Government Standing in Way of America's Energy Potential

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted December 6, 2011

The Institute for Energy Research has released the results from their most recent study, which found that America is not only exporting gasoline in record numbers, but is also full of mass quantities of natural resources.

The IER’s study focused on “recoverable” energy, which is energy that has the potential to be harnessed and used as power sources for Americans. Additionally, the study focused on U.S. government regulations that are impacting production of recoverable energy.

The report is posted online for anyone to view, but it is a very lengthy document. CNBC had the privilege to conduct a phone interview with Dan Kish, Senior VP for policy at IER, during which he broke down the key points of the report.  Here are the interview questions and summarized versions of the responses:

 “How much energy is considered ‘recoverable’?”

– It is claimed that the U.S. has only 2 percent of “proven” oil reserves in the world, this is not the case. The U.S. has at least 70 times that amount, but because of government imposed restrictions and federal bans, along with declining lease offers on land, only a fraction of the supplies this country holds are found. “According to the government’s own reports, the United States has 1.442 trillion barrels in recoverable oil. To put that in perspective, we use 7 billions of barrels of oil a year. That’s 200 years of oil!”

“But how much of that energy is locked up under regulation?”

“You can take a trillion off the top b/c the Secretary of the Interior has not followed the law passed by Congress to lease this vacant land owned by the government for energy development.”

“What kind of energy specifically?”

– Oil shale, of which, the government owns at least one third of the land. There is about 1 trillion barrels of oil shale that can be recovered in the U.S. The downside is that private sectors cannot access the government land, nor can they spend their own money to have the oil extracted.

“Secretary Salazar set this law aside and will not open the federal lands for a commercial leases. He is not observing the law. So instead,  production is going up on non-government shale oil lands. Places like North Dakota—where the federal government owns only 4 percent of the land, which contains shale oil has seen a boom in their economy.”

“So in your opinion, the government is the biggest barrier to the country tapping into these resources?”

– Not only is the government a barrier, but they are also making leases more difficult for companies to obtain. This is hurting effort to explore for more energy resources. Essentially the government is making are energy problems worse.

“How much of this energy is in the form of unconventional forms?”

“A lot. Five years ago shale gas would have been called “unconventional” but it is now contributing to 23 percent of our natural gas production. 2008 was the first successful Marcellus Nat gas well.”  

“The Government is than basically picking winners and losers?”

– The sad truth is, yes they are. “We have huge amounts of energy under our feet and the government is picking what kind energies we should be developing because they are saying we have none and they are limiting where we can explore to less than 5% of the lands owned by taxpayers.”

America has an answer to energy problems, literally right in our back yards. Our country has the potential to be more independent and even make a large profit from our resources. In order to take advantage of these opportunities the government needs to cooperate and rethink some of the standards they have imposed.

Below is a video provided by Energy For America that explains energy available in the United States and proposed energy reforms that would allow further resource discoveries.

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