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Energy Bill Ensures Dependence on Foreign Oil and Gas

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

As the Senate considers the energy bill, the major issue is energy independence. Industry and administration sources have long argued that the key to breaking our addiction to foreign oil and gas is opening our public lands to more drilling. "We've taken large chunks of the country and put it off limits to any kind of exploration or development," Vice President Cheney told a town meeting in Arkansas last year. "Large parts of the Rocky Mountain West are off limits."

To the contrary, an Environmental Working Group first-ever look at government leasing and production records shows that for decades the oil and gas industry has had broad access to our most energy-rich public lands, and that this access has produced very little oil and gas. Instead of energy independence, this open access to public lands has profited a handful of companies, and increasingly threatened our most treasured natural parks, forests and wilderness areas.

We found that from 1982 through 2004, U.S. dependence on foreign oil increased from 28 percent to nearly 58 percent (EIA 2005), while the federal government offered 229 million acres of public and private land in 12 western states for oil and gas drilling, an area greater than the combined size of Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

Our analysis of government records on well-by-well oil and gas production shows that over a fifteen-year period (1989-2003), the oil and gas industry has produced just 53 days of oil at U.S. consumption rates. As the Senate decides how to address the nation's energy problems, it would do well to consider that this wide-open access to public property in the West has produced a negligible amount of oil.

Read The Facts on Energy Independence (PDF document).


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