Wyoming Energy Sector Strategizing Response to Biden Ban on New Drilling

Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). (Photo Francis Chung/E&E News)
Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). (Photo Francis Chung/E&E News)

By Sarah Downey, The Center Square

Wyoming energy producers are preparing to fight the Biden administration’s recent halt to new energy exploration leases on federal lands.

The ban is part of a slew of executive actions President Joe Biden has undertaken as part of a new climate policy.

“The Biden administration’s energy policies will do nothing to combat climate change while shifting oil and natural gas production from domestic sources to foreign countries,” Ryan McConnaughey, communications director at the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, told The Center Square by email. “These actions will dampen the economy, harm national security, lessen environmental standards, and destroy good-paying jobs for the middle class.”

The ban on leasing is a precursor to the Biden administration’s stated goal of ending all natural gas and oil production on federal lands, McConnaughey said.

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“It will have immediate impacts on where companies invest for future production,” McConnaughey said.

Half of the state of Wyoming is federally owned. McConnaughey said that a recent study by University of Wyoming economist Tim Considine found that a leasing ban would result in the state losing $300 million in tax revenue annually.

“Experts tell us that a long-term ban could cost us 33,000 jobs in Wyoming, for a state of only half a million people,” U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-WY, said on the Senate floor.

Without robust oil and gas production, stakeholders predict Wyoming won’t be able to economically recover from the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“We hope that cooler heads within the Biden administration will prevail,” McConnaughey said. “Should these misguided policies be enacted it will result in devastating impacts to Wyoming’s economy. The Petroleum Association of Wyoming is committed to protecting the livelihoods of the hard-working men and women of the natural gas and oil industry. We will use all legal means at our disposal to fight any attempts on our way of life.”

 

 

The Center Square is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on state- and local-level government and economic reporting.