What others say: Production not a priority for Obama administration

  • Monday, April 21, 2014 4:34pm
  • Opinion

More evidence came out Friday that President Obama and his administration aren’t big fans of oil and natural gas development.

It came in the form of an indefinite delay in a decision from the State Department regarding approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would allow oil from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to be delivered to Gulf Coast ports and would create numerous jobs in the U.S.

The Keystone review process has gone on for more than five years. Even so, the State Department announcement said more time is needed for the review of comments and documents.

People in oil-producing states such as Alaska have long been suspect of this administration, which through this latest action on Keystone shows it isn’t terribly interested in pressing hard on oil and gas development.

Now there’s fresh data to back up that assessment.

Friday’s Keystone announcement comes a week after the Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan agency of Congress, issued a report about oil and gas development on federal and non-federal lands. The report shows that the federal government is mostly a bystander these days when it comes to oil and gas development.

Oil production from federal lands has fallen nearly 11 percent in recent years, from 33.8 percent of total domestic production in 2009 — the first year of the Obama administration — to 23 percent in 2013. The drop is significant and caused not by a sharp drop in production on federal lands but by a boom in activity on private or state lands. The actual number of barrels produced on federal land did fall, though only slightly, by about 110,000 barrels per day from the 1.77 million barrels daily in 2009.

Why didn’t federal lands see a production increase like that on private and state lands?

One clue comes from the permitting process, which the Congressional Research Service report says has grown lengthier in recent years but is showing some signs of improvement. Still, it doesn’t compare to what can occur at the state level with permitting for drilling on private land. The report notes “the relative ease of leasing from private parties.”

Easing the federal permit process while safeguarding the environment is something that Congress needs to tackle and that the White House — not those now in it, most likely — should champion if the U.S. is to further strengthen its status as a leading oil and gas producer.

The Keystone announcement, meanwhile, brought a cascade of criticism, especially from the U.S. Senate, where the denouncement of was bipartisan. Alaska’s two senators — Republican Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Mark Begich — each had biting words for President Obama.

Sen. Murkowski, who is ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee: “The administration’s choice to delay indefinitely a decision on extending the Keystone XL pipeline is nothing short of a stunning act of political cowardice. .”

Sen. Begich, who is up for re-election and is one of the keys to Democrats’ hopes of retaining control of the Senate: “I am frankly appalled at the continued foot-dragging by this administration on the Keystone project.”

The Obama administration won’t be listening, however. And they won’t be paying attention to the Congressional Research Service’s oil and gas report either.

“Hope and change”? That’s what candidate Obama pitched prior to the 2008 election.

Yes, we do hope things change for oil and gas production on federal lands, here in Alaska and elsewhere. But it will fall to others to make it happen.

— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,

April 20

More in Opinion

The official ballot for the Aug. 16, 2022, Special General Election features ranked choice voting. (State of Alaska Division of Elections)
Voices of the Peninsula: Check out the ballot before you vote

This kind of ballot is not something you have seen before.

Former Gov. Bill Walker, right, and his running mate former commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Heidi Drygas, speak to Juneauites gathered for a fundraiser at a private home in Juneau on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Why I’m voting for Walker

Walker is the only candidate with the potential to govern effectively for all Alaskans.

Nick Begich III campaign materials sit on tables ahead of a May 16 GOP debate held in Juneau. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Nick Begich is who Alaska and America need now

It is in Alaska’s best interest to elect a member of the Republican party

State Sen. Josh Revak (Photo provided)
The time has come to end Big Tech’s rule

The hope is that the bipartisan American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S. 2992) will come to the Senate floor for a vote

Michael Heimbuch attends a memorial service for the late Drew Scalzi on Aug. 5, 2005, at the Seafarers Memorial on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Point of View: King salmon: The clash of culture and science

People do some pretty awful things to king salmon stocks

Lieutenant governor candidate Edie Grunwald speaks at a Charlie Pierce campaign event at Paradisos restaurant in Kenai on Saturday, March 5, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Election Integrity: An Alaskan question with an Alaskan answer

A needless round of feel-good meetings and what-if conversations will be a thing of the past

This photo shows the University of Alaska Southeast campus in Juneau. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’m a longtime educator, and I’m supporting Walker/Drygas

The issues our state faces are significant with regard to education.

Larry Persily (Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: Congress could keep health insurance costs from rising, but it has to act fast

The cost of health insurance will rise substantially next year for about 13 million Americans

The offical ballot for the Aug. 16, 2022, Special General Election features ranked choice voting. (State of Alaska Divison of Elections)
Opinion: Alaskans deserve an election system that represents our differences

The new system’s goal is to make this election cycle transparent, secure and easy for all Alaskans to vote

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell (Courtesy)
Opinion: UAA’s career certificates are helping to fill Alaska’s workforce pipeline

At UAA, we are announcing a new suite of certificate programs responding to some of the state’s most critical needs

Opinion: Remaining vigilant after 30 years

Exxon Valdez spurred both federal and state legislatures, the industry, and the public to come together