UPDATE: The U.S. Energy Information Administration announced on Jan. 27 that data used for its study of oil and gas production on federal lands was “incomplete.” The EIA is currently reviewing information from the Department of Interior and will correct its report upon completion.
In his announcement rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline today, President Obama boasted that under his administration, “domestic oil and natural gas production is up.” Obama, of course, failed to mention that his administration can’t actually take any credit for the increase.
The vast majority of America’s new oil and gas production is happening on private lands in states like North Dakota, Alaska and Texas.
It’s not that Obama is devoid of responsibility. His administration oversees oil and gas production on federal lands by issuing leases. But when measuring oil and gas production in areas under Obama’s jurisdiction, the numbers tell a different story.
Citing publicly available federal data, the House Natural Resources Committee noted these figures:
- Oil and natural gas production on federal lands is down by more than 40 percent compared to 10 years ago.
- Under the Obama administration, 2010 had the lowest number of onshore leases issued since 1984.
- The Obama administration held only one offshore lease sale in 2011.
Despite the Obama administration’s restrictive policies for oil and gas production on federal lands, overall production still increased thanks to the pro-energy policies in states like North Dakota.
“North Dakota has been the poster child for what can happen when we unleash free enterprise and allow states to develop and commercialize their resources,” Heritage’s Nick Loris wrote recently on The Foundry. “North Dakota is drilling at record pace.”
The result: North Dakota’s unemployment rate is 3.4 percent, the lowest in the country. According to a recent report from IHS Global Insight, North Dakota already returned to pre-recession employment along with energy-rich Alaska. Texas is expected to do so in the first quarter of 2012, followed by Nebraska and South Dakota next year.
Those states all have something in common: energy production.
That policy aligns with recommendations from Obama’s own Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which yesterday issued a report calling for more energy production that includes drilling and pipelines. Here’s the language from the Jobs Council report:
As a nation, we need to take advantage of all our natural resources to spur economic growth, create jobs and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil. First, we should allow more access to oil, natural gas and coal opportunities on federal lands. Where sources of shale natural gas have been uncovered, federal, state and local authorities should encourage its safe and responsible extraction. While the administration has supported holding additional lease sales and evaluating new areas for drilling, further expanding and expediting the domestic production of fossil fuels both offshore and onshore (in conjunction with more electric and natural gas vehicles) will reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil and the huge outflow of U.S. dollars this reliance entails. In addition, policies that encourage rapid lease development while emphasizing the highest safety standards will ensure companies responsibly drill for natural gas or oil and mine for coal or other our minerals in federal areas in a timely manner.
With the Keystone XL decision, Obama rejected that advice. “At a time when unemployment remains unacceptably high, Iran is threatening the Strait of Hormuz, and Canada is looking to take this oil elsewhere, it is difficult to understand how the President could say no to thousands of jobs and an increase in energy supply from our ally,” Loris wrote in reaction to the decision.