On Monday, Governor Mark Gordon spoke on Glenn Woods’s morning show “Wake up Wyoming,” about oil and gas production and suicide prevention in Wyoming.
Gordon said that the recent oil and gas lease sale in Wyoming wasn’t enough to increase production and that environmental lawyers are trying to stop production in the state.
“That’s the real problem Glenn with what’s happened in [National Environmental Policy Act], it’s now become a feeding frenzy for lawyers. They use every opportunity to just oppose everything,” Gordon said. “This lease sale was 18 months late, 75% smaller in Wyoming, and it just doesn’t take into account that it’s our oil and gas producers that have put more into sage grouse habitat and studies, more into making sure that we have migration corridors, more support for wildlife. All these environmental lawyers want to do is just stop everything. And we’ve seen in the Ukraine where that just doesn’t work, and now people are having to pay unbelievable prices, and our inflation is at record levels. This just gotta be fixed.”
On June 30, the Bureau of Labor Management announced that they had sold 119,565 acres of land in Wyoming for $13,021,696, compared to 165,754 acres sold for $6.99 million in December 2020, 71,689 acres sold for $3.4 million in March 2020, or 123,258 acres sold for $10.8 million in December 2019.
The sale of oil and gas leases had been delayed since January 2021 due to a freeze put in place by President Joe Biden that was lifted by a federal court in June 2021.
Inflation in the U.S. has increased from 5.4% year over year in July 2021 to 9.1% in June 2022, however, the U.S. is not the only country dealing with inflation, as 37 of 44 advanced nations have seen their annual inflation rate at least double from the beginning of 2020 to the first quarter of 2022.
Turkey has seen the highest rate of inflation, with an increase of 54.8% year over year in the first quarter of 2022.
While Gordon didn’t mention any specific lawsuit, he could be referring to one recently filed by The Wildnerness Society and Friends of the Earth, which is suing the federal government for the lease sales it performed across Wyoming.
The lawsuit alleges that the government didn’t take into account the impact oil and gas production would have on the land leased, specifically by contaminating groundwater, interrupting migration corridors, and producing large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions.
After Glenn talked about the lack of refining capacity across the U.S. due to excessive regulations, Gordon said in response that Wyoming is doing what it can to speed up the process.
“One of the big problems is the permitting requirements on a national level. Now here in Wyoming, we have primacy, we try to work with our industries and do the best job we can to make sure that we expedite whatever projects may be coming our way,” Gordon said. “Even so, that has to be backstopped by the federal government, and they are incredibly slow…But here in Wyoming, one of the big problems we have is that the tax incentives coming out of DC to go to what’s called renewable fuel, which is different from biofuel…it is absolutely ridiculous, using more energy to produce less fuel, but it’s renewable.”
It is unclear what specific tax incentive Gordon is referring to, though it could be in reference to the biomass-based diesel tax credit, which was reinstated in 2019.
The number of operable refineries in the U.S. has decreased over the past 40 years, going from 301 on Jan. 1, 1982, to 130 at the same time in 2022.
However, over that same period, atmospheric crude oil distillation has increased, going from 17,889,734 barrels per calendar day in 1982 to 17,943,810 barrels per calendar day in 2022, after falling from a high of 18,976,085 in 2020.
Gordon talked at the end of the interview about the recently established suicide hotline that he believes will do more to help Wyomingites get the help they need.
In 2018, 2019, and 2020, Wyoming had the highest suicide rate across the country at 25.2, 29.3, and 30.5 deaths per 100,000 respectively.
“This has been a dream of mine for the last several years, has been to have this national 24/7 located in Wyoming hotline….But they’ve said it was most discouraging thing to call up somebody and they’re in Florida or Maryland or California or something, and they just don’t know what’s going on here in Wyoming,” Gordon said. “So that’s one of the things that’s been a huge lift. We’ve got to do a lot more on the prevention side, we’ve been talking not only about teen suicide but veteran suicide. We’ve had a program, the governor’s challenge, to prevent suicide in the military for over a year, and we’ve been making some real progress. And we’re trying to find coaches, not therapists, but coaches that can help people through their crisis. Make sure that the buddy systems works.”