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Who is really hoarding US oil?

Sept. 22, 2008

by Roz Kohls

More than 96 percent of US taxpayers’ land has never been leased by the government for energy exploration. We can never increase our supply of oil if no one is allowed to look for it.

“Consumers are paying for this failure at the pump and in utility bills. Some are even paying for it with their jobs,” said Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, in a Sept. 10 article in Human Events.

Instead of opening up this land on shore and off our shores, Congress created a fiction about 68 million acres leased by oil companies. The oil companies supposedly are sitting on and refusing to pump oil from these acres, because the oil barons want to jack up the prices at the pump.

“This argument has even made it into this year’s presidential campaign, and is repeated as talking points by those who oppose more American drilling,” Kish said.

However, the existence of a lease does not guarantee the discovery of, or any particular quantity of oil and gas,” he added.

A lot of those leased lands are dry holes. Just like you can’t get blood out of a turnip, you can’t get oil out of a dry hole.

However, we are getting oil out of 25.6 percent of part of the leased land. That’s good. If the oil companies were allowed to drill on the rest of the leased land they haven’t had a chance to try yet, the odds are they would find more oil. More oil means prices would come down.

However, environmental lawsuits are next on the horizon, even if oil companies get permission to drill. If an area is open, environmentalists sue to close it. If an area is closed, they’ll sue to keep it that way.

A lease sale of 78 parcels took place in New Mexico recently, according to Ben Lieberman in the Aug. 15 Heritage Foundation. Environmentalists immediately protested all 78 leases.

Oil production in northwestern Colorado also was shut down by the Endangered Species Act to protect the black-footed ferret, Lieberman said.

The most irritating means of delay and halts to drilling are the fear of oil spills, which environmentalists exploit with every fiber of their being. In 1969, an oil rig off the coast of Santa Barbara spilled 80,000 barrels of oil into the ocean.

That was 40 years ago, yet the environmentalists and many in Congress act as if new technology has never occurred to the oil industry. Only 852 barrels have spilled in southern California since then, said Deroy Murdock of USA Today.

When hurricanes Katrina and Rita blew through 115 Gulf of Mexico platforms, there were no major spills, according to US Minerals Management Service and the US Coast Guard. Technology has definitely improved oil drilling.

And here’s more about Santa Barbara. Kish said it is home to the largest natural oil seep ever observed. In one small area, 100 barrels per day seep to the surface naturally. The oil clogging Santa Barbara’s county beaches is 100 percent natural. The only place it doesn’t seep is around an oil drilling platform. The drilling releases pressure underground.