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  • Writer's pictureBrian Boner

Poor federal energy policies threaten Wyoming’s traditions and future

The following is an op-ed that a few media outlets published during State Fair Week. As both our energy and agriculture sectors face opposition from radical environmentalists, it is more important than ever to stand together against their ruinous, dogmatic vision for future.

Since 1905, Wyomingites from all corners of the state have gathered in Douglas to celebrate and showcase the spirit of Wyoming during our annual State Fair. The best way we do this is by recognizing the accomplishments of our youngest agriculture producers who have worked hard all spring and summer to get their 4-H and FFA projects ready for their state competition. Celebrations like this serve as the ultimate reminder of the special love and appreciation our state has for the land we live on and our desire to pass it on to our children and grandchildren.

Wildlife gathers around an oil and gas pad in the Powder River Basin on September 8th, 2022.

Like many ranchers in Wyoming, my family has lived off the land since before statehood. The values we live by were often taught early on as we prepared our livestock for the fair. We learned the importance of balancing a checkbook and living within our means. We came to appreciate the value of good, honest work. We developed a gut sense of when to ask for help to understand a new concept and when to figure it out on our own. Unfortunately, these lessons are often lost on the government officials thousands of miles away in Washington D.C. who too easily affect the most important parts of our natural resource-based economy.

In Wyoming, over 48% of the total land and 70% of the minerals are owned by the federal government. Because of this, it can be difficult to utilize the resources of our state to produce food and energy. While Wyoming ranchers are no strangers to working with this inconvenience, the federal government’s outsized authority in our state has been acutely felt throughout Biden’s tenure.

While much of the discussion has rightly focused on the negative effect the current administration’s energy polices have had on our oil, gas and coal producers, it is important to point out they also negatively affect our agriculture producers. Ranchers are true environmentalists —we care for the land to ensure it can continue to provide a livelihood for generations to come. We have a vested interest in ensuring the land we live on, the water we drink and the air we breathe remains safe. We have worked with America’s energy industry to ensure development occurs in a responsible and sustainable manner for decades. The last thing we need is the federal government’s “help” to continue to do so.

It is no secret that our way of life in Wyoming is at risk due to federal overreach that limits our use of natural resources. This is especially evident after the Bureau of Land Management’s recent June oil and gas lease sale, where a mere 81 parcels were sold after a year and a half delay. This sale only occurred because of lawsuits forcing it to happen, was at a time when the price of oil was at an all-time high and is well below the average of 122 parcels per quarterly sale under the previous administration.

From attempted federal oil and gas leasing bans to cancellations of critical energy infrastructure, federal policies have significantly contributed to gas prices reaching record highs this summer. High gas and diesel prices have a significant effect on our farmers and ranchers. On a larger scale, domestic production has decreased under President Biden and the United States lost its status as a net-energy exporter. As a veteran of the Air Force’s nuclear missile fields, it is frustrating to see our diminished stance internationally and how that has contributed to instability throughout the world.

These policies are even more inexplicable considering how much technological advances have reduced emissions. The American energy industry is the most innovative in the world and has a strong track record of employing new emissions-cutting technologies, such as carbon capture and storage. These innovative efforts have played a crucial role in reducing emissions related to the production of oil and natural gas by nearly 60%. Instead of shunning our American energy industry, we should be celebrating these types of innovations and what it means to create a cleaner energy future.

As ranchers, we know all too well that the heavy hand of the federal government is rarely constrained to federal land. In fact, the Biden Administration’s war on our domestic oil and gas industry has already negatively affected the property rights of ranchers in split estate situations or who own private minerals interlaced with federal minerals. Ultimately, just like the energy industry, we are also responsible for managing natural resources that make modern life possible. This puts us squarely in the crosshairs of radical environmentalists. We know when the other shoe falls, it will fall on us.

We need the federal government and our fellow Americans alike to see that investing in domestic energy production not only means we are securing the energy future of our nation, but we are also doing our part to secure our environmental and economic future as well. Wyoming’s ranchers have always had a vested interest in ensuring energy production occurs in a safe and responsible manner. Our country and state would be much better off if only those pulling the levers of power in D.C. had the same dedication, work ethic and general competence as our kids competing at the Wyoming State Fair.

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