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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