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Obama made this oil and gas promise last year, and he didn’t keep it

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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In last year’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama made a number of promises when it came to tackling global warming and increasing U.S. energy production. But while Obama has made good on his global warming promises, he has a mixed record when it comes to promoting energy production.

Last year, Obama promised his administration would “keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and [natural gas] permits.” But one year later, the administration has delayed and cancelled oil and gas permits.

When the government was hit by a slew of spending cuts known as the “sequester”, the White House said that oil and natural gas leases would be slowed down due to the lack of funds at federal agencies. Even some House Democrats protested this action because it would cost the government much-needed revenues.

“Development of oil and gas on federal lands and waters would slow down, due to cuts in programs at the Department of the Interior (DOI) and other agencies that plan for new projects, conduct environmental reviews, issue permits and inspect operations,” the White House said. “Leasing of new federal lands for future development would also be delayed, with fewer resources available for agencies to prepare for and conduct lease sales.”

The White House again tampered with oil and gas permits during the government shutdown last fall. Agencies were forced to furlough thousands of employees and halt key functions, like issuing oil and gas permits. The Interior Department had to stop issuing onshore oil and gas permits, but could still issue offshore permits.

“It’s laughable for this guy, who has taken over five years to issue a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, to say he’s going to streamline permitting,” said Dan Kish, senior vice president at the Institute for Energy Research.

It’s not just that drilling permit approval times are still very high — 228 days on average in 2012, according to the Interior Department — but that oil and gas leases are down.

Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs at the Western Energy Alliance, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that it can take up to 10 years before they can start drilling for oil and gas on federal lands.

“When you look at leasing, it’s down,” Sgamma said. “They offered for sale about 1.6 million acres in 2012 and about about 1.3 million acres in 2013.”

“During the Obama administration they have approved three major oil and gas projects,” Sgamma added. It can take between five and eight years for drilling companies to get the lease and go through the environmental analysis. Once that is completed it can take up to two years before the government approves a drilling permit.

Will Obama address energy production on federal lands this year? We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.

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