Federal-State Cooperation and Public Land Policy
Montana was the only authority protecting federal lands from uncontrolled surface mining prior to Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act; the federal government, was the Johnny-come-lately to protection of "its own" land. In like manner, Alaska and California have pushed hard to ensure a balanced federal program for Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing. Federal land commonly takes up from one-third to nine-tenths of western states' land area. The federal coal leasing program, established in 1979, under the previous administraiton, was a remarkable and productive departure from the way the federal government had made coal leasing decisions in the past. The mandatory consultation provisions parallelled many other such consultation provisions, historically little more than polite gestures by the federal agency after the decision has already been made. The federal government must realize that the states' interests in many leasing issues are paramount to the federal interests.