CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming Superintendent Jillian Balow has joined education leaders from other western states in submitting a letter to President Joe Biden detailing their opposition to the Biden administration’s ban on new federal oil and gas leasing and drilling.
The letter states that in Wyoming “the oil and natural gas industry contributed $740 million in funding for K-12 education and $28 million to Wyoming’s higher education system in 2019.”
“92% of all natural gas and 51% of oil produced in Wyoming comes from federal lands,” the letter adds. “The ban translates into the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for education and 13,300 direct jobs in a state of 500,000.”
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Balow was joined by state superintendents and commissioners of North Dakota, Montana, Alaska and Utah in signing the letter.
“In Montana, $30 million in revenue is at-risk, along with over 3,000 jobs,” the letter states. “In North Dakota, the lease moratorium would result in 13,000 lost jobs over four years, along with $600 million in lost tax revenue and a $750 million loss in personal income. North Dakota’s oil and gas industry accounts for 24,000 direct jobs in the state.”
“In Utah, $72 million in revenue is at risk with 11,000 jobs at stake. In Alaska, over $24 million in state revenue is tied to federal leases for oil and natural gas, along with 3,500 jobs.”
The letter expresses the education leaders’ opposition to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Order No. 3395 which places a temporary moratorium on new mining and oil and gas leasing and permitting on federal lands and waters.
It also states opposition to Section 208 of Biden’s Climate Crisis Executive Order which places a pause on new oil and gas leases on public lands and waters and “allows for review and reconsideration of federal oil and gas permitting and leasing.”
“As state education chiefs, we place equity and quality at the forefront of policy making,” the letter reads. “We care deeply about clean air and clean water for future generations. And, we advocate fiercely for adequate funding for all students in all schools. Reform of the industry is necessary and can be accomplished, but not by abruptly restricting industries that define our culture and the generate revenue on which so many rely.”
The education leaders requested exemptions from the oil and gas bans in their states.
“Mr. President, as state education leaders, we are uniquely positioned to think about how to support and fund education for the next generation. Given support by your administration, in the form of an exemption from orders that diminish the oil and natural gas industry, our states can continue to diversify and innovate the industry and fund education,” the letter reads. “Our shared goals are a reduced global carbon footprint, protected wildlife, and quality educational opportunities for all children.”