NOCO5’s Tom Livingston reports:
In response to President Obama potentially tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserves to try and reduce the price of gasoline in the U.S., Congressman Corey Gardner has proposed a bill that would require an increase in the oil and gas production under oil and gas leases on Federal lands.
“If we have actually have a draw down of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve of one percent or two percent it means that this president must also present to Congress a plan within 180 days of that decision to tap into it, that increases federal leasing by the same percentage,” Gardner said in a press conference in Mead, CO this morning.
Gardner disagrees with the premise of even tapping into the emergency reserves in the first place saying that those are exactly what they’re for… emergencies…
Gardner says that the reserves are not for political fixes or solutions and that domestic production is the answer to lowering prices.
“Let’s make sure we’re doing what we can in our own backyard to gain our energy independence and create American jobs with American energy,” said Gardner.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? The problem, as Allison Sherry of the Denver paper reported late last week in response to similar allegations from Rep. Cory Gardner, is that oil production on federal lands is already up–13 percent since Obama became president according to the Department of the Interior. Oil imports to the United States are at their lowest percentage since 1995. As we’ve noted several times already, speculation is driving the price of gasoline higher, not scarcity.
Even if that’s all true, wouldn’t it still be a good idea to increase these leases, like Gardner says?
Last summer, The Wilderness Society issued a report called Sitting Pretty on the true state of federal oil and gas leasing–and why new leases won’t bring down consumer energy costs.
[N]ationwide leasing, drilling and production data show the oil and gas industry controlling more than 38 million acres of federal lands ‐ an area larger than Florida, Georgia, or Michigan. Yet, the industry is using far less than one‐half of these lands – controlling 22 million acres of public lands that they are not using for oil and gas production. [Pols emphasis] The oil and gas companies are also holding more than 6,500 idle drilling permits that the BLM has issued during the past few years. Even so, the number of drill rigs operating in the United States is back to pre‐recession levels and nearing a 20‐year high.
According to this report, fully 57%–57%–of federal leases held by the industry have no current development or exploration for oil and gas. Across the nation, over 6,500 unused drilling permits. And the bottom line is, there just isn’t enough drilling capacity in the country to develop the leases the energy industry is already sitting on–let alone a bunch of new ones.
The only thing we can tell you is that Rep. Cory Gardner, whose #1 source of political donations by a wide margin is the very same oil and gas industry, understands how all of this works. The fact is, unused federal energy production leases do have one very important value: as financial leverage for the companies that hold them. If there’s no capacity to actually drill all of these new leases, or even the leases they already control, then this obviously isn’t about “bringing down the cost of gas.” It’s about manipulating your pain at the pump for their gain.
Folks, Gardner is not a stupid man. He knows these leases wouldn’t be drilled. He knows that this won’t bring down the cost of gas, or offset the tapping of Strategic Petroleum Reserve oil.
There’s no nice way to say it, folks. Gardner is banking on your ignorance.