Playing Fair: Congress should approve Johnson bill

One reason many Americans are upset with how federal lands are administered in Washington is that when there is money to be made from them, little or none of it goes to local communities. A bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, is aimed at changing that.

Johnson has introduced the Providing Opportunities With Energy Revenues Counties Act (P.O.W.E.R., for short). Its intent is to ensure that when oil and/or gas are produced on federal land, counties in the vicinity receive shares of the revenue.

Gas and oil production in the Wayne National Forest, which includes all or portions of many counties in Johnson’s district, is the congressman’s specific concern.

His bill would, if enacted, require that 20 percent of oil and gas revenue from federal lands such as the national forest go to counties where the property is located to support educational initiatives and infrastructure improvements.

“Our students are learning about the many job opportunities that have arrived — and will continue to arrive — resulting from the oil and gas boom,” Johnson told another publication. “Schools are expanding their programs to help prepare students for new and exciting careers here at home, where they have been raised and educated.”

But county governments bear much of the burden in such cases, dealing with issues such as road repairs that result from energy development. Congress should approve Johnson’s bill, then, simply because it is the fair thing to do.