Message To House GOP About Drilling On Public Lands: ‘All Of The Above’ Does Not Mean ‘All Of The Acres’

By Jessica Goad

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing this morning about the differences between drilling for oil and gas on private versus public lands. GOP members of the committee tried to use the hearing to claim the Administration is hampering oil and gas development.

However, a number of witnesses testified to the contrary, saying that there is a substantial amount of drilling occurring on public lands.  The Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Christy Goldfuss was one of them:

Regarding new lands offered for oil and gas development, the Bureau of Land Management held three of the top five largest sales in the agency’s history in calendar year 2011, and this year, it has approved controversial projects to drill in the Arctic Ocean and close to wilderness areas near Desolation Canyon, Utah. With this level of oil and gas activity on public lands, it is clear why a recent New York Times article about oil and gas production on public lands said, “The score card shows that the industry is winning.

And yet members like Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) claimed that “the Obama administration has substantially cut back on new energy leasing in these federal lands and offshore areas.”

The oil and gas industry agreed with this sentiment in its testimony. Kathleen Sgamma,Vice President of Government & Public Affairs for the Western Energy Alliance, acknowledged that the oil and gas business is booming, but also complained that production on public lands “is simply not keeping pace” with the current boom in unconventional oil plays on private lands in North Dakota and Texas.

However, while the oil and gas industry demands more access to public lands, it is sitting on thousands of leases.  A report from the Department of the Interior found that 56 percent of the acres leased onshore and 72 percent of the acres leased offshore are not in production or exploration.

Goldfuss and other witnesses cautioned that many federal public lands — which are managed by the government on behalf of all Americans — are meant for multiple uses, of which oil and gas development is only one. Other uses of public lands include hunting, fishing, recreation, grazing, and renewable energy development.  In response to industry calling for more land to be leased, Goldfuss said:

… an “all of the above” energy strategy does not mean an “all of the acres” or “oil above all” strategy.

Today’s hearing is the eleventh in the House Energy and Commerce and Natural Resources Committees thus far in 2012 on how to increase drilling.

Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

2 Responses to Message To House GOP About Drilling On Public Lands: ‘All Of The Above’ Does Not Mean ‘All Of The Acres’

  1. Joe Galliani says:

    There is no lie on behalf of the of fossil fuel industries too outrageous and no boot licking of the same climate destroying businesses too extreme for Republican members of the House and Senate to stoop to – even in the face of global warming tipping points. They are the Vichy French among us and they have proved they will sell out their own kids and grandchildren for a few more dollars in their campaign coffers. No foreign terrorists are a bigger threat to the USA than people like Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) and their fellow shame-worthy fans of GHG. If only karma was truly instant…

  2. Ozonator says:

    From the same crowd of corporate thugs who denied my worker comp claim for 10+ years from toxic chemical exposure –

    The failed GOP states are turning into a failed country unable to pay back our Chinese loans without selling ourselves into toxic waste slavery. “Congress Bans US Airlines from EU Global Warming Program” (by Omri;, 8/1/12). In Minnesota, “Supreme Court: Pesticide drift is not trespassing” (Written by David Unze;, 8/2/12). Consistent with their war on science and future generations, extremist Republicans and Christians won’t cap even a dumpster nor trade up for an ice-cube recipe. For example, “Dumpster fire …”, “Sen. Inhofe touts Climate Depot on Senate floor! ‘…’”, and “Sen. Inhofe: ‘The global warming movement has completely collapsed and cap-and-trade is dead and gone…’” (racketeering found on 8/2/12) (Marc ‘Mengele’ Morano whistle-sucker performing/perfuming the stink at