Obama sat down with reporters in Reno recently and talked about cutting the red tape that entangles productive use of federal public lands.
But the reality is that on his watch Bureau of Land Management statistics show the length of time it takes to obtain a drilling permit has doubled since 2005 and, just since Obama took office, the time it takes to “resolve any deficiencies” in an application has tripled. In fiscal years 2006-2008 there were 20,479 federal drilling permits issued, compared to only 12,821 in fiscal years 2009-2011. As a result, oil production on federal land fell 14 percent this past year.
By contrast, Mitt Romney is proposing to cut the federal bureaucrats out the picture when it comes on oil and gas leases on federal land and give that authority to the states, I report in this week’s column, available on The Ely Times website. But even that is but a half measure.
Romney claims his plan will create 3.6 million jobs, add $500 billion to the GDP, generate $1 trillion in revenue for federal, state and local governments, while reducing the cost of fuel and electric power. One of the key components of Romney’s plan is to allow the states to oversee exploration and development of oil and gas on federal lands inside each state. In Nevada that is more than 85 percent of the state.
Instead, Romney and Nevada’s entire congressional delegation should heed the voice of Nevada’s voters, who in 1996 amended the state Constitution to remove the Disclaimer Clause that was inserted in the statehood ordinance in 1864. In that clause the residents of the territory of Nevada bound the future citizens of the state of Nevada to “forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States.”
Sixteen years after that vote the state Constitution carries a footnote that the “amendment was proposed and passed by the 1993 legislature; agreed to and passed by the 1995 legislature; and approved and ratified by the people at the 1996 general election, effective on the date Congress consents to amendment or a legal determination is made that such consent is not necessary.”
Neither Congress nor the courts has done anything since. Nor have any of our elected officials.
Taking over and privatizing huge swaths of federal land would be an almost instant boost to the economy of the state. What are we waiting for?