Jobs, Revenues on Federal Lands Are Rising, Interior Department Reports

Published December 24, 2018

Soaring coal, oil, and natural gas production on millions of acres of land managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) in pursuit of the President Donald Trump’s energy dominance agenda is producing billions of dollars in added revenues for the federal coffers and creating thousands of jobs, a federal report states.

DOI’s “FY 2017 Economic Contributions” report says during Trump’s first year in office the economic output of federal lands and waters overseen by the Interior Department “increased by $400 million to $292 billion and the number of jobs supported increased by 230,000 to 1.8 million jobs. Gains are due to increased energy production and revenues, regulatory reform, changes to land uses and access, infrastructure projects, and other factors.”

Land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “produced 869 million barrels of crude oil, 4.6 cubic feet of natural gas, and 347 million tons of coal” in fiscal 2017, the report states. In fiscal 2017, oil production on BLM lands increased by 59 million barrels and coal production increased by 37 million tons.

Twenty-one deregulatory actions DOI undertook in 2017, including rule changes to increase energy companies’ access to federal lands, are expected to result in “savings to the economy of $3.8 billion over time,” says the report.

“Oil, gas, and coal produced from federal lands and waters supported an estimated $134 billion in economic output and an estimated 676,000 jobs,” the report notes.

Credits Rule Changes

Intelligent regulatory changes are benefitting the American people, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement describing the report.

“Anyone who grew up in the West can tell you that federal lands are working lands and, if managed properly, they support jobs and economic opportunities for communities in industries like recreation, energy, agriculture, and mining,” Zinke said. “This report shows that thanks to smart regulatory reform and increased access, federal lands and waters are once again increasing economic output and creating jobs.”

States Benefiting As Well

Thanks to revenue-sharing agreements between the federal government and the states, increased energy development on federal lands is benefitting state coffers as well.

Oil and gas revenues sent to the states rose by nearly $1 billion in fiscal 2017, the report states.

Uptick in Recreational Visits

Use of national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands increased from 473 million recreational visits in fiscal 2016 to 483 million in fiscal 2017, the report notes.

“These visits supported an estimated $52 billion in economic output and an estimated 418,999 jobs nationwide,” DOI’s report states.

Land-Use Anti-Elitism

Average Americans are being well-served by the Trump administration’s natural resource policies, says Jay Lehr, Ph.D., science director at The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News.

“Environmental extremists want all federal lands out of reach to all but the wealthiest, but Secretary Zinke is putting the ‘people’s’ lands to use for everyone’s best benefit,” Lehr said. “The mineral resources on federal lands are enormous, and Trump is putting them to the benefit of the American people in an environmentally responsible way.

“This is exactly what Zinke has set out to do, and as a result the United States will remain the world’s leader in coal, natural gas, and oil,” said Lehr.

Reversal of Fortune

The Trump administration is reversing years of restrictions on energy production put in place by former President Barack Obama, says Craig Rucker, president of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT).

“The shale revolution that transformed global energy markets began on private lands in the United States, where landowners with mineral rights partnered with energy developers in Colorado, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and elsewhere to produce prodigious quantities of oil and natural gas,” Rucker said. “But the Obama administration dragged its feet when it came to federal lands.

“Now DOI under Trump is in the game, and American energy dominance is becoming a reality,” said Rucker.

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and a senior policy analyst with CFACT.


U.S. Department of the Interior, “U.S. Department of the Interior Economic Report FY 2017,” November 14, 2018: