Oil, gas production drops on federal property

Crude oil and natural gas production has fallen on leased federal land and water during President Obama’s time in office, according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.

The report from the nonpartisan agency of Congress said oil product declined 6 percent from 2009 to 2013 on federal lands, while gas production decreased 28 percent. In that same time, crude oil production increased 61 percent on nonfederal land and gas production grew 33 percent, the CRS said in the report, which the House Energy and Commerce Committee released Wednesday.

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The CRS partially attributed the difference in federal and nonfederal production to the fact that major gas shales are primarily on nonfederal land.

Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) used the report to criticize Obama’s energy policies.

“The president often boasts about America’s recent energy boom and our progress toward self-sufficiency,” Upton said in a statement. “While this is an incredible achievement — we are now the world’s leading oil and natural gas producer — the president’s rhetoric does not square with the fact that the administration has done more to thwart American energy production than support it.”

“While President Obama has been anxious to take credit for increased oil and gas production, the only areas he is responsible for is on federal lands — the only areas where oil and gas production is actually decreasing,” Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the energy and power subcommittee, said in the statement.

The CRS also found that it took an average of 307 days to process drilling permit applications for federal land in 2011, compared with 218 days in 2006. This was despite a 2005 law that created a new timeline for the applications. 

Interior Department spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw defended the federal oil and gas programs. Interior includes agencies such as BLM and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that oversee leases.

“Last year, the BLM offered 5.7 million acres for lease by industry — the most in a decade — and had 12.6 million acres actively producing oil and gas — the most acres in six years,” she said. Additionally, processing time for BLM permits last year was the lowest in eight years.

“Domestic oil and gas production has grown each year the president has been in office and renewable electricity generation from wind, solar and geothermal sources has doubled,” Kershaw said.