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Congressman Diane Black

Representing the 6th District of Tennessee


VIDEO: Rep. Black Testifies On Her Bill to Promote Energy Security, Expand States’ Rights

November 15, 2016
Press Release

To watch Rep. Black’s testimony, click HERE or the image above 

Washington, D.C. –  Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) testified at a hearing held by the House Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources on her legislation, H.R. 866, the Federal Land Freedom Act (FLFA). The bill would delegate the leasing and permitting process for energy exploration on federal lands to the states. To watch a video of her remarks, click here. A full transcript is provided below:

Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the committee for allowing me the opportunity to speak today. As has already been said, I am the proud sponsor of H.R. 866, the Federal Land Freedom Act. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this urgently needed legislation, as well as the larger need to expand states’ rights when it comes to the issue of public lands.

I truly believe the resurgence in oil and natural gas development underway in our country is an opportunity for us to achieve true American energy security. But too often, the heavy-handed federal government – particularly under this Administration – hinders that progress instead of helping to move it along.

First, the federal government is notorious for tying up the permitting process for energy exploration in bureaucratic red tape. In 2014, states took 30 days on average to approve these permits, while the federal government took an average of 228 days. This means states were churning out permits in a month, while the federal government took over half a year.

Second, states are able to harness regional expertise to regulate energy exploration in a safe and environmentally conscious manner on private and state lands. This is in stark contrast to the federal government, which imposes weeping, one-size-fits-all regulations across all federal lands from Alaska to Florida.

Third, the percentage of federal lands deemed “off limits” from energy development has increased drastically over the last 30 years. Today, the federal government owns 279 million acres of land, but 60 percent of this land is closed to development because of administration decisions of executive actions. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that, last year, the Congressional Research Service released a report showing that, from 2010 to 2014 energy exploration on state and private lands increased dramatically while production decreased on federal lands.

Increases in domestic energy production in recent years have been almost exclusively through the permitting process operated by the states. Imagine if we could harness the effectiveness of our states to replicate this success on federal lands?

For these reasons, I introduced the Federal Land Freedom Act alongside Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. Our bill will finally loosen the federal government’s chokehold on energy development of public lands by giving states full authority to administer the leasing, permitting, and regulatory programs for energy development on federal lands within their borders.

Under this legislation, each state  would have the option to set up their own state-based programs. And, importantly, this bill would keep in place protections for our national treasures by exempting national parks, the national wildlife refuge system, and national wilderness areas from development.

The fact is, the federal government was never meant to own and control the vast amount of land that it does today, or the energy resources underneath it. It’s time for us to return federalism to our national energy discussion and honor the states’ Tenth Amendment rights to develop and regulate these resources.

I’m pleased to tell you that my bill has the support of 23 cosponsors and the backing of several outside organizations including the American Energy Alliance, The R Street Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the Heritage Foundation – among others.

I am grateful for the committee’s interest in this critical piece of legislation and ask for your help in ensuring its timely passage. Thank you. I yield back the remainder of my time. 

Natural Resources Committee Press Release: Federal Land Freedom Act Empowers State Energy Development
Rep. Black Introduces Legislation to Promote Energy Security, Expand States’ Rights