CASPER — Gov. Mark Gordon sent a letter to the Biden administration on Wednesday criticizing a recent order that he says severely hampers oil and gas development and threatens Wyoming’s economic well-being.
In a letter sent Wednesday to the Interior Department’s acting secretary, Gordon said Wyoming’s oil and gas operators faced long delays in obtaining permits and other approvals needed to continue operations on existing federal leases.
A Jan. 20 secretarial order issued by the acting secretary of the Interior requires top federal officials to approve all leases, permits and other applications submitted by oil and gas operators.
To Wyoming’s governor, the order has simply added “layers of bureaucratic red tape to what was a well-functioning process.”
“This backlog exists because nearly every action requires Interior sign-off, therefore piling the burden onto the BLM State Office to process and package each action — which should be allowed to proceed as normal — for Interior’s approval,” Gordon stated in his letter.
Gordon’s concern over the order stems from the state’s acute dependency on oil and gas activity.
The sector funds nearly every level of government. Revenue collected by the Equality State from the development of federal minerals each year has a profound impact on the state’s budget — funding schools, infrastructure and a variety of public services. The federal government dispersed over $457 million to Wyoming in December, all collected from energy production of federal minerals in 2020. The year before, the state received $641 million. A significant portion of those revenues go to fund public schools here.
“I am very concerned about companies making choices in the coming weeks and months to move assets out of Wyoming and into other states with less federal land,” Gordon continued in his letter. “This (order) does nothing to address climate change, but it disproportionately impacts Wyoming families and our communities.”