Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), have relied heavily on a study by a University of Wyoming professor to counter President Biden’s climate change plan, but public records suggest the analysis was influenced by the oil and gas industry, The Guardian reports.
Per The Guardian, the records, obtained by Documented and shared with Floodlight (which partners with The Guardian) and Wyoming Public Media, show the Western Energy Alliance — which represents 200 oil and gas companies in the western United States — encouraged Wyoming’s Tim Considine to write a proposal about his research for state officials, tried unsuccessfully to provide matching dollars for the state-funded study, and stayed involved throughout the process.
Industry-backed research is not uncommon, The Guardian reports, and Considine said his conclusions were not affected by the comments from the Western Energy Alliance. Still, transparency advocates have grown concerned that climate change studies are “increasingly being used to produce conclusions favorable to oil and gas companies in order to shape public opinion.” Records show Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon’s office was aware of the Western Energy Alliance’s involvement, but never disclosed it.
That said, Considine’s analysis — which predicts Biden’s plan will kill 18,000 Wyoming jobs and cost the state education, healthcare, and infrastructure funding — hasn’t only been called into question because of concerns about a lack of independence. He modeled two scenarios, including a complete drilling ban, which Biden is not proposing, and a freeze on new leases. Biden has temporarily implemented the latter, but Considine reportedly acknowledged in early emails with the Western Energy Alliance that it was difficult to estimate the outcome based on existing data. Laura Zachary, the co-director of Apogee Economics and Policy, estimates the study exaggerates the economic fallout of Biden’s climate plan by 70 to 85 percent. Read more at The Guardian.