Lobbyists for big oil companies are spinning new data on oil leases on BLM land released today to show that leasing in public lands is “in decline,” but the well-documented oil boom driven by fracking technology tells a much different story.
“It’s a little rich for industry lobbyists to plead poverty when oil production on federal lands is hovering at record levels,” said Chris Saeger, Director of the Western Values Project. “The shale oil boom and its widespread impacts on public lands are no secret to anyone, except apparently to the high-powered lobbyists on K street who are paid to help their clients profit off of the West’s most cherished resources.”
In fiscal year 2014, the BLM issued near record number of drilling permits in North Dakota and Utah, both of which contain key shale oil plays (Bakken and Uinta Basin). The BLM also issued drilling permits at rates consistent with historic averages in Colorado and New Mexico, where companies are also prioritizing the development of shale resources. This is another sign that the BLM is encouraging development in the most profitable areas.
Not only has industry continued to develop large amounts of public land for private gain, they’ve elected not to not develop almost 22 million acres of federal lands which it already has under lease for oil and gas development. Further, industry has not drilled almost 6,000 oil and gas wells for which it has received final approval from the BLM.
Domestic energy production overall continued to boom in 2014, with many Western states recording their highest monthly oil production totals since 1995.