We must implement a coherent energy strategy
Why are huge tracks of Utah owned and controlled by the federal government? Some say 67% of Utah is federal lands. Some say the number is closer to 75%. The truth is, no one knows, because the government isn’t even capable of conducting an accurate inventory of their holdings, let alone effectively administering such vast swaths of lands.
We are losing hundreds of millions of dollars in energy royalties while allowing bureaucrats in Washington to dictate what happens in our own backyard.
Many of these public lands could be – and should be – controlled and administered by the state. If they choose, states should be allowed to sell these de-federalized lands to private entities.
We, the people of Utah, are capable of protecting our own backyard from abuse or exploitation. We are capable of protecting the true wilderness that we love – indeed, the reasons that many of us have chosen to live here – without cutting off so many of our lands to multiple use.
De-federalizing public lands is vital to a coherent energy strategy.
It will lead to greater energy independence, an issue that is critical to our national security.
And at a time when the rising cost of energy is devastating middle-class families, our leaders in Washington DC are making it more and more difficult to develop energy on public lands. Over the last two years, oil development on federal lands is down 13%, while natural gas development is down 10%. This is a direct result of President Obama’s unwillingness to allow drilling on public lands.
I am the CEO of a company that works extensively with independent energy producers. I understand how difficult it is to get a drilling permit on federal lands. It is painfully slow, incoherently arbitrary, and always expensive. Worst of all, at the end of the process, an environmental finding is often thrown under the heavy hands of the courts.
But if we allow our states to have more control over this process, we can open up more of our lands to multiple uses. This will lead to significant increases in revenue to state coffers, most of which will be spent on education. More important, we will become more energy independent. And by increasing our supply of energy, we will drive the cost down.