By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Neither Gov. Mark Gordon nor the Petroleum Association of Wyoming are impressed with a report calling for an overhaul of the federal government’s oil and gas leasing program.
The report released Friday by the administration of President Joe Biden overhaul of the system used to lease parcels of federal land for oil and gas drilling to limit areas available for development and increase the cost for companies to drill on public lands and waters, according to NPR.
Gordon said on Tuesday the report lacked any real merit.
“The Biden administration’s long-awaited review…lacks merit and is a frontal assault on Western lands that leaves nothing to be thankful for,” Gordon said. “The report encourages increasing the cost of producing oil and gas in Wyoming by hiking the royalty rate, taking more areas off the table for federal leasing and increasing the costs of bonding. None of these options are wise or necessary for Wyoming.”
The report by the Interior Department stopped short of recommending an end to oil and gas leasing on public lands, but officials told NPR it would lead to a more responsible leasing process that provides a better return to U.S. taxpayers.
On Tuesday, Gordon argued that Wyoming was not over-leased, pointing out that only 23% of the total mineral acreage held by the federal government in the state is leased.
“With our state’s oil and gas industry just showing signs of recovery, this is the worst time to needlessly increase expenses such as jacking up royalty rates or instituting higher bond requirements,” the governor said. “Wyoming already has an industry-funded, successful plugging and abandonment program. While we are asking our enemies to produce more oil, under less stringent regulations and drain our own national security reserves, further weakening our economy, we need to remember that the only result of the President’s actions will be driving more activity to foreign countries and to states with fewer federal lands and minerals.”
Gordon also said that the Biden administration wants the United States to become more dependent on the nation’s adversaries.
“We can do more to reduce CO2 emissions by innovating new technologies that improve our standard of living than regulating into oblivion,” he said. “Any potential modifications to the oil and gas leasing program identified by this review could have been brought forward without the illegal and devastating moratorium. As I have stated on multiple occasions to the Biden administration, the leasing moratorium does nothing to achieve their climate agenda.”
Officials with the Petroleum of Association of Wyoming shared Gordon’s opinions, saying the Biden administration should be embarrassed by the report.
“As fuel prices continue to rise, the Biden Administration’s solution is to increase the cost of production, build more barriers to Wyoming’s development and choke off exploration of new reserves. No wonder they don’t want anyone to read the report,” the organization said on Friday. “The report repeats overblown claims about the government needing a ‘fair return,’ when in fact the mineral program is second only to the IRS in revenue production for the treasury.”
The timing of the report’s release on the Friday after Thanksgiving was also criticized by PAW.
“Wyomingites should take this report for what it is: at best a politically motivated document repeating old anti-development talking points, and at worst a nonsensical screed,” PAW officials said. “Ask yourself, if the oil and gas program was in such desperate need of reform, why did the Biden Administration try to hide it’s report on the issue by releasing it on a day most people would not be paying attention.”