Representative Liz Cheney is co-sponsoring a proposed bill that would allow states more power over leasing federal lands for energy development. The majority of Wyoming’s oil and gas development occurs on federal land. She said it could help reverse the decline in lease sales.
The Federal Land Freedom Act would let states use their pre-existing regulatory bodies to manage permitting and leasing, removing the federal government from the equation. That would mean energy companies wouldn’t have to comply with federal standards including the endangered species act or national environmental policy act.
Mary Flanderka, policy advisor for the Wyoming Outdoor Council, explained the law would give western states an edge.
“Eastern states don’t have public land — don’t have the same protections and hoops that an oil and gas company has to go through,” Flanderka said. "So, they’re able to process and be more competitive than western states [that] rely on federal land.”
Still, Flanderka adds the proposed bill is a drastic way to gain an edge.
"I think there’s other ways of dealing with that resource competitiveness than just stripping away resource protections,” she said.
If the Federal Land Freedom Act were to pass, Flanderka said the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission would be in charge of leasing and permitting responsibilities.