FACT CHECK: Secretary Zinke loose with the numbers

Distorts BLM oil and gas leasing numbers in Bloomberg interview

The numbers do not add up in Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s latest pitch to roll back common sense public land protections in a Bloomberg interview.

Secretary Zinke starts getting loose with numbers at the 1:27 mark, stating:

This year on onshore, I think, we’re $146 million in leases. You compare that to last year under the different administration we were $11.5 million. So, we’re seeing enormous advances…

The reality is the previous administration generated $192.98 million in lease sales last year. As we reviewed in Rigged: Industry’s Real Burden – Low Energy Prices, industry voluntarily passed on over 23 million acres of oil and gas leases between 2009 and 2016. And, as oil and gas prices tanked in recent years, so did leasing and permitting on state lands. This just goes to show that the issue isn’t about federal leasing at all. It’s the economy.

“Secretary Zinke’s ‘Energy Dominance’ pitch is nothing more than a veiled attempt by special interests to undermine our outdoor heritage and roll back public land protections. He’s on an all-out media blitz to sell their tall tale regardless of the actual numbers,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of Western Values Project. “The Secretary should know how missing the mark by a magnitude of nearly 20 times can have disastrous implications.”

In their financial filings, energy companies admit that prices are driving down leasing, production and investment activity. For example, Halliburton said that “the prolonged reduction in oil and natural gas prices depressed levels of exploration, development, and production activity in 2015 and 2016….” Likewise, Devon Energy acknowledged that “this commodity price decline adversely affected our business and results of operations and led to substantial impairments to our oil and gas properties during 2015 and 2016.” Some of the most active drillers on our public lands share similar sentiments.

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