by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) is accusing the Biden administration of politicizing new public lands protections, accusing it of prioritizing oil and gas production in Democratic-led New Mexico while curtailing oil and gas production in Wyoming, Alaska, and other conservative states.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Lummis, the chairwoman of the Senate Western Caucus, noted that New Mexico is now outproducing her state of Wyoming in the areas of both natural gas (8.4 billion cubic feet per day versus 3.3 billion) and oil (1.76 million barrels per day versus 265,000).
Since the two states are both home to massive proven oil and gas reserves, Lummis asserted that politics is likely a primary driver behind the disparity, which she says benefits Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s home state of New Mexico, where Democrats control the governor’s office and the legislature, while harming Republican-led states such as Alaska and Wyoming.
“We’re really frustrated with the Biden administration’s crackdown in Wyoming and Alaska on oil and gas production — and letting it flow freely in New Mexico, which is where Deb Haaland is from,” Lummis said.
Lummis also took aim at Interior’s new ban on oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s North Slope and cancellation of seven oil and gas leases issued in Alaska, announced earlier this month as part of the Biden administration’s push to expand federal land protections.
The Bureau of Land Management’s Rock Springs Field Office Draft Resource Management Plan announced in August would designate 1.8 million acres of land in Wyoming as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, making the areas off-limits for oil and gas development.
Combined, the moves are “a massive punch to the gut” for Wyoming and Alaska, Lummis told the Washington Examiner.
“And it just shows how much contempt they really have for conservative states and how disingenuous they are by turning back on the oil and gas development that’s going on in New Mexico — and continues to grow — while trying to impair Alaska and Wyoming in their ability to produce oil and gas,” she said.