House Republicans said a Congressional Research Service (CRS) study made public Tuesday backs up claims that President Obama’s policies have handicapped oil-and-gas production on federal lands.
The study by the nonpartisan CRS concluded that while overall United States oil-and-gas production has increased since 2007, it has declined considerably on federal lands.
The findings play into GOP arguments that the domestic U.S. energy boom has occurred in spite of Obama. They have urged the White House to loosen restrictions on energy drilling in hopes of driving economic activity, generating federal revenues and creating jobs.
“Where the states have been in charge, we have seen energy development boom in a safe and responsible way, but under federal control we have seen a sharp decline in production. A web of red tape and a backlog of delayed permits are blocking important energy production opportunities on federal lands,” Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said in a Tuesday statement.
Republicans have prodded Obama to emulate the activity on private and state lands, where a bulk of the nation’s drilling is occurring.
They say expanding energy development could yield more situations like North Dakota’s Bakken formation, where drilling has added thousands of jobs.
While Republicans have criticized Obama’s position on drilling, the president has often responded that oil-and-gas drilling has spiked under his watch.
The White House, along with congressional Democrats, contends it has opened a majority of proven oil-and-gas reserves on federal lands to drilling. The administration has kept the rest, both offshore and onshore, closed off largely for environmental reasons.
The CRS report did note that more access to federal lands “may not translate into higher levels of production.”
It also said long-term U.S. Energy Information Administration projections forecast a rise in federal oil-and-gas production, though its share of the U.S. mix would still decline relative to more rapid development in private and state areas.
Still, House Republicans said the report substantiated GOP complaints that the federal government is stymieing oil-and-gas drilling.
The CRS study concluded that crude oil development on federal lands dropped 7 percentage points between fiscal 2007-2012, even though total output rose by about 1.1 million barrels per day.
For natural gas, overall U.S. production increased 20 percent between fiscal 2008-2012 despite falling by one-third on federal lands.
Additionally, the report noted that in 2011 it took on average 307 days to get a drilling permit on federal lands. That was a 41 percent increase compared with 2006, it said.
“A more efficient permitting process may be an added incentive for the industry to invest in developing federal resources, which may allow for some oil and gas to come onstream sooner, but in general, the regulatory framework for developing resources on federal lands will likely remain more involved and time-consuming than that on private land,” the report said.