NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 1, 2009

Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (S.22).  S.22 is a smorgasbord of 160 bills totaling more than 1,300 pages.  A stimulus bill it is not, for it locks up an additional 2 million acres to the 107 million acres of federally owned wilderness areas. That total is more than the area of Montana and Wyoming combined, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

Speaking of Wyoming:

  • Some 1.1 million of these newly restricted acres are in that state.
  • This bill takes about 8.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 300 million barrels of oil out of production in that state, according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
  • The energy resources walled off by this bill would nearly match the annual production levels of our two natural gas production states -- Texas and Alaska.

As Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) points out: "We are not suffering from a lack of wilderness areas in the United States.  According to the Census Bureau, we have 106 million acres of developed land and 107 million acres of (officially declared) wilderness land."

Earlier this year, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar canceled 77 Utah oil and gas leases that had gone through seven years of studies, negotiations and land-use planning.  They were rejected because temporary drilling operations might be "visible" from several national parks more than a mile away: 

  • Some of these parcels are in or near the Green River Formation, an oil-rich region in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming that's been called the "Persia of the West."
  • This formation has the largest known oil shale deposits in the world, holding from 1.5 trillion to 1.8 trillion barrels of crude.
  • The Energy Department's Argonne National Laboratory indicates 800 billion of these barrels are recoverable with current technology.

Paul Spitler of the Wilderness Society told CNSNews this is just dandy.  "There are some landscapes that are simply more important for their scenic, natural, recreational and ecological values than they are for oil and gas development," he said.

You can see the sun setting on America's energy and economic future over these landscapes, says IBD.

Source: Editorial, "Lost In An Energy Wilderness," Investor's Business Daily, March 31, 2009.


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