Senate Democrats

To Increase Domestic Production, Oil Companies Should Use The 60 Million Acres They Are Leasing

Oil and gas companies are currently sitting on approximately 60 million acres of oil and gas leases that are going unused. At the same time they are holding back on domestic production, these same oil companies are reaping record profits from high gas prices.  And Republicans are protecting this shell game, at a high cost to consumers. Meanwhile, an extreme Republican spending proposal would fire a third of the watchdogs guarding against the reckless speculation that is further driving up prices and gut investments in clean energy sources that reduce our reliance on foreign oil from dangerous regions of the world.

Here are the facts Republicans ignore:

Fact: U.S. oil production, including that on federal lands and waters,  has been increasing since 2008, with its largest single-year increase indecades in 2009. In the last two years, oil production from the federal U.S. Outer Continental Shelf has increased by more than a third, from 446 million barrels in 2008 to an estimated more than 600 million barrels in 2010.  Oil production from onshore public lands increased by 5 percent over the last year, from 109 million barrels in 2009 to 114 million barrels in 2010.  U.S. oil production is forecast to continue to increase through 2035.  And the U.S. oil industry has access to more than 60 million acres of federal land and water that they have not taken action to put into production.  [Bureau of Land Management and Energy Information Administration (EIA)]

Fact:Nearly 20 percent of U.S. oil refinery capacity currently sits idle, the highest idle capacity rate in over a decade; clearly, we do not have a problem with lack of refinery capacity. [EIA]

Fact: EPA’s current Clean Air Act standards for vehicles are projected to save consumers money at the pump – $130 – $160 per car per year – and save 1.8 billion barrels of oil. [EPA]

Fact: Oil production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico continued unabated throughout the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The moratorium that was implemented after the Deepwater Horizon disaster was lifted in October 2010, affected only the initiation of new deepwater drilling activity, and had no application to existing producing wells.  Despite the Deepwater Horizon disaster, oil production in the Gulf of Mexico increased in 2009 and 2010 after falling since 2004. [EIA]

Fact: The best way to reduce our long-term dependence on oil from dangerous regions of the world is by investing in alternative fuels. Increased domestic drilling will not end the addiction to oil which compromises our economic and national security. With less than 1.5% of the world’s oil reserves, the only way to reduce long term dependence on oil is by investing in a alternative fuel sources.  The Democrats’ clean energy agenda would improve vehicle efficiency, increase our use of alternative fuels, and save more oil between now and 2030 than the U.S. currently has in oil reserves.  The Republican spending plan cuts funding for alternative energy sources by more than $700 million. It also slashes the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program for clean energy developers and manufacturing companies designed to bring clean energy technologies to commercial scale use. [NYTimes 02/14/11, Forbes 03/03/11]