A Free-Market Energy Blog

Government over U.S. Oil and Gas: A Summary

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- October 6, 2023

The Library of Congress’s Oil and Gas Industry: A Research Guide lists

  • Federal agencies pertaining to oil and gas in addition to the U.S. Department of Energy, which back in 1977 consolidated dozens of energy functions spread throughout Washington, DC.
  • Major state regulatory agencies
  • U.S. Congressional Committees

It is reprinted below as a quick look at Energy Leviathan. Needless to say, in a free market, with the separation of government and energy, with the military functions transferred to the U.S. Department of Defense, this alphabet soup would not exist.


U.S. Regulatory Agencies

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the primary body that regulates oil and gas companies, although a number of other federal offices oversee specific components of the oil and gas industry.

BLM regulates federal onshore lands. Their website on the government’s oil and gas program contains lease sale information, forms, statistics, and enforcement guidelines.

Holding powers formerly held by the Minerals Management Service, BOEM is responsible for providing leases for exploring federal offshore lands. It is divided into four regions: Alaska, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific. Its official website contains regulations, governing statutes, and GIS data.

BSEE is responsible for enforcing safety and environmental regulations of offshore oil and gas resources. In addition to their safety bulletin, their website has a data center, planning and preparedness information, and incident statistics.

The EPA is responsible for emission regulations, including sulfur standards. Use the search function to find reports, FAQs, and other information on oil and gas topics.

FERC regulates pipeline rates to encourage maximum use and regulates interstate transportation practices of oil and gas companies.

As the name implies, PHMSA assesses the safety and performance of pipelines. Their website includes data on incidents, information on regulations and permits, and research on pipeline safety. The office is organizationally a part of the Department of Transportation.

The SEC ensures financial and organizational compliance of interstate public utility holdings, as well as publicly traded companies in the oil and gas industry.

The Department of Energy manages the United States’s nuclear infrastructure and administers the country’s energy policy. The Department of Energy also funds scientific research in the field. It is the parent agency for the Energy Information Agency, and the Office of Fossil Energy.

While not a regulatory agency, the U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for responding to oil spills offshore.

State Agencies

U.S. states have government agencies and commissions that are responsible for regulating the oil and gas industries in their states, which can often have a wider impact. States have authority over pipeline transportation that occurs wholly within one state.

Some states have additional regulations for the refined oil product: For example, states in colder climates require additives to gasoline during winter months and California has more stringent standards for gasoline than the EPA.

Listed below are select government agencies from top oil producing U.S. states.

U.S. Congressional Committees

In the United States, standing committees are permanent committees made up of either members of the Senate or the House. They decide which bills to move forward for discussion and votes in the Senate and House. Knowing who is chairing and serving on each committee is important because they shape the agenda.

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