U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, highlighted the damaging effects that Pres. Biden’s energy development moratorium on federal lands has had on Wyoming’s economy and schools during a Banking Committee hearing on rural economic issues today.
During the hearing, Senator Lummis said, “I don’t think people understand how significant mineral production is on federal lands in Wyoming. When there is a prohibition on producing minerals on federal land, that essentially removes 90 percent of production. Oil, gas, and coal development is a vital component of education funding in Wyoming, so a moratorium places a tremendous burden on our education system.”
Wyoming State Senator Affie Ellis (Cheyenne) testified about the importance of the energy industry to Wyoming schools, noting that this sector contributed over $740 million dollars to K-12 education in Wyoming in 2019, at a time when the State of Wyoming faces a $300 million annual structural deficit in education funding. This $740 million total is approximately half of Wyoming’s annual education expenditures. President Biden’s recent executive order and subsequent guidance imposing a moratorium on energy development on federal lands will likely exacerbate these funding issues.
Of the orders, Ellis said, “Wyoming leaders recognize the precariousness of revenues derived from energy production. We know we can’t control global markets and we know we can’t predict the price of oil however, we have significant concerns when leaders within our own country attack and undermine our energy economy.”
Sen. Lummis called attention to a recent letter to President Biden led by Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow highlighting damage from the moratorium to students and school funding not only in Wyoming, but across the west.
Earlier this year Senator Lummis introduced the POWER Act to combat President Biden’s actions banning new energy leasing on federal lands. In Wyoming, 48 percent of land is owned by the federal government, and 68 percent of minerals are owned by the federal government. Wyoming stands to lose over $13 billion in tax revenue under the Biden Ban.