CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon is continuing to push back against the Biden administration’s moratorium on federal oil and gas leasing on public lands.
Gordon’s office said Friday that the governor has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland in which he criticizes a cancellation of federal oil and gas lease sales during the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) review of the federal fossil fuel program.
“I must state a clear and present fact,” Gordon writes in the letter. “The moratorium on leasing during the review discriminates against the people of Wyoming.”
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Gordon also states in the letter that there was a lack of consultation between the Biden administration and the governors of western states before the moratorium was put in place.
“Western states such as Wyoming are disproportionately affected by the freeze because of the amount of federal land and leases within our borders,” he wrote. “The eight Western states with federal oil and gas leasing programs will have investment losses of $2.3 billion, production value losses of $882 million and tax revenue losses of $345 million in the first year of the moratorium.”
Gordon also said that he doesn’t think a claim that oil and gas companies have more leases than they can actually develop is accurate for Wyoming.
“Wyoming’s unique mix of federal, state and private surface and mineral rights requires oil and gas companies to make long-range plans for sensible and efficient development of oil and gas and prevent waste,” the governor’s office said. “It often takes many years for a company to successfully put together a drilling spacing unit for development.”
“In addition, the Governor noted that federal lands are not over-leased. Approximately 66 percent of the federal mineral acreage considered leasable (not including national parks, national monuments, Wind River Reservation or geographically unsuitable areas) is currently unleased.”
Gordon also claimed that Wyoming has been a leader in terms of allowing oil and gas development to happen in conjunction with efforts to protect wildlife.
“Examples of that ability include the State’s extensive experience setting policies to conserve Greater sage-grouse and wildlife migration corridors,” Gordon’s office said. “He also highlighted the State’s effective program of plugging abandoned or orphan wells. Over 1,000 wells were successfully plugged in 2020.”
Gordon also asked that Haaland allow Bureau of Land Management Wyoming directors to “dedicate time for deliberate and thoughtful consultation with Wyoming and other states that have effective regulation of development, solid environmental protections, and whose economies, livelihoods and way of life are dependent upon the federal energy programs that this administration proposes to reform. Policy changes to our bedrock program should not be based on a predetermined outcome without meaningful input from all stakeholders.”
Gordon sent the letter in response to DOI’s request for public comment on the Biden administration’s federal fossil fuel program review.