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Wyoming Senate President: Not Much Chance Of Federal Land Transfer

BLM Land
Getty Images, George Frey

Wyoming Senate President Eli Bebout (R-Riverton) says the chances of federal land within the state’s borders being taken over by Wyoming anytime soon are “pretty remote.”

But Bebout says the federal government does need to do a better job of allowing multiple uses of federal.lands and speeding up the permitting process for oil drilling and other development on the lands.

The Riverton Republican says he is not a fan of the idea of Wyoming filing a lawsuit to get control of the lands because he sees that as a “long, drawn-out process” that isn’t likely to yield positive results. The senator says “If Utah wants to pursue that, let them do that.”

He recalls similar lawsuits over federal land within state borders in the 1970s that failed. Bebout says the most likely avenue for getting control of federal lands within state borders would be through congressional action.

But he says with “all of the turmoil” and the long list of issues faced by congress right now, he doesn’t consider that likely to succeed either.

But Bebout says he is hopeful that the Trump administration, with a new Interior Secretary and a new Bureau of Land Management Director for Wyoming, will make federal lands in the state much more accessible for multiple uses, including oil and gas drilling and other mineral development projects.

He says right now Wyoming is at a competitive disadvantage with states like Texas that have mineral resources on private land and much less regulatory burden compared to the same resources on federal land in Wyoming.

He says the national oil and gas rig count has now increased for 16 straight weeks but adds Wyoming isn’t seeing much of that increased activity because of the challenges posed by regulations on federal land.


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