Markey Releases Analysis of Shutdown on Energy Production

 

Drilling permits, rig inspections, renewable energy limited by Republican shutdown; President Obama mentioned drilling permits in press conference

 

WASHINGTON (October 8, 2013) - The Republicanled shutdown of the U.S. government is halting energy production on federal lands and risking safety of oil drilling operations, according to an analysis released today by Senator Ed Markey (DMass.). President Obama discussed in his press conference today that drilling permits will not be processed during this shutdown, even as America has just overtaken Russia as the number one oil and gas producer in the world.

 

"President Obama is right, we need to end this shutdown and get back to doing work for the American people. That includes energy production, which has been a bright spot in our economic recovery, from solar to wind to oil and natural gas," said Senator Markey. "This shutdown won't stop the wind from blowing or the sun from shining, but it will hit the pause button on our efforts to continue this American energy renaissance."

 

According to the analysis released by Senator Markey, among the effects of the shutdown are:

The Interior Department has stopped the processing of drilling permits and leasing onshore, and halted leasing and other activities to plan for future offshore oil and gas exploration.

The Interior Department has terminated work on onshore and offshore renewable energy project permitting, which could include preventing the agency from finalizing the offshore wind lease sale off the coast of Virginia that was held last month and delaying planned lease sales off the coast of Maryland and New Jersey.

Inspections, enforcement and other safety operations for onshore and offshore oil and gas development could be compromised from the furloughs and cutbacks at the Interior Department.

 

Below is the full analysis released by Senator Markey:

 

More than 13 percent of the oil and roughly 18 percent of the natural gas produced in the United States last year was produced from public lands. The Tea Party Republican shutdown is shutting down future energy production from federal lands onshore. The Republican shutdown is potentially making offshore drilling less safe. The GOP government shutdown is going to lead to decreased oil, gas and renewable energy production on public lands and costing taxpayers money. 

 

According to the Interior Department, the shutdown is:

 

  • Stopping the processing of permits to drill on public lands onshore

 

We produced more than 120 million barrels of oil from federal lands onshore in 2012 - the highest level in a decade. However, the Bureau of Land Management, which overseas oil, gas, and renewable energy production on federal lands onshore, is furloughing nearly 95 percent of its employees as a result of a shutdown.

 

The Interior Department has said that the shutdown will stop the processing of drilling permits onshore. [1] The Interior Department has been approving an average of nearly 4,300 permits a year to drill onshore over the last 4 years. Permitting new drilling permits has stopped as a result of the shutdown, which could result in decreased oil production. 

 

  • Potentially reducing onshore oil and gas inspections and enforcement

 

DOI also says that "there will be limited inspection and enforcement but related to protection of human life and property." DOI goes on to state that only inspection and enforcement work "associated with protection of human life and property is continued during a shutdown." [2] These limited inspections could reduce the safety of oil and gas drilling onshore and threaten the environment. 

 

  • Delaying future offshore oil and gas production 

 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) oversees offshore energy development. We produced roughly 475 million barrels of oil from public lands offshore in 2012 - more than during the last year of the Bush Administration. However, the GOP shutdown will hamper this oil and gas development offshore.

 

According to the Interior Department, 85 percent of BOEM's employees are furloughed.

 

BOEM is not continuing work on the 5year offshore oil and gas leasing plan. This plan provides for future lease sales that make more than 75 percent of our offshore oil and gas resources available for leasing.

 

Nor will BOEM continue preparing environmental impact statements associated with drilling or reviewing offshore drilling exploration and development plans.

 

BOEM also says that its work on NEPA documents is ceasing, which will prevent DOI from completing work on seismic testing to support potential future oil and gas development offshore.

 

All of this could have a significant impact on future offshore oil and gas production.

 

  • Halting oil and gas leasing onshore and offshore

 

New oil and gas leasing onshore is stopping, according to the Department. [3] BLM offered more than 2,300 parcels for lease last year covering more than 6 million acres of public land. These oil and gas lease sales brought in more than $230 million for taxpayers in 2012. But new leasing will not be conducted under the Republican shutdown. 

 

DOI also states that oil and gas leasing offshore will cease. [4] DOI also says that the shutdown will delay the issuance of oil and gas leases and payments to the treasury from the oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico in August. [5]

 

 

  • Ceasing renewable energy activities and projects both onshore and offshore.

 

The Interior Department states that the government shutdown is terminating work on onshore and offshore renewable energy project permitting. This could include preventing DOI from finalizing the offshore wind lease sale off the coast of Virginia that was held last month and delaying planned lease sales off the coast of Maryland and New Jersey.

 

After approving more than 10,000 megawatts of onshore renewable energy projects on public lands in recent years, DOI has ceased reviewing onshore renewable energy projects during the shutdown. [6]

 

 

  • Potentially decreasing offshore drilling safety

 

While the Interior Department has stated that "BSEE will have personnel available to oversee drilling and production operations," and that "inspections would continue to be performed," the shutdown has forced DOI to reduce the number of personnel at this agency charged with overseeing drilling safety and issuing offshore drilling permits dramatically. 

 

The Obama Administration has requested funding to hire nearly 20 percent more employees at BSEE to increase safety following the BP spill. Instead, the shutdown is forcing the furlough of almost 50 percent of employees at this agency regulating offshore drilling. If the shutdown continues for an extended period of time, that number will rise to nearly 60 percent. That massive reduction could potentially compromise drilling safety and make another offshore spill like the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster more likely. 

 

 

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