Coal, Oil, Natural Gas Produced on Fed Lands at 10 Year Low: Less Than 4% of Applications Approved

A new report from The Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that total fossil fuel production (coal, oil and natural gas) on Federal and Indian lands is at a ten-year low. Obama continues his lies, damned lies and statistics.


The share of fossil fuels produced on federal lands has declined from 36. 1 percent in fiscal year 2003 to 27.6 percent in fiscal year 2012. Crude oil and lease condensate production on Federal lands was 18 percent lower in fiscal year 2012 than in fiscal year 2010 when it reached its peak of 723 million barrels. Source: Canada Free Press

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) said it initiated an audit to, among other issues, determine if drilling requests on Federal lands were handled expeditiously. On page 6 of this report, in Finding 2, the OIG determined that the Forest Service had not approved oil and gas parcels in a timely manner. The report states that untimely approvals cost potential revenue loss. The word “potential” can be replaced with “real.”

The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are tasked with working together on issuing permits and leases. A 2001 Executive Order directing the expediting of drilling permits on Federal lands was amended by G. W. Bush in 2003. That amendment added a pipeline safety measure and created an Interagency Task Force to monitor and facilitate timely permits.

Here’s the problem – the Task Force includes:

…the Secretaries of State, the Treasury, Defense, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Transportation, the Interior, Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, Energy, and Veterans Affairs, the Attorney General, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Administrator of General Services, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and such other heads of agencies as the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality may designate;

In the October 16, 2012 Presidential debate, candidate Mitt Romney accused Barack Obama of cutting new permits and new oil leases for offshore oil and gas drilling by half. In fact, those permits and leases fell by more than half. Romney also claimed that domestic oil production on federal lands decreased by 14 percent. Obama said that “just wasn’t true,” but it was true. During Obama’s first term in office, only 1,304 new offshore leases were issued – a third of that of the G. W. Bush second term and a decrease of 61 percent.

The Washington Free Beacon in March 2013 pointed to a Department of Agriculture Inspector’s General report showed of 1,881 applications for drilling permits on public land, fewer than 4 percent were “recent” or filed in the last 180 days. The remainder had been in the government pending file for what the report refers to as “prolonged delays.” Not only were revenues not forthcoming, but prevented the “efforts of the private sector to provide energy to the public.”

An Executive Order means nothing unless an Executive is motivated to enforce it:

“On every front, when it comes to oil and gas production, [Obama’s] agencies have been doing less and less and making it harder and harder” to extract fossil fuels from federal land, said Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research.

The administration continues to tout increases in total U.S. oil and gas production as evidence that its energy policies are furnishing increased domestic energy resources.

But production decreases on federal land have some members of Congress crying foul.

Obama is “trying to use some kind of Jedi mind trick to say, ‘there is no problem here, move along,’” said Rep. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.).

Would-be oil and gas producers “run into nothing but roadblocks and delays” in the federal permit application process, Gardner said. Source: Washington Free Beacon

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) database shows the impact of the Obama administration on energy in the U.S. Here are a few notables:

February 13, 2012 President releases his FY2013 budget, which calls for $66 billion in new taxes on the oil and gas industry.

February 3, 2012 Obama Administration announces plans to close off  75 percent of Western oil shale—of which 70 percent is on federal lands—to development.

February 1, 2012 Greater New Orleans Inc. releases the February 2012 Gulf Permit Index showing that the Obama administration’s permitorium in the Gulf continues. In the previous three months, the administration has issued 57 percent fewer deep water permits than the historical average and 68 percent fewer shallow water permits.

Lies, damn lies and statistics:

January 24, 2012 President Obama makes his State of the Union address, claiming that oil and gas production levels are higher than ever. However, government data shows that permits today are being issued at rates 50 percent lower than during the Clinton administration. The president fails to mention that this increase is happening on private and state lands, not the federal lands which his policies control.


January 18, 2012 President Obama officially rejected the Keystone XL pipeline permit by issuing a finding that the pipeline was “not in the national interest” of the United States. The action destroyed tens of thousands of jobs right here in America, and means that for each additional day his denial stands, the U.S. will import an additional $70 million of overseas oil which could be replaced with safe and secure North American supplies.

January 9, 2012 Obama’s Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s announces a 20-year ban on uranium mining on one million acres of federal land in Arizona. The Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee stated, “Safe and responsible mining of this land could have produced thousands of high paying, family wage mining jobs. The United States is already 90 percent dependent on foreign sources of uranium and this decision only exacerbates our foreign dependence by locking up our own clean energy resources.”

November 16, 2011 The EPA and NHTSA issued a joint proposal to increase fuel economy mandates between 2017-2025. IER filed comments on the final rule that demonstrate the extremely destructive and unintended consequences that will result from the stringency of these new CAFE mandates, including safety as well as significantly higher auto prices which will force some drivers out of the market.

September 30, 2011 Fiscal Year 2011 ends without the Obama administration holding a single offshore lease sale, the first such occurrence in 50 years.

August 26, 2011 The Department of State concludes its 36-month environmental assessments of Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport as much as 830,000 barrels of oil from Canada per day to be refined and used in the US. The review found that no significant adverse impacts to the environment would result from the pipeline. No further action is taken afterward to approve or deny the pipeline. [Nevertheless, Obama “officially” rejected the Keystone XL on January 18, 2012 claiming “not in the national interest of the United States]

July 6, 2011 EPA finalized the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, which it estimates will cost $800 million a year, in addition to $1.6 billion in capital investments needed each year. As a result, Luminant—Texas’ largest power generator—announces closure of plant units, and the layoff of 500 employees.

February 28, 2011

Issued a token deepwater permit, over four months after the moratorium was officially lifted. Did not say when future permits would be issued, thereby continuing the de facto moratorium and leaving thousands of Americans out of work.

January 14, 2011

Revoked an already issued permit for a West Virginia coal mine, costing 250 American jobs.

December 23, 2010

Interior Department announced a new “Wild Lands” Secretarial Order that could place hundreds of millions of acres of public lands off-limits to American energy production.

December 1, 2010
Effectively reinstated the moratorium on offshore drilling, placing the entire Pacific, the entire Atlantic, the Eastern Gulf and parts of Alaska off limits to future energy production.

July 19, 2010

President’s Ocean Policy Taskforce issued final recommendations on implementing a Federally-controlled system of ocean zoning that could lock up huge areas of the ocean to energy development.

June 21, 2010 EPA announced its proposed rule for Coal Combustion Residuals, also known as coal ash, whichcould cost up to 316,000 jobs and $110 billion in economic activity. EPA rules regulating coal also threaten the reliability of the power grid and have already dismantled power plants that generate 33 gigawatts of electricity.

May 17, 2010

Bureau of Land Management finalized rules, first announced by Secretary Salazar on January 6, 2010, to establish more government hurdles to onshore oil and natural gas production on federal lands.

May 6, 2010

Issued a moratorium on all new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, creating further economic devastation and costing thousands of jobs.

March 12, 2010

Withdrew 61 oil and gas leases in Montana as part of a settlement over climate change.

March 3, 2010

Department of Energy filed a motion to permanently abandon Yucca Mountain – the nation’s repository for high-level spent nuclear fuel under current law – jeopardizing the future of nuclear energy.

January 28, 2010

Announced the results of the most recent round of oil shale RD&D leases, which resulted in an 85% reduction in industry interest under the terms proposed by the Department.

June 29, 2009

The Interior Department established new solar reserve areas under the premise of prioritizing solar development, but the actual result was the closing of all but two percent of federal lands from renewable energy development. This was done without public comment. The Department left open only 670,000 acres of the nearly 30 million acres of land with solar potential.

April 27, 2009
The Environmental Protection Agency ordered the cancellation of a permit for a Navajo Nation power plant that Navajo leadership called the most important development project the tribe has ever undertaken. This decision prevents the Navajo nation from creating new jobs and reducing its 42 percent unemployment rate.

March 30, 2009

Signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act into law. This $10 billion, 1200-page bill prohibited energy production on over 3 million acres of federal land, costing American jobs.

February 4, 2009 
Cancelled 77 oil and gas leases in Utah that could cost American taxpayers millions in lost lease bids, production royalties, new jobs and the energy needed to offset rising imports of oil and gas.

Thanks to Doug Ross for cluing us in about the magic of solar beans. 

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