Governor Gordon Vetoes Land Purchase Bill

Mar 27, 2020

High Desert Plains, Wyoming Highway 220 between Alcova and Casper, Wyoming
Credit Ken Lund via CC BY-SA 2.0

In an unexpected move, Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed a bill that would have laid the groundwork for a major land and mineral rights deal between Wyoming and Occidental Petroleum.

Discussion of the bill extended into the final hours of the session, with lawmakers making rapid changes to it. For Gordon, that was part of the problem. In a letter, he said the final version was, "a vehicle so heavily laden with legislative baggage that the ability to conduct thorough and appropriate due diligence takes a back seat to mandated reports and recommendations."

Senate Minority Floor Leader Chris Rothfuss said he didn't see the veto coming, but he agreed with Gordon's analysis. Rothfuss also said it will continue to be difficult for Wyoming to be competitive in the process.

"There are more entities out there that are very interested in this land purchase," he said. "And I think to the extent that any of them do find it an interesting opportunity, they'll have a much easier time securing the financing in a rapid or immediate way, and closing the deal."

While the bill is dead, the deal isn't off the table. Gordon said he will continue working with the Office of State Lands to look into the purchase price, the cost of due diligence, as well as the tax impacts on counties.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Maggie Mullen, at mmullen5@uwyo.edu.