CASPER – The Petroleum Association of Wyoming is joining Western Energy Alliance’s lawsuit challenging President Biden’s Executive Order No. 14008, which pauses new oil and natural gas leasing on federal public lands.
The trade association filed as a joint petitioner after the Bureau of Land Management failed to hold the first quarter lease sale this week. The Alliance filed the lawsuit on Jan. 27 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming immediately after the president signed the order.
“We’re pleased to have PAW join our litigation,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Alliance. “We filed in Wyoming because it has the largest amount of federal acreage under lease, and now we have the home team assembled. Because of the interlocking land ownership in Wyoming, it’s nearly impossible to develop oil and natural gas in the state without touching some federal lands or minerals. President Biden’s ban is a direct threat to one of Wyoming’s largest employers. The decree might make sense to someone sitting in Washington, D.C., but makes no sense in Wyoming and across the West.”
Wyoming ranks first in natural gas production on public lands and second in oil. In 2020, 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 43.5 million barrels of oil were produced on public lands, according to data from the Office of Natural Resources Revenue.
On Feb. 12, BLM canceled all oil and natural gas lease sales previously scheduled for spring 2021 in order to “confirm the adequacy of underlying environmental analysis.” By failing to hold spring sales, BLM is in violation of the Mineral Leasing Act’s requirement to hold lease sales “for each state where eligible lands are available at least quarterly.” The area nominated in Wyoming for the March sale consisted of 426 parcels totaling 160,821 acres.
Since 2015, leasing revenues in Wyoming have totaled $474 million and averaged $79 million annually. The federal government shares 48% with the state, making Wyoming’s share over the past six years $227 million and averaging $37.9 million annually. PAW estimates the potential loss to Wyoming of the canceled lease sale this quarter is $9.5 million.
According to a recent study from the Wyoming Energy Authority, the economic costs of what PAW calls “the Biden ban” will hit Wyoming hard. By the end of his first term, the “ban” will decrease Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $8.3 billion, 15,269 jobs will be cut annually, wages will drop $3.8 billion, and state tax revenue will plummet $1.8 billion.