How It Works

In the U.S., land and the resources beneath it can be owned by private individuals and corporations or by federal, state, local, and tribal governments. This makes the U.S. different from nearly every other country; in many places oil, gas, coal, and other minerals simply belong to the government, but in the U.S. there is widespread private ownership of these resources.

Learn what the extraction process looks like, how state and tribal lands are managed, and what laws and governance relate to the industry.

The U.S. ranks at or near the top worldwide in the production of many natural resources.

The U.S. ranks at or near the top worldwide in production of many natural resources. We are first in natural gas and oil, and second in coal and renewables. Created with Sketch.

Who owns natural resources in the U.S.?


Private individuals and corporations, as well as federal, state, local, and tribal governments, can own land and the oil, gas, coal, and other minerals found below the surface.

Learn about land and resource ownership

What federal laws and regulations govern natural resources in the U.S.?

Federal laws and regulations

The legislative branch has passed many laws governing natural resource extraction on federal lands.

Learn about federal laws

Federal reforms

The government reforms laws and regulations by enacting new legislation and proposing new rules for implementation.

Learn about reforms

How do natural resources result in federal revenue?


Learn about production

Oil and gas

Oil and gas (or natural gas) are fossil fuels that form underground on land and under the ocean. In 2014, the U.S. produced more petroleum and natural gas than any other country.

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Learn about oil and gas


Miners extract coal through surface and subsurface mining. In 2014, the U.S. was the world’s second largest coal producer after China.

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Learn about coal

Nonenergy minerals

Gold, copper, and iron are the main sources of nonenergy mineral revenues. In 2013, U.S. metal production totaled $32 billion.

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Learn about nonenergy minerals

Renewable energy

Renewable energy resources — including geothermal, solar, wind, biomass, and hydrokinetic energy — comprised about 10% of U.S. energy consumption in 2015.

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Learn about renewable energy


Learn how revenues work

Federal revenue by company

See federal non-tax revenues from natural resource extraction on federal land in 2015 by commodity, revenue type, and company.

See revenue by company

Corporate income tax

Corporations pay income taxes to the IRS, but the IRS cannot release confidental data about the amounts of individual payments.

Learn about tax revenue

Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program

This program uses fees from present-day coal mining companies to reclaim coal mines abandoned before 1977.

Learn about the AML Reclamation Program

Coal Excise Tax

Coal producers pay a federal excise tax, which originated in 1977 with the Black Lung Revenue Act, when they mine coal in the U.S.

Learn about excise tax revenue

How does the U.S. ensure accuracy and accountability in natural resource revenues?

Audits and assurances

Data about revenue from the extractive industries is subject to a number of controls, standards, and regulations.

Learn about audits and assurances


During the USEITI reconciliation process, company reports of payments are compared to government records of revenue received.

Learn about reconciliation

How is natural resource extraction governed in U.S. states and on tribal lands?

State laws and regulations

State agencies create regulations and rules about natural resource extraction. Local government agencies also play a role.

Learn about state laws

Tribal laws and regulations

Extracting natural resources on Indian land and distributing the associated revenue involves a unique set of processes and stakeholders.

Learn about tribal laws