Energy Report: Trillions of Dollars in Recoverable Energy Reserves Locked Under Regulations


A new study by the Institute for Energy Research is reporting America is not only exporting a record amount of gasoline, but the country is also brimming with what's being called, "vast quantities" of natural resources.

The IER complied the study which looks at "recoverable" energy (which is energy that could be harnessed in America) and the government regulations that are impacting such production. Dan Kish, Senior Vice President for policy at IER broke down the results of their study over the phone.

LL: How much energy is considered "recoverable?"

DK: While President says we only have 2 percent of the "proven" oil reserves in the world that's a small part of the story. US recoverable resources are at least 70 times that much, but because of the restrictions in the form of federal bans combined with declining offerings of lease acreage the government is allowing us to find just a fraction of the huge energy supplies we actually have.

This is energy that can be found under soil located in vacant property owned by the federal government. 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! The Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress released a report showing that the United States’ combined recoverable oil, natural gas, and coal endowment is the largest on Earth!

LL: But how much of that energy is locked up under regulation?

DK: 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.

LL: What kind of energy specifically?

DK: Oil Shale. At least one third of the land is owned by the government and the private sector does not have access. We have about 1 trillion barrels in oil shale. But these lands should be open for leases. Congress passed a law so the private sector could spend their own money to extract the oil.

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. Three point five percent unemployment thanks to the jobs being created by the huge energy discovery in the Bakken. You are also seeing big shale gas discoveries in Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as in Texas and Northeastern Colorado.

We are being told the cupboards are bare and we are running out of energy. But the truth is we have it in spades across North America because of Shale Oil! By 2016, we'll be the largest producer of oil in the world according to Goldman. Right now we are the third largest. Russians are number one, Saudi is number two.

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

DK: And they are making it increasingly harder for companies to get leases or permits to explore for energy. They are contributing to the problem. The private lands are doing the heavy lifting and they are adhering to environmental regulations while the government keeps on imposing regulations and unofficial moratoriums on the vast areas of lands the government owns onshore and offshore..

LL: How much of this energy is in the form of unconventional forms?

DK: A lot. Five years ago shale gas would have been called "unconventional" but it is now contributing to 23 percent of our nat gas production. 2008 was the first successful Marcellus Nat gas well. The world is changing, and it could change much more, but the federal government is causing problems because they are trying to push solutions with energy sources they want .

LL: The Government is than basically picking winners and losers?

DK: Of course. Of Course. That's the name of the game and obviously its what they have been doing for years. This is a moral question and it needs to be asked. 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.

For example, the government forces us to use ethanol but denies us access to much, much more energy under our own lands. The difference between Ethanol and oil is this: Ethanol is costing the country billions of dollars a year and ANWR would be making the United States billions of dollars a year. It's a free for all to see which energy the Government will back. The solution to America's energy problems is literally under our feet, and if the government would get out of the way and let Americans develop it, we could have the jobs, the energy and the revenue we so desperately need to spur economic growth

A Senior Talent Producer at CNBC, and author of "Thriving in the New Economy:Lessons from Today's Top Business Minds."

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