A “non-partisan coalition” mentioned by President Obama in his State of the Union message contradicts the claim that he’s “cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.” In fact, the report he cited says federal rules and red tape are blocking badly needed energy production on federal land.
“[S]ignificant oil and natural gas resources on federal lands, both onshore and offshore, remain unavailable for development due to statutory restrictions and bureaucratic inertia,” says SAFE, the group mentioned by the president. In other words, the Obama administration basically has federal energy resources under lock and key:
- The Obama administration’s own five year plan “essentially tak[es] almost 20 billion barrels of oil and 60 tcf of natural gas off the table for development … despite strong state-level support in some cases, most notably in the mid-Atlantic region,” says SAFE. And “the absence of any clear indication of potential leasing activity in the near future” prevents new energy exploration.
- Oil production on federal land plummeted by 14 percent from 2010-2011 alone, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Natural gas production declined by 11 percent.
- It takes 30 times longer to get a federal drilling permit than some state and private permits, according to this chart from the Institute for Energy Research. The House Natural Resources Committee says the time it takes to get a federal permit has increased by 30 percent under President Obama.
SAFE’s advice? “[M]uch more could be done to support sustained increases in domestic energy production over the long term.” House Republicans passed a series of American Energy Initiative bills over the last two years removing government barriers to energy production, requiring approval of popular projects like Keystone XL, and stopping policies that drive up gas prices.
If President Obama really wants to “free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long,” as he said in his address, he’ll call on Senate Democrats to take up House-passed bills expanding energy production. After all, in the president’s words, “if a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we.”