The Federal Land Freedom Act: Putting States in the Driver’s Seat
This Wednesday, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and Representative Diane Black (R-TN) introduced the Federal Land Freedom Act of 2013. This important piece of legislation would allow state control of energy resources on federal lands. America has harnessed technological advances in recent years in drilling and extracting energy resources that have caused a surge in domestic oil and gas in several areas of the country. It is noteworthy that most of that production has occurred on private and state-owned lands, not federal lands where output has been on decline.
Heritage’s Nick Loris describes the benefits of transferring power to the states over their own energy decisions. States have an interest in both boosting their economies by tapping into the energy resources available to them and protecting the environment. More importantly, they are best suited to fulfill these two goals, not the federal government.
Furthermore, Loris explains, the legislation would allocate more authority to the states to control their own energy future. Why is this so essential? Much of the growth in domestic and oil and gas production has occurred on private and state-owned lands while oil and gas output on federal lands has been in decline. This legislation reflects that reality, rather than the political motivations in D.C.
This legislation would transfer management of federal lands that are not Indian land, part of the National Park System, the National Wildlife Refuge System or a congressionally designated area to state regulators.
The permitting process for shale oil and shale gas production on private and state-owned land is much more efficient than the federal permitting process. Loris notes that while North Dakota, for example, spends an average of 10 days to grant a drilling permit, the federal government spent an average of 307 days in 2011, a 41% increase since 2006 due to an increasingly complicated application process.
States have the most to gain when management of energy resources is done properly and efficiently. They know that their assets, if handled improperly, can turn into liabilities. Loris goes on to note that “states with an abundance of natural resources have been handcuffed by Washington’s bureaucratic control.”
The Federal Land Freedom Act will put states in the driver’s seat so they control their energy future. This legislation is worthy of broad support because it removes stifling bureaucratic control from Washington and gives the authority to the states, boosting much-needed American jobs and the economy.
Heritage Action strongly supports The Federal Land Freedom Act and encourages all members of Congress to cosponsor this important legislation.