Governor Cox Urges President Biden to Remove Barriers to Increasing U.S. Domestic Oil and Gas Production

Tags: Future prosperity, Rural, Rural affairs

SALT LAKE CITY (March 7, 2022) – Governor Spencer Cox today sent a letter to President Joe Biden encouraging him to remove any impediments to increased domestic oil and gas production in the United States. Read the letter in full below.

Dear Mr. President,

I appreciate many of the steps you have taken over the past two weeks to isolate Russia and provide support for Ukraine, and I encourage you to consider further steps, including removing any obstacles to increase in US oil and gas production. This request will not surprise you. I have consistently urged your administration, including long before this current crisis, to end your battle against American energy development on public lands. It is more important than ever that the United States and our allies produce the resources that will move the world away from dependence on Russia and other authoritarian regimes.

As a western public land state, we certainly have an interest in seeing these resources grow, but it’s about much more than benefiting western communities. It is surprisingly inconsistent for US policy to discourage European dependence on Russian-produced energy while simultaneously denying lease and permission for oil and gas development on our own federal lands. The anti-energy policies of your Home Office are not just economically destructive and environmentally reckless, but, as should now be abundantly clear, they have serious geopolitical implications.

Europe’s energy dependence on Russia is at the heart of the long series of diplomatic failures that allowed Vladimir Putin to threaten European stability. Putin will continue to use this dependency to his advantage as long as he holds European countries as “energy hostages”. In this context, releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve seems patronizing unless we are prepared to do all we can to develop additional American energy.

America’s enormous energy wealth, including the vast oil and gas reserves beneath the public lands of Western states, could provide the fuel our European allies need to break away from Russian energy dominance. Increased oil and gas exports to European countries would allow our allies to reduce their rising energy costs, improve the reliability of their renewable energy-driven power grids, and shut down the Russian pipelines that currently enrich the Putin’s regime. Russia, without a captive market for its energy exports, would surely have less political capacity to threaten its neighbors and fewer economic resources for military expansion.

Again, to realize America’s potential as an energy exporter capable of dramatically increasing global supply and providing options for our European allies, your administration must end its fight against the energy development of public lands in western states, including Utah. We need new oil and gas leases on our public lands. We need support for the Uinta Basin Railroad, which would increase Utah oil exports to Gulf Coast refineries to support domestic and European markets. We need the federal government to refrain from using overly restrictive landscape-scale designations that often lock in Utah’s energy wealth. And we need the federal government to improve regulatory processes and cut red tape to allow for the timely development of Utah’s resources by private industry. During the previous administration, the Bureau of Land Management issued an average of 115 leases per year for oil and gas development in Utah. Even the Obama administration has published an average of 81 each year. Since you took office, the Bureau of Land Management has not conducted a single oil and gas lease sale in Utah and has now canceled the small lease sale originally scheduled for later this month. It’s high time for your administration to support, rather than suppress, reliable power generation on public lands.

Moreover, for those who really care about the environment and climate change, replacing American gas and oil with Russian gas and oil at home and abroad will have a significant impact on global carbon emissions. Your own Energy Secretary has declared Russian natural gas to be “the dirtiest form of natural gas on earth”. This claim is supported by a 2019 study by the US National Energy Technology Laboratory, which shows that liquefied natural gas shipped from the US to Europe would generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions than natural gas. imported from Russia.

The transition to a green and low-carbon global economy will take time. Meanwhile, the world and European countries will continue to depend on oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels during this transition. As long as oil and gas extraction continues to occur around the world, the United States must play a role because we produce oil and gas with far fewer environmental impacts than our energy competitors in Russia, Venezuela and the Middle East. If America embraces its potential as an energy superpower, democracies around the world will benefit from doing business with another democracy rather than struggling under the thumb of energy-rich authoritarian regimes.

A similar dynamic exists with the mining of critical minerals and rare earth elements essential to the production of batteries and other clean energy technologies. Currently, China holds a virtual monopoly on the mining and processing of many critical minerals, despite the vast potential for critical minerals beneath US public lands. Expanding domestic mining and processing capacity would free America from Chinese dominance over critical minerals and accelerate the adoption of green technologies, including electric vehicles. Again, if the federal government is to achieve a green energy revolution, it must step up its efforts to streamline permits, ensure access, and reduce regulatory barriers to facilitate critical mineral exploration and development. Your administration seemed to recognize this recently by announcing new initiatives around our critical mineral supply chain, but on the same day the Department of the Interior renewed its litigation against a major mining project in Alaska, which makes me skeptical of the administration’s sincerity and commitment to critical mining exploration. .

In conversations with your cabinet, we appreciated Secretary Granholm’s enthusiasm for pursuing critical minerals, but that effort will fail without more cohesive policy at both the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior, where resides the regulatory authority. Your administration needs to start saying yes to leasing and permits, even if that upsets environmental interests who will always find a reason to say no.

Ramping up our leases, permits, and critical energy and mineral development on federal lands won’t happen overnight, but to paraphrase the old adage, the best time to develop America’s resources was there. at 20 years ; the second best time is now. We must stop falling prey to the false choices presented by extreme interest groups. To achieve your own climate goals and improve the environment globally, we must take advantage of the natural resources found right here at home.

As it has throughout its history, America finds itself in the difficult position of leading free nations beset by the challenges of expansionist authoritarian dictatorships. Just as America’s support for the UK through the Lend-Lease program during World War II was essential to Britain’s survival from the Nazi onslaught before America’s formal entry into the war, we are probably in a situation where American energy is needed for the Europeans to protect themselves from Russian aggression. The energy and mineral wealth of the western United States is an excellent starting point to provide our allies with the resources they need.

Spencer J. Cox

Download a copy of the letter here.


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