Barrasso: Energy Production on Federal Lands is Critical to Wyoming, Western States & the Nation

April 27, 2021

Click here to watch Ranking Member Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered the following remarks at a full committee hearing 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.  

The hearing featured testimony from Ms. Nada Culver, deputy director of policy and programs at the Bureau of Land Management at the U.S. Department of the Interior; the Honorable Mark Gordon, governor of the state of Wyoming; the Honorable Brian Vallo, governor of the Pueblo of Acoma; Ms. Vicki Hollub, president and chief executive officer of Occidental Petroleum; and Ms. Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Thank you Governor Gordon –great to see you again. Thanks for being here. 

“Wyoming is the energy capital of the United States. 

“We have it all – oil, natural gas, coal, uranium, renewables. 

“Wyoming’s energy has powered this nation for decades. 

“Today, Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West is under attack. 

“One of President Biden’s first actions was to ban new oil and gas leasing on federal lands. 

“Make no mistake – this is not a ‘pause’ or ‘review’ – this is a ban and currently, there is no end in sight. 

“Why did the President take this action? 

“His administration is intent on ending oil and gas leasing on federal lands. 

“How do we know that? 

“President Biden picked a secretary of the interior that was on record opposing oil and gas production on federal lands. 

“Since her confirmation – she has said that federal oil and gas leasing is ‘fundamentally broken.’ 

“I completely disagree with her. 

“Oil and gas production on federal lands is subject to some of the most stringent regulations in the world. 

“That’s the reason oil and gas companies have long favored investing in state and private lands instead of federal lands. 

“Oil and gas leasing isn’t broken, but it is harmed by existing regulations that discourage investment in federal lands. 

“For decades, oil, natural gas, and coal production on federal lands has brought tremendous benefits to the people of Wyoming and other western states. 

“It has provided rural communities tens of thousands of jobs at wages well above the national average.

“Oil, natural gas, and coal production has ended generational poverty for families in the West.

“It has enabled Wyoming, New Mexico, and other states to provide high quality K through 12 public education and a college degree to tens of thousands of young people, whose families would not have been able to afford it. 

“These are benefits that solar and wind energy will never be able to replicate. 

“In 2019, oil and natural gas leasing and production on federal lands generated about $4.2 billion dollars. 

“Half of that money went to the federal treasury. 

“Almost half the money went back to western states. 

“More than a quarter of all of the money went to New Mexico alone. 

“In contrast, wind and solar on federal lands have generated no more than $22 million in any given year. 

“President Biden’s plan to end oil and gas leasing on federal lands will devastate the economies and communities of Wyoming, New Mexico, and many other states. 

“The Biden administration is represented at today’s hearing. 

“I’m afraid we are going to continue to hear the same misleading statements we have heard from the administration in the past. 

“One of those statements is that federal lands account for 25 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

“In fact, oil and gas operations on federal land release less than one percent of our nation’s greenhouse gasses. 

“Another misleading claim is that taxpayers are not getting their fair share. 

“Administration officials say that royalty rates on state and private lands are higher than those on federal land. 

“They fail to point out or explain that the permitting requirements and the restrictions on the use of federal land are far more stringent and expensive to comply with than those on state and private land. 

“Increasing royalty rates will only further discourage oil and gas companies from investing in federal programs. 

“Finally, we may hear that oil and gas companies are stockpiling leases. 

“Oil and gas companies cannot just sit on leases. 

“They must actively work to develop oil and gas or return their leases to the federal government. 

“That process takes years in getting the permitting, and the right of ways needed to actually explore for the energy. 

“But it’s well worth the time because energy production on federal lands is critical to local communities, to western states and to the nation. 

“Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important meeting.”