Federal agencies regularly permit road building, mining, livestock grazing, mining, road building, or oil and gas development on federally owned land. Controversies arise when individuals and environmental groups believe endangered species are threatened, that fences obstruct wildlife access, that gas and oil leasing and development should not occur on federal land, or that federal actions meant to protect natural resources resulted in taking of private property, to name a few instances. Attorneys who concentrate their practice in energy and natural resource law represent individuals, businesses, government and non-profit organizations in regulatory compliance, transactional matters, litigation and dispute resolution.
The extraction of natural resources for industrial purposes, including the production of energy, can have a profound impact on the environment. Such issues as coal mining, oil and gas drilling and the creation of hydroelectric power plants can affect air quality, groundwater and the visual appearance of the landscape. Many states have enacted laws governing the exploitation of natural resources. The federal government has also established laws regulating energy production and the extraction of natural resources.
Energy law addresses the use and tax consequences of the extraction and delivery of renewable and non-renewable energy sources, including oil and gas, coal, solar and wind-generated power. Access to and exploitation of energy in the United States is regulated by the federal Department of Energy, as well as state regulatory bodies. The key issues involved in energy law include:
- Negotiation and execution of contracts for the siting and extraction of energy sources
- Licenses for acquisition of energy sources
- Ownership rights in energy sources, both before discovery and after extraction
Natural Resources Law
Under the law, natural resources include land, wildlife, fish, plants, air, water (groundwater and drinking water) and other resources. Natural resources laws address a wide range of issues, from endangered species to the protection of national parks, from oil and gas drilling to forest fire management.