Panel: In Time it Takes Feds to Approve Oil-Drilling Permits You Could Watch ‘Die Hard’ 3,349 Times

By Penny Starr | April 19, 2013 | 4:07 PM EDT

Off-shore oil rig. (AP photo)

( – The House Committee on Natural Resources revealed on Wednesday that the time it takes to obtain a permit for oil and gas exploration on state lands is about 12 to 15 days – a short time compared with the average 307 days to obtain a permit for onshore drilling on federal land.

That means a person could watch the movie “Die Hard” 3,349 times, according to the committee, which provided facts at the hearing to demonstrate just how lengthy the wait is for a federal drilling permit.

In addition to the “Die Hard” example, a handout provided by the committee, showed one could:

-- Drive from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles 154 times

-- Travel to Mars and back – 150 days each way

-- Hike the Appalachian Trail two times

Using the average 307-day federal permitting wait time, provided by the Bureau of Land Management, and data provided by individual oil-producing states, the committee handout said that in the time it takes to get a federal permit, 30 state permits could be granted in North Dakota.

Although the U.S. Department of Interior is in charge of granting drilling permits on federal land, the BLM was the source for the average permitting timeframe, according to the committee.

In his opening remarks, the committee chairman, Rep. Doc Hastings (R- Wash.) said the time it takes to get a federal permit has nearly doubled from the 154 days it took for the process in 2005.

“Regulatory hurdles, long delays, and policies that keep federal lands under lock-and-key have become all too common,” Hastings said. “As a result, federal oil and natural gas production has declined.”

Ranking Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) defended the Obama administration by disputing Hastings’ claim, but did not cite any source for his statistics.

“Despite the claims of the majority, [oil] production from federal lands onshore is also increasing,” Grijalva said. “Last year oil production from federal lands onshore was 8 percent higher than in 2011.”

“It was 16 percent higher than at the end of the Bush administration. And production from Indian lands has increased three fold from the last year of the Bush administration,” Grijalva said.

According to a March 7 Congressional Research Service report, however, the increase in oil production on non-federal lands and production on federal lands is down.

“On non-federal lands, there were modest fluctuations in oil production from fiscal years (FY) 2008-2010, then a significant increase from FY2010 to FY2012 increasing total U.S. oil production by about 1.1million barrels per day over FY2007 production levels,” the report summary states.

“All of the increase from FY2007 to FY2012 took place on non-federal lands, and the federal share of total U.S. crude oil production fell by about seven percentage points.”

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