A state takeover of federal lands: what are the implications for mineral resources?

If states overcome long odds to prevail in their efforts to take over public lands from the federal government, states would not obtain significant mineral resources—a factor that could hobble the state’s economy, a new analysis from the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law reveals. The analysis, titled “When Winning Means Losing: Why a State Takeover of Public Lands May Leave States Without the Minerals They Covet,” discusses Utah’s Transfer of Public Lands Act, or TPLA, which demands that the federal government transfer title to more than 31 million acres of federal public lands within Utah to the State. The TPLA has inspired 13 other states to take up related legislation. Using Utah as an example, the analysis by Bob Keiter, Distinguished Professor of Law and director of the Stegner Center, and John Ruple, an associate professor of law, argues that states wouldn’t gain mineral resources if taking over public land from the federal government. Moreover, Keiter and Ruple found any mineral rights that states could obtain would be realized only after years of costly litigation—ligitation above and beyond the court cases required to test the validity of states’ questionable TPLA-based claims. Ruple is available to discuss more details about the research.
Phone: 801-581-6545 | Email: john.ruple@law.utah.edu