Apparently from the lips of Barack Obama, via the WSJ and Tom Nelson:
"I want you to think about this," Barack Obama said in Las Vegas last
week. "The oil companies have already been given 68 million acres of
federal land, both onshore and offshore, to drill. They're allowed to
drill it, and yet they haven't touched it "“ 68 million acres that have
the potential to nearly double America's total oil production."
Wow. I would not have thought it possible to blame government restrictions on drilling, which the oil companies have decried for years, on the oil companies themselves. But apparently its possible.
1. Just because the Federal Government auctions an oil lease, it does not mean that there is oil there. And if there is oil there, it does not mean the oil is recoverable economically or with current technology. Does this even need to be said?
2. The implication is that oil companies are intentionally not drilling available reserves (to raise prices or because they are just generally evil or whatever). But if this is the case, then what is the problem with issuing new leases? If oil companies aren't going to drill them, then the government gets a bunch of extra leasing money without any potential environmental issues. Of course, nobody on the planet would argue Obama's real concern is that the new leases won't get drilled -- his concern is that they will get drilled and his environmental backers will get mad at him.