Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon led the Republican Governors Association in sending a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday morning, urging him to withdraw his executive order pausing new federal permits for oil and gas development — a move many of the state’s leaders have said will devastate its economy.
The letter, which was co-signed by Republican governors in 16 other states, called the Jan. 27 decision and lack of consultation with affected states by the Biden administration “alarming” and said it showed a “disregard for the citizens we serve” by threatening jobs in energy producing states and potentially increasing consumer costs by an estimated $1.7 billion, according to the letter.
“To meet consumer demand and stabilize our electric grid, we depend on energy produced on private land and public land — we need both,” the letter read. “Simply put, the Order jeopardizes our national security interests and strips away the opportunity for Americans to be energy independent.”
Gordon’s letter is the latest in a string of communications by top state officials lamenting the effects of the executive order on the state’s economy, which remains heavily reliant on federal oil and gas activities. Superintendent of Public Education Jillian Balow recently appeared on national TV to decry the potential effects on the state’s education system, which is heavily funded by taxes paid by the state’s energy industry. According to a letter to President Biden last week penned by Balow and co-signed by four other state superintendents, the oil and natural gas industry contributed $740 million in funding for the state's K-12 education system in 2019, along with $28 million for Wyoming’s higher education system.
Other officials — including the director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Brian Nesvik — have written opinion pieces to point out perceived shortcomings in the ban.
The implications for Wyoming, particularly given the state budget’s reliance on fossil fuels, could be devastating. More than 90% of all natural gas and 51% of oil produced in Wyoming comes from federal lands, translating to a significant financial impact to the state. According to a recent University of Wyoming study, the state — 48% of which consists of federal land — stands to lose approximately $304 million in revenues from a federal leasing ban.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Idaho Gov. Brad Little were among the other governors to sign the letter.