Bill Seeks to Expand Local Control Over Energy Resources

July 4, 2013
The Federal Land Freedom Act would give states more say in development decisions

The Federal Land Freedom Act would give states more say in development decisions on federal lands

WASHINGTON — A bill moving through Congress would give control of energy resources on federal lands to states in order to bypass Obama administration rules that routinely block development and cost local governments millions of dollars in lost revenues.

“If the president is serious about creating jobs, growing our economy, and achieving energy independence, we need to give states the ability to develop energy resources on the federal lands within their borders,” said Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the measure’s sponsor in the Senate.

The federal government has an “appalling” record of energy production on federal property since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, shifting more than 60 percent of land-use into limbo, Inhofe said.

The Federal Land Freedom Act would give states the authority to develop oil, gas, and coal, as well as alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar on federal lands within their borders. Certain properties designated off-limits to development such as wilderness areas are excluded.

The bill would not affect royalty structures and the federal government would continue to collect about half of those funds while the other half would go to the respective states.

Republican Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee is the prime sponsor of the measure in the House, where Colorado Republican Rep. Scott Tipton is a cosponsor.

Delays imposed by the Obama administration to obtain leases and permits has cost Colorado $56 million in lost revenues from 2008 to 2012, the Colorado Observer reported last month.

“In order for America to finally reap the full economic and national security benefits of energy independence, we must release the Obama administration’s strangle-hold on energy development of public lands by allowing the states to work with businesses to access our vast, untapped natural resources,” Black said.

Other Republican senators supporting the bill include Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch of Utah, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch of Idaho, and Marco Rubio of Florida.

“Americans are looking for pro-growth energy policies to create jobs and achieve energy independence, not the Obama administration’s job-killing environmental agenda outlined this week,” Rubio said.

Energy production continues to increase on private and state lands, but the number of leases on federal property has dropped 40 percent over the past four years.

While it takes a few weeks to obtain state permits, the federal government takes longer than 300 days.

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