NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Energy Production Decreases as Federal Government Land Grab Increases

March 18, 2015

Federal land ownership in the United States continues to grow despite the federal government already owning more than half of most of the western states. While some have advocated for the return of this land to the states or protect it from being closed off from oil and gas operations, the Obama Administration has worked just as hard to increase the federal government's land grab, says Lloyd Bentsen, senior research fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

By contrast, As President Bush opened 4 million acres of land in Alaska for drilling and exploration. Seven years later, President Obama has proposed to set aside 12 million acres in Alaska, designating it as "wilderness" and off-limits to up to 42 billion barrels of oil.

  • Most recently, the Obama administration has proposed the largest critical habitat designation in American history, setting aside 226 million acres of ocean off Alaska's coastline (an area twice the size of California) to protect the Arctic ringed seals who were listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act in 2012 after environmental activists petitioned the Obama administration.
  • In 2011, the U.S. Forest Service originally tried to ban fracking in the 1 million acre George Washington National Forest, but failed. It would have been the first outright ban on the practice in a national forest.
  • Much of the land targeted for government takeover holds great oil and natural gas resources, which could provide jobs in the energy industry and a flow of resources from our own American supply. Once those lands become "monuments," access to those natural resources is limited and in the hands of the federal government. The government currently owns 650 million acres, or 29 percent of the nation's total land.

The ability of the White House to simply snatch land from under the feet of the American people comes from the Antiquities Act of 1906. The Act was initially intended to set aside small portions of land for monuments and national parks, but has since been abused by lawmakers to control large quantities of property.

Federal government land control and land acquisition takes away opportunities for development, particularly when it comes to much needed energy resources. The land designated as "monument" space could have created jobs, boosted the economy and enhanced our energy security.

Source: Lloyd Bentsen, "Federal Land Regulations Continues to Strangle Energy Production," National Center for Policy Analysis, March 16, 2015. 

 

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