According to the Wall Street Journal, Big Oil is spending millions more this summer on advertising to deflect consumer anger over high gas prices. This massive public relations campaign is drumming up support for further corporate conquests of potential oil fields and questioning the patriotism of leaders who call for more accountability. Sound familiar? Amidst all the noise, what is Big Oil trying to hide?
The Big Spin: Oil companies need access to more public land in order to provide Americans with energy.
What Big Oil is Hiding: Oil and gas companies already hold leases to nearly 68 million acres of federal land that could be producing oil and gas but instead are all being left unused. That unused land could produce an additional 4.8 million barrels of oil and 44.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day—nearly doubling total U.S. oil production, and increasing natural gas production by 75 percent.
The Big Spin: Congress is standing in the way of oil and gas companies’ efforts to drill for more domestic oil.
What Big Oil is Hiding: Of the nearly 30,000 permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management to drill on public land in the last four years, oil companies have stockpiled nearly 10,000, refusing to drill for more domestic oil as prices skyrocket. In 2007, 7,561 drilling permits were issued for development of public lands, an increase of over 350 percent since 1999. Yet gasoline prices also rose dramatically in that time, contradicting the argument that domestic drilling will lower gas prices.
The Big Spin: Drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) would solve America’s energy crisis today.
What Big Oil is Hiding: The Department of Energy estimates that opening ANWR would not reduce U.S. crude oil imports until 2022 at the earliest and even then by only a few percentage points. Further, it would not significantly affect world oil prices.
ANWR is far from the only option in Alaska, but oil companies seem only to want what they can’t have. Within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), oil companies have leased just 3 million acres of the 22.6 million acres available to lease. No production has occurred on any of those lands, and industry has drilled only 25 exploratory wells there since 2000. Who is to say that ANWR would be any different?
Today, America faces a national energy crisis. We need to make tough, strategic decisions based on the facts, not on fears and false intelligence. We need to invest in an energy policy emphasizing renewable, alternative fuels, increasing energy efficiency and making the best use of our domestic natural resources. We cannot allow Big Oil and its friends to continue playing games with the truth.
CONGRESSMAN TIM BISHOP Southampton