Take 5: Economic Benefits of BLM’s Multiple-Use Public Lands

by Aaron Johnson, Vice President of Public Affairs on March 13, 2019 - 11:44am

This week in the U.S. House, the new majority hit pause after holding 15 hearings about climate change to discuss energy policies at federal agencies. Appearing before the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Development was the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Deputy Director of Operations Michael Need. He discussed the agency’s executive actions over the past two years promoting energy and mineral development on 245 million surface acres and 700 million subsurface acres of multiple-use public lands managed by BLM.

Mr. Nedd put forward a non-partisan point of view based on several years of experience at BLM serving under Democratic and Republican administrations. He detailed for the committee the current administration’s commitment to an “all of the above” energy approach, the economic benefits of onshore oil and natural gas production, and the agency’s growing renewables portfolio.

Here are five of his key statements:

1. “Onshore oil and gas production on BLM managed public lands is an essential contribution to the Nation’s energy supply and plays a significant role in supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs for hard-working Americans.”

2. “The Federal onshore oil and natural gas program alone provides approximately $59.6 billion in economic output and supported an estimated 284,000 jobs nationwide for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017.

3. “In 2018, production from Federal lands generated in excess of $3 billion in Federal royalties, rental payments and bonus bids. Nearly half of this revenue was shared with the state where the oil and gas activity is occurring, while the rest went to the U.S. Treasury. States and counties utilize these important funds to support the building and maintaining of roads, schools, and other community needs.”

4. “By prioritizing permitting, modernizing its databases, and shifting resources across the BLM offices, the average APD processing time for an administratively complete application continues to drop – now averaging 63 days spent with the BLM and 176 days overall. As recently as 2016, the average APD processing time was 257 days, of which 139 days were spent with the BLM.

5. “The BLM oversees development on public lands of three primary renewable energy sources: solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal energy. To date, the BLM has approved a total of 127 renewable energy projects with the potential to provide nearly 18,000 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity.”

Deputy Director Nedd’s full written testimony is available on the subcommittee’s websitehttps://naturalresources.house.gov/imo/media/doc/Testimony%20-%20BLM%20-%20Nedd%20-%2003.12.19.pdf.

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