SALT LAKE CITY — In a group letter, Utah politicians criticized President Biden's decision to suspend oil and gas leases on public lands.
Utah Governor Spencer Cox, Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson, Utah Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, Representatives John Curtis, Blake Moore, Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens, Senate President Stuart Adams, House Speaker Brad Wilson and Attorney General Sean Reyes issued the statement Thursday night.
New oil and gas leasing and drilling permits on federal lands have been suspended for 60 days.
In the letter, the group says they believe Biden's decision is a "serious mistake," that will not be helpful to Utah businesses already struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The economic impacts of this decision will be felt nation-wide 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.
The suspension is part of Biden's campaign plan to focus on climate change. However, Utah politicians think this decision will not help to bring unity that was promised on Inauguration day.
"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."