The Facts on Domestic Oil and Gas Production

As gas prices continue to rise, American consumers want the facts – not more baseless political spin from Congressional Republicans. In the past two years oil production from the Outer Continental Shelf has increased by more than a third and last year alone oil production rose to its highest level since 2003.

This afternoon, the Department of the Interior released a report detailing the overwhelming number of acres both on and offshore which have been leased by oil and gas companies but remain inactive. The White House blog on this report:

…although the Department of Interior has made available significant acreage for resource development over the past two years, substantial acreage has not been leased by industry. Secondly, there are tens of millions of acres that are currently under lease that remain idle. Because these areas are not undergoing exploration, development, or production, taxpayers are not getting the full advantage of America’s resource potential. When it comes to onshore oil and gas development, nearly 57 percent of all leased acres are inactive – meaning they are neither being explored nor developed. In total, 22 million leased onshore acres – acres already in the hands of oil and gas companies – are not being used. That’s roughly the size of Indiana.

Use of offshore leases is even more striking. Over 70 percent of the tens of millions of offshore acres under lease are inactive. In the Gulf of Mexico alone, there are nearly 24 million inactive leased acres. That’s about the size of Kentucky. DOI estimates that this area includes approximately 11.6 billion barrels of oil and nearly 60 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Earlier this week on the White House Blog, the White House highlighted the Obama Administration’s commitment to developing domestic energy resources “safely, responsibly, and efficiently” and noted despite GOP myths, offshore oil production has continued in the Gulf of Mexico:

…this administration is committed to developing a broad range of energy sources, and we know that high prices at the pump are forcing Americans to make tough choices. That is why we continue to take steps that, over the long run, will save Americans money at the pump and lessen our reliance on foreign oil. We stand by our desire to be a strategic partner of Brazil on energy issues, but when it comes to domestic production our record speaks for itself, and regardless what some would like to claim, that record makes clear that we are fully committed to developing domestic resources safely, responsibly, and efficiently.

It has been less than a year since the largest oil spill in U.S. history. In that time, this Administration has worked aggressively to implement unprecedented new safety and environmental standards that build on the lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Contrary to misleading claims, production has continued. Following the development of important new standards, the Department of the Interior (DOI) has worked with industry to ensure they meet the standards, and as a result has to date issued 39 permits for new shallow water wells…

These efforts also are bolstered by the responsible production that DOI is overseeing on onshore public lands as well. In 2010, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held 33 oil and gas lease sales covering 3.2 million acres, and processed more than 5,000 applications for permits to drill (APD) on Federal and Indian lands. In 2011, BLM is scheduled to hold an additional 33 lease sales, and the bureau expects to process more than 7,200 APDs.

Democrats are focused on Americans’ top priority – jobs – and are committed to common-sense solutions to reduce the cost of gas at the pump now, to help consumers and to hold Big Oil accountable.

We will continue to promote an energy policy that moves our country forward by spurring investment in American companies and innovation, creates American jobs, reduces our dependence on foreign oil to make America more secure, and ensures a cleaner, more energy-efficient future for our children.

Learn more about how the GOP rhetoric on energy doesn’t match their ‘none of the above’ record»

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