On March 17, NACo sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary, Debra Haaland, requesting county consultation during the oil and gas leasing moratoria review process. The moratoria were issued under Executive Order (E.O.) 14008 and Secretarial Order 3395. Secretarial Order 3395, signed by Acting Secretary of the Interior Scott de la Vega, issued an initial 60- day moratorium and E.O. 14008, titled Tackling the Climate Crisis, halted the issuance of new leases pending the completion of a review of federal oil and gas leases. The EO requires the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, Energy and Commerce complete this comprehensive review and reconsider oil and gas permitting and leasing practices.
The temporary halt of new oil and natural gas development on federal lands and waters has a direct impact on local economies and local governments. Counties are often burdened by federal lands holdings within their jurisdiction. As intergovernmental partners in land and resource management plan development and the implementation of various environmental regulations, counties have a strong interest in the application of EO 14008. County involvement in these processes ensures that public land management policies reflect our nation’s diverse economic and environmental needs.
Additionally, many states and counties, especially in the western part of the country, rely on fossil fuel extraction to support local jobs and fund essential services through taxes and royalties. In 2019, oil and gas development on public lands accounted for approximately 86% of onshore energy and mineral revenues collected by the federal government worth $4.2 billion. Nearly half of these funds were allocated to state governments with a large portion funneled to counties to fund education services, infrastructure development and environmental cleanup. Additionally, both the new program established under the Great American Outdoors Act to reduce the public lands deferred maintenance backlog and Land and Water Conservation fund are financed through fossil fuel extraction on federal lands and waters.
Counties support the consultation of local governments in federal regulatory reviews and the rulemaking process. NACo will continue to monitor developments around oil and gas leasing and work with our federal partners to ensure county interests are represented in federal policymaking.