Over the past several years, Utah's Legislature has sought the transfer of management of Utah's vast federal lands into the control of the State.  Legislators established the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands to study all aspects of such a transfer and make recommendations to the Legislature for further State actions.  The Commission met last week and invited John Baza of the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining to update them on the State's oil and gas regulatory program and what would be necessary to manage that program from a State level under a transfer.

Mr. Baza's presentation (available here) centered on the current duties of the agency and how they interact with and in some cases duplicate the services of the BLM in oil and gas regulation.  He referenced a previous letter (available here) that he was required to provide the Commission under a requirement of the passage in 2016 of HB 276 UTAH PUBLIC LAND MANAGEMENT ACT.  In the letter he outlined what he believed would be necessary for UDOGM to adequately assume the entire program of regulating Utah's oil, gas and mining industries.

The discussion centered on what staffing would be necessary at UDOGM to effectively manage all the oil, gas and mining activities in Utah and brainstormed ideas on how that could be funded.  Discussions came up about the $9,500 APD fee assessed by BLM and how that money would be beneficially used by the State to maintain and increase service to the industry.  In Mr. Baza's letter, he recommended a pilot program to assess UDOGM's capability to manage oil and gas activities on federal lands.  The Commission showed interest in this approach and decided to follow up on the pilot program idea in future meetings. 

UPA will closely monitor this discussion as it moves forward towards the 2018 Legislative Session.