Gov. Cox ‘disappointed’ with president’s suspension of new gas, oil leases on federal land

Video still: Facebook/Gov. Spencer Cox

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 27, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Gov. Spencer Cox has issued a statement about his disappointment with Pres. Joe Biden’s decision to suspend new leases for oil and gas leases on federal land.

“Unity in our nation can only be reached when we work together to solve complex challenges,” Cox’s Wednesday statement says. “I’m disappointed in President Biden’s decision to indefinitely pause all new oil and gas leasing on federal lands. His action was taken without coordination with the state to determine how his decision would impact rural Utah and those that live there.

“While the President’s order does not suspend existing leases, a long-term pause and its accompanying hold on new energy development harms future production and investment statewide. Two-thirds of our lands are public lands managed by the federal government. As with last week’s moratorium on mining and energy development, today’s order curtails future investment in Utah, weakens rural Utah’s economy and keeps many Utahns from being able to provide for their families.”

Almost a week ago, Cox and several other Utah leaders issued a joint statement in response to the Biden administration’s action to suspend oil and gas leases on public lands.

The statement was issued on Jan. 21 by Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Utah Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, Reps. John Curtis, Blake Moore, Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens, Senate President Stuart Adams, House Speaker Brad Wilson and Attorney General Sean Reyes.

That statement reads:

“The Biden administration’s arbitrary decision to suspend oil and gas leasing and permitting on federal lands is a serious mistake that will harm the same small Utah businesses that are already hurting from the pandemic. This action perpetuates the very discord between rural and urban Americans that the President spoke out against in his inauguration speech. Although it is routine for an incoming administration to pause high-level agency decisions while agency leaders get into place, such a widespread suspension of routine permitting decisions normally made in the field is unprecedented.

“The economic impacts of this decision will be felt nationwide and couldn’t come at a worse time for Utah’s rural communities, tribes, and small businesses. Our energy industry is among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Utahns previously employed in the energy sector have lost their jobs in historic numbers. This decision only exacerbates the problem.

“We encourage President Biden to reconsider this counterproductive step. We are eager to work with his administration to improve management of our public lands, but gratuitously punishing our rural economy is not helpful.”

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