Stats Indicate "Gas Shortage" May Be Phony

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While various pundits claim accessibility to oil resources is what's driving high gas prices, reports from the United States Department of the Interior indicate otherwise. Apparently the reality is, the oil companies have access to plenty of oil -- they're just not drilling for it. They're letting prices go up in an effort to put pressure on consumers to put pressure on lawmakers to give them even more access to drilling areas. And the clincher is right now, only 17% of the oil leases available are actually being drilled!

Don’t be fooled, amigos. All this talk about offshore oil drilling and the price of gas and the pump is a bunch of BS. In fact, the Republican Party is colluding with the oil and gas industry to drive up the price of energy.

This is criminal.

The oil and gas industry, buoyed by their Right-Wing minions are on a coordinated and well-thought out mission to end the twenty-six year old moratorium on off-shore oil and gas drilling. The goal? To at once embarrass Barack Obama, take down the Congressional Democrats, increase corporate profit and further drive up the price of energy.

First of all, there is no "ban".

"Ban" is just more GOPer-speak. In reality, there is a moratorium on drilling in certain coastal areas. Other areas are not only open to drilling but leases and drilling permits have already been issued.

And they are not being drilled.

In fact, only 17% of the leased areas is in production. So, with about 33 million acres of offshore areas already available to drill and not being drilled, why does the oil and gas industry need to have access to still more? The fact is that nearly 25 BILLION barrels of oil off the coast of the United States is currently available for drilling...and industry is not drilling it.

Not to mention natural gas. Most of the natural gas occurring offshore (over 328 TRILLION cubic feet – an eleven year supply at current consumption rates) is currently available for leasing and development.

And they’re not going after it.

This is the story throughout the country, more than 44 million acres of onshore public lands are leased for oil and gas development and yet most of it is not being drilled. All told (onshore and offshore), 68 million acres are leased and sitting idle. Over 10,000 permits are currently 'stockpiled' by industry. But still they want more.

Between 1999 and 2007, the number of drilling permits issued for development of public lands increased by more than 361%. And did you see your gasoline costs drop? How about your electricity costs? Propane? natural gas? Uh...no. There is absolutely no correlation between the industrialization of public lands and the price of fossil fuels.

It has been estimated that if all of those currently inactive leases were drilled, the USA would produce an additional 4.8 million barrels of oil and 44.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas EVERY DAY, accounting for a doubling of US oil production and a 75% increase in US natural gas production. The Minerals Management Service tells us that about 80% of fossil fuels available in offshore are currently available for development.

What's going on here is yet another cynical attempt by the GOP and the oil and gas robber barons to increase and assure huge industry profits at the expense of the American people. These companies don’t want to drill these areas. They want to hold them as assests to limit the amount of oil and gas on the market so that prices rise still further - and they make more money. They want to hold on to these areas so that they can drill them ten or fifteen years from now and make an even bigger fortune.

Meanwhile:

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday blocked debate of a bill to offer about $17.7 billion in tax incentives for consumers to build renewable energy sources like windmills and solar arrays, and buy plug-in cars that run on electricity rather than gasoline.

The Energy Independence and Tax Relief Act of 2008 would have extended a tax credit to build windmills by one year through December 31, 2009, and extend for three years similar credits for renewable energy sources like biomass, geothermal, landfill gas and trash combustion.

John McCain, George W. Bush and the Republican party don’t give a damn about high energy prices. They only want their friends in the oil and gas industry to make still more outlandish profits while the rest of us suffer.

UPDATE/ADDITION:

Some of the numbers cited in this post came directly from these documents:

Energy Information Administration, AAnalysis of Crude Oil Production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,May 2008.

Inventory of Onshore Federal Oil and Natural Gas Resources and Restrictions to Their Development, U.S.
Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Energy; May 2008.

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