Bureau of Land Management Then and Now: Energy Independence

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By William Perry Pendley, guest columnist*

What happened? Until yesterday, the United States was energy independent with reliable, low-cost energy supplies coming from our country, saving us from sending our young men to war or making geopolitical decisions because of our need for energy. foreign energy.

Today, we are no longer energy independent, we are facing the highest energy prices ever, the president is going hat in hand to foreign energy producers begging for oil, and we let’s dump oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as if we were at war, which we may soon find ourselves in.

President Reagan, after the economic disaster that was the Carter administration, knew that energy independence was the key to a strong America. It would provide reliable, low-cost energy essential to economic activity; it would create well-paying domestic jobs and free us from our dependence on unstable or ill-intentioned foreign sources. Reagan’s basis was not his well-known optimistic vision.

This was the result of his careful study of the matter and his conclusion that the government’s predictions of dwindling oil resources were always wrong.

Thus, he blamed Carter, not only for his prediction that we would run out of natural gas by 1990, but also for his refusal to drill for oil and gas in the American West. What are you afraid of Reagan mocked, that ‘no more strikes [discoveries] will be done?”

Reagan was right, of course, as revealed for example when the late Mick McMurry searched for natural gas on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) leases in Sublette County.

Using hydraulic fracturing technology, which has been around since the 1860s but has been in regular use since 1947 (which isn’t new and controversial, it’s proven), in 1993 he made the biggest discovery ever. natural gas in history: the Jonah field.

At the same time, hydraulic fracturing used on private and public lands across the country led to the discovery of larger shale deposits – the Barnett, Haynesville, Fayetteville and the Marcellus in Pennsylvania. The Marcellus was so vast in the Keystone State that at one point seven out of ten new jobs were in the oil field.

Of course, the Marcellus also underlies New York to the north. In fact, since thirteen of the state’s most productive gas wells are in Susquehanna County in northeastern Pennsylvania, Broome County across the border from Pennsylvania New York State has great natural gas potential.

Unfortunately, in 2014 Governor Cuomo banned fracking and banned 70,000 landowners on one million acres in fourteen counties from using their property and denied the region the ability to burn clean natural gas.

Meanwhile, President Obama was doing the same on federal lands, including the 245 million acres managed by the BLM, mostly in the western eleven states and Alaska. Why became clear in 2012 during a meeting Obama held with a few industry leaders.

Harold Hamm, who unlocked another rich shale deposit, the Bakken in North Dakota, and was eager to talk to Obama about “the revolution in the oil and gas industry and how we have the ability to produce enough oil to allow America to replace OPEC”.

Obama fired him with a wave of his hand. “Oil and gas will be important for the next few years,” Obama said. “But we have to switch to green and alternative energy” and then predicted a battery that would virtually replace the internal combustion engine by 2017.

Unsurprisingly, Obama refused to issue oil and gas leases on federal lands, as required by the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 to allow the West to join the fracking revolution. Westerners complained.

When President Trump took office, like Reagan, he believed in energy independence, put in place policies to achieve it, and aggressively pursued what he called “energy dominance.”

In November 2018, the BLM staged its biggest ever oil and gas lease sale in New Mexico’s Permian Basin, bringing in $1 billion in bids, which pales in comparison to the royalties to be paid. to government and shared with state and local governments once production begins.

It’s no surprise that in July 2019 America, for the first time since 1957, achieved energy independence.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. President Biden began his first day in office by killing the Keystone XL pipeline, reversing all federal sales of oil and gas leases, and initiating the imposition of draconian rules and regulations to make oil and gas production less economical.

Subsequently, his administration moved to shut down investment in the oil and gas industry, including that needed by wildcatters – independent oil and gas operators who find hydrocarbons where no one thinks they will. exist.

After Biden’s BLM officially halted quarterly oil and gas lease sales required by federal law, Westerners and others filed a lawsuit and a federal judge in Louisiana ruled the “pause” illegal and ruled. issued a national injunction.

Nevertheless, the Biden administration refused to comply with this order.

As a result, Wyoming, for example, is now entering its sixth quarter without a BLM lease sale impeding the State of Equality’s ability to discover, develop, and deliver desperately needed oil and gas resources.

What a difference a BLM makes.

*Sir. Pendley, a Wyoming attorney, headed the Bureau of Land Management for the last 18 months of the Trump administration and is the author of Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s battle against environmental extremists and why it matters today.

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