Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) reintroduced H.R. 866, the Federal Land Freedom Act (FLFA) of 2015. This legislation would delegate the leasing and permitting process for energy exploration on federal lands to the states. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is set to introduce the Senate companion bill.
“Today Americans are enjoying a reprieve from the sky-high gas prices that have become a hallmark of President Obama’s time in office. But the fact remains, this Administration lacks a commonsense strategy to create more energy at home and to ensure that affordable fuel costs are here to stay,” said Congressman Diane Black. “Right now, our government is hampering domestic energy production by tying up the process in bureaucratic red tape. In 2014 alone it took, on average, 227 days just to process applications for permits to drill on federal lands. Our states have the tools and regional expertise necessary to regulate energy production on their own timetables and in a safe, responsible manner. That is why my bill puts them in the driver’s seat and returns federalism back to our national energy discussion.”
Congressman Black added, “The Federal Land Freedom Act will finally loosen the Obama Administration’s grip on energy development of public lands. The states already play a role in the federal permitting process, and putting full energy permitting authority in their hands makes good sense both for our economy and our government. I urge my colleagues to join me in working to advance this critical states’ rights legislation.”
The Federal Land Freedom Act 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.
In past years, the number of leases on federal lands has dropped from 131,000,000 acres in Fiscal Year 1984 to less than 35,000,000 acres in Fiscal Year 2014. According to the Congressional Research Service, there are 166 million acres of public lands deemed off-limits or inaccessible by the federal government for oil and gas development. Additionally, the time spent to obtain a permit to drill on federal lands stands at 227 days. In comparison, states average around 30 days to approve their corresponding permits.
The Federal Land Freedom Act would not extend to federal Indian land, the National Park System, the National Wildlife Refuge System, or a congressionally designated wilderness area. The legislation is supported by Heritage Action, Western Energy Alliance, The R Street Institute, and the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC).