By Tom Kenworthy, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.
In the run up to its latest “drill, baby, drill” hearing on Thursday, the House Natural Resources Committee’s GOP leadership has launched a propaganda campaign blaming $4 gasoline on the Obama administration, saying it has “repeatedly blocked access to American energy.”
This show trial is intended to deceive the public into believing that if we just jettison our environmental squeamishness and open up our federal lands, primarily in the West, we’d have an inexhaustible supply of oil that will magically produce $2 a gallon gasoline.
It’s a myth:
– Federal lands in the U.S. have proved oil reserves of 5.3 billion barrels. That’s little more than 9 months of U.S. oil consumption.
– Vast stretches of the American West are already under lease to oil and gas companies – about 41 million acres. That’s more than the size of New England.
– Of the acres currently under lease to the energy industry, only 30 percent are being used to produce oil and gas, leaving 29 million acres – about the size of New York state – available but not developed.
– Estimates of unproved oil resources can be grossly inflated. The Bakken Formation in the Dakotas, while still large, actually has less than one percent of the oil that was first estimated.
One thing about the House Natural Resources Committee’s leadership is no myth: it’s a puppet for the oil and gas industry.
In the last election cycle, chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) received $85,671 from the oil and gas industry, his number one industry contributor, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Oil and gas was also number one for Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the public lands subcommittee. For Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), chairman of the energy and mineral resources subcommittee, oil and gas was number two.
More truthiness from Doc Hastings, via the Checks and Balances Project:
In one very telling – and a little funny – example, Hastings submitted an op-ed to The Hill in February. In his essay, he cited the words of Daniel Webster:
“It would be in our best interest to heed Daniel Webster’s words that are prominently inscribed on the walls of the House Chamber, ‘Let us develop the resources of our land … and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.’”
The problem is that Hastings deprived Secretary Webster of his First Amendment Rights, because the full quote is:
“Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.”
“Build up its institutions, promote all its great interests.” It occurs to me that those words could refer to the need to protect public lands, and promote all their uses, such as the outdoor recreation industry, responsible for 6.5 million jobs. I can only assume that when Hastings performed this little exercise in censorship, he was afraid to clutter the issue with contrary information, or the truth.