2011-06-9

Wednesday, American Petroleum Institute (API) President (and the oil industry’s chief Oliver Twist impersonator) Jack Gerard held a conference call to announce, “a new API advertising and grassroots campaign to address solutions to a struggling economy.” Gerard claimed if the government opens millions of acres of American land for drilling, then Big Oil can meet 92% of America’s fuel needs by 2030 with North American oil.

Checks and Balances Deputy Director Matt Garrington joined API’s call in hopes to ask Mr. Gerard about the more than 7,000 drilling permits Big Oil is letting languish, or why Americans should be forced to consider Medicare cuts while Big Oil evades $15 billion a year in taxes, or at least how the U.S. became a petroleum exporter this year, if access to drilling is such a problem. Unfortunately, after learning that Matt is with the Checks and Balances Project, API refused to let him ask a question.

Here are our questions:

  1. In light of the facts that oil and gas companies are already sitting on 7,200 onshore permits with a green light to drill, and in the last year the U.S. Department of Interior has approved 55 shallow-water permits, 40 deepwater drilling permits approved for 15 wells that require subsea containment and 40 permits for deepwater activities not requiring subsea containment as well as a projected 40 percent increase in onshore permits, how can oil companies claim that over-regulation is stopping development and driving up gas prices?
  2. The EIA reports that the U.S. is now a net exporter of petroleum products. If oil and gas companies are trying to use lack of dependency on imports from foreign countries as a justification for increased drilling, aren’t they being hypocritical by turning around and selling domestically produced gasoline and diesel fuel to Canada and Mexico?
  3. If you want to talk about solutions for a struggling economy, after reporting profits totaling $32 billion in the first quarter, that’s profits and not revenue, how can oil companies claim to still need billions in taxpayer funded, corporate welfare?
  4. Why are you calling for increased access to drill on public lands when oil and gas companies already have 41 million acres of used land out West? If you’re not using the land you have already leased, why do you need more?

“It is amazing the type of snake oil the API is willing to sell to the American public,” said Garrington. “Right now they are using high gas prices to take political advantage of the public and ask for more handouts.”

Gerard also mentioned the U.S. has enough oil shale in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah to triple the amount of Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves.

We discovered the Christian Science Monitor said something similar, “Thousands of acres of land in the rich oil shale area in western Colorado, productive of unlimited combustible and munitions material, have been filed on recently by Colorado and eastern syndicates, and preparations are underway for the development of the fields this spring.” The problem is that the Monitor published that news in 1917. Oil shale is a century-old fairytale where industry has hailed it as our savior to high gas prices.

Gerard had nothing new to say on yesterday’s call and threw out a bunch of numbers with little to no foundation in fact. Maybe next time he’ll let us ask a question.