Congressional leaders visited northeastern Wyoming last Monday, seeking to witness, firsthand, the effects of President Joe Biden’s executive orders on local industry.
U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) and Bruce Westerman (R-Arkansas), the top Republican on the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, met with energy leaders and local government as they toured key energy sites in Campbell and Crook counties March 29, according to a news release from Cheney’s office.
“The people of Wyoming, not bureaucrats in (Washington D.C.), know what’s best for Wyoming,” Cheney said in an accompanying statement, labeling the actions of President Biden as a direct attack on the Wyoming energy industry.
“(Biden’s executive orders) are heartless, heavy-handed federal mandates that make it tougher for people to make ends meet, deprive our state of critical revenue, and prevent us from taking full advantage of our land and natural resources,” she said.
Westerman released a similar statement, saying lawmakers should never get so used to legislating that they forget who it is that feels the effects of the nation’s laws and regulations- the American people.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen this happen repeatedly under the Biden administration, where (Washington D.C.) bureaucrats implement sweeping energy and environmental changes that put thousands of Americans out of work and radically impact rural communities,” Westerman said, expressing his gratitude for Cheney’s invitation to hear for himself how those changes have affected the men and women in the Wyoming energy industry.
Cheney and Westerman participated in a round table discussion at the Wyoming Integrated Test Center (ITC), which they had toured earlier and expressed interest in the facilities efforts to research carbon capture, utilization, and storage efforts, according to ITC Managing Director Jason Begger.
During discussions, Cheney and Westerman heard from the Campbell County Commission, stakeholders in the mineral and mining industries, carbon capture representatives, and oil and gas producers on the dangers posed by Biden’s executive orders and what they can do the lend their support to industry.
“Communities like Gillette are the backbone of the American energy independence,” Westerman said in a statement. “And it’s imperative we invest in technology and infrastructure that enables us to produce U.S. energy cleaner, cheaper, and faster than ever.”
The congressional leaders also toured Peabody Energy’s Rawhide Mine north of Gillette and the sawmill at Devil’s Tower Forest Products in Hulett.
Biden’s orders date back to January 2021, when the president acted on campaign promises to freeze oil and gas leasing on federal lands.
How long the moratorium on oil and gas leasing will remain in place remains to be seen, but fossil fuels will continue to play a vital role in the nation’s economy in the near future, according to a statement from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who spoke during an online public forum March 29.
In a statement to The Denver Post, U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis, who also spoke during the March 29 forum, said the federal oil and gas program is not serving the American public well, and that the time is right to look at how best to manage the nation’s natural resources with current and future generations in mind.
The DOI has committed to producing a report by this coming summer that will be used to reevaluate the department’s position on federal oil and gas leasing to better fall in line with climate change and environmental impact concerns, according to DOI Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis, who also spoke during the forum.
In the meantime, however, Wyoming has already felt the ramifications of the temporary moratorium, having lost millions of dollars in revenue from oil and gas leasing sales cancelled by the Bureau of Land Management in February, according to a story published by WyoFile.
In the weeks that have followed, the Biden administration has come under scrutiny from congressional leadership, governors of key energy states including Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, and will face a lawsuit from energy organizations.
Biden or the White House have yet to respond to any of the proclamations, lawsuits, or legislation that have come on board to challenge the federal oil and gas leasing moratorium.