Remember back when Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said he would have EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in front of Congress so often she’d need her own parking space? Maybe he should have made the same offer to oil and gas welfare queen Kathleen Sgamma.

Today’s Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing marks the Western Energy Alliance’s Vice President of Government & Public Affairs’ FIFTH appearance before the 112th Congress. She’s scheduled to testify about drilling on private lands vs. public lands.

We’re willing to bet Ms. Sgamma won’t admit that industry is drilling more on private lands because that’s where the oil is. The vast majority of the much-hyped and very lucrative shale oil resources such as the Bakken in North Dakota or Eagle Ford in Texas are under private lands. (Don’t believe us? See the map on page 6 of this EIA presentation.)

What’s more likely is that Sgamma will continue to ask for more government welfare. Big Oil CEOs are already sitting on 20 million idle acres of public lands leased for development and upwards of 7,000 permits with a green light to drill.

In fact, Ms. Sgamma has testified in support of legislation that would create more welfare for oil and gas companies such as oil company quotas on taxpayer-owned public lands.

Obviously no stranger to the Hill, over the last two years, Ms. Sgamma has testified:

  • Three times before the House Natural Resources Committee, Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight Subcommittee,
  • Once before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Energy and Environment Subcommittee
  • Once before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

It’s always the same tired story that goes out of its way to twist the truth about energy development in the West.

The fact is that oil and gas companies are drilling at record levels. They’re drilling most in states such as North Dakota because that’s where the shale oil is and what can turn the greatest profit. Who would believe it? Companies drill for oil because that’s where they make money.

The non-partisan Headwaters Economics found in their research: “Since the end of 2009, oil production has more than doubled in North Dakota where the oil resource is best.”

ImageBut here’s the kicker, oil and gas drilling is up on both private and public lands in North Dakota. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management averaged nearly double the amount of drilling permits under President Obama than under President Bush in North Dakota.

In fact, oil and gas leasing, permitting, and drilling on North Dakota’s BLM lands were all higher under President Obama than President Bush.

Why? Because the main factors for oil and gas drilling isn’t public lands policy, it’s geology, technology and price. Oil companies are drilling on private and public lands in North Dakota that have shale oil under them. Fracking technology has made once impossible-to-get resources profitable. Throw in the huge bump in oil prices thanks to increasing world demand and voilà … drilling companies are drilling for oil under land that has oil.

They’re not drilling for natural gas in the Rockies because the price of natural gas plummeted in 2009, and now the Rockies have to compete with more lucrative plays closer to major populations such as the Marcellus Shale.

If Ms. Sgamma plans to continue her frequent trips to Capitol Hill with the 113th Congress, we suggest she reimburse the tens of thousands of dollars taxpayers have wasted on her “oversight” hearings and Big Oil welfare legislation mark-ups in the House.

But, she still should try for the parking space.