Wednesday, November 05, 2008

GAO study spurs Democratic 'use it or lose it' approach to oil and gas leasing on federal land

A study by the Government Accountability Office found that of the 55,000 oil and natural gas leases issued by the Interior Department from 1987 to 1996, the majority expired without producing oil or gas. "Energy companies hold leases, but are not producing on, about 68 million federal acres -- property with the potential to double domestic oil production," reports The Associated Press.

In response many in Congress are considering a "use it or lose it approach." Under that system, introduced by West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall II supported by President-Elect Barack Obama, companies that leased land but did not drill would be barred from leasing in the future.

The GAO report "recommends that the department consider measures used by states and private landowners to jump-start drilling, such as offering a lower royalty rate for faster production and shortening the term of the lease," AP reports. Assistant Interior Secretary C. Stephen Allred responded by claiming that environmental concerns slow the drilling process in many instances. He also claimed that hasty drilling could have negative consequences but refused to elaborate. (Read more)

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