U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today gave his second speech this month to clarify the facts on domestic oil production. Bingaman is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Earlier this month, Bingaman gave a speech on the Senate floor highlighting the fact that U.S. oil production is increasing, and pointing out that gasoline prices are influenced by a host of world factors unrelated to our own oil supplies. At that time, Bingaman said the Obama administration has done much to increase domestic production and lessen our dependence on imports. It has offered up millions of acres of federally-owned oil and gas resources for drilling over the past few years; the oil and gas industry has chosen to lease only a portion of the area offered. And, unfortunately, the oil and gas industry has 7,000 onshore drilling permits that it is not using.
He followed up on his earlier statements with a speech today pointing to additional facts about how oil production has been up on federal lands. Bingaman strongly rebutted recent statements suggesting that U.S. oil production is up only because it has increased on private lands. The facts do not support this statement.
During the last three years of the Bush administration, we produced 1.78 billion barrels of oil on federal lands. During the first three years of the Obama administration, we produced 2 billion barrels of oil on federal lands. See chart.
"It is undisputed that overall domestic production of oil has increased, not decreased, over the last three years. Over the last three years, the U.S. increase in oil production was far greater than that in any other country in the world. The United States is now the third largest oil producer in the world after Russia and Saudi Arabia," Bingaman said. "Production on federally-owned land is higher in every year of the Obama administration than it was in the previous administration."
Bingaman said there are 74 million acres of federally owned lands currently under lease -- both onshore and offshore. Roughly 25 percent of this land is actually being produced and producing oil and gas at this time.
"There are many reasons for that and I am not accusing anyone of not diligently pursuing this. I am just saying that there are a lot of areas available for production and I assume that the companies that have leased them are aggressively pursuing production," Bingaman said.
Bingaman pointed out that the Obama administration will offer further areas for lease in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico, covering an additional 38 million acres.
"It's useful to keep in mind that federally-owned oil production today is about 37 percent of our total production. Many of our oil resources are located on private and state lands, and resources from all of these areas are important in meeting our energy needs," Bingaman said. "We need to produce domestic oil responsibly. There are a lot of good national security and economic reasons for that. I always have supported doing that. But to suggest that some change in policy regarding domestic production is going to change the price of gasoline at the pump is disingenuous."