The Obama administration ostensibly supports America’s oil and natural gas boom, but government data shows that they have issued the lowest number of drilling leases since at least 1988.
The total number of oil and gas drilling leases issued in 2013 reached a nearly three-decade lows, according to the Bureau of Land Management. The bureau says it issued 1,468 drilling leases last year, totaling 1.17 million acres of federal land — the lowest figures since 1988, which is the oldest year for which the BLM has data.
When it comes to actually approving drilling permits in 2013, the Obama administration approved the lowest number since 2002 — only 3,770 drilling permits. This is down from 6,617 drilling permits that were approved in 2008, the last year of the Bush administration.
“The slow walking of permits and leases for natural gas and oil production has been a part of this president’s energy policy from the get go,” Chris Warren, spokesman for the free-market Institute for Energy Research told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Under this administration’s watch we have seen production on federal lands and waters plummet due to these policies.”
In 2013, it took 194 days on average for the BLM to approve oil and gas drilling permits — 99 days on average for companies to fix any problems with their application and 95 days for the BLM to approve the permits after problems have been fixed.
“Compare this to five days in Texas and 25 in North Dakota and it’s no wonder why production on federal lands has gone down,” Warren added.
Interestingly, the number of producing federal acres is at a new high of 12.6 million acres, which is one of the highest levels since 1988. But this does not mean energy production on federal lands has been booming. In fact, it’s the opposite, as oil and gas production federal lands has fallen in recent years.
Overall, U.S. oil production has boomed in recent years, but production on federal lands has been falling. The Congressional Research Service reports that oil production on federal lands fell from 1,731,500 barrels per day in 2009 to 1,627,400 barrels per day in 2012, and the total share of crude oil produced on federal lands fell to 26 percent in 2012 from 33 percent in 2009.
“All of the increased production from FY2007 to FY2012 took place on non-federal lands, causing the federal share of total U.S. crude oil production to fall by about seven percentage points,” according to CRS.
The federal government has also locked up about 43 percent of all domestic oil reserves and 72 percent of oil shale acreage, according to the conservative American Action Forum (AAF). Since 2008, oil and gas companies have nominated more federal acres to be leased, but the federal government has been listening and reducing the amount of federal land being put up for auction.
According to AAF, “the number of new acres opened to leasing has increased just 30 percent; since the oil boom began in 2008, the number of leased acres each year has actually declined by a third.”
Total U.S.oil production has reached 24-year highs, but virtually all of the increased production coming from production on private and state lands.
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