Senate Democrats

Reid: To Increase Oil Production, Administration Should Pressure Industry To Begin Drilling On Land It Already Leases

Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today in response to President Bush’s remarks today calling for increased domestic oil drilling:

“Senate Democrats agree that increased domestic production is part of the solution to record oil and gas prices, but President Bush conveniently failed to mention that the oil industry is already sitting on 68 million acres on which they refuse to drill.  Instead of calling on Congress to hand over even more American land and resources to the oil industry, President Bush should tell his friends to start drilling in the land they already have.  He should also release to the market oil being put away in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.  Increased use of existing resources – combined with a sustained investment in energy efficiency and producing clean alternatives to oil – can help provide both short- and long-term solutions to America’s energy crisis.”

###

FACT CHECK: President Bush and Drilling

FACT: OIL COMPANIES ARE NOT DRILLING IN AREAS CURRENTLY UNDER LEASE

There Are 68 Million Acres of Leased Federal Lands That Are NOT Producing Oil.

  • 33.5 Million Outer Continental Shelf Acres Under Lease Are NOT Being Drilled. There are 33.5 million acres of the federal OCS lands that are under lease but are not producing. In contrast, just 10.3 million acres of offshore leases are producing. [MMS, 2007]
  • 34.2 Million Onshore Acres Under Lease Are NOT Being Drilled. There are 34.2 million acres of the federal onshore lands that are under lease but are not producing. In contrast, just 13.3 million acres of onshore leased lands are producing. [MMS, 2007]
  • 68 Million Acres Is Slightly Larger Than Colorado – Bigger Than Every State Except The 7 Largest. 68 million acres is equivalent to 106,000 square miles, just larger than Colorado at 104,000 square miles. The only states larger are Alaska, Texas, California, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. [Enchanted Learning]

Just 21 Percent of Outer Continental Shelf Leases Are in Production. There are 7,740 active leases in the outer continental shelf and only 1,655 are in production. [Department of Interior]

Just 19 Percent of Outer Continental Shelf Acres Under Lease Are Producing. There are over 41,000,000 acres in the outer continental shelf have been leased for oil drilling, yet only 8,123,000 acres are in production. [Department of Interior]

FACT: MOST RECOVERABLE OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS IS OPEN TO DRILLING

79 Percent of Recoverable Offshore Oil Is Open to Drilling. Currently 79 percent of America’s technically recoverable offshore oil reserves are open for leasing, while just 21 percent are closed to drilling. [Minerals Management Service, 2006]

82 Percent of Recoverable Offshore Natural Gas Is Open to Drilling. Currently 82 percent of America’s technically recoverable offshore natural gas reserves are open for leasing, while just 18 percent are closed to drilling. [Minerals Management Service, 2006]

FACT: EXPANDING DRILLING WOULD HAVE NO IMMEDIATE IMPACT ON GAS PRICES

Senator McCain Said Expanding Domestic Production Would Take Years to Develop. “But I also have to tell you that with those resources, which would take years to develop, it would only postpone or temporarily relieve our dependency on fossil fuels,” McCain said. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Joel Connelly Column, 6/20/08]

Senator McCain Said Exploiting Domestic Oil Reserves Would Take Some Years, Could Have a Beneficial “Psychological” Impact. “Even though it may take some years, the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have psychological impact that I think is beneficial,” said McCain during a town hall meeting. [Associated Press, 6/24/08]

Senator Martinez Said Drilling Is Only Long Term Solutions, Not Immediate Answers. “I don’t think that solar and renewables are any more of an answer tomorrow than opening up more areas of exploration would be. All of these are long-term solutions, but we’ve got to begin down the path at some point.” [Senators Martinez and Cornyn Press Conference, 7/8/08]

  • Senator Martinez Said Most Immediate Thing We Could Do to Reduce Gas Prices Is to Reduce Consumption. “In my way of thinking, the most immediate thing we could do to impact prices is consume less. And so, that is the most immediate thing we can do. And so, that’s why we should look — and I know Senator Warner has been talking about asking the DOD to find ways of using less. Maybe they could reduce consumption. And if we do that across the board, and if we do that across the country, that could begin to have an impact.” [Senators Martinez and Cornyn Press Conference, 7/8/08]

FACT: BUSH ADMINISTRATION’S ENERGY EXPERTS AGREE OFFSHORE DRILLING WOULD NOT SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER GAS PRICES

Head of Bush Administration’s Energy Information Administration Said Offshore Drilling Would Have Little Affect on Gas Prices. “In response to record pump prices, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain and President George W. Bush this month called for Congress to end its moratorium on drilling off the East and West coasts and in Florida waters, leaving it up to each affected state to decide where to permit drilling… However, Guy Caruso, who heads the federal Energy Information Administration, said consumers would see little savings at the pump. ‘It would be a relatively small effect, because it would take such a long time to bring those supplies on,’ Caruso said during a briefing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the EIA’s new long-term international energy forecast. ‘It doesn’t affect prices that much.’ Most energy experts say it would take five to 10 years to find oil in the closed areas and bring the crude to market. Caruso said the additional supplies would amount to only a couple of hundred thousand barrels of oil a day. ‘It does take a long time to develop these resources, and therefore the price impact is muted by that,’ he said.” [Reuters, 6/25/08]

Bush Administration’s Own Energy Information Administration Found Outer Continental Shelf Drilling Would Have No Significant Impact on Gas Prices  “The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030… Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.” [Energy Information Administration, 2007]

  • On President Bush’s Watch, Offshore Drilling Has Increased, But the Price of Gas Has Skyrocketed. The number of domestic drilling permits issued and wells have increased dramatically from 3,000 permits and wells in 2000 to nearly 8,000 permits and 6,000 wells by 2006. Over the same time period gas prices have skyrocketed from $1.25 per gallon in January 2000 to over $4 per gallon today. [Bureau of Land Management, answers to questions submitted 3/1/07; EIA Historical Data]
Bookmark and Share