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The United States oil and gas industry is eager to tap into hydrocarbon deposits hitherto off limits thanks to President Obama’s energy policies. President-elect Donald Trump, however, has stated he would open up these territories for drilling as part of his stated efforts to stimulate the U.S. energy industry.
This move, however, is likely to cause yet another outcry among environmentalists and local communities because a lot of this federal land – all 500 million acres of it – is taken up by national parks, wildlife refuges, and Native American tribal territories.
While energy companies are looking forward to tapping the oil and gas – and coal, and uranium – reserves in these federal lands, the road to drilling may be tough going, Reuters notes, as environmental and conservation groups as well as local communities are more than likely to put up serious opposition, including lawsuits and intensive lobbying.
On the other hand, oil and gas players can count on the support of these same local communities, many of whose members have been stripped of any meaningful job prospects as things stand now, and will welcome the entry of drillers into federal lands.
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The House of Representatives, although GOP-dominated, could still throw a wrench into Trump’s plans for federal lands. Last week, the House voted in favor of a new bill aimed at facilitating the transfer of federal lands to states, communities, and Native American tribes. The bill stipulates no transfer costs for the federal budget and was initiated by the Republicans last year.
On the campaign trail, Trump said at an interview that he was unwilling to pass control of federal lands to the states because “[...] you don't know what the state is going to do.” Trump then went on to suggest that states might decide to sell off federal land if they experience financial trouble, which should not be allowed to happen.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.