Governors Call for Unity, End of Biden Attack on Energy

Gov. Mark Goron signs a proclamation recognizing National Travel and Tourism week in May. Tourism is Wyoming’s second-largest industry, supporting more than 32,000 Wyoming jobs and generating more than $200 million in tax revenue in 2019. (H/t @governormarkgordon)
Gov. Mark Gordon signs a proclamation recognizing National Travel and Tourism week in May 2019. (H/t @governormarkgordon)

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, along with 16 other governors of energy prominent states, called on President Joe Biden Monday in a letter seeking the immediate withdrawal of an executive order banning new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.

“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,” the Feb. 22 letter read.

The letter was sent in response to an executive order issued Jan. 27 by Biden that placed a one-year moratorium on oil and gas leasing on all federally owned lands and waters.

Wyoming felt the initial ramifications of the executive order Feb. 12, when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) postponed a leasing auction of nearly half-a-million acres originally scheduled for March 15, with the federal agency declining to say when or if the sale would be rescheduled, according to a report published on WyoFile.

Federal leasing auctions have resulted in millions of dollars in revenue for Wyoming in past years, with the BLM’s first quarter auction alone netting the state around $1.5 million, according to WyoFile.

With Biden’s executive order, that revenue stream is essentially at a standstill with some experts predicting a long-term leasing moratorium to cost Wyoming over half a trillion dollars by 2040, according to a report authored by Tim Considine, an energy economics professor at the University of Wyoming (UW).

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The potential loss for Wyoming is not in its revenues alone, but also in its employment numbers, according to the report.

“There are many parts of our country where energy is more than a utility bill or tank of gas,” the governors wrote. “It’s a job creating industry providing good careers and steady paychecks to families.”

If the temporary leasing moratorium assumes a long-term role, Wyoming stands to lose over 15,000 jobs within the next five years, according to the UW report.

On the consumer side, the effect will reach beyond employment, according to the governors’ letter, with a prediction standing that states Biden’s executive order could spike American residential energy costs by $1.7 billion per year.

Biden’s executive order, intended to curb carbon emissions as touted during his 2020 presidential campaign, may not have the desired effect as more stringent energy production regulations could shift energy development to other countries that don’t have the same restrictions. It would effectively undo a recent energy uptick where the U.S. was exporting more energy than it imported for the first time in decades, according to the governor’s letter.

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That uptick enabled the country to lessen its energy dependence from foreign countries, the letter read, and provide low-cost energy needed to heat and cool American homes and businesses.

“To meet consumer demand and stabilize our electric grid, we depend on the energy produced on private land and public land- we need them both,” the letter read, which further asserts that the leasing moratorium strips the U.S. of energy independence and can be construed as a measure jeopardizing national security.

The solution to reducing carbon emissions from energy production, then, comes not from regulation, but from innovation utilizing an approach that doesn’t pick and choose winners or losers, according to the letter.

“You began your presidency with calls for unity, specifically to end the divide that pits urban versus rural,” the letter read. “As republican leaders, we stand ready to work with your administration to advance our states and country.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.