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Proposed Law Upholds Private Property Rights

by Elizabeth Alford on November 4, 2015

Pennsylvania lawmakers move to bolster private property rights by repealing certain provisions of Energy Policy Act of 1992.

Related:Fracking Fight Moves to National Parks

This week, U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson from Pennsylvania introduced H.R. 3881 into the House of Representatives. The Cooperative Management of Mineral Rights Act of 2015, will prohibit the U.S. Forest Service from creating rules to limit access to privately-held mineral rights, within the Allegheny National Forest (ANF).

The legislation is intended to provide clarity to the regulatory process while respecting the long-standing recognition of the fundamental importance of protecting private property rights. By repealing parts of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, it would allow the Forest Service to rewrite rules pertaining to privately held mineral rights in the ANF.

In a prepared statement, Rep. Thompson said “Our region was built on oil, natural gas and other resources produced on private property. (…) Extreme environmental groups had several unsuccessful attempts at shutting down production in the Allegheny through frivolous litigation. I think private property in our nation is part of what defines us as a nation. We have those who have a hostile agenda for attacking private property rights and then we have those who have a hostile agenda for stopping domestic energy production.”

After many years of litigation stemming from a 2009 lawsuit, the courts have affirmed the Forest Service does not have the authority to regulate oil and gas production when those rights are held by private individuals. This piece of legislation formalizes the court’s decisions by making it law.

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