This week in Washington, we’ll be seeing a lot of political theatrics in the form of budget hearings that will almost certainly misrepresent the effects of American energy policy—particularly out West. You can bet that a handful of out-of-touch members on the fringe of Congress will incorrectly claim that supposedly-onerous regulations are hurting the energy economy—when really, the opposite is true.
In fact, right now, the United States is the #1 oil producer in the world, gas prices are low, and federal regulators are issuing so many permits to drill on public land that the oil industry can’t even begin to use them all. That means something is working.
Here’s what you can expect out of the dog and pony show this week—but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the real facts.
FICTION: We’re not drilling enough on federal lands. 60% are closed to drilling—and we should open up and drill more.
FACT: Westerners expect our leaders in Washington to take a balanced approach to energy development on public lands. That approach does in fact include protecting some lands from development — something we can more than afford to do, given that the U.S. is already the #1 oil producer in the world.
FICTION: Oil and gas production is down significantly on federal public lands—and that’s mostly because of the Obama Administration’s restrictive policies.
FACT: Actually, it’s quite the opposite — crude oil production on federal lands onshore has increased each year since 2009. What’s more, in FY 2014 alone, BLM issued over 1,200 more permits than were actually used by industry.
FICTION: Production is booming on state and private lands, but it’s down on federal lands.
FACT: There has actually been steadily increasing production on onshore federal lands in recent years. The decline has occurred in offshore federal production, largely due to the BP oil spill.
FICTION: We need to end environmental (NEPA) review of pipelines—it’s the only way to tackle the problem of wasteful venting and flaring of natural gas.
FACT: Pipelines are breaking throughout the West, so pushing them through without adequate review is quite likely to end up costing more in the long run. There are plenty of other, less-costly alternatives to reduce venting and flaring and get taxpayers back the royalties they deserve.