President Clinton’s announcement Friday of a ban on new roads,logging and other activities on more than one-fourth of allfederally owned lands will put quite a dent in the futureexploration and production of natural gas in the United States, gasproducers indicated.

The president’s action, which had been anticipated byRepublicans on Capitol Hill, would effectively place 58.5 millionacres of federal lands off-limits to the logging, mining andproducing industries. It’s estimated this land has probable gasreserves of about 10 Tcf that could be developed, said JerryJordan, chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association ofAmerica (IPAA).

Senate Energy Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK) chargedthat the Energy Information Administration is deliberatelysuppressing a report that shows the lands could hold up to 23 Tcfof gas reserves.

This “shouldn’t be done. It’s unwise and probably illegal. It’sterribly unwise from the standpoint of our country’s energy needs,”Jordan told NGI. “Taking out over 50 million acres of non-parkpublic lands will simply worsen our situation regarding naturalgas.”

He questioned the legal authority of the Clinton administrationto take this action. “It will clearly be tested in the courts” bythe logging industry and possibly gas producers, Jordan believes.

Skip Horvath, president of the Natural Gas Supply Association,also had several concerns with the ban. “We are concerned that suchan order will impede maintenance of our [production] facilities” onfederal lands.

But Clinton’s executive order contends the ban will have “onlyvery minimal impact on the…future supply of natural gas and otherenergy sources.” It would permit existing oil, gas, coal and otherleaseable mineral development to continue after current leasesexpire if they are immediately renewed or reissued.

Susan Parker

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