The Petroleum Association of Wyoming is alleging that the Bureau of Land Management has cost Wyoming millions of dollars in revenue due to their failure to issue a notice for competitive lease sale by a 45-day deadline.

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According to a press release from PAW, "In the same week that the Wyoming Legislature convened the 2022 Budget Session to set the state’s biennial budget, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to issue a notice for competitive lease sale ahead of the 45-day deadline necessary to hold a lease auction in the first quarter of 2022 – a dereliction of duty that will have serious repercussions on Wyoming’s budget and impact funding for infrastructure, public education and other essential government services."

This comes after the Biden Administration has refused to hold lease auctions in Wyoming for 5 consecutive quarters despite the fact that, according to PAW, federal law and a court order have required them to do so.

"To give a little background, 2021 was the first year ever that the BLM never held a quarterly lease sale in the state of Wyoming," said Ryan McConnaughey, the Vice President and Director of Communications for the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. "So, there were lawsuits that were filed, including one that was ruled on in June of 2021 that said the Biden Administration could no longer do a nationwide pause on lease sales on federal lands. We were under the impression that the BLM was prepared to host that quarterly lease sale in the first quarter of 2022 and, as of today, they have missed the deadline for that 45-day notice deadline."

The PAW asserted that this move will have a significant impact in revenue for Wyoming.

“Given Wyoming’s role as a leader in oil and natural gas production on federal lands, the Administration’s failure to uphold the law in regards to quarterly lease sales will have tangible negative impacts on the state and her people,” said Petroleum Association of Wyoming (PAW) President Pete Obermueller. “You would think in light of rising gas prices, rampant inflation and global instability the President would do everything in his power to unleash America’s natural resources - spurring the economy and reinforcing our national security in the process.”

But that's not happening. McConnaughey said that he didn't know if the Bureau of Land Management missing this deadline was on purpose or if it was simply an oversight, but he did state the the Biden Administration continues to try and thwart oil & gas leasing on federal lands.

"We're not sure the reasoning," he said. "We have not heard reasoning from the BLM at this point. At this point, based on our interactions with the Biden Administration and their hostility towards leasing on federal lands, it's our impression that they're doing everything they can to slow down production on federal lands."

According to the PAW press release, from 2015 to 2020, lease auction revenues in Wyoming totaled $474 million and averaged $79 million annually. PAW stated that federal government returns 48% of those earnings to the states, which resulted in an average of $37.9 million for Wyoming.

PAW did the math, and estimated that "Since January of 2021 the federal government has shortchanged the people of Wyoming by more $47 million."

Based on that funding formula, the PAW estimated that the losses to state and local governments include:

  • General Fund – $18.5 million
  • K-12 Education – $21.5 million
  • Public Infrastructure – $6 million
  • Cities and Towns – $1.4 million
  • The University of Wyoming – $990,000

K2 Radio News has reached out via phone and Email to local and federal contacts in the Bureau of Land Management for comment, and will update this story accordingly if any comments are given.

"At this point, we're still monitoring the situation and waiting to get a response from the BLM," McConnaughey stated. "We've not had any specific conversations about legal actions at this point, but that doesn't not mean they won't happen. We just have not had those conversations yet."

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