Rahall Urges More Oil and Gas Production in Areas Already Open to Drilling
U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, today responded to President Bush's claim that opening more offshore areas to multinational oil and gas conglomerates will lower gas prices.
"At present, 81 percent of estimated oil and gas resources on federal lands both onshore and offshore are available for development or will be pending the completion of land-use planning or environmental reviews. If the oil industry would drill those areas now, areas that are available for them to drill in now, today, the amount of oil produced would represent over 14 years of current U.S. consumption, and 30 years of current domestic natural gas consumption," Rahall said.
Rahall's legislation gives Big Oil one option - either "use it or lose it". The bill is a direct response to the facts outlined in the recent House Natural Resources Committee Majority Staff report, "The Truth About America's Energy: Big Oil Stockpiles Supplies and Pockets Profits", and the follow-up report, "Drilling Facts", that illustrate how energy companies are not using the federal lands and waters that are already open to drilling.
Rahall said that the oil industry is benefiting from the misconception it has helped to spread through costly advertising campaigns that the Congress is standing in the way of more drilling. But Rahall's bill demands that companies drill now or give up their leases to companies that will. The 68 million acres of leased but stockpiled federal oil and gas lands have the potential to produce an additional 4.8 million barrels of oil and 44.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day. This would nearly double U.S. oil production and cut oil imports by one-third.
"We have found that the oil industry is sitting on 68 million acres of federal oil and gas leases, the size of Colorado. They are stockpiling them. Opening up even more areas only gives them an opportunity to speculate even further. It is like your children trying to eat their dessert before the main course. The oil industry needs to drill what they have now, drill in those areas available to them, and then we will talk about giving them dessert."