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  • Writer's pictureBrian Boner

Providing Stability in the Face of Erratic Federal Policy

The Federal Natural Resource Management Committee has had our work cut out for us over the past year. Given the extreme nature of the current administration's environmental policy this is not surprising. One of my most significant concerns is the ideologically motivated targeting of our coal, oil and natural gas industries. The fact that the federal government is willing to use the significant amount of public land in our state to suppress our most important industries is nothing new. Defending Wyoming against this onslaught remains one of my highest priorities.

Specifically, one of the proposals being considered by the Biden Administration is raising the federal royalty rate on coal, oil and natural gas. While the chilling effect on our core industries seems to be the main objective of this plan, it also threatens the stability of state revenue streams.

The state of Wyoming receives 49% of the revenue from the development of these minerals. By increasing the royalty rate, the federal government will increase our state and local governments’ dependence on these minerals for revenue. It is one more example of the whiplash we experience as differences in natural resource policy become more extreme from one administration to the next. The prospect of adding this additional layer of uncertainty on top of the inherent volatility of these commodity-based industries should prompt action from the state to provide some level of stability for our citizens.

I've yet to hear any of my fellow legislators advocate for the state being more dependent on the mineral industry for tax revenue. Indeed, much of our efforts over the years have been to find more stable sources of public funding. The fact the federal government is poised to make this problem much worse should prompt us to take action.

So what it the solution? The bill the committee sponsored this week would take the state's share of the increased revenue due to the royalty rate increase and use it to refund the effected producers. The State of Wyoming should not profit from the current administration’s war against our core industries, nor should we make it any harder to do business in the state than we need to. We also need to provide stability to our revenue streams, not stand idly by as the Federal Government adds additional layers of uncertainty.

There was plenty of testimony highlighting the challenges we face as we deal with an administration openly and actively opposed to our economic wellbeing over the past interim. For more information on what the Select Federal Natural Resource Management Committee did over the past year on this issue and many others, check out the following link.

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