A while back, when I posted about domestic oil drilling being at a historic high under President Obama, my conservative friends complained that all the drilling was happening on private land. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but as it turns out the reason there isn’t more drilling on federal land is big oil companies aren’t drilling on 2/3rds of federally permitted leases. As a new government report on drilling activity shows:
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. Furthermore, there are approximately 7,000 approved permits for drilling on federal and Indian lands that have not yet been drilled by companies. [...]
In addition to holding thousands of undeveloped leases while lobbying to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, off the New England Coast, and in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, the big five oil companies produced 12 percent less oil in 2011 than in 2006 — all while making record profits.
In other words, all this wailing coming from Big Oil and Republicans about President Obama blocking domestic drilling is a big, fat lie. Also, the American Petroleum Institute, Big Oil’s propaganda arm, is lying when it says this report doesn’t include initial exploratory work. As the quoted part of the report clearly shows, they counted any planning stage as an active site.
So to review, Big Oil isn’t drilling where they already have permits, they’re spending money lobbying for opening up even more environmentally sensitive areas to leases, and they’ve decreased production overall, one might assume in order to be able to charge us more for their products. And let’s not forget the millions they sink into campaigns to support climate change denialists to the detriment of our children’s future on this fragile planet.
Remind me again, why on earth we should be giving these companies billions in government subsidies? [graphic via]