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What are the primary laws and regulations governing the oil and gas industry in your jurisdiction?
The primary laws governing the oil and gas industry on federal lands are:
- The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, as revised by the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act of 1987, as codified under Title 30, Chapter 3A of the US Code;
- the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953, as codified under Title 43, Chapter 29 of the US Code;
- the Multiple Mineral Development Act of 1954;
- the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969;
- the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976; and
- the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act of 1962, as amended by the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Simplification and Fairness Act of 1996.
Much of the oil and gas industry is governed on a state level. The ownership of oil and gas rights is frequently governed by the common law of the applicable state (or, in the case of Louisiana, the civil law), while the regulation of oil and gas development (including on private lands) is governed by the law and regulation of the state where the applicable lands are located.
What government bodies are charged with regulating the oil and gas industry and what are the extent of their powers?
The authority to grant oil and gas rights and to regulate oil and gas development on federal lands rests with the Department of Interior. The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management has authority over the development of oil and gas on onshore federal lands and, in conjunction with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, on American Indian lands. Regulatory authority within the Department of Interior covering oil and gas development on offshore federal lands is mainly divided between:
- the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees the commercial aspects; and
- the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which is in charge of enforcing environmental and safety regulations.
The Department of Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue is responsible for the collection and management of all revenues, including royalties, generated by oil and gas development on federal land.
On state-owned and private lands located in a particular state, the regulation of oil and gas development is primarily conducted by the applicable state agency vested with such authority; the commercial and the regulatory functions are frequently divided between agencies.