Free Markets, Free People

About That Dependency On Foreign Oil – Get Used To It

The double-talking Obama administration, who lectured us about the need to wean ourselves from our dependency on foreign oil, has, through actions taken by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, made the goal of less dependency less likely.

Salazar, yesterday, announced a new level of bureaucratic requirements sure to slow and provide disincentives to increases in domestic oil and gas exploration.  In the first year of the Obama administration’s tenure, Salazar had already slowed such exploration to a walk  As the Institute for Energy Research (IER) reports:

* Under the first year of the Obama administration’s 2009 oil and gas leasing program, fewer onshore and offshore acres have been leased than in any previous year on record.

* The Interior Department collected less than one-tenth the revenue from oil and gas lease sales in 2009 than it did in 2008

* For the year 2008, lease sale revenues produced a return for the taxpayer of $942 per acre leased. In 2009, taxpayers received about $254 in return for each acre leased under the Obama administration – indicative of the quality of leasable land made available under Sec. Salazar

* More than 97 percent of the 2.46 billion acres of taxpayer-owned lands in the public domain are presently not leased for oil and gas exploration

In a time of economic hardship where federal revenues are way down and deficit spending runs rampant, it is almost criminal to do what Salazar has done. As the Industrial Energy Consumers of America points out:

“At a time when we should be working to enhance our energy supplies here at home, we believe it would be a mistake to pursue policies that would make it more expensive or difficult to access critical natural-gas resources …”

But that is precisely what Secretary Salazar intends to do. IER president Thomas J. Pyle released the following, which pretty much calls the administration out on their absurd policies concerning domestic exploration for oil and gas.  Frankly, I think it is an understatement:

“When it comes to paving the way for the responsible development of homegrown, job-creating energy resources, no administration in history has done more to ensure producers do less.”

The Bureau of Land Management released the following:

Under the reformed oil and gas leasing policy, BLM will provide:

* Comprehensive interdisciplinary reviews that take into account site-specific considerations for individual lease sales. Resource Management Plans will continue to provide programmatic-level guidance, but individual parcels nominated for leasing will undergo increased internal and external coordination, public participation, interdisciplinary review of available information, confirmation of Resource Management Plan conformance as well as site visits to parcels when necessary;

* Greater public involvement in developing Master Leasing and Development Plans for areas where intensive new oil and gas extraction is anticipated so that other important natural resource values can be fully considered prior to making an irreversible commitment to develop an area;

* Leadership in identifying areas where new oil and gas leasing will occur. The bureau will continue to accept industry expressions of interest regarding where to offer leases, but will emphasize leasing in already-developed areas and will plan carefully for leasing and development in new areas.

BLM Director Bob Abbey said the increased opportunity for public participation and a more thorough environmental review process and documentation can help reduce the number of protests filed as well as enhance BLM’s ability to resolve protests prior to lease sales.

Of course, anyone who has been around for more than a day or two has seen this sort of wording before and know how to read between the lines. For instance, note the last sentence. “Increased … public participation” means environmental groups opposing such leases will be given much more access to the process. “A more thorough environmental review process” means leases will essentially be held hostage to a review process which could last years. Finally, the “ability to resolve protests prior to lease sales” means the priority will be to make the protesters happy, not those seeking a lease.

The effect, of course, will be less exploration, less production, fewer jobs and more dependency on foreign oil. Given the economic climate today and the country’s energy needs,  that’s inexcusable.

As Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute warns:

About 9.2 million Americans rely on the oil and gas industry for their jobs. By imposing these unnecessary additional hurdles, American jobs will be threatened along with the economic opportunities afforded by oil and gas development.

So, instead of safely and swiftly exploiting domestic resources (and creating jobs and increasing revenue) it appears the plan is to sit on an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas offshore, as much as 35 billion barrels of oil in Alaska and the Chukchi Sea, and a massive 2.2 trillion barrels of energy in oil shale deposits in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado while Salazar plays politics with our energy future.

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15 Responses to About That Dependency On Foreign Oil – Get Used To It

  • A very slick political game indeed. When oil prices start their inevitable high  rise, the stage will be set to demonize BIG OIL and levy monster tax increases on them

    • “Slick” or “sick”?

      Anyway, it’s a three-fer for the libs:

      (1) They get to demonize Big Oil (they really, really need that Goldstein effect, don’t they?)

      (2) They get to raise tax rates

      (3) They get to force Americans to stop driving big cars and start driving more Obamamobiles

  • So that helps explain why oil prices have risen too high (IMO).
    I figure 60s to low 70s is about appropriate, but if we’re actively working to cut off additional local supply, then of course the price is going to work it’s way back up.
    Oil prices make it back up to $100+ a barrel and we could be looking at some serious issues in the near and long term future.  Stupid, stupid, stupid…

  • Meanwhile, outside US territorial waters, <a href=”″>market forces continue to rule</a> in the E&P biz.

  • Scott, I think oil is still driven by Chinese demand and the rise of other developing nations.
    I would guess that high oil prices would hurt the Dems just like it hurt Bush, and Obama cannot blame it on Bush at all.

    • “Cannot”?  You mean “shouldn’t”, followed by “will”.

    • I agree that the price of oil is driven to some degree – even a significant degree – by demand from the growing economies of Red China, India, and a few other developing nations.  The issue here is that our government appears to be deliberately pursuing policies that drive the price up and increase our dependence on foreign oil.

      As for high oil prices hurting the dems… Well, it depends on how you define “hurt” and exactly WHICH dems you are talking about.  The ones like Waxman, Pelosi, Dingle, Kerry, Schumer who live in very blue states / districts have little to worry about no matter how high the price of oil goes; their idiot constituents will continue to trip the lever for them no matter what they do.  As for the rest, they are supporting a health “care” bill and a damned unethical process in the teeth of nearly 60% opposition from the American people (if polls are to be believed).


      Because, while they may have short-term losses (hurt), it benefits them in the long term by giving them more control over us.

      It is the same with oil.  When prices were pushing $5 / gal during Bush’s last year, the dems were pushing for nationalizing the oil industry a la Hugo Chavez.  They were also able to use “Big Oil” as a whipping boy to stir up their base.  And if the economy tanks… well… it was a dem who said that it’s a shame to let a crisis go to waste.

      And looker is right: they will ALWAYS blame Bush.

  • Let me try that again:
    Meanwhile, outside US territorial waters, market forces continue to rule in the E&P biz.

  • OTOH by buying up OPEC oil now and keeping ours off limits, someday OPEC supplies will run low and we’ll still have ours. Here’s a quick question for TAO: which country sells the most petroleum to the USA? I’ll wait for you to come up with the correct answer. I doubt TAO even has a clue…

  • Tapping domestic reserves would be useful for two primary reasons:
    It’ll put downward pressure on oil prices.
    And it prevents a notional resource-based attack by an entity dominating the sea* or by a suicidal OPEC. (Suicidal because it wouldn’t work; most OPEC members would ignore an OPEC demand to stop selling oil, thus making OPEC effectively a non-entity.)
    (* Which is, really, a marginal attack on the US in the first place, even if someone could manage it. Mexico and Canada are typically our biggest sources of foreign oil, though it varies by month and year, and neither of them uses ships to supply us.)
    No other reasons for worrying about “depending on foreign oil” are significant; to the extent that depending on oil at all matters, it’s oil as such, not that it’s oil from outside the borders of the United States.

    • No other reasons for worrying about “depending on foreign oil” are significant; to the extent that depending on oil at all matters, it’s oil as such, not that it’s oil from outside the borders of the United States.

      That is factually correct. Nevertheless, “oil independence” and “energy independence” have been batted about as a political beach ball for such a long time and deserve some scrutiny from a rhetorical viewpoint. It is certainly interesting (and appalling) to see just how much actual policy does not square with this expressed sentiment.
      Another favorite BS flag of mine is the assertion that our use of oil amounts to an “addiction”.  AIUI, “addiction” implies dependency on a substance, experience, whatever that is ultimately harmful.  Our use of fossil fuel and oil in particular has yielded huge net benefits that now span three centuries.  Calling this an “addiction” is about as absurd as similarly naming our dependence on the produce of six inches of topsoil and steady rains in order to eat!

  • The Dem’s just insist on driving more nails in their own coffin.

  • This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 1/8/2010, at The Unreligious Right