Obama Administration Counting Not-Yet-Approved Leases As “Idle” In Criticism Of Oil Industry


President Obama has tried to deflect criticism of his administration as being hostile to fossil fuels by pointing out that overall domestic oil production in the United States has increased during his term in office. That’s actually true, but production in areas the federal government controls (on federal lands and off-shore) production is down under Obama.

Yesterday the Obama administration tried to deflect that criticism too by suggesting that the oil industry hasn’t been taking advantage of the leases they have:

The White House pushed back against the oil and gas industry’s claims that the Obama administration is blocking domestic energy development, releasing a new analysis showing that 46 million acres of federal lands and waters leased for drilling are sitting idle.

“We continue to make millions of acres … available for safe and responsible domestic energy production on public lands and in federal waters,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in a statement. “We also want companies to develop the tens of millions of acres they’ve already leased but have left sitting idle.”

The problem? The White House is counting as “idle” leases the federal government hasn’t approved yet.

“If you look at their characterization of idle leases, normally they include in that leases where we’re trying to get permits, we’re trying to get permission to develop this land,” said American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard earlier this week. “For example, there was a permit approved just last week in Utah, which Secretary Salazar took great credit for. We’ve been waiting for four and a half years for that approval. In the administration’s previous analysis they would have concluded that was an idle lease, while we’re waiting for Uncle Sam to give us permission to produce these resources, to identify resources on public lands.”

What’s more, just because the federal government issues a lease doesn’t mean there will be any oil found there. Or, perhaps more accurately, any oil found in quantities sufficient to make production possible. As the chart below from Energy Tomorrow shows, for every successful oil discovery there are a lot of failures.

Obama wants to point to the failures and claim them as evidence that the oil industry isn’t taking advantage of the leases. That’s simply not the case.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • mickey_moussaoui

    obama, looking for failure. That’s a redundancy.

    • fedupny

       He’s just looking for justification for HIS failure.

  • Econwarrior

    The obama administration:  all propaganda, all the time.

  • Thresherman

    He thinks he is Oz and we are Dorothy, “Ignore the man behind the screen!”

  • Mplstim56





    Port: Once again you shot yourself in your foot which is in
    your mouth.
         The media aren’t wrong, you are; as is your blogger source Mark Perry, who didn’t
    even read the AP piece carefully enough to see the Alaska figures came from an
    Alaskan statistician, not from a North Dakota source.
     But, what do bloggers care about being careful.
      Of course, you could have checked on these facts yourself, but that
    would take, what do they call it., o yeah, REPORTING.
         The disparate figures for March production in Alaska
    reported by the state’s Oil and Gas Division, which Perry saw on its website
    and parroted without understanding – blogger tendency, no? – include not only
    crude oil production but total liquid petroleum, as in including liquid natural
    gas in the numbers, which jacks it from 17.8 million barrels in March of just
    crude oil production to 19.22 million barrels of total petroleum, including
    natural gas.
         The comparable figure for daily crude production in Alaska
    for March, according to the official data keepers for the state, the oil and
    gas conservation commission cited by “the media” is 567,481 barrels;
    below, as in under, less than, North Dakota’s per-day production of crude in
    March of 575,490 barrels.
        If you have any intellectual honesty, you will post a correction.
       So I figure you won’t post a correction.
        Media was right; Port was wrong.
       Kind of like “dog bites man.”