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Land transfer would tie Utah's future to oil — Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

"Utah's political leaders have received the analysis they sought. A report from three state universities says Utah can afford to take over more than half the state from the federal government, and may even be able to make more money on it than the feds have.

"It is a thorough look (784 pages) that weighs multiple economic factors, and it even offers a value for recreational activities on those lands. (Hiking is worth $1.4 billion.) The transfer would require either an act of Congress or a successful lawsuit, but that may not be the biggest challenge. The report also spells out two big "ifs" for the transfer to succeed for Utahns:

"1) The federal government would have to turn over not only the land but also more than $100 million in annual mineral lease (mainly oil and gas) money it earns on leases it has already signed.

"2) Oil prices must rise again and stay that way for the foreseeable future.

"A land transfer would be more closely tying our future to … OPEC. ..."

"The accounting of a federal land transfer depends on a lot of assumptions.

"Utah can afford to take over 31.2 million acres managed by the federal government, according to a long-awaited economic study, but only if oil and gas prices remain stable and energy production stays on pace with the recent boom years. ..."

Tougher climate rules could idle fossil fuels — Bloomberg News |

"London • A major threat to fossil fuel companies has suddenly moved from the fringe to center stage with a dramatic announcement by Germany's biggest power company and an intriguing letter from the Bank of England.

"A growing minority of investors and regulators are probing the possibility that untapped deposits of oil, gas and coal — valued at trillions of dollars globally — could become stranded assets as governments adopt stricter climate change policies. ..."

Shale pioneer sees less drilling after losing $12B — Bloomberg News |

"Houston • Billionaire wildcatter Harold Hamm, a founding father of the U.S. shale boom whose personal fortune has fallen by more than half in the past three months, said U.S. drilling will slow as producers cut back amid falling oil prices. ..."

" ... Cheap oil is obviously good news for people and countries who use oil and gasoline. But it's bad news for people and countries who produce it.

"Oil-producing nations — including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and so on — are seeing a huge hit to their bottom lines. Steven Mufson of The Washington Post estimates that the annual revenue of OPEC nations could shrink by $590 billion if prices stay this low. Russia, for its part, had been planning for $100-per-barrel oil in its 2015 budget. Now that prices are down to around $70, the country is likely to face a painful economic adjustment. ..."

" ... Chevron and Exxon Mobil rose the most in the Dow, even as the price of crude oil resumed its decline. ..."