Oil & Gas Leases on Federal Lands Down 17% Under Obama

Joe Setyon | June 3, 2016 | 2:31pm EDT
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President Obama speaks at an oil and gas field on federal lands in Maljamar, N.M.on March 21, 2012. (AP photo)


(CNSNews.com) – Oil and gas leases on federal lands are down 17 percent from 2009, when President Obama took office, through 2015, according to data from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

In 2009, at the beginning of the Obama administration, there were 53,431 oil and gas leases in effect covering 45,364,991 acres of federal land. 

But by 2015, the total number of leases had dropped to 44,213 leases on 32,193,369 acres.

The decrease has been occurring gradually since the late 1980’s, according to the BLM. In 1988, there were 80,570 oil and gas leases, 82 percent more than in 2015.

However, the number of oil and gas leases being issued per year under Obama declined by an even larger rate.

In 2015, just 852 leases were issued, down by more than 1,000 percent from 9,234 in 1988 - and less than half of the 2,072 leases issued in 2009.

Meanwhile, coal leases have also been steadily dropping since 1990, when 489 were in effect, covering 730,247 acres of federal land.

By 2014, only 308 remained, and the total acreage under lease went down by almost 35 percent to 475,171 acres.

In January, the Obama administration announced that for the time being, it is putting a stop to all coal leasing on federal lands because the 30-year-old program, which brings in more than $1 billion per year in annual revenue, needs to be modernized. As a result, 30 applications for coal leases in nine states have been rejected.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the coal mining industry suffered a devastating loss of jobs during the past year. From April 2015 to April 2016, the industry lost 11,400 jobs, going from 67,300 miners down to 55,900.

The coal industry as a whole lost a total of 49,534 jobs between 2008 and 2012 due in part to the increased use of natural gas and renewable energy, according to a 2015 study

Chris Warren, communications director for the Institute for Energy Research (IER), criticized the Obama administration’s policies towards fossil fuels, telling CNSNews.com that they are “openly hostile towards the use of our natural gas, oil, and coal resources.

“Their objective is to keep these resources in the ground rather than allow these resources to be used to raise the living standards of all Americans.

“If we want a strong, prosperous economy that benefits all Americans, we should embrace our energy resources, not keep them in the ground,” Warren added.

Center for Industrial Progress founder Alex Epstein echoed Warren’s concerns, telling CNSNews that President Obama is “all too willing to stop beneficent hydrocarbon development on lands the government controls.”

Despite the fact that less federal lands are being leased, a recent study suggested that opening more federal lands to oil, coal and natural gas production could spark the U.S. economy.

Last December, Dr. Joseph Mason, a finance professor at Louisiana State University, found that the leasing more federal lands could increase GDP by $127 billion annually over the next seven years, as well as raise total economic activity by $20.7 trillion over the next 37 years.

Moreover, Mason claims that doing so would create 552,000 jobs in the next seven years, in addition to a total of 2.7 million jobs in the long run after that initial growth.

Mason says that the leases would also raise federal tax revenues by $3.9 trillion over 37 years, while increasing state and local revenues by $1.9 trillion over the same time span.

Warren commented on the study, telling CNSNews that “opening federal lands to natural gas, oil, and coal production would bring enormous benefits to the American people.”

Epstein agreed, saying in an interview that “America has enormous untapped potential to produce cheap, plentiful, reliable energy to the benefit of millions at home and billions around the world.”

Related: BLM Cancels Long-Standing Oil and Gas Leases in Montana; ‘Every Lease At Risk,’ Critics Say

Related: Study: Allowing Energy Production on Federal Lands Would Create 'Broad Based Economic Stimulus'

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