I don’t believe the Wyoming district court will stand down because of this.”

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Gordon Applauds Judge’s Ruling Against Biden Oil And Gas Lease Moratorium

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By Brianna Kraemer , The Center Square

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon expressed his content on Wednesday after a federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s moratorium on new federal oil and gas leases.

A U.S District judge based out of Louisiana granted a preliminary injunction in the case on Tuesday, ultimately restraining the U.S. Department of Interior from continuing to implement the pause on new oil and natural gas leases on public land or offshore waters.

The decision is a major setback for President Joe Biden’s climate change agenda.

Wyoming relies heavily on lease sale revenue to fund its public services, Gordon noted in his statement.

“This preliminary injunction is outstanding news for Wyoming and our energy workers. It confirms the position we have maintained since this ‘pause’ was implemented,” Gordon said.

“The Biden Administration has in fact put in place an unlawful, de-facto moratorium, causing economic harm to states like ours that rely on lease sale revenue to fund our schools and critical functions of government,” he added.

Biden’s executive order halting new oil and gas leases went into effect just a week after Inauguration Day. The order, called “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” pauses new leases until a comprehensive review of the environmental impacts can be assessed.

Wyoming is the nation’s top producer of onshore gas that takes place on federal lands, and second in the nation for its federal onshore oil production, according to the Bureau of Land Management. 

Of the nearly 63 million acres in the state of Wyoming, oil and gas leases managed by the bureau accounted for 8.4 million acres of land from over 13,000 leases in recent years.

With Tuesday’s ruling, Gordon said he hopes a similar ruling will be issued in a case filed in the U.S. District Court of Wyoming.

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Barrasso and Energy Sec. Granholm Agree on Domestic Uranium For Bill Gates Nuclear Plant

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

It’s not like the two politicos from opposite sides of the aisle walked out of a conference room holding hands and singing “Love Will Keep Us Together,” but America did bear witness to a rare bipartisan agreement on Tuesday.

Energy Secretary Janet Granholm, a Democrat and former governor of Michigan, agreed with U.S. Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, on the necessity for a domestic supply of uranium to supply a proposed nuclear power plant in the Cowboy State.

In order to power the “Natrium” reactor plant, Barrasso said high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) would be necessary, which can be supplied only by the Department of Energy or Russia.

He asked Secretary Granholm what steps the department is taking so that the U.S. doesn’t have to rely on Russia for the energy.

“We agree that we need to develop that supply of HALEU and the budget requests $33 million in that regard to start that process and make sure that we will have on an ongoing basis access to that critical mineral,” Granholm said.

Pleased with her response, Barrasso noted there were individuals in the Energy Department who didn’t share those feelings so it was “good to hear that you’re on board on this,” he said.

“For sure,” Granholm said. “It goes right into again, this notion of us being able to make sure that we have the means for our own for our own supply chains for our own energy.”

The plant proposed for Wyoming will generate 345 megawatts and will also be able to store enough energy to generate 500 megawatts of power for more than five hours.

The plant will be built at one of Rocky Mountain Power’s existing coal power plants near Rock Springs, Glenrock, Kemmerer or Gillette. The location should be decided by the end of the year.

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Oil, Gas CEO Slams North Face Company As Hypocritical

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The CEO of an oil and gas company with offices in Gillette and Colorado is criticizing the apparel company North Face as hypocritical for taking a stance against oil and gas by refusing to accept a clothing order from a Texas company while using petrochemicals in its products.

Chris Wright, CEO of Liberty Oilfield Services, posted a short video last week thanking North Face for being an “extraordinary customer of the oil and gas industry” despite the company’s refusal to fulfill an order of 400 jackets from a Texas oil and gas company because North Face did not want to be affiliated with the industry.

“I went through North Face’s website of wide-ranging products and I failed to find a single thing that wasn’t made out of oil and gas,” Wright said in the video. “Their vast manufacturing, distribution and retailing networks are also large consumers of gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane, jet fuel, etc.”

Wright added that by providing material for North Face’s apparel, the oil and gas industry has contributed to people’s outdoor recreational choices, which has helped North Face’s business,

Liberty also posted a billboard in Denver this week with another “thanks” to the company.

“That North Face puffer looks great on you. And it was made from fossil fuels,” the billboard reads, adding a website also called thankyounorthface.com.

The comments stem from an incident in December, when North Face rejected an order for 400 jackets by Innovex Downhole Solutions, a well drilling company. The company’s CEO, Adam Anderson, told energy research company Hart Energy he was told The North Face refused to fill the order because he wanted the Innovex logo on the jackets and The North Face did not want to be affiliated with an oil and gas company.

North Face has responded to Wright’s criticism (although neither he nor Liberty were mentioned by name), promising that by 2025, 100% of its most used apparel materials will be recycled, regenerative or renewable and the company intends to eliminate all single-use plastic packaging.

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