Who owns natural resources in the U.S.?
What laws and regulations govern natural resource extraction in the U.S.?
The legislative branch has passed many laws governing natural resource extraction on federal lands.
How are natural resources on Native American land governed?
Native American land ownership involves a complex patchwork of titles, restrictions, obligations, statutes, and regulations.
Extracting natural resources on Native American land involves unique processes and multiple stakeholders.
Natural resources are increasingly a key source of income for many Native American tribes. In 2019, ONRR and OST disbursed $1 billion to tribes and allottees.
How do natural resources result in federal revenue?
The production process
Oil and gas (or natural gas) are fossil fuels that form underground on land and under the ocean. The U.S. is among the world's top producers of oil and gas.
Miners extract coal through surface and subsurface mining. Most of the coal produced on federal land in the U.S. is mined in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming.
Gold, copper, and iron are the main sources of nonenergy mineral revenues. The Mining Law of 1872 is the major federal law governing locatable minerals.
Understanding federal revenues
Companies pay the federal government to extract natural resources on federal lands and waters. This revenue is collected by the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, mostly as bonuses, rent, and royalties.
See federal non-tax revenues from natural resource extraction on federal land by commodity, revenue type, and company.
This program uses fees from present-day coal mining companies to reclaim coal mines abandoned before 1977.
Understanding federal disbursements
The Office of Natural Resources Revenue collects revenue from natural resources extraction on federal lands and waters and distributes that revenue according to federal law. This process is called "disbursement."
The Land and Water Conservation Fund receives disbursements from offshore oil and gas revenue to support conservation, outdoor recreation, and the needs of local communities.
When authorized, the Historic Preservation Fund receives disbursements from offshore oil and gas revenue to fund the conservation of cultural and historic sites.
The Reclamation Fund receives revenue from onshore natural resources extraction. The fund supports the construction, operation, and maintenance of irrigation and hydropower projects.