CHEYENNE – Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow issued the following statement Tuesday criticizing the 60-day moratorium on new oil and natural gas leases and drilling permits issued last week by President Joe Biden.

“I was taken aback by swift orders executed by the Biden Administration last week after months of rhetoric around bringing unity to our nation,” Balow said in the prepared statement. “Funding for public education in Wyoming and other states has been eviscerated by an order issued by Acting U.S. Interior Secretary de la Vega. A federal ban on oil and gas leases will defund schools. Wyoming depends on some $150 million a year in oil and gas federal mineral royalties to fund our K-12 schools.

“Shockingly, this move hurts the students in soon-to-be Interior Secretary Haaland’s home state of New Mexico substantially worse,” Balow continued. “A University of Wyoming study estimates that Wyoming and seven other top federal oil and gas producing states stand to lose hundreds of millions in revenue for their schools and governments due to this moratorium. There are also Native American reservations negatively impacted by this moratorium and speaking out.”

”And on the heels of the worst economic year we’ve all experienced in modern history, it is unconscionable that Acting Interior Secretary de la Vega would now do this to our kids. I plan to call my counterparts in these most affected states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, North Dakota, Montana, California and Alaska to discuss advocacy with the Acting Secretary and anticipated Interior Secretary to end the moratorium.”

Balow’s statement came as Biden was expected to release a more wide-ranging moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal lands Wednesday, according to reports from the Washington Post and the Associated Press. In concluding her statement, Balow alluded to the possibility of a more sweeping ban.

”I understand there may be further, similar orders coming in the near future that need to be stopped,” Balow said. “I hope that K-12 advocates across both parties will join me in speaking out against defunding our schools. Our students, teachers and communities simply cannot afford this draconian executive order.”

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