Representative Doug Lamborn (CO-5) last night parroted oil and gas industry claims that regulations are preventing drilling on public lands in the West. But let’s take a look at the facts: Of the 30 million acres of drillable BLM lands under lease by oil and gas companies, two thirds, or 20 million acres, have not been drilled.

In his statement on the House floor Lamborn said,

“The regulatory confusion on federal lands is even worse for onshore oil and gas production. Rule changes and regulations have cost billions in lost investment in the West. In my home state of Colorado, there’s been nearly a 90 percent drop in new leases on federal land.”

Mr. Lamborn is surely trying to tap into America’s thirst for jobs, but to suggest that the oil and gas industry isn’t hiring because of regulation seems to be a stretch. Oil companies have posted record profits in recent quarters and the natural gas industry is booming. To say that regulation is holding them back in light of the economic facts and that they haven’t done a thing on 20-million acres is absurd. But when you consider that in the last election cycle, the oil, gas and mining industries were three of the top five of Lamborn’s largest contributors according to OpenSecrets.org, his likely motivations for reading the industry’s lines become a bit more clear.

Rep. Lamborn's Top 5 Contributing Industries, 2009-2010 (OpenSecrets.org)

We expect more of our leaders than to just repeat industry talking points. If oil and gas companies, and politicians, really wanted to create jobs and lower gas prices at the pump, wouldn’t they be making full use of their current land supply?