Gas price spike also concerns congressional delegation, Gordon

By: 
Jonathan Make with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, from the Wyoming News Exchange

Local gas prices on March 7 at 9 a.m. via GasBuddy.com

CHEYENNE —It’s not just motorists and industry officials who are complaining about higher gasoline prices locally due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Here in Wyoming, politicians also are paying attention. 

In the past week alone, all three members of the state’s congressional delegation expressed concern over the situation, as did Gov. Mark Gordon. All of those politicians are Republicans, and they complained about decisions of the administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

Saturday evening, the GasBuddy information service reported the “national average price of gasoline has just surpassed $4 per gallon in the U.S. for the first time since 2008, and stands just 10 cents below the all-time record of $4.103.” 

Just through Friday, last week’s 49-cent increase in the average gas price nationally was the second largest such gain ever. Only when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf of Mexico’s U.S. coast in 2005 did prices gain more in a seven-day period. 

Tuesday evening during his State of the Union speech to Congress, Biden noted that the federal government is taking some actions to help stem the increase in what it costs for a gallon of gas at the pump. 

Among those actions are the U.S. releasing 30 million barrels from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve, with a few dozen other countries also releasing tens of millions of barrels. 

“These steps will help blunt gas prices here at home,” Biden said. “I’m taking robust action to make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at Russia’s economy. And I will use every tool at our disposal to protect American businesses and consumers.” 

Reacting to Biden’s State of the Union, all of Wyoming’s congressional delegation mentioned energy. 

Sen. Cynthia Lummis wanted Biden to restart the Keystone XL pipeline project, among other suggestions. 

Lummis’ fellow Wyoming senator, John Barrasso, said Biden “missed an opportunity tonight to change course. He should have started by ending his war on American energy – a move that would help Americans dealing with skyrocketing costs.” 

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., was also concerned about Biden not doing more to tamp down energy prices. 

A gallon of gas on Saturday in Cheyenne cost almost 8% more than just the day before, and was up about 45% from a year earlier, GasBuddy reports. 

Friday, Cheney’s office noted that she had just joined a few dozen Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives to request that Biden, in the words of the letter, “end your anti-American energy agenda.” 

Recommended actions included ending a Bureau of Land Management hiatus on holding four-times-a-year lease sales for oil and gas production on federal lands. This moratorium has also concerned Wyoming’s energy industry, which is the state’s largest economic sector. 

Congress sought a five-year plan to boost energy production on federal lands. Like many other lawmakers, they also want to see oil pipelines come to fruition, including Keystone XL. 

“We have the world’s largest oil and gas reserves. We can produce these energy resources more cleanly and efficiently than anywhere else in the world, and we should produce them,” said the letter, which was signed by some GOP lawmakers from nearby states, including Colorado’s Doug Lamborn. “We will make clear that more U.S. production means greater energy security for our allies, lower prices for consumers at home, and more strength abroad as we undermine the Russia-China alliance.” 

Also Friday, 26 Republican governors from across the country asked Biden to take additional actions to help keep gas prices from rising further. 

Gordon was joined by his GOP colleagues in neighboring jurisdictions: Idaho’s Brad Little, Greg Gianforte of Montana and Spencer Cox from Utah. The governors asked Biden to remove bans on new oil and gas development on federal lands, to build the Keystone XL pipeline and to bring back “regulatory reforms to streamline energy permitting.” 

They said such actions will help “protect our national energy security and sell to our friends, rather than buy from our enemies – specifically, Russia.” 

They went on to write, “Family budgets have already been stretched thin following record inflation. People in our states cannot afford another spike at the gas pump.” 

The White House did not comment Saturday. 

Friday afternoon, Gordon’s office announced a new energy effort in Wyoming. It was described as a joint effort with the Legislature to fund an energy development manager. 

That person “will work collaboratively with companies, policymakers and lawmakers,” Gordon’s office said. The person will be a “go-between” with such stakeholders. 

“Wyoming’s energy industry has been the economic driver of this state for over 60 years,” Gordon said in a news release. “This position will help us move into Wyoming’s new energy and technology frontier as strategically and efficiently as possible.” 

The “good work already happening around the state” has “just been siloed,” said state Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, in the governor’s news release. “You’ve got state agencies doing the permitting and paperwork, you’ve got county governments talking to the companies about local taxes and project siting, you’ve got private Wyoming businesses that either are getting new business or don’t know there could be an opportunity.” 

The Legislature has been meeting at the state Capitol in Cheyenne for its budget session. It is scheduled to wrap up on Friday.

 

This story was published on March 6, 2022.

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