Utah governor, 16 others sign letter to Pres. Biden opposing oil and gas leasing ban

Local Politics

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utah’s governor has signed a joint letter with 16 other Republican governors opposing the oil and gas leasing ban to President Joe Biden.

Governor Spencer Cox joins Governors Mark Gordon, Wyoming; Kay Ivey, Alabama; Mike Dunleavy, Alaska; Doug Ducey, Arizona; Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas; Brad Little, Idaho; Eric Holcomb, Indiana; Tate Reeves, Mississippi; Mike Parson, Missouri; Greg Gianforte, Montana; Pete Ricketts, Nebraska, Doug Burgum, North Dakota; Kevin Stitt, Oklahoma; Kristi Noem, South Dakota; Bill Lee, Tennessee; and Greg Abbot, Texas in signing the letter.

The letter reads:

“We implore you to withdraw Executive Order 14008 (“Order”), issued on January 27, 2021, which bans new oil and gas development on federal land and in offshore waters. 

“There are many parts of our country where energy is more than a utility bill or tank of gas—it’s a job-creating industry that provides good careers and steady paychecks to families in rural areas and small towns.  Where the recent surge in oil and natural gas provided jobs and created wealth when we needed it most, the  Order will drastically hinder the ability of the oil and gas industry to recover, both onshore and offshore, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic subside. In particular, the Order has a negative economic effect upon western states with large tracts of federal land and upon Gulf Coast states, chasing away capital investment for long-term economic growth and undermining public services, public conservation, public safety, public education, and more. Beyond directly impacted states, the Order is estimated to spike  American residential energy costs by $1.7 billion per year. 

“Thanks to the hardworking men and women in the energy industry, the United States has become the world’s leader in the production of oil and gas. For the first time in decades, America was exporting more than we were importing, allowing us to rely less and less on foreign countries and adverse actors to supply our citizens with the low-cost energy they need to heat and cool their homes and run their businesses. To meet consumer demand and stabilize our electric grid, we depend on energy produced on private land and public land—we need both. “Simply put, the Order jeopardizes our national security interests and strips away the opportunity for Americans to be energy independent. 

“As governors, we believe that solutions come from innovation, not regulation, and we support an all of the above energy approach, not picking and choosing winners and losers. Along with private sector ingenuity,  state frameworks and standards are the best solution to producing cleaner and more affordable energy that curbs emissions, including during the development and production of fossil fuels. Instead, the Order inevitably shifts development away from U.S. federal lands and offshore waters to other countries with far less stringent emission controls, exacerbating concerns over greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.  

“You began your presidency with calls for unity, specifically to end the divide that pits urban versus rural,  and as Republican leaders, we stand ready to work with your Administration to advance our states and country. In contrast, the lack of consultation with our states demonstrated by Executive Order 14008 is alarming, showing disregard for the citizens we serve and the businesses that employ them and keep our country running and our nation secure.  

“We encourage you to reverse course—pause the pause—and open a constructive dialogue with each of us as you have promised the American people you would do. We look forward to receiving your response on  this important issue.”

In late January, elected officials in Utah, including Gov. Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, Reps. John Curtis, Blake Moore, Chris Stewart, and Burgess Owens, Senate President Stuart Adams, House Speaker Brad Wilson, and Attorney General Sean Reyes criticized President Biden’s move to halt energy leases on federal lands.

They released a statement, reading in part the “The Biden administration’s arbitrary decision to suspend oil and gas leasing and permitting on federal lands is a serious mistake that will harm the same small Utah businesses that are already hurting from the pandemic.

This came after the Biden administration announced the suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters for 60 days. According to the Associated Press, this is part of a broad review of programs at the Department of Interior.

It also follows President Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal lands and end the leasing of publicly owned energy reserves as part of his plan to address climate change. The order does not limit existing oil and gas operations under valid leases, meaning oil and gas activity won’t come to a sudden halt on the millions of acres of lands in the West and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico where much drilling is concentrated.

The order also blocks the approval of new mining plans, land sales or exchanges, and the hiring of senior-level staff at the agency.

That wasn’t the first move by the Biden administration that Utah lawmakers have criticized.

In his first few hours in office, President Biden signed an executive order to review the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Utah Coronavirus

More Coronavirus Updates


More In Focus

Justice Files

More Justice Files