• Robert E. Forbis Jr.


Legal protection of the mineral estate is disproportionate to the legal protection of the surface estate. Enforcement of the mineral estate’s dominance over the surface estate is furthered as federal regulations guide split-estate energy development. This body of federal law and regulation guide the BLM’s management and oversight of split-estate energy development. It establishes the federal government’s prevailing interest in developing the federally owned mineral estate. This body of law and regulation also mandates the BLM protect the government’s interest in developing the mineral estate. It is a mandate that reflects the intent of government to serve the public welfare by protecting its ability to provide energy resources to the nation. Findings indicate that the government’s legal and regulatory protection and development interests in split-estate energy resources contradict fundamental principles of property ownership and environmental stewardship. The antiquated nature of federal law and regulation controlling the development of split-estate energy resources are at odds with the legal, political, economic, and technological realities of modern-day domestic energy development. The shared understanding expressed by government, energy, and ranching officials supports this conclusion. Development of a non-traditional energy resource would not have been possible without a “perfect storm” of legal, political, economic, and technological conditions all coming together within a relatively short period of time. These events established the conditions for political upheaval in the BLM’s land-use subgovernment.


Bureau of Land Management Department of Interior Bureaucracy Split-estate energy development Federal law Federal regulation Executive power Subgovernment Natural Resource Policy 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert E. Forbis Jr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

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