DENVER – Western Energy Alliance applauds the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act with strong bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation takes $6.65 billion over five years in royalty revenue from oil and natural gas production on public lands and directs it towards reducing the National Park Service’s $12 billion maintenance backlog.
“You’re welcome! Oil and natural gas production on non-park, non-wilderness public lands will now help meet the mounting needs of our national parks,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Alliance. “Offshore production has been funding 100 percent of the Land and Water Conservation Fund for many years, and now onshore public lands development will likewise contribute directly to conservation. We’re pleased to see that a bipartisan majority in Congress recognizes that we can responsibly produce oil and natural gas on public lands while protecting the environment.
“Oil and natural gas has become a political football in 2020. Vice President Joe Biden has called for a ban on new oil and natural gas permits on public lands if elected. Three weeks ago the House majority released a climate plan calling for a moratorium on oil and natural gas leasing on public lands. However, those same lawmakers today passed a bill that depends on the revenues produced from leased public lands. Without the royalty payments we provide, the conservation anticipated by this bill isn’t possible,” added Sgamma.
Last month the bill passed in the U.S. Senate, and in March President Donald Trump committed to signing it into law. Passage in the House today clears the way for the bill to be signed into law.
Across the entire National Park Service, there is a maintenance backlog totaling $12 billion. The Great American Outdoors Act would direct up to $1.33 billion annually for five years toward maintaining 400 national parks and other protected areas.
Of the 700 million acres of public lands and minerals managed by BLM, only 25.5 million acres are leased, an all-time historic low. An even smaller portion have oil and natural gas activity on them, less than 500,000, or 0.07 percent of all public lands.
Last year, production from public lands and waters surpassed one billion barrels of oil for the first time, and royalty revenues topped $12 billion.
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