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PUBLIC LANDS AND ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

(See also Charts 1 & 2 below)

Over the last eight years, the Federal government has greatly accelerated the rate of oil and gas leasing and drilling permits on public land. With half of the land area in the West under federal ownership, the region has been the focus of this new development rush--in particular Wyoming, Colorado and Montana—the states with the greatest oil and gas resources. Tens of millions of acres of Federal land in the west is available for energy development, including the majority of energy resources identified on public lands. Between 1999 and 2007, drilling permits for oil and gas development on public lands increased more than 361%. 1

These facts do not support the notion, posed by some, that opening more public land to energy development will bring down energy prices. Despite the already greatly accelerated rate of permitting and drilling, energy prices have continued to climb.

Wells Drilled on Federal Land in Western States 2

State

WY

CA

CO

NM

UT

MT

SD

NV

AZ

Ronald Reagan

(1981-1988)

7901

George H.W.

Bush

(1989-1992)

2541

19468

3248

3208

1883

2235

212

6879

2215

3208

665

674

42

207

28

127

4

Bill Clinton

George W. Bush

(1993-2000)

(2001-2006)

7824

15670

15348

13558

4696

6959

3844

4957

2028

3281

1729

2511

73

77

138

21

4

1

The largest statewide increase in drilling on all land (federal, state, private and tribal) also occurred in Wyoming where drilling more than doubled from fewer than 1,900 wells drilled per year under Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton to more than 4,200 under George W. Bush. IHS data also showed significant increases for drilling on all land in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Utah (IHS 2008). New Mexico likely recorded even larger increases in drilling on both federal land and all land because wells drilled in the southeastern corner of the state in the Permian Basin were not included in the IHS data that EWG reviewed.

Only 38% of the potential oil and 16% of the potential natural gas are excluded from leasing largely because those resources are underneath National Parks and wilderness areas with significant scenic, recreational, and wildlife values. 3

Onshore, 72% of oil and 84% of natural gas resources are either fully accessible under standard lease stipulations designed to protect lands and wildlife, or will be accessible pending the completion of land-use planning or environmental reviews. 4

Nearly 91 million acres of Federal land are currently open to leasing in the Arctic region of Alaska, including onshore and offshore lands. Oil and gas companies have leased only 11.8 million of the 91million acres. 5

Of the 47.5 million acres of on-shore federal lands that are currently being leased by oil and gas companies, only about 13 million acres are actually in production 6

Since 2004, the Bureau of Land Management has issued 28,776 permits to drill on public land yet only, 18,954 wells were actually drilled. Companies retain nearly 10,000 permits to drill that they are not using to increase domestic production

Chart 1: Gasoline and Natural Gas Prices 1981-2008

• Nearly 91 million acres of Federal land are currently open to leasing in the ArcticAccessed online July 3, 2008 and Short-Term Energy Outlook, Real Petroleum Prices. Accessed online July 3, 2008 . Environmental Working Group, Coming Up Dry, July 2008, http://www.ewg.org/reports/comingupdry NOTE: Natural gas prices are reported in residential price, and all of the prices are adjusted to 2008 dollars. " id="pdf-obj-1-18" src="pdf-obj-1-18.jpg">

Administration. Natural Gas Prices. Accessed online July 3, 2008 and Short-Term Energy Outlook, Real Petroleum Prices. Accessed online July 3, 2008. Environmental Working Group, Coming Up Dry, July 2008, http://www.ewg.org/reports/comingupdry NOTE: Natural gas prices are reported in residential price, and all of the prices are adjusted to 2008 dollars.

  • 1 Report to House Committee on Natural Resources, June 2008,

  • 4 Ibid

  • 5 Ibid

  • 6 Ibid