By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Senators Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama, David Vitter (R) from Louisiana, and John Cornyn (R) from Texas sent a letter to U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking that the Obama administration correct inaccurate statements about the size of America’s energy resources. Sen. Sessions said, “The people of Alabama and throughout America have a right to benefit from the untapped domestic treasure sitting beneath our feet and off our shores.”
Sen. Sessions said, “I am glad to have the opportunity to work with Senators Vitter and Cornyn to draw attention to America’s extraordinary energy resources. For instance, the United States has recoverable oil shale reserves that contain four times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. Combining our land resources with those offshore, America has the potential to be the dominant producer of energy in the world. Yet, curiously, the Obama administration downplays America’s vast wealth of natural resources while delaying or blocking needed leases, permits, and approvals. In 2011, production on federal lands has declined by an average of 275,000 barrels per day. And there is a virtual moratorium on new offshore leases. All these prohibitive actions are consistent with the idea that energy prices ought to increase, as the President’s Energy Secretary once said.”
In the letter to Sec. Salazar the three Senators wrote, “Oil production on our federal property is actually down 14% and offshore production from federal areas is down 17% from only a year ago.” “Oil production on federal lands increased in 2009 and 2010 as a result of leasing and permitting decisions made before your Administration took office. However, the falloff in leasing and permitting actions under the Obama Administration is apparent.”
The Sens. continued, “We also ask that you rectify the President’s claim that we only have 2% of the world’s oil. Nothing could be further from the truth, as even the Washington Post reported last week.” “As Secretary of Interior, surely you are aware of the vast oil resources we possess both onshore and offshore that are currently off limits due to this Administration’s combined actions. America is endowed with resources that exceed a TRILLION barrels of oil.” “USGS estimates that unconventional U.S. oil shale resources hold 2.6 trillion barrels of oil, with about 1 trillion barrels that are considered recoverable under current economic and technological conditions.”
The Sens. said, “You eliminated the 2010-2015 OCS lease plan that would have opened areas of the Atlantic, four geologic basins off S. California, one geologic basin off N. California, while expanding areas in Alaska, including the Cook Inlet.” “We have no way of knowing what estimates of “technologically recoverable” oil in all of the areas that remain off limits are because you have chosen to keep them off limits. Most of our OCS (Outer Continental Shelf) has not been explored for decades.”
The Sens. said, “Prior to the deepwater drilling moratorium, the U.S. oil and natural gas offshore industry was forecasted to grow significantly due to identified prospects, mostly in the deep water. With the establishment of the moratorium and the subsequent slowdown in the issuance of drilling permits at all water depths, an estimated $18.3 billion of previously planned capital and operational expenditures did not occur in 2010 and 2011.” The Senators said that this cost the U.S. 90,000 jobs.
“The production gains we saw in 2009 and 2010 were the result of leasing and permitting that occurred in the Clinton and Bush Administrations, and was just beginning to come online. However, by 2011 we began to experience the impacts from the moratorium and falloff of leasing and permitting under your leadership. Total oil production on federal lands is down 14% over the previous year, offshore is even worse at down 17%, and federal lands saw the fewest number of new onshore leases since 1984. You also failed to hold a single offshore lease sale in fiscal year 2011.” The Sens. also accuse the administration of preventing oil companies from drilling in the Chukchi Sea even though the companies have already spent $2.6 billion to obtain 487 leases.
Senator Sessions was elected to the Senate in 1996. Prior to that he served as Attorney General of the State of Alabama and was a U.S. District Attorney in the Reagan and George H Bush administrations.