Energy on Federal Lands
During the 1970s and early 1980s, energy was the most dynamic and controversial issue with respect to federal lands. In the 1970s, the driving force was the so-called energy crisis, and during the early 1980s it was the "Reagan Revolution." The international petroleum market is the driving force behind energy policy in the United States. Energy producers were particularly interested in drilling for oil and gas in national forests and rangelands, but they saw opportunities to extract more coal and natural gas from known reserves as well. Three other factors also explain the evolution of energy policy on federal lands: interest group conflict, political party alignments, and bureaucratic routines. Energy policy changes in the late 1970s reflected, in part, the continuing interplay between international events and the world price of oil, which influence production decisions on coal as well as oil and gas.