(Rendering by navajo)
According to the report, more than 70 percent of the tens of millions of offshore acres currently under lease are inactive, neither producing nor currently subject to approved or pending exploration or development plans. Out of nearly 36 million acres leased offshore, only about 10 million acres are active—leaving nearly 72 percent of the offshore leased area idle.
In the lower 48 states, an additional 20.8 million acres, or 56 percent of onshore leased acres, remain idle.
In the long run, we need to wean the nation—and the rest of the world—off these fossil fuels insofar as they are burned for transportation, pumping massive gobs of CO2 into the atmosphere and altering our climate in detrimental ways we can both foresee as well as only guess at.
There are some places, deep-water off-shore places, Arctic wilderness places, for instance, where oil and gas production should be more limited than it is now or prohibited outright. Some techniques, like hydraulic fracking, and some resources, like oil shale, should not be part of the mix now. But in the transition to non-fossil fuels, some exploration and production are going to continue for a considerable while. And if they are going to continue on public land, then, in the words of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, leases should be developed "in a timely and responsible manner and with a fair return to taxpayers."
The industry says the Obama administration is presenting an unfair picture of the situation. American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard said the administration is trying to distract voters from what the industry considers bad policies standing in the way of more drilling:
“It’s absurd to contend the industry pays the government billions of dollars every year in bonus bids and rents to leave land idle,” he maintained. [The industry] develops leases as expeditiously as it can—often in the face of inordinate delays the administration’s own policies create. The administration is being willfully misleading when it identifies leases as idle when companies are seeking permits, doing exploratory drilling, or fighting lawsuits.”Uh-huh. The administration has opened up tens of millions of acres of land for oil and gas leasing. It held a lease auction last year and it's holding another one this year. Drilling is now at its highest level since the Reagan administration. The industry was upset because the White House held back on leasing while BP was spewing millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It's upset that it has to pay more to lease each acre. It's upset that some modest new restrictions have been placed on drilling. And no doubt it's upset about the shutting down of its cozy arrangement of partying and sleeping with employees of a now-extinct division of the Department of Interior charged with governing leases.
Currently, the industry has three Colorado Republican congressmen in its pocket pushing three outrageous pieces of legislation designed to cut the public out of the leasing review process:
H.R. 4383 creates a $5,000 fee for individuals who wish to participate in the decision-making process for oil and gas development on publicly owned lands. That includes families living near drilling sites who could be forced to live with the effects of drilling on their air and drinking water.If these bills manage somehow to clear Congress, President Obama should ink up that too-little used veto stamp and deep-six them with as much ceremony that is given to bills that get signed.
H.R. 4382 outlaws the right of public, local governments, and stakeholders to review lease sales, preventing new information from affecting leasing decisions. It also prevents the BLM from revising leasing plans.
H.R. 4381 gives oil companies first crack at all federal lands, rather than creating a level playing field between renewable energy and fossil fuels. It puts drilling über alles – making it the primary use of public lands above scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archeological values.
The fact of the matter is the oil-and-gas industry isn't being held back by onerous red tape on developing land it's leased. It's not using 7,000 already-approved drilling permits for federal and Indian lands. 7,000. Already got the lease. Already got the final permit to go ahead. So what's the problem again?
If Big Oil were producing energy from its own bullshit, we'd already be free of fossil fuel.