America's Combined Energy Resources Largest on Earth
Inhofe, Murkowski Release Memo Showing U.S. Is World Leader in Conventional Fuels
Oct. 23, 2009
Washington, D.C.—Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, released a preliminary government report today showing America’s combined recoverable natural gas, oil, and coal endowment is the largest on Earth. America’s recoverable resources, Congressional Research Service (CRS) shows, are far larger than those of Saudi Arabia (3rd), China (4th), and Canada (6th) combined. And that’s without including America’s absolutely immense oil shale and methane hydrates deposits.
CRS offers a more accurate reflection of America’s substantial oil resources. While America is often depicted as possessing just 2 or 3 percent of the world’s oil—a figure which narrowly relies on America’s proven reserves of just 21 billion barrels—CRS has compiled US government estimates which show that America is endowed with 167 billion barrels of recoverable oil. This is the equivalent of replacing America’s current imports from OPEC for more than 75 years.
Further, CRS notes the 2009 assessment from the Potential Gas Committee, which estimates America’s future supply of natural gas is 2,047 TCF—an increase of more than 25 percent just since the Committee’s 2006 estimate. At today’s rate of use, roughly 90 percent of which is produced domestically, this is enough natural gas to meet American demand for nearly 90 years.
The report also shows that America is number one in coal resources, accounting for more than 28 percent of the world’s coal. Russia, China, and India are in a distant 2nd, 3rd, and 5th, respectively.
Sen. Murkowski: “By compiling the most recent and best available data, this report merely confirms what a lot of us have been saying for years: the United States has abundant supplies of natural gas, oil, and coal. Any honest conversation about job creation, national security, and affordable energy must include these resources, because they will continue to account for the bulk of our supply well into the future. The Interior Department and others in the Executive branch have every tool they need to allow production of these resources; the question is whether the Administration is willing to make that happen.”
Sen. Inhofe: “Our overwhelming coal, natural gas, and oil resources represent tens of trillions of dollars in wealth and millions of American jobs. Whether through decree or purposeful inaction, government policies that unnecessarily restrict or prevent our ability to responsibly produce these domestic resources are threatening, and could eventually undermine, our nation’s economic and national security. We should pursue an all-of-the-above strategy that advances new energy technologies but also prioritizes developing the resources we have today.”
The Administration’s Record: While we appreciate what President Obama has said about the need to increase domestic production of conventional fuels, nine months after taking office the actions his agencies have taken tell a different story.
- The $787 billion economic stimulus bill included no provisions to spur production of American natural gas, oil, or coal reserves.
- The Treasury Department intends to increase the oil and gas industry’s taxes by $31 billion over the next 10 years, and has justified the repeal of multiple production incentives by declaring that they “encourage the overproduction of oil and natural gas” in the United States.
- The Fish and Wildlife Service has released a proposal to designate “critical habitat” for polar bears, including “areas where oil and gas exploration activities are known to occur.” Should this designation become final, it could prevent energy production in a resource-rich area that covers more than 200,000 square miles.
- The Department of Energy proposed to slash all funding for ultra-deepwater oil and gas research, in order to be “consistent with [its] policy to terminate discretionary oil and gas research and development programs.”
- The Interior Department extended the comment period on the new 5-Year Plan for offshore leasing by 180 days and, now that 180 days have passed, announced it has not “reached a decision yet on what the next steps are going to be.”
- The Interior Department temporarily withdrew 77 leases in Utah, and, following “nine days of on-site investigation” of the years-long leasing process, decided to allow leasing to move forward on just 17 parcels.
- The Air Force is no longer “actively pursuing” plans to develop coal-based liquid fuels, a “decision [that] represents a policy shift under the Obama administration.”
- The Interior Department delayed the next round of oil shale RD&D leasing, and recently announced plans to implement a revised process that could slow the commercialization of this resource.
- The EPA has “blocked an air pollution permit” that would allow a refinery near Chicago to boost its ability to process unconventional oil.
- The EPA “withdrew the air quality permit it issued last summer for the Desert Rock coal-fired power plant” that would be built on Navajo Nation lands in northwest New Mexico using state-of-the-art environmental technology and making a valuable contribution to economic development in the area.
- The Interior Department “blocked new hardrock mining claims on 1 million acres surrounding the Grand Canyon, citing the need for continued study of the environmental impacts of both mineral exploration and mining.” This decision will reduce our nation’s ability to fuel emissions-free nuclear power with a secure domestic supply of uranium.