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Republican candidate for governor says acquiring federal lands is the key to Wyoming's future

Rex Rammell
Rex Rammell Campaign

Republican candidate for governor Rex Rammell has been in a number of political campaigns as he continues to push his top priority of getting federal lands into state hands. Rammell is a veterinarian and grew up near Yellowstone National Park. He said if Wyoming could get control of federal lands, a lot of problems would be solved.

Rex Rammell: In Wyoming, 30 million acres are currently controlled by the federal government in the form of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or Forest Service or other entities. And we've had a working relationship with them until really just the last few years when the left decided to put the coal business out. And also, President Biden signed a moratorium that they're trying to eliminate all new leases on public lands for fossil fuels.

So, there's really an attack on the fossil fuel industry. And they're able to do that because they control the public lands. And this is probably their most aggressive approach ever. They do it in the name of climate change. The science just isn't backing up all of the things that they predicted, we've actually had a pretty wet year, cold year, and but they're still moving forward with their agenda. And I guarantee you that they mean to take all of the public lands, the 30 million acres and take them out of production. And what that would do to the state of Wyoming would be terrible. It would basically put us in a bankruptcy-type situation, we would either have to slash government services literally to the bone or become a high tax state. And everybody's debating those things.

And they're wondering how to replace the revenue that comes from fossil fuels. It's been as high as 70 percent. In the past, it's 50 percent or more, right now. We're talking about millions and millions of dollars of lost revenue if they're able to extinguish the fossil fuel industry. And they're well on their way. They move forth with a moratorium even though the courts have slowed them down a little bit. Their agenda is out in the open. And I'm telling you they mean to turn Wyoming into one big nature preserve and kill our main industry.

Bob Beck: What makes you think you can do this?

RR: As I studied the Constitution, I realized that there is no power in the United States Constitution for the federal government to own nearly a third of the United States. It's just not there. And the 10th Amendment to the Constitution said, "If there isn't a power found in the cause in the body of the Constitution, it belongs to the states." So right from the beginning, this is 20 years ago, I said, "Well clearly they have usurped power. This land should always have been under the control of the states." But the big question was, how do you get it back? That's where the trouble is.

We filed lawsuits for decades, but they're just not getting us where we need to go, we're losing. We're losing ground with the lawsuits, we won a few, but they won most of them. And the fight goes on. And now executive orders are destroying our main industry. And so I came to the conclusion that there's only one way and that [is] to stop this, a governor had to stand up to the federal government and say, "We no longer recognize your constitutional jurisdiction." And he had to back it up with muscle.

I'm telling everybody that if I become the governor, on day one, I will sign an executive order ordering the state police to walk all federal land managers out of their offices. The BLM Forest Service, Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife, and others. Make a state's rights stand that will, I believe, be supported by the other states. I believe Montana, Idaho, South Dakota, Alaska, and Utah will. I think that the other states will join because they're in a similar position. They don't rely on fossil fuels as much for their tax base. But they're still being controlled by the federal government unconstitutionally. And I think that it's come to a boiling point with Biden and his aggressive executive orders. I think the West is ready for the fight that's been coming on since statehood really.

BB: Let me change your attention to a couple of other topics. We have a number of people that either can't afford or get health insurance in our state. Medicaid expansion has certainly been presented as one idea there, there could be some others. How would you address that problem?

RR: Most of our problems are related to federal control. They control the healthcare system, Medicare, Medicaid - those are all federal programs. And they have really put the handcuffs on the state when it comes to controlling prices. People say, "Rex, you're basically a one issue candidate." And I say yes, but that one issue is getting the federal government out of the states. It takes into consideration their control over healthcare, education, energy, and every other topic, you can imagine.

The country is falling apart, because what the founders envisioned was a limited federal government. And the federal government, it has become so large that it controls everything. And the states are left with the crumbs from the table. If we had state control, not just over the land, but over other areas… and the beauty of my idea is that when we get control of the lands, we get the money. We've been sending a billion dollars in the past, to the federal government. That money would stay in Wyoming to offset healthcare issues, education issues, and on and on and on.

Wyoming has plenty of natural resources, billions and billions of dollars still under the ground and on top. And we could take care of ourselves, we don't need the federal government controlling us. So it all starts with the state's rights movement, to remove them from the state. And then the other states start pushing back and they say, "Look what Wyoming just did." And it starts to roll through the West and the states stand up and say we're not taking it anymore, either. It goes into the south and it goes into the midwest, and maybe completely through the United States. Pretty soon we have our limited federal government back in its constitutional role.

BB: So the land in your view is going to give us enough money to address whatever we're dealing with in the state as far as revenue?

RR: That's right. They just said that unless Wyoming incorporates gender identity politics, they're going to cut off $90 million of school lunch money. With my plan, we would have the money and we can cut that string and say, "Well, we don't want anything to do with your federal education mandates. We are taking care of ourselves, and we have the money to do it. So keep your $90 million, because we just took your billion."

BB: While you brought up education, assuming that in the first year of office you wouldn't get this resolved and get all the lands back, what do we do about the education funding issue?

RR: I think the whole education funding issue has got to be reworked. Instead of block grants going to school districts, I really do support the money following the student. I think if we did that, if each student got so much allocated to them, and then they decided where to put that money, I think it would change our entire landscape as far as education goes.

There would be different options for them. This is a school choice option. I'm a Republican. I believe in school choice. But I think that if it would lower the cost of education, the teachers would still be needed. So would administrators, but we wouldn't rely so much on public education. There would be private and parochial and charters and home schools and all kinds of things pop up. Which is the movement in the United States and it has been for a while. So I think that just changing the way we fund education would move us in the right direction.

BB: Sen. Mike Enzi told me once that school choice would be very difficult to pull off in Wyoming mainly because of our distances and our small population. Do you agree?

RR: No, I don't agree with that. I think it would be if we didn't change the funding model. But if the money follows the students, I could see it opening up all over Wyoming.

BB: Now, I want to also ask you about something else. How do we get young people back into this state?

RR: If I become the governor, I think they're gonna want to stay here.

BB: They're gonna want to work in all those public lands?

RR: Yeah, we're gonna be a sovereign state and we will have control. I mean, our whole future is dependent upon us. We'll invite them back into the state. I mean, can you imagine what Wyoming could do if we weren't shackled with the federal controls? I think that I think it would be exciting. And like I said, I don't think it would end in Wyoming and I think this is a United States movement that just starts in Wyoming. And it starts with my election.

BB: How can people find out more about you?

RR: I have a nice website. It's got a lot of information on there. If you go to the website, you won't leave thinking "Who is this guy?" I mean, I'm not scared to put out what I believe and unlike other candidates who speak in generalities and are quite vague in their goals, I am very detailed, as you can tell from this interview, I have a plan.

Bob Beck retired from Wyoming Public Media after serving as News Director of Wyoming Public Radio for 34 years. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.
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