U.S. Sen. David Vitter made the following statement following the U.S. Department of Interior's announcement of a western Gulf of Mexico lease sale. The sale they announced will be only the third lease sale since the 2010 drilling moratorium. The five-year lease sale plan that has been withdrawn by the Obama administration would have provided at least 10 lease sales over the same period.
"There is no disputing the fact that our nation's domestic energy production on federal lands is far lower than it was before this administration took office, yet they continue to manipulate the data," Vitter said. "Energy production on federal property is a process that requires leasing, permitting, exploring, more permitting, and then hopefully production. The federal government can cripple any one of these stages, and this administration has made it their standard to stymie the process."
The Obama administration has reduced access to leases both onshore and offshore. Onshore acreage leased under the Obama administration in 2009 and 2010 were the lowest in over two decades, stretching back to at least 1984. Their offshore plan for the next five years would keep 85 percent of offshore areas closed to new American energy production.
Prior to the administration's first offshore drilling lease sale, more than a year after the 2010 moratorium, Vitter highlighted the total drop-off in federal revenue coming in due to the lack of lease sales -- from $10 billion in FY2008 to $0 to that point in 2011.
Vitter has also been urging the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to go back to the previous five-year leasing plan that would open up nearly all of the outer continental shelf for lease sales.
Under the Obama administration, offshore lease sales have gradually declined each year, depriving the U.S. Treasury of a major source of revenue. During 2008, $9.4 billion was generated in new offshore lease bids. That dropped to $1.1 billion during the recessionary year of 2009, $979 million in 2010, then to just $36 million in 2011.