Explaining and Defending the Existing Federal Lands Energy Management System
The federal government owns approximately one-third of the total land of the continental United States, about 738 million acres out of a total of 2.3 billion acres. Even on lands which have been withdrawn, some mineral development activities can take place. Discretionary leasing of oil and gas deposits under national parks and monuments is allowed when the deposit is being drained through directional drilling from outside the unit boundary. Most National Wildlife Refuge land is open to mineral leasing under the 1920 Mineral Leasing Act. Most national park and wilderness area boundaries have been drawn in such a way as to accommodate mineral resource concerns. The national parks and the wilderness areas in Alaska are closed to oil and gas activity. Planning for the protection and environmentally sensitive development of these lands is part of the public trust that Congress and all of us have given to the executive branch of our government.