U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), together with Sens. David Vitter (R-La.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Wednesday introduced the Federal Lands Freedom Act (FLFA) of 2013. The bill would give states the authority to develop all forms of energy resources on the federal lands located within their borders, excluding only those areas specifically designated off-limits, after establishing leasing, permitting, and regulatory process governing such activities. Congressman Black introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“The federal government’s energy production record on federal lands is appalling and flies in the face of the 10th Amendment,” said Inhofe. “Over 60% of federal lands is off limits to energy production, and it takes 700 times longer to get a drilling permit on federal lands compared to private lands in Oklahoma. 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. States have a proven track record of successfully balancing the need for responsible energy development while ensuring robust environmental protections. From oil, gas and coal to wind and solar energy, states are infinitely better equipped to develop, adopt and enforce regulations based on their unique resources, geology and other local factors. The Federal Land Freedom Act gives states this authority and takes a step toward restoring the Constitution’s trust in the states to conduct the majority of government responsibilities.”
Sen. Hoeven added, “Congress needs to do all it can to ensure America has affordable energy supplies from domestic resources, which helps keep energy costs down and provides good jobs and economic opportunity for our people. The legislation also recognizes that states have a long record of effectively regulating oil and gas development with good environmental stewardship.”
Sen. Lee added, "The Federal Lands Freedom Act relies on the proven expertise of state officials to develop tailored regulatory schemes for each state. Energy production is different in every state. The ability to tailor regulations to their individual needs is critical for encouraging regulatory innovation. This bill would also allow states that are dominated by federal land, such as Utah, to compete on a level playing field with other states in the energy economy. The facts are clear: energy production on federal lands is more difficult and more expensive than energy production on private land, and this is almost entirely due to duplicative federal regulations implemented by overworked federal agencies. Because of this, states like Utah are at a disadvantage. This bill is an important step in moving this country towards energy independence.”
“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,” said Sen. Marco Rubio. “This common sense bill will empower states to develop our domestic energy resources responsibly and effectively. Ensuring states have more authority in our nation’s energy development will help keep energy costs low, create jobs and grow our economy.”
Congressman Black added, “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. The states have the experience and expertise to protect the environment and allow for economic growth through energy production. The Federal Land Freedom Act will return federalism to our national energy discussion and would make way for the expansion of domestic energy production, economic growth and job creation here in America,”
The bill empowers states to establish programs to lease, permit, and regulate the development of all forms of energy resources on federal lands, including renewables. Once a state makes a declaration that such a program has been established, the state would receive the rights to develop the energy resources located on the federal lands within its borders.
The bill does not affect the ownership of the resources or change the royalty structure, and states will continue to receive half of the value of royalties earned from production on federal lands within their state.
Over the last four years, the number of leases on federal lands has dropped by as much as 40 percent. It takes, on average, 307 days to obtain a permit to drill on federal lands. Domestic oil production is now 7 million barrels per day, 40 percent higher than in 2008. Natural gas production is now 16% higher than in 2008. All of this increase has occurred on state and private lands.
A recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report confirmed this, stating that “All the increase in [U.S. oil production] from FY2007 to FY2012 took place on non-federal lands, and the federal share of total U.S. crude oil production fell by about seven percentage points.”