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Joe Biden

New York Times Columnist Suggests Cheney, Biden Team Up For 2024 Election

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A New York Times columnist this week suggested that President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney team up for a bipartisan presidential ticket in 2024.

Columnist Thomas Friedman, who has won multiple Pulitzer Prizes, theorized that the United States possibly needed to “mute” the hyperpolarization in politics by having the two main political parties team up for the next presidential election.

“This is the democratic way of defeating a threat to democracy. Not doing it is how democracies die. I am quite aware that it is highly unlikely; America does not have the flexibility of a parliamentary, proportional-representation system,” Friedman wrote Tuesday. “And yet, I still think it is worth raising. There is no precedent for how close we’re coming to an unraveling of our democracy, either.” 

Friedman compared the United States’ issues with political polarization to conflicts in Israel and Palestine and questioned whether the U.S. should follow their lead, since the countries have formed a diverse national unity government.

“We should be ready to talk about Liz Cheney as part of a blow-your-mind Israeli-style fusion coalition with Democrats. It is a coalition that says: ‘There is only one overriding goal right now — that is saving our democratic system,'” political scientist Steven Levitsky told Friedman in the column.

Cheney has become an unpopular figure among some Republicans over the last year due to her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump for his actions in allegedly incite the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Cheney was ultimately removed from her position as House Conference chair due to her differences with her Republican colleagues. She is also serving on the Jan. 6 committee investigating the events of the day.

However, this does not mean she will be running with Biden as vice president, Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.

“This is such a bogus and absurd proposition from one individual NYT columnist,” Adler said. ” To be clear, Liz is a conservative Republican. She has voted against Joe Biden’s agenda nearly 90% of the time, which is more than most House Republicans. Liz is focused completely on fighting for the people of Wyoming, the work of the select committee, and winning reelection.”

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Wyoming Republicans Unsurprised At Biden’s Low Approval Ratings

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By Ellen Fike and Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

The continuing decline of President Joe Biden’s approval rating comes as no surprise to some of the state’s Republican leaders.

Various Republican officials from across the state chimed in to criticize Biden’s policies and administration, although some said the president remains a better choice to lead the country than Vice President Kamala Harris, the second in line for the office should anything happen to Biden.

According to political website The Hill, Biden’s approval rating hit 38% earlier this month in a poll conducted by USA Today and Suffolk University. The poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters from across the country by landline and cellphone. The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points.

Biden’s approval rating has consistently trended downward in recent months.

War on the West

State Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, said that the Biden administration has started an all-out war on various industries since taking office, including oil and gas, timber, livestock and more.

He added that the administration has continued to spend frivolously and propose policies that hurt the nation.

“My guess is, long-term, the approval rating continues to head for the toilet, and our country suffers,” Driskill said. “We’re going to pay. We’re going to have a very long-term hangover from these administrative policies.”

While Driskill hoped for the best when Biden got elected, he said that at this point, he doesn’t know what else the president could do that could be much worse for the nation.

However, he did say that while Biden was bad, Harris being president would be “armageddon.”

“I can’t think of a worse thing that could happen,” he said.

Incapable of Decisions

Carbon County Republican Chair Joey Correnti, one of the more visible members of the Wyoming Republican Party, said he doesn’t believe “Biden’s numbers are actually Biden’s numbers.”

He said the president is a puppet for the left wing establishment, which he said was represented by Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The approval numbers are theirs, he said.

“Biden does nothing but blindly regurgitate anything they throw on a Teleprompter or note-card and put in front of him,” Correnti said. “I believe it’s fairly obvious that Biden is incapable of making any decisions or intelligible statements entirely on his own.”

According to The Hill, Biden responded to his slumping poll numbers last week, telling reporters during a press conference, “That’s not why I ran.” He noted that polls are volatile, adding, “I didn’t run to determine how well I’m going to do in the polls.”

Still Supporters?

Matt Micheli, attorney and former chair of the Wyoming Republican Party, was more shocked at the number of people still supporting Biden.

“With the runaway inflation, open borders, rising crime, socialism and unprecedented interference in our private lives, I am shocked he has anyone that says they still support him,” Micheli said. “Bottom line, the policies out of this administration are bad for America and voters are waking up.”

Bad Policies

State Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, said that Biden’s low approval numbers were a direct reflection of his “disastrous” policies.

“In the first 10 months in office, the Biden administration has placed undue burdens on families who are struggling with the pandemic by continuing to push government spending and reducing homegrown jobs in the energy sector,” Brown said. “People are hurting and they thought he was going to help, but he’s done nothing but hurt the American people.”

Getting What He Deserves

Former Wyoming Republican Chairman Diemer True, a former state senator and chairman of the Wyoming GOP, said Biden got the approval rating he deserved, saying the president has surrounded himself with unqualified advisors and has denied problems such as the immigration crisis.

“He seems to be tone deaf and maybe blind,” True said. “We just have never had such a poor president. If you’re that incompetent, people are going to see it.”

True added if Biden were a Republican, the media would be pointing out every mistake he made, such as when he pulled soldiers out of Afghanistan in August.

“I’m so concerned with his competency and his taking us down the wrong road, I hope his policies aren’t fatal to our country,” he said.

Not Even A Food Truck

Longtime Wyoming political fundraiser Rob Jennings said that although Biden’s national approval rating is at 38%, he expected the number is significantly lower among Wyoming voters.

Like True, Jennings did not believe Biden was a capable holder of the Oval Office.

“I ask people all the time, if you made $1 million and invested in a food truck, would you hire Joe Biden to run that truck?” Jennings said. “The answer’s no.”

He said that the country was in a constitutional crisis due to legislators propping the president up. Jennings also said that as a Wyomingite, he wanted to know what the state’s leaders were doing to fight Biden’s policies.

“I think all of our politicians, at some level, are failing us, because they’re not telling people what’s really going on,” he said. “People see it more than the politicians do.”

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Wyoming To Sue Biden Administration on Friday Over Fed Vaccine Mandate

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming will join several other states in suing the federal government over the coronavirus vaccine mandate proposed by President Joe Biden, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Thursday.

Gordon said the state will file a lawsuit as soon as the rules to put Biden’s mandate in place are issued by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a move expected Friday.

“We have prepared for this moment and the attorney general has a strong legal strategy she developed with a coalition of other attorneys general,” Gordon said. “We cannot allow the rights of Wyoming citizens and her industries to be trampled by federal overreach.”

Biden’s proposal would require that all federal workers, health care employees and employees of companies with more than 100 people get the coronavirus vaccine or be tested regularly for the illness.

The details of the rules needed to put the mandate in place were released Thursday. 

Under the rules, companies affected by the mandate would have to make sure their employees are vaccinated by Jan. 4.

Wyoming has already challenged an executive order issued by Biden that mandated vaccines for federal contractors.

Gordon’s announcement came one day after Wyoming’s Legislature completed its special session aimed at charting the state’s response to the mandates.

Of the 20 bills proposed for review during the session, only one won final approval. It would prohibit state and local public entities from enforcing a federal mandate, but it would not take effect until a federal court, in response to legal action, blocks the mandate.

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Gordon Blasts Biden’s Vaccine Mandate: “This Has No Place in America”

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming Gov Mark Gordon on Thursday blasted President Joe Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandate as un-American and has asked his attorney general to fight it.

“I have asked the Attorney General to stand prepared to take all actions to oppose this administration’s unconstitutional overreach of executive power. It has no place in America. Not now, and not ever,” Gordon said in a statement.

On Thursday, President Biden announced his administration was enacting rules that would mandate all employers with more than 100 workers to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or be tested weekly for the virus.

The mandate could affect as many as 100 million Americans.

“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said in the press conference. The unvaccinated minority “can cause a lot of damage, and they are.”

“We are in the tough stretch and it could last for a while,” he said.

Gordon said Thursday’s announcement was an example of “big government overreach” and questioned the constitutionality of the rules.

“Our Constitution was written and fought for to protect our liberties as American citizens,” he said.  “This administration’s latest pronouncement demonstrates its complete disregard for the rule of law and freedoms individuals and private companies enjoy under our Constitution. In Wyoming, we believe that government must be held in check.”

State Rep. Landon Brown told Cowboy State Daily that he concurs with Gov. Gordon’s sentiments and said he encouraged the the governor’s office to take “any and all action to protect Wyoming’s businesses’ rights.”

“This federal government overreach is inexcusable and we should not stand for it,” Brown said. “Government should not be dictating business practices like this.”

Carbon County Republican Party chair Joey Correnti told Cowboy State Daily that although he hasn’t read Biden’s vaccine “action plan” yet, he was completely opposed to “anything that has mandate in the title.”

“The problem with the way Biden is doing things is that it’s an emotion and an intention with a title, none of it is quantified on paper,” he said, comparing it to the administration’s controversial “30 by 30” environmental plan.

“The Biden administration on almost every policy has been vague or not totally forthcoming on the full content on any of their emotional plans which are destroying America,” 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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Cheney: Biden Handed Afghanistan Over To Taliban, ISIS

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw United States forces from Afghanistan after 20 years was ultimately the move that handed the country over to terrorist organizations, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said Tuesday.

“If President Biden were serious about defending America from the threat of terror, he wouldn’t have surrendered to the terrorists and handed the Taliban, al Qaeda and ISIS an entire country from which they can plot and plan terror attacks against America,” she said on Twitter.

“You don’t end wars by surrendering,” she said. “You don’t secure America by leaving Americans behind enemy lines, betraying our allies, and empowering our enemies. This isn’t ending a war. It’s losing one.”

Addressing the nation on Tuesday, Biden said withdrawal from the country was the best available option and that it would have been just as messy if launched weeks earlier, according to the news agency Reuters. Earlier this month, the Taliban terrorist organization took control of the Afghan government.

Multiple people have been killed in the chaos in the country since the Taliban took control, including Wyoming Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, who was set to become a father in just a few weeks.

The war in Afghanistan saw more than 2,500 Americans and more than 240,000 Afghans killed in its two-decade duration. Many Afghans are fleeing to the United States, but Gov. Mark Gordon has stated he has no interest in accepting refugees into Wyoming.

Two Wyoming representatives publicly disagreed with the governor over the weekend, saying that Wyoming should have some type of refugee program to accept those displaced.

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Petroleum Association Of Wyoming Questions Biden Call For More OPEC Oil

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The idea that President Joe Biden would ask foreign countries to increase oil production while blocking production in the United States is concerning, said a spokesman for the state’s oil and natural gas industry.

“That’s our biggest concern is the fact that here in the states, the president’s administration is doing everything it can to shut down production on federal lands and turning to foreign countries (for increased production),” said Ryan McConnaughey, communications director for the Petroleum Association of Wyoming.

Biden on Wednesday called on members of OPEC to boost oil input to slow the rise in gasoline prices.

At the same time, the Biden administration is continuing its ban on the issuing of new oil and gas leases on federal land, a move being challenged in court by the governors of oil producing states and the nation’s oil industry.

The PAW, in a Twitter posting Wednesday, suggested Biden should be working with domestic producers to increase the domestic supply of oil for gasoline.

“Instead of asking adversaries in OPEC, like Russia, Venezuela and Iran, to increase supply, perhaps you should be working with Congress to unleash the energy development potential of America’s public lands and waters,” it said.

McConnaughey said the situation actually provides a chance for organizations like the PAW to teach policy makers that America’s oil producers can meet the demand for energy in an environmentally safe way.

“For us, it’s an opportunity to show just how out-of-touch the administration is with the resources that we have here in our own country and it’s up to us to educate them,” he said. “I think it’s our opportunity to show that we can be providing the oil and gas the country needs and using Americans to do it.”

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Gordon Criticizes Biden Royalties Proposal

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A plan to abandon a proposed mineral royalty reduction that never took effect is being criticized by Gov. Mark Gordon as the latest in a pattern of steps being taken against fossil fuels.

Gordon, in a news release, criticized the administration of President Joe Biden for trying to withdraw the royalty reduction plan offered by the administration of former President Donald Trump as another example of Biden working against fossil fuels without consulting with the country’s governors.

“The list of anti-fossil fuel actions implemented by the Biden Administration without prior consultation with fossil fuel governors just keeps getting longer,” he said. “This announcement is clearly a pattern, and the effort to justify this withdrawal based on harm to the U.S. taxpayer is disingenuous.”

The Trump administration last year proposed changes in the way oil and gas is valued for royalty payments to the federal government. The changes would have reversed some rules put in place by the administration of former President Barak Obama in 2016.

The latest rules were finalized in January, but were blocked from taking effect by the Biden administration.

The Office of Natural Resources Revenue Office on Friday announced it is proposing the withdrawal of the Trump administration rules, saying the process for their adoption “arguably was without observance of procedure required by law, as well as in excess of ONRR’s statutory authority.”

The ONRR estimated that had the Trump rules taken effect, mineral royalty payments to the federal government would have been released by $64.6 million annually.

The ONRR, in its formal proposal, also noted the reductions proposed by Trump were designed to encourage mineral production on federal lands.

“ONRR has no explicit mandate to increase production,” the proposal said.

The ONRR told E&E News that if the changes had been allowed to take effect, communities would be hurt by a reduction in their shares of royalties.

However, Gordon argued if the Biden administration was truly concerned about taxpayers, it would not have put a halt to oil and gas lease sales on federal property.

“Fossil fuel companies can only pay royalties if they are producing,” he said. “Increasing royalty rates when the coal, oil and gas industries are still attempting to recover from 2020 is just kicking the industry when it is down.”

“When those companies go out of business, no royalties are collected, less money is set aside for reclamation activities and the price of gasoline will continue to rise,” he added.

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Biden Stops Infrastructure Talks With GOP; Barrasso Fires Back

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso was none too pleased this week when President Joe Biden ended negotiations with a group of Republican senators regarding a proposed infrastructure bill.

Biden ended negotiations with the senators, including Barrasso, on Tuesday following weeks of discussion without any forward movement.

“The president has made it clear that he has no intention of agreeing to a plan that addresses core, physical infrastructure,” Barrasso said. “President Biden and his team are trying to satisfy an insatiable far-left agenda that demands massive tax hikes and spending trillions of dollars on things unrelated to physical infrastructure.”

Biden proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure bill earlier this year, but many Republicans, including Barrasso, have been outspoken in their opposition to it because of a perceived lack of focus on “traditional” infrastructure such as roads, bridges and waterways.

However, Barrasso was criticized by ABC News host Martha Raddatz for some unchecked claims he made about the bill.

“The 6% for roads and bridges figures you and other GOP leaders have cited has been fact-checked multiple times,” she told Barrasso during an appearance in May. “The total amount for what you have called traditional infrastructure, roads, bridges, waterways, public transit is more than 25% of the Biden plan. So, do you want more?”

The total proposed $2 trillion package focuses on job creation, traditional infrastructure spending and investment in certain areas such as funding for care workers and for childcare to be offered at workplaces.

“In return for our multiple, significant offers to invest in our roads, bridges, ports, airports and waterways, the president continues to seek a massive tax and spend plan,” Barrasso said. “Republicans are serious about passing a responsible, targeted infrastructure plan that truly meets the needs of America, without adding the burdens of higher taxes, more federal debt, and job-killing regulations.”

He added that he and his fellow senators were ready to work with congressional Democrats who recognized that a bipartisan agreement on physical infrastructure was possible.

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White House Details How Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Will Benefit Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Internet service, drinking water systems and renters in Wyoming would all benefit from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, according to details released Monday by the White House.

The White House laid out plans on Monday for how the American Jobs Plan would benefit each state, listing 12 areas that would be addressed in Wyoming.

The total $2 trillion package focuses on job creation, traditional infrastructure spending and investment in certain areas such as funding for care workers and for childcare to be offered at workplaces.

The American Jobs Plan action detail for Wyoming did not specify how much would come to the state for the 12 areas identified.

The White House report noted that Wyoming’s drinking water infrastructure will require $458 million in additional funding over the next 20 years and that 27,000 renters in Wyoming are “rent burdened,” meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

The Biden infrastructure plan will spend $111 billion and $200 billion on drinking water and affordable housing, respectively.

The plan would also dedicate $600 billion for highway improvements, including $115 billion for repairs to road and bridges. The report said 218 of Wyoming’s bridges and 318 miles of its highways are in “poor” condition.

The release also said 27% of Wyomingites live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure, while 63.6% live in an area where there is only one broadband provider. Around 12% of Wyoming residents do not have any internet subscription plan.

Biden’s plan would set aside almost $100 billion to bring “universal, reliable, high-speed and affordable” internet service to “every family in America.”

Biden also intended to address manufacturing in the infrastructure plan, investing $300 billion to retool and revitalize American manufacturers and provide incentives for manufacturers to invest in innovative energy projects in coal communities.

Wyoming’s congressional delegates have all come out against the plan, calling it “out-of-control” and a “political football.”

“This proposal…will hike taxes and spend trillions of dollars on the left’s radical agenda,” U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said. “Democrats are offering to hamstring the economy with higher energy bills and higher taxes for families in Wyoming and across the country. Republicans want to protect our energy dominance, and let hardworking Americans keep the money they earned.”

Appearing on Face the Nation on Sunday, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said she couldn’t support Biden’s infrastructure plan because 94% of it has nothing to do with infrastructure.

“The National Association of Manufacturers has said that we will probably lose over a million jobs if this is enacted,” she said. “And you are certainly going to see in addition to the corporate tax increases in the bill, you’ll see middle class tax increases.”

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Barrasso, Cheney, Lummis Say Biden Is Infringing on Consitutional Rights With Gun Orders

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

All three of Wyoming’s congressional delegates are criticizing President Joe Biden’s firearm-related executive actions.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, along with U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso, all took to social media on Thursday to slam Biden’s six orders regarding firearms that were announced this week.

“The Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. I will always defend it,” Cheney said. “Actions like the ones President Biden took today infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans, while doing nothing to prevent criminals from committing the tragic attacks we have seen in communities across our country.”

Biden’s six orders included one to tighten restrictions on “ghost guns,” weapons that can be built from parts purchased online and that do not carry serial numbers, and one to tighten restrictions on stabilizing braces used with handguns to improve their accuracy.

He also ordered the Justice Department to prepare model “red flag” legislation for states that may want to adopt such laws. “Red flag” laws allow family members or law enforcement agencies to ask courts to temporarily ban people who may pose a threat to themselves or others from possessing firearms.

Lummis said that these orders wouldn’t stop “evil people.”

“The problem is still not the 2nd Amendment, and President Biden’s actions won’t stop evil people, just make it harder for law-abiding people in Wyoming to exercise their rights,” the senator wrote on Twitter.

Barrasso also commented on the social media platform, saying Biden was infringing on people’s constitutional rights.

“Every day across Wyoming, we responsibly exercise our right to keep and bear arms. The last thing we need is for the president to infringe on our constitutional right to protect our homes and families,” he said.

They are just a few of the Wyoming officials who have spoken out against these orders.

On Thursday, Gov. Mark Gordon said he was disappointed with the executive orders signed Thursday by President Joe Biden that the president said were aimed at slowing gun violence.

“I just want to say how disappointed I really am at the Biden administration and their actions today, because the Second Amendment is something that is absolutely fundamental to Wyoming,” he said. “There is no question the Second Amendment is a constitutional right and Wyoming will stand firm against any attempts to erode that right. We will protect our firearms at all costs.”

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WyGO Calls Biden a “Tyrant,” “Gun Grabber” For Latest Executive Orders

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Gun Owners group had strong words for President Joe Biden on Thursday with the announcement of new firearm-related executive orders.

Biden’s executive orders included steps to restrict weapons known as “ghost guns,” which can be built with parts and instructions found online and which do not carry a serial number, according to CNN.

WyGO, however, did not think any of Biden’s orders were a good idea, calling the president both a “tyrant” and “gun grabber” in posts made to their social media account on Thursday.

“Joe Biden just launched his massive attack against freedom!” the group wrote Thursday, detailing multiple issues Biden was tackling with the orders. “His handlers decided he will…stop the sale of ‘ghost guns’ and force their sale records to be processed through the government gun owner database.”

The ”ghost gun” ban was one of the seven issues the group tackled in its post. WyGO also encouraged its followers to tell Congress “F No” to red flag gun confiscation.

Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order temporarily barring people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others.

Biden has pushed the Justice Department to prepare a template for red flag laws that could be used by states wanting to adopt such restrictions.

Biden’s executive orders come just weeks after a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, that left multiple people dead, including a police officer.

The president also announced he is nominating gun control advocate David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which hasn’t had a permanent director in place since 2015.

WyGO also encouraged its followers to reach out to Wyoming legislators about adopting a “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” which was actually proposed during this legislative session by WyGO founder Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne.

Bouchard’s bill originally would have allowed the state to declare invalid any federal law or rule that was seen as a violation of constitutional Second Amendment rights.

Senators voted 24-6 in favor of Senate File 81, the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” only after it was heavily amended to create a legal process by which the state could refuse to enforce certain federal gun rules.

Bouchard ultimately voted against the bill, saying its amendments destroyed its original intent.

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Wyoming’s Delegation Oppose Biden’s Infrastructure Plan; “Out-Of-Control Socialist Spending Spree”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s congressional delegates have all come out against President Joe Biden’s newest infrastructure plan, calling it “out-of-control” and a “political football.”

The $2 trillion package focuses on job creation, traditional infrastructure spending and investment in certain areas such as funding for care workers and for childcare to be offered at workplaces.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis wrote a short comment about the plan on Twitter, retweeting an article from political website “The Hill.”

“Everyone agrees that we need to update our transportation infrastructure. Biden wants to make it a political football,” she wrote. “We can do better.”

Her congressional colleagues had much more to say, though.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso called the plan an “out-of-control socialist spending spree.”

“This proposal…will hike taxes and spend trillions of dollars on the left’s radical agenda,” Barrasso said. “Democrats are offering to hamstring the economy with higher energy bills and higher taxes for families in Wyoming and across the country. Republicans want to protect our energy dominance, and let hardworking Americans keep the money they earned.”

“President Biden should change course and look to our bipartisan highway bill from the last Congress if he is really interested in improving our infrastructure,” Barrasso added.

Biden also intends to hike taxes on corporations, which would offset the bill’s spending in about 15 years.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney called the plan the “largest tax hike in history” and said it would destroy jobs and increase the nation’s debt.

“These tax increases would hurt middle-class Americans, taking more of their hard-earned money at a time when our economy is still recovering.” Cheney said. “The Biden plan would eliminate the pro-growth policies that reduced unemployment to historic lows and led to the creation of one of the strongest economy’s our country has ever seen.”

She added congressional Democrats admitted the plan was more about fulfilling “Green New Deal fantasies” rather than helping the nation.

“Once again, President Biden has shown that he does not appear to be serious about working across the aisle,” Cheney said. “I hope Congress will reject the far-left outline he put forward today and instead work in a bipartisan manner to pass targeted infrastructure legislation that both parties agree we need.” 

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Petroleum Association of Wyoming Joins Lawsuit Against Biden’s Energy Lockdown

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming is joining a lawsuit challenging President Joe Biden’s moratorium on new oil and natural gas leasing on federal lands.

PAW is joining the lawsuit originally filed by Western Energy Alliance, the organization announced Wednesday.

The WEA filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne in January, shortly after Biden issued his executive order halting new oil and gas leases, claiming the action exceeded presidential authority and violated the federal Mineral Leasing Act, National Environmental Policy Act and Federal Lands Policy and Management Act.

The PAW, a trade group for Wyoming’s oil and gas producers, filed as a joint petitioner in the lawsuit after the U.S. Bureau of Land Management did not hold its regular first quarter sale of federal leases this week.

“While many have tried to spin President Biden’s Executive Order as harmless, that narrative is simply false” said Pete Obermueller, president of PAW. “On average, Wyoming schools could have expected $4 million from this week’s lease sale – enough money to educate 220 Wyoming school children for an entire year. We join this lawsuit to show that the president’s leasing ban has resulted in real harm to Wyoming and those consequences will continue if this ill-advised EO is not overturned.”

Wyoming ranks first nationally for natural gas production on public lands and second for oil. In 2020, 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 43.5 million barrels of oil were produced on public lands, according to data from the Office of Natural Resources Revenue.

“We’re pleased to have PAW join our litigation,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance. “We filed in Wyoming because it has the largest amount of federal acreage under lease, and now we have the home team assembled. Because of the interlocking land ownership in Wyoming, it’s nearly impossible to develop oil and natural gas in the state without touching some federal lands or minerals.

“President Biden’s ban is a direct threat to one of Wyoming’s largest employers,” she continued. “The decree might make sense to someone sitting in Washington, D.C., but makes no sense in Wyoming and across the West.”

On Feb. 12, BLM canceled all oil and natural gas lease sales previously scheduled for spring 2021 in order to “confirm the adequacy of underlying environmental analysis.”

According to PAW, BLM is in violation of the Mineral Leasing Act’s requirement to hold lease sales “for each State where eligible lands are available at least quarterly” for failing to hold lease sales this week.

The area nominated in Wyoming for the March sale consisted of 426 parcels totaling 160,821 acres.

Since 2015, leasing revenues in Wyoming have totaled $474 million and averaged $79 million annually. The federal government shares 48% with the state, making Wyoming’s share over the past six years $227 million and averaging $37.9 million annually.

PAW estimated the potential loss to Wyoming of the canceled lease sale this quarter is $9.5 million.

Wyoming’s share of the sale directly supports education, infrastructure projects, and other vital government services. Based on the state’s funding formulas, the losses to the state and communities from the canceled first quarter lease sale include:

  • General Fund – $3.7 million
  • K-12 Education – $4.3 million
  • Public Infrastructure – $1.2 million
  • Cities and Towns – $275,000
  • The University of Wyoming – $198,000.

According to a recent study from the Wyoming Energy Authority, the economic costs of the Biden ban will hit Wyoming hard.

By the end of his first term, the ban will decrease Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $8.3 billion, 15,269 jobs will be cut annually, wages will drop $3.8 billion, and state tax revenue will plummet $1.8 billion.

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Cheney: Wyoming Will Lose Jobs By U.S. Rejoining Paris Climate Accord

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney on Monday said Wyoming will lose jobs because the United States has rejoined the Paris Climate Accord.

“The Paris Accord is a bad agreement based on flawed science,” Cheney said in a statement. “It subjects the United States to unattainable requirements that will destroy jobs in Wyoming and across the country, while allowing other nations with terrible environmental track records to continue to operate without consequences.”

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 parties in Paris in December 2015 and took effect in November 2016.

Its goal is to limit global warming during this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius — and preferably 1.5 degrees — compared to pre-industrial levels.

Former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in 2017, a controversial move that received mixed response.

When President Joe Biden was sworn into office in January, he signed an executive order to rejoin the agreement, which became official late last week.

“President Biden’s decision to rejoin this deal is entirely motivated by politics, which provides no comfort to the American people who will lose their jobs or pay higher energy bills as a result of today’s action,” Cheney said.

According to CNN, under the Obama administration, the U.S. had pledged to slash carbon emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

Biden plans to hold a climate summit of world leaders in April, where he will present the nation’s goal for reducing carbon emissions by 2030.

Many of Biden’s executive orders regarding energy in the United States have drawn harsh criticism from Wyoming officials from its congressional delegation to even Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow.

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Gordon, 16 Republican Governors Ask Biden to Withdraw Energy Moratorium

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon is leading a coalition of 17 Republican governors in formally asking President Joe Biden to withdraw the executive order banning new oil and gas development on federal lands.

In a letter sent to Biden, Gordon and his fellow governors stressed the negative economic effect of the ban on western states with large tracts of federal land.

The order has the effect of “chasing away capital investment for long-term economic growth and undermining public services, public conservation, public safety, public education, and more,” the governors said in the letter.

Biden issued an executive order in late January halting new oil and gas leasing on federal land to allow the Department of Interior time to conduct a comprehensive review of the federal leasing program and existing fossil fuel leases.

Some of the other governors included South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.

Gordon also emphasized the importance of the high-paying jobs created by the energy industry, as well as the impact of the order on energy independence and grid stability.

The governors were unified in their support for an “all of the above energy approach” and said that “as governors, we believe that solutions come from innovation, not regulation,” stressing the importance of state primacy for emission standards.

“You began your presidency with calls for unity, specifically to end the divide that pits urban versus rural, and as Republican leaders, we stand ready to work with your Administration to advance our states and country,” the letter said. “In contrast, the lack of consultation with our states demonstrated by [the order] is alarming, showing disregard for the citizens we serve and the businesses that employ them and keep our country running and our nation secure.”

Last week, Gordon informed federal officials that he is prepared to take all necessary actions to protect Wyoming from unilateral actions targeting and crippling our energy industries.

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.

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Gordon on Biden’s Energy Lockdown: “It’s a Bipartisan Devastation”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon continued to criticize President Joe Biden’s moratorium on natural gas and oil leases on federal lands on Tuesday, saying he is working with other western governors to ease the impacts of the move.

“It’s a bipartisan devastation that is putting people out of work,” Gordon told radio host Glenn Woods during an appearance on “Wake Up Wyoming” Tuesday. “As we’ve seen over the last couple days, it’s just not a good, sensible energy policy.”

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.

Gordon told Woods that he has been working with other governors in the region to find ways to move forward from the lockdown, whether that be through a public awareness campaign or by taking legal action against the Biden administration.

Many Wyoming officials, from U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney to Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow and U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso, have spoken out against the moratorium.

Gordon added that he and Balow have been working together to ensure that the officials understand the challenges the state is now facing with the leasing lockdown.

“I just continually talk to anybody who will listen in Washington about what a devastation will be, not only to our schools, but to our entire economy,” the governor told Woods.

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.

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Jonah Energy: Uncertainty Worst Aspect Of Biden Rule

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

While an executive order imposing a moratorium on oil and gas leases on federal land will have immediate impacts on the state, what is more concerning is the lack of solid information on how long it might go on, an oil and gas industry leader said Wednesday.

Paul Ulrich, vice president of Jonah Energy, said it could take some time to determine the full extent of the impact of President Joe Biden’s executive order on the state.

“Between the executive order and the various actions the federal agencies are going to have to take … I don’t think we’re going to see clarity on how it might impact Wyoming and our producers for quite some time,” said Ulrich, whose company is operating the state’s only natural gas rig. “The challenge we face now is the uncertainty.”

However, the order may also create an opportunity for Wyoming to have a voice in federal efforts to promote more efficient and cleaner fossil fuel production, Ulrich said.

Biden on Wednesday issued an executive order placing a moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal land until the Department of Interior can complete a “rigorous review” of its permitting practices and its existing fossil fuel leases. The order is part of Biden’s climate change strategy.

The order extends one signed the first day Biden took office that halted leasing on federal land for 60 days.

The executive order includes no timetable, Ulrich said, which adds even more uncertainty to the situation.

“What that leads to is a significant amount of uncertainty in investing, operational planning, all of the other work that needs to be done to effectively and efficiently develop on federal land,” he said. “Clearly, the lack of certainty about what the future holds should be concerning for everybody in Wyoming.”

The longer the moratorium is in place, the bigger the impact on the state will be, Ulrich said.

“We all know the positive impact the industry has on revenues, on our job base, on our way of life,” he said.

A study conducted by the University of Wyoming at the direction of Wyoming’s Legislature predicted that an end to federal leasing would cost the state more than $300 million a year in lost tax revenues if it was in place for five years.

However, the review of federal leases as the Department of Interior looks for ways to make the production of fossil fuels could provide an opportunity for Wyoming and companies like Jonah, which Ulrich said produces some of the cleanest natural gas in the country, to have some input on the department’s ultimate decisions.

“What I see is an opportunity for Wyoming to step up and continue to lead in the conservation space, in innovation in producing natural gas and oil and coal cleaner and more sustainably,” he said. “It’s my strong desire that the new administration reaches out to us, allows us to sit at the table and demonstrate the success we’ve had to reduce all of our impacts.”

Wyoming has been recognized for its conservation efforts and its work to reduce carbon emissions and the federal review might give the state a chance to share its expertise, he said.

“We’re one of the few companies in the country to have certified low-emission natural gas,” he said. “We believe that can be part of the solution.”

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Gordon Upset With Biden Oil, Gas Lease Suspension

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A plan by President Joe Biden to halt new oil and gas leases on federal land will have severe economic impacts on Wyoming and other western states, Gov. Mark Gordon said Tuesday.

Gordon, responding to reports that the Biden Administration plans a moratorium on leasing on federal land, said the move will put thousands of jobs in danger, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

“The president’s decision to halt federal leasing on oil and gas under the guise of a ‘pause’ is beyond misguided,” Gordon said in a prepared statement. “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.”

According to several media outlets quoting unidentified sources, Biden is preparing to issue an executive order Wednesday that will suspend new oil and gas leasing on federal land to allow the administration to conduct a comprehensive review of the federal leasing program.

The moratorium would not affect existing leases.

Biden in his first day in the Oval Office issued an executive order temporarily halting new oil and gas leases on federal land.

Issuing a moratorium would not unite Americans, a goal Biden has identified, but divide them, Gordon said.

“It is a reinvigoration of top-down, Obama-era policies that only served to divide and alienate the very working-class American communities with whom the Biden administration has pledged to unite,” he said. “It is clear President Biden has caved in to a loud segment of the Democratic Party that is pushing to require all policies and decisions to meet a litmus test of climate change, regardless of consequence.”

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Biden Administration Order Halt To New Oil And Gas Drilling On Federal Lands For 60 Days

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By Derek Draplin, The Center Square

President Joe Biden’s administration issued an order temporarily halting leases and permits for oil and gas development on federal land, fulfilling a pledge he made during his campaign, despite pushback from the industry and states that rely on revenue from energy development.

Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega signed an order that suspends approval of new land leases and drilling permits for 60 days. The order also “temporarily elevates review” of other agency decisions for DOI leadership.

“The Order does not impact existing ongoing operations under valid leases and does not preclude the issuance of leases, permits and other authorizations,” DOI said in a statement Thursday.

Biden, whose campaign pledged to ban new leases and reinstate environmental regulations rolled back by the Trump administration, has nominated U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., to serve as DOI secretary pending the Senate’s approval.

The order was criticized Thursday by energy industry groups and praised by environmental watchdog organizations.

American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Mike Sommers said in a statement that the move means the U.S. will have to rely on foreign countries for energy development and risks American jobs.

“With this move, the administration is leading us toward more reliance on foreign energy from countries with lower environmental standards and risks to hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in government revenue for education and conservation programs,” he said. “We stand ready to engage with the Biden administration on ways to address America’s energy challenges, but impeding American energy will only serve to hurt local communities and hamper America’s economic recovery.”

Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Denver-based Western Energy Alliance, warned that the temporary ban is “a precursor to a longer-term ban.”

Sgamma added that if the acting secretary does not hold quarterly lease sales as required by law, the Alliance is “prepared to challenge this intended ban in court at the appropriate time.”

Dan Ritzman, the lands, water and wildlife director for the Sierra Club, tweeted that the organization “welcomes this opportunity for the Biden administration to chart a new path for our country’s lands and waters.”

“Pausing new fossil fuel decisions brings us closer to healthier communities, a healthier climate and healthier wild places,” he said.

Several western states rely heavily on tax revenue from energy development that takes place on federal lands, such as Wyoming and New Mexico.

A federal lease moratorium would result in a $639.7 billion hit to gross domestic product (GDP) in Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, California, and Alaska by 2040, according to a report released last month that was commissioned by the Wyoming Legislature.

“The economic predictions are devastating, to be blunt, to Wyoming,” Gov. Mark Gordon said when the study was released.

Gordon’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the DOI’s order.

Conservation projects also rely heavily on revenue from energy development on federal lands. 

DOI disbursed $8 billion from offshore and federal land energy development to the states in 2020, down from $11.69 billion in 2019. 

The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), which passed Congress with bipartisan support, relies on oil and gas development royalties to pay off the National Park Service’s $12 billion maintenance backlog. 

The Land Water Conservation Fund, which GAOA requires to be funded with $900 million annually, is funded by federal offshore oil and gas revenue, which in turn is distributed to states for conservation projects.

DOI announced on Tuesday that LWCF’s State and Local Assistance Program will get over $302.3 million for fiscal year 2021 that’s apportioned to states.

Colorado, for instance, is set to receive almost $5.2 million of that apportionment.

A Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson told The Center square the funding will “help support critical Colorado Parks and Wildlife projects and allow us to provide opportunities for both recreation and resource conservation. This funding helps us to ensure Coloradans will be able to enjoy our resources for generations to come.”

The Bozeman, Mont.-based Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) recommends utilizing user-based funding streams for conservation and recreation instead of relying on oil and gas revenue. 

“Arguably, recreationists and conservationists would benefit the most from unshackling funding from energy revenues. Establishing a federal advisory committee could be an initial step toward finding a user-based model that can provide the resources necessary to steward our public lands for future generations,” PERC said in a recent report. 

Biden also revoked the Keystone XL’s permit and rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, among other orders on his first day in office.

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Biden Order Mandates Masks in All Wyoming Federal Buildings

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

An executive order by new President Joe Biden will add federal facilities to the list of places where face masks are required in Wyoming.

Biden shortly after his inauguration signed an executive order requiring the use of face masks in federal buildings and on federal land. The move is seen as a way to slow the spread of coronavirus and encourage local officials to adopt similar rules.

Wyoming has had an order in place since early December requiring the use of face masks in public settings, including in private businesses and in government buildings.

Masks also required for those waiting for or riding in public transit or taxis.

However, just as the federal government cannot dictate such measures to state and local governments, Wyoming cannot require the use of face masks inside federal buildings and facilities, so federal buildings are exempt from Wyoming’s order.

Michael Pearlman, spokesman for Gov. Mark Gordon, said Thursday officials are working to determine the impact of the federal order.

Gordon on Thursday announced the state’s face mask mandate will be in effect until at least Feb. 14.

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Cheney Condemns Biden’s First Executive Orders

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney followed in the footsteps of Wyoming colleague U.S. Sen. John Barrasso on Thursday by condemning some of the actions taken by the newly sworn-in president, particularly those aimed at curtailing the use of fossil fuels.

“We face significant challenges that require bipartisan responses. Today’s executive orders reverse important policies and impose significant economic cost that will imperil our recovery,” Cheney said.

Specifically, Cheney criticized President Joe Biden’s decision to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, blocking the Keystone Pipeline and stopping funding for important security measures.

“Rejoining the deeply flawed Paris Climate Accord and blocking the Keystone XL Pipeline will eliminate jobs, increase the cost of energy and embolden our adversaries,” Cheney said. “Meanwhile, blocking funding for important border security enhancements, including the continued construction of the wall, lays the foundation for increased illegal immigration.”

These sentiments were similar to those expressed by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso this week.

However, Cheney didn’t just criticize Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday, as she noted their inauguration was an important opportunity for Americans to come together.

She welcomed the new Biden administration to the White House on Wednesday.

“President Biden and Vice President Harris have the prayers and hope of the entire nation with them as they take office today,” Cheney wrote in a tweet on Wednesday morning shortly before Biden took the oath of office.

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Barrasso Criticizes New Biden Policies, Cabinet Nominees

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso criticized a number of new policies signed into law on Wednesday by newly sworn-in President Joe Biden.

Just hours after Biden was sworn in and signed a series of executive orders, Barrasso criticized various moves the new president made, including stopping the Keystone Pipeline and returning the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement.

“A return to the Paris climate agreement will raise Americans’ energy costs and won’t solve climate change,” the senator said. “Under the agreement, the Biden administration will set unworkable targets for the United States while China and Russia can continue with business as usual.”

President Donald Trump’s administration withdrew the United States from the climate agreement in 2017, a decision Barrasso then praised.

“The Paris climate agreement is based on the backward idea that the United States is a culprit here, when in reality the United States is the leading driver of climate solutions,” he said in his statement Wednesday. “It will result in spiking electricity bills and higher prices at the pump. These are additional burdens during a particularly tough time for Americans and for every small business. It hurts America’s competitiveness and gives a free pass to our adversaries.”

In a separate statement, Barrasso said that by stopping the Keystone Pipeline, Biden will rob both American and Canadian workers of good-paying jobs.

“Currently, one thousand union workers are busy constructing the Keystone XL pipeline,” Barrasso said. “When completed, the pipeline will ship oil from the Canadian and Bakken oil fields to American refineries along the Gulf Coast and across the Midwest. President Biden’s actions will not end our need for oil from our strongest ally, Canada. Instead, it will cost jobs, result in more shipments of oil by rail and make America even more vulnerable to OPEC and foreign adversaries, like Russia.”

Finally, Barrasso questioned Biden’s Secretary of State nominee, Tony Blinken, for what he referred to as “policy failures” during Blinken’s testimony in front of Congress.

Barrasso touched on topics such as China’s human rights abuses, the Keystone Pipeline and more when questioning Blinken.

“You admitted, ‘We failed in preventing a tragic loss of life as well as millions of people made into refugees or internally displaced, and that’s something that we will have to live with,'” Barrasso said. “You also went on to say, ‘In Syria, we rightly sought to avoid another Iraq by not doing too much, but we made the opposite error of doing too little.’”

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Gordon Congratulates Biden, Harris on Inauguration

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon followed in the footsteps of other elected Wyoming officials on Wednesday morning, congratulating new President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in a post on Twitter.

“Congratulations to President Biden and Vice President Harris on their inauguration,” he wrote. “I look forward to working with you on the important issues facing our nation, the West and Wyoming.”

The governor added that he and First Lady Jennie Gordon would be praying for the United States and the success of Biden’s administration, echoing sentiments from U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis in her remarks about the new president.

“Luke 12:48 says, ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked,'” Gordon wrote in a second tweet.

Gordon, Lummis and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney all sent good wishes to the Biden administration Wednesday morning.

It should be noted that the governor didn’t congratulate Biden on his win in the presidential election in November, but also didn’t sign onto a multi-state lawsuit that contested many of the ballots cast in the election.

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Lummis Urges Wyoming to Pray for Nation, President

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis celebrated the peaceful transition of power that came Wednesday with President Joe Biden’s inauguration by calling for Wyoming citizens to pray for the country and the new president.

In a post on Twitter as Biden prepared to take the oath of office, Lummis pointed to the difficulties faced by the new president.

“Our nation & state face significant challenges right now and I’m ready to get to work,” Lummis wrote in a tweet on Wednesday morning. “I urge all WY citizens to join me in praying for our nation & our President. #InaugurationDay

Lummis is the first of Wyoming’s Congressional delegation to speak about Biden’s inauguration or the new administration.

One month ago, Fox News host Chris Wallace pressed U.S. Sen. John Barrasso on whether or not Biden had actually been elected to the highest position of power, which the senator confirmed he had.

Lummis hasn’t been a fan of the new president or Vice President Kamala Harris and even voted to contest the results of votes from certain states just hours after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

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Wyoming GOP Denounces Violent Acts Before Biden’s Inauguration

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Republican Party denounced violent protests and acts on Wednesday, two weeks after a mob of people stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The party, in a statement released Tuesday, vowed not to engage in violent activity anywhere, although the statement singled out Wednesday’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

“We denounce violent protests and acts in the strongest of terms, just like conservatives did during the riots that we have been witness to since last summer,” the statement said. “Neither the Wyoming Republican Party nor any of its members have any plans to engage in violent activity. Not on January 20th, and not ever. Not in Washington, D.C., nor elsewhere.”

There have been some concerns about a second round of violent acts in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, due to Biden taking office.

On Jan. 6, thousands of supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building as Congress prepared to certify the Electoral College results. Five people died during the riot.

The party’s statement said conservatives have no interest in taking part in such actions.

“Our Party has never been about achieving goals through violence,” the Wyoming Republican Party said. “The conservatives we know are too busy doing their jobs, running their businesses, and raising their families, to plan and engage in violence.”

The group added that the Democratic Party and the media refused to denounce violence that occurred last summer during demonstrations held to protest killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a police officer who kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The Wyoming GOP also questioned whether or not the “violent conservative” narrative is being pushed forward by “leftist groups encouraging them to engage in pre-planned violent acts so that the Republican Party can be blamed.”

The Wyoming GOP has previously said that the media rushed in its judgment to identify the Capitol rioters as Trump supporters.

“The Wyoming Republican Party will continue to live under the banner that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword,'” the group said. “Rights given by God cannot be taken from us by government. We will stand on our God-given freedom to PEACEABLY exercise free speech, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution, and advocate for a better tomorrow. We will continue to speak, even when some deem our positions unpopular, twist our words, and attempt to shame or intimidate us into silence.”

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Gordon Won’t Congratulate Biden, Trump Until Winner Officially Announced

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon has become the first of Wyoming’s top elected officials to speak out regarding last week’s presidential election, but he didn’t offer any congratulations.

Instead, Gordon stated he wouldn’t congratulate either former Vice President Joe Biden or President Donald Trump until the Electoral College officially declared one of them the winner.

“Americans always want to be confident that their vote was counted and that the voting process was correct, accurate and conducted with care,” Gordon said in a tweet on Wednesday evening. “Our country should ensure every legal vote is counted properly. When a result is confirmed congratulations for the winner will be in order.”

Gordon congratulated both U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and U.S. Senator-Elect Cynthia Lummis on their respective wins about 45 minutes after the polls closed on Nov. 3.

Neither Cheney nor Lummis have spoken about the election publicly. Nor have outgoing U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi or U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, who was recently re-elected as Senate Republican Conference chairman.

The Associated Press and other media outlets have called the election for Biden, but results won’t be official until either mid-December or early January. The AP has called every election since 1848, when President Zachary Taylor was elected.

However, it is the Electoral College that officially decides who will be president. Each state chooses electors, a number based on the size of each state’s population and how many representatives and senators it has in Congress (Wyoming has three total).

Those electors, who are sworn to vote for the candidate who received the most votes in the state, won’t vote until Dec. 14. The Senate president and an archivist will receive certificates recording the electoral vote, which must be in by Dec. 23.

The results of each state’s electoral votes are then sent to Congress, which will meet in a joint session on Jan. 6 to announce the results.

While media outlets have called the election for Biden, it is possible for outlets to be wrong, as seen in the 2000 election, when many news outlets declared former Vice President Al Gore the winner in his presidential race against George W. Bush.

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The Second Amendment In A World Of President Biden, VP Harris, And Justice Barrett

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By C.A. “Kip” Crofts, guest columnist
Crofts is a former U.S. Attorney for Wyoming

In the public policy debate in America today, probably no issues are more controversial than abortion and gun control.  

Generally, views on the gun issue follow red/blue lines, with the red side believing they have a right to defend themselves and their families and businesses, while blue folks seem to hate and fear guns more than they do the people who pulled the trigger.  

Although this seems to be changing with even blue folks buying guns now when they hear about riots, calls to defund the police, and news about police who fail or refuse to respond to 911 calls.

Both President-elect Biden and Vice-President elect Kamala Harris made it clear that they want more gun control.  On the Joe Biden website they include fifteen pages of a plan for all the gun control laws they plan to pass. 

Former U. S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who competed in the early primaries for President said, “Hell yeah, we’re going to take your AR-15.  If it’s a weapon that was designed to kill people on the battlefield, we’re going to buy it back.”  Later, when Beto dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden, Biden said to Beto, “You’re going take care of the gun problem with me.  You’re going to be the one who leads this effort.” 

Kamala Harris said over and over that, “Weapons of war have no place in a civil society.”  

It is important to point out for these folks that the semiautomatic AR-15 type rifle that they are talking about, owned by millions of law-abiding Americans, has never been used as a “weapon of war” by the US Military or any other military force in the world. They seem to be talking about the M-16 military rifle that is already illegal for civilian use because it is a fully automatic (machine gun). This is a common falsehood used by gun control advocates, and even some federal judges, who either don’t know the difference or are willing to lie about it to support their position.   

The Biden platform proposes to reinstall the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, which everyone agrees had no measurable effect on crime. The old law allowed continued possession of guns already owned but now he goes further and says he will also get rid of existing rifles with a “buy back” program.   This sounds friendly enough, but it is clear the owner would not have a choice in the matter, and it also does not explain how the government can “buy back” something it never owned.

There are a number of other proposals in the platform that are less well-known but equally concerning to the millions of law-abiding gun owners in America. 

I have written a book entitled, “A Few Commonsense Gun Laws – Is There Such a Thing and Can They Work?”  This is based on a lifetime of experience with guns and gun laws as an Army officer with service in two wars, a law enforcement officer, a federal prosecutor and US Attorney.  

Generally, my answer to both questions is “no.”  In that book I discuss current and proposed gun control laws, and explain why they either don’t work or are unconstitutional, and usually are both. If we spent more time identifying and controlling dangerous or mentally ill people, and less time worrying about inanimate objects, such as guns, cars, hammers, knives, shoes and golf clubs, all of which can and have been used as dangerous weapons, we’d be more effective, more intelligent, and more honest.  If we take a gun away from a dangerous person all he has to do is get another. We arrest drunk drivers – not the cars they drive.

It is futile to try to manage human behavior (violence) by trying to control inanimate objects (guns).   It just doesn’t work. 

These laws “infringe” (the operative word in the Second Amendment) upon the rights of the millions of gun owners who do not commit crimes with their guns, while doing nothing to prevent criminal violence by a tiny minority of criminals who are willing to ignore all laws, including those regulating guns.   

For example, does anyone think that a person planning to go to a school and kill children will be deterred by a sign announcing, “Gun Free School Zone?” 

Or does anyone think that a violent fugitive will try to buy a gun knowing that he will have to provide a photo ID and submit to an FBI background check?  

Of course, not – he’ll steal it or pay someone to buy it for him. These laws are not only unworkable, but unjust because too often they punish people severely for mere possession of a gun when it is clear that they had no intention of doing any harm to anyone with the gun. 

With a diminished majority in the House and at best a tie in the Senate, is there any likelihood President Biden will have any success in tilting this windmill? And if he does, what will happen when the laws get to the Supreme Court? 

Since the landmark opinion by Justice Scalia in 2008 in the Heller case held that citizens have a right to possess guns for personal defense, the Court has been strangely silent on a host of subordinate issues deciding the limits of that right.  I don’t know but suspect Chief Justice Roberts, who joined Scalia in the Heller decision, does not want to rule again in favor of gun rights, then read about a school shooting the next day.  But judges do that all the time, as when they hold that a confession by a murderer was taken in violation of the Constitution and may not be used in his trial. It is their job to follow the Constitution – not the opinion page of the New York Times.  

It is embarrassing the way the Supreme Court has allowed the lower courts to fly all over the map on those issues.  The worst example may be laws allowing the police to decide who has a “need” to exercise this constitutional right by carrying a gun for defense of self and family.  

Some states say that a general desire for protection, without some specific threat, is not sufficient.  So, I guess you call the police office that approves gun permits while the person is breaking down your door when you can describe a “need?”  What other provision of the Bill of Rights is subject to such arbitrary control by police?  Would we tolerate this government intrusion in any other context?

I suspect this may change with the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Court.   She has demonstrated in at least one case that she takes the Second Amendment seriously.   

Wyoming prohibits felons from possessing firearms, as does federal law.  But the Wyoming law limits that prohibition for a short list of violent felonies, whereas the federal law prohibits all felons from having guns.   I argued in my book that federal law was not constitutional.  

To abridge a clearly stated constitutional right, the government must show at least that the law has a “rational basis.”  Conviction of a violent felony shows a predisposition for violence.  But conviction of some innocuous white-collar crime proves no such thing.  

There is simply no good reason for keeping Martha Stewart from having a skeet gun.  

I’m sure Justice Barrett never heard of me or read my book, but in a dissenting opinion she wrote while still a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Barrett expressed that same opinion, arguing that a person convicted of mail fraud has not demonstrated that he is dangerous.  This opinion greatly disturbed the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee considering her nomination who will not be happy until no American citizen has any right to bear arms.  

That opinion by Justice Barrett shows that there are now five justices who take the Second Amendment seriously and I believe the amendment will do just fine now unless Democrats are successful in stacking the Supreme Court to put Justice Barrett in the minority.  

But Sen. Joe Manchin, Democrat from West Virginia, has already said he’ll vote against that and any change in the filibuster rule.  So, it looks like the Second Amendment may survive another onslaught by politicians who haven’t read the Constitution or thought much about what it says, why it says it, and how important it is to sustain a free nation. 

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