Wyoming superintendent expresses concern for education funding in light of Biden ban

JACKSON, Wyo. — Wyoming Superintendent Jillian Balow released a statement expressing concerns about K-12 schools in Wyoming experiencing defunding in light of President Biden’s recent ban on oil and gas leases.

“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. “Funding for public education in Wyoming and other states has been eviscerated by an order issued by Acting U.S. Interior Secretary de le 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.”

The order issued by Biden last Wednesday includes a 60-day suspension of new gas and oil leasing and drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters. The order also applies to coal leases and permits, and blocks the approval of new mining plans.

Federal agencies prioritized energy development and eased environmental rules to speed up drilling permits as part of the Republican’s goal to boost fossil fuel production under former President Donald Trump, who consistently downplayed the dangers of climate change, which Biden has made a top priority.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Oil and gas taken from public lands and waters account for roughly a quarter of annual U.S. production. Extracting and burning those fuels creates the equivalent of almost 550 million tons of greenhouse gases per year.

Balow said, “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.”

Wyoming delegates, Sen. John Barrasso, Sen. Cynthia Lummis, Rep. Liz Cheney, and Governor Mark Gordon have also spoken out against the order, specifically, the 60-day suspension of onshore and offshore oil and gas drilling leases. The order does not limit existing operations under valid leases.

“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,” said Balow. “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. I understand there may be further, similar orders coming in the near future that need to be stopped. 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.”

About The Author

Buckrail @ Jacob

Jacob Gore was born and raised in Cheyenne, the capital city of Wyoming. As a proud Wyomingite, he loves to share his home with visitors from around the world. Spending years in Jackson and Alaska as an interpretive nature guide, he remains a photographer, traveler, storyteller, and avid hobbyist of all-things outdoors. Jacob enjoys bridging the connection between Jackson and the rest of the state.

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