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A group of pronghorn roam by an oil rig on federal land near Pinedale. President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, halting new oil and gas leasing on federal lands, a move which many political and industry leaders throughout Wyoming criticized, claiming the pause will have a significant impact on the state’s economy. Courtesy/BLM Wyoming

CHEYENNE – The state of Wyoming filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the de-facto moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal land issued by President Biden and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

The suit asserts that Haaland’s implementation of the leasing moratorium contained in Executive Order 14008 is invalid under federal law.

“Following a careful review of not only the president’s executive order, but its practical effect, it is necessary for Wyoming to protect its citizens and challenge the Secretary’s action,” Gordon said in the release. “Not only is this federal action overreaching, it was implemented without public input as required under federal law.”

The lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court of Wyoming, and states that the administration’s action violates the National Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the Mineral Leasing Act and the Federal Land Policy Management Act. The lawsuit asks the court to set aside the Secretary’s action and require the Bureau of Land Management to resume quarterly oil and gas lease sales, which have been suspended since the order was signed.

Gordon emphasized that the president’s de-facto ban on oil and gas leasing will not meet the climate goals of the administration, as production will simply shift to other countries with less-stringent emissions standards.

“The world will continue to need and use oil and gas for the foreseeable future,” Gordon said. “The question is whether it will be produced under the environmental safeguards in place on federal lands in Wyoming, or overseas without equally stringent regulations.”

In addition, the economic effects to Wyoming are devastating, Gordon’s office said. A recent economic study indicated that thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of state revenue will be lost to the state of Wyoming.

In response to the announcement that Wyoming is taking this action, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., issued his own news release.

“Wyoming is fighting back against President Biden’s war on American energy workers. Governor Gordon is taking action to combat the Biden administration’s illegal ban on oil and gas lease sales on federal land,” Barrasso said in the release. “As Secretary Haaland admitted, this executive order will do nothing to stop global oil and gas production. It will just force the United States to import more energy from other countries. The people of Wyoming were never consulted before this executive order was signed. Now, the administration will hear our arguments in court.”

Gordon said he expects other states to consider intervening after Wyoming’s action is filed. A copy of the suit may be found online at https://tinyurl.com/leasingban lawsuit.

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