“BLM, the largest landowner in the U.S., oversees approximately 700 million subsurface acres of mineral rights. Farmers or ranchers own the surface rights on large tracts of federal land. Domestic production from more than 92,000 wells on public lands accounts for about 13 percent of U.S. natural-gas production and 5 percent of oil production.
“If you set aside the argument about whether the rule is necessary or duplicative, I think the BLM listened to industry and made a number of significant changes” on technical issues, said John Northington, of Northington Strategy Group, an oil and gas public-policy firm in Washington.
The rule lets state or tribal rules that “meet or exceed” the U.S. standard to take priority, limiting duplication. In announcing the revision, the agency cited regulations in Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota and Texas, without specifying that drilling in those states would qualify.”