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New Direction Congress Telling Big Oil: 'Use It or Lose It'

Today the price of oil reached an intraday trading record high of $140.39 - nearly four and half times what a barrel of oil cost when President Bush was inaugurated. [CNN, 6/26/08; EIA, 1/19/01]

The Bush/McCain/Republican solution?  Give away more federal lands to Big Oil.  But oil companies do not need more places to drill - they are sitting on 68 million acres of federal lands they are not drilling - and 81 percent of known U.S. oil reserves on public lands are open to them.

Rather than give away more federal lands to Big Oil, the New Direction Congress is telling Big Oil to “Use It or Lose It” (H.R. 6251).  Oil companies must start drilling on the 68 million acres which they are currently warehousing or be barred from obtaining any new federal leases until they demonstrate they are developing their leased lands.  Despite what President Bush and his Republican allies claim, there is no current statutory requirement on Big Oil's leases mandating production or development. This bill would change that - requiring companies demonstrate they are either producing oil or gas from the leases or are in the process of diligently developing the leases they hold.


  • The 68 million acres of leased but inactive public land - equal to the size of Colorado - could produce an additional 4.8 million barrels of oil and 44.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day, which could nearly double U.S. oil production and cut oil imports by one-third.  It can come on line much faster than any newly leased lands, which would save only pennies per gallon, more than a decade down the road.
  • The fact is 80 percent of the oil available on the Outer Continental Shelf is already open for leasing. The Bush administration's own Energy Information Administration says drilling the OCS would have no impact on price until 2030, and then it would be ‘insignificant.'
  • Guy Caruso, the Department of Energy's own Energy Information Administration chief, says opening up closed areas to offshore lands will do nothing to bring down high prices at the pump. “It would be a relatively small effect, because it would take such a long time to bring those supplies on… It doesn't affect that much.” [Reuters, 6/25/08]
  • The fact is that drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge wouldn't yield any oil for 10 years--and then would only save the consumer 1.8 cents per gallon in 2025.
  • All told, the U.S. has only 1.6 percent of world's known oil supply.  But every day, Americans use a quarter of the world's daily oil consumption.

The fact is, we can't drill our way to energy independence.

The New Direction Congress is working to bring real relief to those feeling the squeeze from high gas and diesel prices and ensure the needs of families and businesses are put before the interests of Big Oil companies. The American people deserve a more affordable, cleaner, greener energy future.