One of the major reasons the state Legislature passed Assembly Bill 227 this year — setting up the Nevada Land Management Task Force to study the possible transfer of certain federal public lands to the state of Nevada — was the need for economic development.
In a recent interview, Elko County Commissioner Demar Dahl, chair of that task force, offered an example of the problems being encountered with federal land agencies that deter the creation of jobs and economic development. He said Noble Energy of Houston came into Elko County and did seismic exploration all over the area. They went before the County Commission said they had five hot spots in the world and Elko was one of them, as reported in this week’s newspaper column available online at The Ely Times and the Elko Daily Free Press.
“As they were trying to get ready, they figured out that 90 percent of everything north of the freeway in Elko County is off limits for oil and gas. Then they came in and were ready to start setting up a drill rig on the third week of August, but three weeks before that the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) said, ‘Oops, we’re sorry but we forgot to consider the viewshed from the California Trail.’” Dahl recounted. “So they said it might take a year to a year and a half to do the EIS (Environmental Impact Study) on the viewshed. …
“You see how progress and development are held up by, for instance, them worrying about the wagon trains, I guess, that’ll be coming down the California Trail right along parallel to the interstate and the railroad. You can’t look off to the right and see a pump jack or something. Those are the kinds of things that are waking people up thinking maybe we really need to make a change.”
As if on cue, on Sept. 17 a professor of Energy Economics at the University of Wyoming, Timothy Considine, came out with a study called “The Economic Value of Energy Resources on Federal Lands in the Rocky Mountain Region.”
In Nevada alone, Considine estimates oil and gas projects on public land could generate tax revenues of as much as $218 million and create as many as 21,797 new jobs — as many as 200,000 jobs in the seven-state region.
Total oil production in Nevada has been declining since 1990.