Matt Garrington, Denver-based co-director of The Checks and Balances Project, offered the following statement and facts regarding today’s hearing on Colorado House Republicans’ three bills to give away more of the West to the oil and gas industry: H.R. 4381, H.R. 4382 and H.R. 4383.
“Reps. Lamborn, Tipton and Coffman are doing a great job playing the Three Stooges for the oil and gas industry, but the American public isn’t laughing.
“Taking away the public’s right to participate in decisions about land we own is criminal. It’s clear that these representatives are working on behalf of industry groups like Western Energy Alliance (WEA) and not the public.
“Why else would they invite WEA Vice President Kathleen Sgamma to testify about why they should shut their own constituents out of decisions about what happens to their public lands?
“We should be discussing real solutions to gas prices, such as aggressively investing in high tech vehicles and renewable energy, increasing fuel efficiency for cars and trucks, and cracking down on Wall Street oil speculators.
“All this legislation will do is lock the public out of our public lands and put more money in the pocket of oil company CEOs.”
WHY THESE BILLS ARE HANDOUTS TO BIG OIL
H.R. 4383 creates a $5,000 fee for individuals who wish to participate in the decision-making process for oil and gas development on publicly owned lands. That includes families living near drilling sites who could be forced to live with the effects of drilling on their air and drinking water.
H.R. 4382 outlaws the right of public, local governments, and stakeholders to review lease sales, preventing new information from affecting leasing decisions. It also prevents the BLM from revising leasing plants.
H.R. 4381 gives oil companies first crack at all federal lands, rather than creating a level playing field between renewable energy and fossil fuels. It puts drilling über alles – making it the primary use of public lands above scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archeological values.
FACTS ABOUT AMERICAN ENERGY DEVELOPMENT
- Oil production hit an 8-year high in 2011 at 2,070,454 thousand barrels.
- Natural gas production was at an all-time high in 2011 at 28,577,562 MMcf.
- Federal public lands leased in FY11 was 38.4 million acres compared to just 12.3 million acres leased and in production.
- The BLM approved 4,244 drilling permits on federal lands in FY11 was 4,244, outpacing the number of new wells spudded on public lands which was 3,260.
- As of January 25, 2012, the oil and gas industry had 6,500 unused drilling permits for western federal lands.
- Drilling activity reached its highest level under the Obama administration than at any point since the Reagan administration.