Governor Gordon testifying before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Photo: Screenshot, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

WASHINGTON, D.C — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday, April 27, as part of an effort to examine energy development on federal lands, focusing on the current status of the Department of the Interior’s onshore oil and gas leasing program.

During his remarks on Tuesday, Governor Gordon said, “We can probably agree that last year sucked economically, socially, and emotionally. Wyoming never had to completely shut down so our schools and busineesses remained open but our overall economy took a hard hit particularly in the oil and gas industry.”

“This leasing ‘review’ is a crafty way of establishing a moratorium on federal lease sales, making continued progress ever more tenuous, more difficult, and more likely that good-paying, family-supporting jobs will migrate somewhere else,” the Governor told the Committee. “That is bad for this country, for the climate, and especially for Wyoming.”

In his written statement, Governor Gordon said, “Unfortunately, as you well know, coal has become a scapegoat for climate change and is the market facing the greatest pressure to reduce carbon emissions.”

According to the Associated Press, “The burning of oil, gas, and coal from government-owned lands and waters is a top source of U.S. emissions, accounting for 24% of the nation’s greenhouse gases. Oil and gas account for the biggest chunk of human-caused fossil fuel emissions from federal lands following a drilling surge under former President Donald Trump.”

The Governor noted that Wyoming ranks first in natural gas production on public lands and second in oil production. Coal mines in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin produce about 40% of the nation’s coal.

According to the Governor’s office,  total energy-related revenues from public lands in Wyoming generated $457 million last fiscal year.  Approximately $5.7 million of that was due to lease sales, but Wyoming has seen no lease sale revenues this year because of the moratorium. Revenue from coal, oil, and gas funds schools and other services in the state.

Governor Gordon said that federal lands in Wyoming are not over-leased and that the state has worked to minimize surface disturbance and protect migration corridors for pronghorn and mule deer as well as Greater sage-grouse habitat.

“Doing something as extraordinarily draconian as we are with the policies of this administration doesn’t give us time to evolve,” Governor Gordon said.

The Governor’s goal is for Wyoming to achieve negative net-zero carbon emissions while continuing to use fossil fuels. He wants Wyoming to become the home of a new carbon capture utilization and sequestration (CCUS) facility. Governor Gordon thanked Senator Barrasso and members of the committee for their “efforts to promote Federal support for deployment of carbon capture utilization and sequestration (CCUS).”

On April 22, Randall Atkins, CEO of Sheridan based coal technology company Ramaco Carbon also testified before the committee, at the invitation of Sen Barrasso. Atkins is also chairman of the National Coal Council. Ramaco Carbon produces coal-to-products, in which the carbon from coal is used to manufacture products and materials, such as carbon fiber.

In his testimony, Atkins stressed the need for America to embrace its carbon resources, and use them to create new economic and competitive advantages. “The United States possesses the world’s largest and cheapest carbon reserves. It needs to capitalize on that advantage and develop its own form of a ‘Carbon Valley’ to unlock that full potential,” said Atkins.

During the committee hearing yesterday, other testimony was presented by Nada Culver Deputy Director of Policy and Programs at the Bureau of Land Management, Governor of the Pueblo of Acoma Brain Vallo, Vikki Hollub President and Chief Executive Officer of Occidental Petroleum, and Kathleen Sgamma President of Western Energy Alliance.

Buckrail @ Lindsay

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.