By Alan Caruba
What if I told you that the government was blocking America’s prosperity in the form of enormous untapped energy reserves that represent wealth and jobs that would once again put America on the path to fiscal security and growth?
Recently, Matt Vespa, on CNS.com reported that the International Energy Agency released a report that said the United States has the capacity to outpace Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s leading producers of oil. It projected that the U.S. could become a net oil exporter around 2020. It could become entirely self-sufficient.
Even so, the Obama administration just moved to cordon off 1.6 million acres estimated to represent one trillion barrels worth of oil in the name of conservation. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving to so encumber hydraulic fracturing—fracking—with so many regulations it will thwart increased use of this extraction technology that has been safely in use for decades.
As Dan Kish, Senior Vice President for Policy at the Institute for Energy Research, warns, there is a major government effort “to federalize hydraulic fracturing regulation” which is already being done by states “in a very professional and knowledgeable way. Take fracking away, the oil and gas production drops.”
For years, through many administrations, the federal government has been doing everything in its power to restrict drilling domestically and off-shore where billions of barrels of oil remains untapped. In October, a Wall Street Journal editorial noted that “The latest example is the Interior Department’s little-noticed August decision to close off from drilling nearly half of the 23.5 million acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.”
As far back as 1976, Congress designated the Reserve a strategic oil and gas stockpile to meet the “energy needs of the nation”, but oil and gas that is not extracted meets no needs. It keeps the nation dependent on imported oil and gas. In an August 22 letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar from the entire Alaska delegation in Congress called it “the largest wholesale land withdrawal and blocking of access to an energy resource by the federal government in decades.”
Noting that “Most of the other 11.5 million acres are almost indistinguishable from the acreage owned by the state that is being drilled safely nearby” the Journal pointed out that drilling on privately owned land has seen North Dakota pass Alaska as the second highest oil-producing state behind Texas.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, “The federal government owns roughly 635-640 million acres of the land in the United States. Four agencies administer 609 million acres of this land; the Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture, and the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service, all in the Department of the Interior.” The Bureau of Land Management manages 248 million acres and is responsible for 700 million acres of subsurface mineral resources.
Mostly by stealth, more and more privately owned land is being purchased by the federal government. In September 2011, Audrey Hudson, writing for Human Events, reported that “The Obama administration is spending $35 million to buy 30,000 acres of private property across the U.S. this year to make permanent homes for mice, fairy shrimp, mussels, prairie bushes and beetles. Those are just some of the 70 critters and plants to benefit from the land purchases in a dozen states as part of the government’s habitat conservation plans for endangered species.”
Quoting Rob Gordon of The Heritage Foundation, Hudson reported that “The federal government already owns more land than Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Poland combined.” The Endangered Species Act is just an excuse to secure ownership of more land and, in particular, to restrict development of every description from housing to hospitals.
Instead of a future in which our oil and gas reserves could unleash all manner of economic growth and the generation of thousands of new jobs, Ben Wolfgang, reporting in the November 22 edition of The Washington Times, “The drilling process that has brought the U.S. energy independence within reach faces renewed scrutiny from the Obama administration and an uncertain future in many states.”
“Next month, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release a draft of its long-awaited report on suspected links between water pollution and fracking, which uses huge amounts of water, combined with sand and chemical mixtures, to crack underground rock and release trapped oil and gas.” Fracking, however, occurs well below underground water levels and has been shown to have no effect on it.
What we are witnessing is the deliberate effort by the Obama administration, in concert with earlier administrations, to deny the economic benefit of tapping the nation’s vast reserves of oil and gas domestically and off-shore. This was evident, as well, in the President’s decision about the XL Keystone pipeline on the grounds that it threatened aquifers if allowed to proceed. Thousands of jobs were lost in that single decision with no evidence of the truth of the assertion.
As the nation sinks further into economic decline and default, it is obvious that the nation’s energy sector is being thwarted at a time when it holds the promise of lifting it out of growing unemployment, higher energy costs, and the drumbeat of utterly false environmental claims about greenhouse gas emissions.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Alan Caruba’s commentaries are posted daily at “Warning Signs” and shared on dozens of news and opinion websites. His blog recently passed more than 2 million page views. If you love to read, visit his monthly report on new books at Bookviews. For information on his professional skills, Caruba Editorial Services is the place to go! You can find Alan Caruba on both Facebook and Twitter as well.
- Noble Energy Makes Oil Discovery at Big Bend Prospect in U.S. Gulf (mb50.wordpress.com)
- China planning ‘huge fracking industry’ (guardian.co.uk)
- The Poisonous Presidency (papundits.wordpress.com)
- Edwards: Drilling bills are expected this session (times-news.com)
When the president says he is opening up millions of acres for drilling exploration in the United States, Cavuto says you might want to thank the previous presidents instead, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. According to the Bureau of Land Management, the current administration has actually decreased approval of drilling permits by 36 percent. Even under Bill Clinton, his administration increased the approval of drilling permits by 58 percent, and George W. Bush increased approval by 116 percent.
But what about more drilling? Will an increase in domestic production make a dent on oil prices? Some analysts say “yes”. Cavuto showed a graphic of current drilling sites in the United States vs. the amount of land that we ‘could’ drill on. You can decide for yourself:
So how much potential oil-energy does the U.S. really have domestically? Jim Angle reports that some energy analysts say the U.S. could have up to 1.4 trillion barrels of ‘recoverable’ or potential barrels of oil yet to be drilled. This means the U.S. has the potential to have more drill-able oil than Saudi Arabia.
However, these analysts results are at odds with the president’s estimates. The Obama administration says the U.S. only has 21 billion barrels of proven reserves, and drilling more will not lower gas prices.
What do you think? Will more domestic drilling decrease your pay at the pump?
- LOOK Who Is Lying About Drilling (tarpon.wordpress.com)
- Obama officials rip into GOP gasoline bills (mb50.wordpress.com)
- MRC’s Tim Graham and Neil Cavuto Compare Coverage of Gas Prices (Bush vs. Obama) on Fox News (newsbusters.org)
- Critics rip Obama claim that drilling in U.S. won’t drop gas prices – Washington Times (gds44.wordpress.com)
- Obama administration advances plan for seismic research along Atlantic coast (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Insiders: Southern Section of Keystone Pipeline Doesn’t Need Obama (mb50.wordpress.com)
- No Permit, No Drilling, The Soft Spot (tarpon.wordpress.com)
The company is one of only three that holds a federal lease to research oil shale energy development on the Western Slope, but officials say they would rather pursue other projects.
“Chevron has notified the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) that it intends to divest its oil shale research, development and demonstration lease in the Piceance Basin in Colorado,” the company announced Tuesday. “While our research was productive, this change assures that critical resources — people and capital — will be available to the company for other priorities and projects in North America and around the globe. We will work with the BLM and DRMS to determine the best path forward, timing and other issues.” Despite nearly 100 years of failed attempts to make oil shale commercially viable, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said the energy source will help fund his $260 billion transit package and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado, is pushing the Pioneers Act, which would revive a 2008 plan put together during the Bush administration to open 2 million acres of public lands in Utah, Wyoming and western Colorado to oil shale drilling. The House passed Lamborn’s bill this month.
The Congressional Budget Office issued a report, however, which projected that Boehner’s bill would, over 10 years, leave the highway trust fund $78 billion in the red, and the Interior Department is looking at slashing the amount of land available for oil shale research to 462,000 acres.
“Chevron’s research hardly got started and they quickly concluded that they were throwing money down a rabbit hole. It’s indicative of the fact that oil and gas companies see much more profitable, and realistic, opportunities elsewhere,” said Colorado energy expert Randy Udall.
Squeezing energy out of oil shale requires immense quantities of water. Industrial-scale oil shale development could require as much as 150 percent of the amount of water the Denver Metro Area consumes annually, according to Bureau of Land Management estimates.
As early as 1921, oil companies have been trying to tap northwest Colorado for oil shale. The expense required to develop the energy source, however, has outweighed potential profits. About a dozen different projects have come and gone during that time — none remembered more than “Black Sunday” when ExxonMobil pulled the plug on a huge oil shale operation in western Colorado in 1982 that left the region in economic shambles.
Chevron and its subsidiaries started amassing acreage in Colorado for oil shale research back in the 1930s.
“Oil companies have been trying to pull the sword from the stone for nearly a century. Oil shale has no King Arthur,” said Matt Garrington of the Checks & Balances Project. “Chevron’s decision to pull out of oil shale is yet another reason why [U.S. Rep. Scott] Tipton [R-Colorado] and Lamborn should quit saying that melting rocks into oil will somehow fund critical repairs to our roads and bridges.”
Royal Dutch Shell and AMSO are the other two companies that hold oil shale leases in Colorado.
- Chevron gives up Colo. shale lease as Obama moves to shrink shale activity (junkscience.com)
- USA: Chevron to Splash USD 32.7 Billion in 2012 (mb50.wordpress.com)