Wyoming’s revenue could be devastated in the near term by the pause in oil and gas permitting on federal lands, Gov. Mark Gordon warned on Wednesday.
In a letter to Acting Interior Secretary Scott de La Vega, Gordon outlined his concerns over Secretarial Order 3395 issued in January regarding the pause in issuing federal permits for 60 days.
The governor in his letter said “it is Interior’s view” that the order “has not resulted in a slowdown of permitting…for existing operations under valid leases. To the contrary in Wyoming: what we see here is a backlog of actions tied to existing operations under valid leases” at Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) state offices.
The two-month pause came “with severe implications that devastate the State of Wyoming’s revenue in the near-term with the potential to spell a long-term blow for our state’s economic wellbeing,” Gordon wrote.
Wyoming “is experiencing a backlog of actions that would normally be routinely granted” by BLM state offices.
“Instead, those decisions are being shuttled” to BLM headquarters in Grand Junction, CO, or to Interior headquarters in Washington, DC, “for bureaucratic review, causing unnecessary delays and driving up costs,” Gordon wrote.
“The recent polar vortex is a prime example that we need to be exploring and producing more gas for existing drilling permits, rather than waiting days and weeks to see if a surface drilling pad can be moved to a different location on the lease.”
The 60-day pause to issue new permits was “not intended to bar existing oil and gas operations, but it does,” Gordon wrote. “If the 60-day order is not intended to bar existing oil and gas operations, it sure is doing a good job of having such an effect. There appears to be a lot of ‘processing,’ but as of yet, only a few” permit approvals or permit extensions.
The governor also criticized Interior’s decision to postpone a quarterly BLM oil and gas lease sale scheduled for March because of climate change concerns.
“It is foolish and counterproductive to pit concern for the environment against quality, good paying jobs when we know we must have both,” he wrote.
Gordon also joined 16 other Republican governors in calling on President Biden to withdraw the executive order to pause new oil and gas permitting on federal lands. The governors said the order is “chasing away capital investment for long-term economic growth and undermining public services, public conservation, public safety, public education and more.”
Solutions, said the governors, come “from innovation, not regulation” and they stressed state primacy for emission standards.
In addition to Gordon, other governors signing the letter were Kay Ivey (AL), Mike Dunleavy (AK), Doug Ducey (AZ), Asa Hutchinson (AR), Brad Little (ID), Eric Holcomb (IN), Tate Reeves (MS), Mike Parson (MO), Greg Gianforte (MT), Pete Ricketts (NE), Doug Burgum (ND), Kevin Stitt (OK), Kristi Noem (SD), Bill Lee (TN), Greg Abbott (TX) and Spencer Cox (UT).
Earlier this month Gordon had said an “all the above” approach would further bolster Wyoming’s energy and mining sectors. The governor supports bills allowing severance tax relief to the state’s energy industry, as well as expanding the abilities of the newly formed Wyoming Energy Authority to support the development of carbon capture technology.
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