Grijalva: Today’s Republican Oil and Gas Giveaway Same as the Last One – And They’re Not Even Trying to Justify It

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said ahead of today’s 10:00 a.m. markup of H.R. 4239, the latest in a never-ending string of Republican oil and gas deregulation efforts, that the entire premise of the bill has already been debunked and Republicans are only proceeding because they have no other ideas.

“This bill has all the signs of mental exhaustion,” Grijalva said. “It’s the same polluter industry wish list they’ve presented for years dressed up in yesterday’s talking points. Nobody outside the petro-bubble takes their arguments seriously any longer, especially their openly bogus tall tales about the Obama administration. This bill could be Exhibit A at a museum exhibit on how little Republicans respect the public’s intelligence.”

The bill allows for major oil and gas leasing decisions to be handed to state agencies that sometimes have inadequate staffing or expertise in federal environmental policy; threatens to eliminate public input for oil and gas decisions on public lands; and redistributes oil and gas revenue among states in a way that creates the very winners and losers Republicans claim to oppose, among other measures.

Republican support for the bill rests on several equally false assumptions, which Democrats comprehensively rebutted in June when the majority held a hearing on the overall oil and gas regulatory environment.

GOP CLAIM: The vast majority of public lands and waters are off-limits for oil and gas leasing.

FACT: Companies have access to enormous swaths of public land. Offshore, there are nearly 95 million acres offered for lease every year and 192 million acres of the 213 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the 11 Western states is open to oil and gas leasing under current land-use plans.

Figure 1

Figure 1: Percent of BLM land in each state open to oil and gas leasing. (Source: The Wilderness Society)

GOP CLAIM: Production has not increased on federal lands. The growth in American oil production has happened entirely on private lands.

FACT:    Federal onshore oil production increased by 77% from 2008 to 2015.

           Federal offshore oil production has hit a record high in January 2017.

Figure 2

Figure 2: Federal Onshore Oil Production. (Source: Office of Natural Resources Revenue)


 Figure 3

Figure 3: Federal oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. (Source: Energy Information Administration)

GOP CLAIM: Companies can’t get enough permits to drill on public lands.

FACT: The number of drilling permits approved by BLM each year (red bars below) is significantly more than the number of wells drilled (blue bars), and drillers have an inventory of thousands of approved drilling permits they haven’t used (green bars) at the end of each Fiscal Year. BLM has refused to release the data for the end of Fiscal Year 2017, and announced it will no longer report the number of approved but unused permits in future years.

Figure 4

Figure 4: Permits approved (red) and wells drilled (blue) each year, with number of approved but unused permits at the end of each Fiscal Year (green). Source: Bureau of Land Management

GOP CLAIM: Obama administration policies caused revenues to decline and getting back to 2008 levels could be used to entirely fix the National Park Service maintenance backlog.

FACT: 2008 was an outlier year with oil spiking to $145 a barrel and natural gas at $13 per thousand cubic feet (mcf), compared to about $45/barrel and $2-$3/mcf currently. The second and third top years for federal oil and gas revenues were 2013 and 2014, during the Obama administration.

Figure 6

Figure 5: Total Mineral Revenues by Fiscal Year (Source: Office of Natural Resources Revenue/Minerals Management Service)

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