Last week the 100-year old Congressional Research Service (CRS) released its report on oil and natural gas production from Federally-owned lands.
The CRS works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing honest, unbiased, nonpartisan information on a wide variety of subjects.
There are four entities that own land in the United States: the federal government, states, private landowners, and Native Americans. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at the Department of the Interior is responsible for leasing, selling, and generally managing oil and natural gas reserves on federal land.
The CRS report shows how the current administration has made a concerted effort to stifle oil and gas exploration on federal lands. Since 2009, oil production on state and private lands increased by an astonishing 61 percent. In that same time-frame, oil production on federal lands actually fell 6 percent.
On the natural gas side of the equation, while gas production on non-federal lands between 2009 and 2013 soared by 33 percent, production from federally-owned land collapsed, dropping by 28 percent.
One of the tactics the feds use to discourage production on federal land is by delaying the issuance of drilling permits. In 2006, it took 218 days, on average, to get a permit to drill on federal land. By 2011 the time-frame had been stretched out to nearly a year. No permit, no drilling. No drilling, no production.
California is 43% federally-owned, Nevada 85%, Colorado almost 37% (mostly in the Western side of the state). In contrast, only 1.9% of Texas belongs to the feds, followed by North Dakota at 2.7%, Oklahoma at 3.6% and Louisiana at 5.1%. Alaska is about 68% fed-owned, but it gets a pass because without oil and gas the state would not be economically viable.
The biggest obstacle to greater production of oil and gas in the U.S. isn't weather, geological challenges or cost; it's politics.