WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today introduced the Federal Lands Freedom Act (FLFA) of 2015 (S.490), legislation that would give states the authority to develop all forms of energy resources on federal lands located within their borders, excluding only those areas specifically designated as off-limits. At the time of introduction, the bill included the following co-sponsors: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) , David Vitter (R-La.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark).
“While we have seen an energy revolution in the United States the past year, this is in spite of the president’s policies that are intended to stifle the development of our domestic resources,” said Inhofe. “One of the leading ways he can control our energy resources is by dictating what can take place on federal land across the states. The states, not the federal government, are the ones best equipped to tend to the extensive unused and unprotected lands across the nation that the federal government has staked a claim to. Currently about 60 percent of federal land is off limits to energy production. It also takes 700 times longer to get a drilling permit on federal lands compared to private lands in Oklahoma, which is why we have seen energy production on these lands drop by 6 percent for oil and 28 percent for natural gas on since 2009. The Federal Lands Freedom Act takes a necessary step toward restoring the Constitution’s trust in the states while also ensuring an ongoing energy revolution across the United States.”
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.
Domestic oil production is now 9.2 million barrels per day, 77 percent higher than in 2009. Natural gas production is now 22 percent higher than in 2009. All of this increase has occurred on state and private lands. According to the Congressional Research Service, oil production on federal lands fell by 6 percent and natural gas production fell by 28 percent between 2009 and 2013.
The legislation has the support of Heritage Action, Western Energy Alliance, the R Street Institute, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Inhofe first introduced the legislation in the 113th Congress.