A few facts about July 4th gas prices and energy development

American families will be heading to the beaches, barbecues and national parks this weekend to celebrate the birth of our nation. Unfortunately, more families will likely be sticking closer to home due to lingering high gas prices. Meanwhile Big Oil will celebrate the close of another quarter of billion-dollar profits.

Second quarter profits won’t be released for a couple of weeks, but all indicators say it’s been another banner quarter for Big Oil. They and their politician friends in Washington have continued to work together to blame everyone else for high gas prices. Even when President Obama had to release 30 million barrels from the strategic petroleum reserve last week, Congressman Doc Hastings still refused to call on Big Oil CEOs to use all the permits and lands that belong to them and are standing idle. Instead, Hastings lobbied on behalf of his Big Oil bosses to secure more government handouts.

Here are a few facts Big Oil and politicians like Hastings don’t want Americans to know when they go to gas up their cars this weekend:

  1. The number of active drill rigs in the country has nearly returned to pre-recession levels. Non-partisan Headwaters Economics reports that in May 2011, the number of active rigs was 1,847, less than 200 fewer rigs than were operating in September 2008, at the end of George W. Bush’s term in office.
  1. Big Oil is crying for more government handouts while thousands of drilling permits sit idle. Oil and gas companies haven’t developed nearly 7,200 onshore oil and gas permits where they have a green light to drill. The same goes for 57 percent of their existing onshore leases, nationally.
  1. Big Oil has even more permits coming. According to the Department of the Interior, onshore drilling permits are expected to increase over 40% in 2011. So how many permits will litter taxpayer land one year from now, when oil companies’ CEOs are still whining they need more acres and permits to impress shareholders?
  1. The U.S. is a net exporter of petroleum products. According to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S.’s petroleum imports have actually decreased over the last few years. In November and December of 2010 and in February and March of 2011, we actually exported more petroleum products than we imported. The same is true for natural gas where producers are eyeing new markets and looking to ship American natural gas to overseas. The Energy Department recently approved a new export facility in Louisiana.
  1. American taxpayers are paying Big Oil at the pump and on tax day. Big Oil politicians like Doc Hastings and Doug Lamborn voted in May to protect the $18 billion in corporate welfare companies like Exxon and BP will receive over the next 10 years.

Unused land leases limit tourism and contribute to high gas prices

As we head into the Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of the summer travel season, families are feeling the pinch from high gas prices. Unfortunately, instead of pushing for real solutions to help Americans save money and drive our nation toward energy independence, the oil and gas industry lobby continues demanding more government handouts, including reckless development of our public lands and ending common sense protections for the land, water, and air on which American families and businesses depend. Responsible energy development means protecting the land, rivers, and lakes western states need for their outdoor recreation and tourism industries and that Americans enjoy on their Memorial Day weekend and summer vacations.

Outdoor recreation is a significant part of America’s economy, contributing over $730 billion nationally. In 2010, more than 137.9 million Americans, age 6 or older, participated in at least one outdoor activity.

Moreover, access to public lands for drilling is not an issue. The simple truth is that the oil and gas industry has failed to develop 57 percent of its current leases as well as 7,200 permits where they have a green light to drill.

Outdoor recreation business leaders and user groups support responsible energy development. That way we can ensure Americans can continue to visit their favorite vacation spots on future Memorial Days and provide jobs to the of thousands of men and women who work in the outdoor recreation industry.

Outdoor recreation & tourism in the Intermountain West

  Outdoor recreation industry annual state economic contribution[1] Outdoor recreation industry related jobs[2] All direct travel and tourism jobs[3]
Colorado $10 billion 107,000 357,721
Montana $2.5 billion 34,000 71,216
New Mexico $3.8 billion 47,000 119,974
Utah $5.8 billion 65,000 151,334
Wyoming $4.4 billion 52,000 42,429

Drilling by the numbers

Access to drilling is simply not an issue on our public lands:

  • Onshore drilling permits are expected to increase over 40% in 2011. (U.S. Dept. of Interior)
  • Oil and gas companies have yet to develop 57 percent of their existing onshore leases nationally. (U.S. Dept. of Interior)
  • Oil and gas companies yet to develop nearly 7,200 onshore oil and gas permits nationally where they have a green light to drill. (New York Times)

The United States is a world leader in oil and gas production

  • The U.S. is the world’s third largest producer of oil in the world, producing about 9.1 billion barrels of oil per day. (Energy Information Administration)
  • The U.S. is the world’s leading producer of natural gas, producing 26.2 billion cubic feet per year. (Energy Information Administration)
  • More drilling rigs are located within the United States than all other countries in the world combined – U.S.: 1,830; Canada 143; all other countries, 1129. (Baker Hughes)
  • Oil and gas companies receive over $15 billion in taxpayer subsidies each year. (Taxpayers for Common Sense)
  • President Obama targeted $43 billion in taxpayer subsidies over 10 years in his FY12 budget proposal. (White House)
  • While the U.S. does important significant levels of crude oil, the U.S. is now a net exporter of petroleum products and selling refined oil and diesel oil abroad. (Energy Information administration)

[1] “State by State Active Outdoor Recreation Economy Report,” Outdoor Industry Association, http://www.outdoorindustry.org/research.php?action=detail&research_id=52

[2] Ibid.

[3] :EPS-HDT: Socioeconomic Profiles,” Headwaters Economics, http://headwaterseconomics.org/tools/eps-hdt

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