President Obama and Vice President Biden are taking victory laps for the unforeseen (by government, that is) increase in domestic oil and gas production over the last three years, dodging and weaving as best they can to disguise the Administration’s relentless hostility to fossil fuel production and use.
If you need any more confirmation that this energy story is overwhelmingly a tale of private sector innovation taking place mostly on private land, check out a report from the Energy Information Administration released late last month entitled Sales of Fossil Fuels Produced from Federal and Indian Lands, FY 2003 through FY 2011. The data tables in the report make clear that oil production on federal lands has been more or less flat for most of the last decade, though with a slight bump in 2010 that disappeared in 2011, mostly because of falling offshore production in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The red line in Figure 1 (click to embiggen) shows that oil production on federal lands as a proportion of total U.S. production has remained flat at around 30 to 35 percent. Most of the increase seen between 2008 and 2010 is likely attributable to leases finalized during the Bush Administration.
The story of natural gas is more interesting. While the gas sector is booming, total production on federal land has fallen more than 30 percent over the last decade, and as the red line in Figure 2 (click to enlarge) shows, the proportion of gas produced on federal land has fallen from 35 percent in 2003 to just above 20 percent today. Anyone think the gas deposits being unlocked with directional drilling and fracking somehow stop at the federal property line?