Sean Hannity falsely suggested that federal areas legally available for leasing by oil companies contain no oil. In fact, federal agencies have estimated that more oil exists on the tens of millions of acres of federal areas currently legally available for drilling than there is in the areas currently off limits to drilling.
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On the July 16 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity claimed that "the left's argument" against lifting the congressional moratorium on some offshore oil drilling "has been that -- well, there's only 58 million acres, and the oil companies aren't drilling there now. That has been debunked. The reason they're not drilling there is because there's no oil there." Hannity later claimed, "If we were able to drill at the -- for example, the outer continental shelf, we'd have that oil within two years. There are 86 billion barrels of oil waiting for us there." But Hannity's suggestion that there is no oil available in areas currently being leased or available for leasing is false. In fact, agencies within the Departments of Energy and the Interior have estimated that more oil exists on the tens of millions of acres of federal areas that are leased or available for leasing to oil and gas companies than there is in the areas currently off limits to drilling.
As The Boston Globe noted in a June 20 article, "About 86 billion barrels of additional oil may lie offshore, according to the US government's Energy Information Administration," and then continued: "Of that amount, about 18 billion barrels are subject to the moratorium." Indeed, DOE's Energy Information Administration's 2007 Annual Energy Outlook stated that there were 18.17 billion barrels of "technically recoverable resources currently off limits in the lower 48 OCS." A similar report by the Federal Minerals Management Service (MMS) stated that "[t]he MMS estimates that the resources in OCS areas currently off limits to leasing and development total 18.9" billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil resources. That same report estimated that there were a total of 85.88 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil resources on the OCS, irrespective of the moratorium. In addition, in its Inventory of Onshore Federal Oil and Natural Gas Resources and Restrictions to Their Development, the Bureau of Land Management estimated that only 38 percent of oil accessible under federal land is covered by existing prohibitions.
Furthermore, Hannity's assertion that if the moratorium were lifted, "we'd have that oil within two years," is contradicted by the Energy Information Administration, which considered the likely effects of allowing the congressional and executive moratoriums on certain offshore drilling to expire in 2012 and stated: "The projections in the OCS [outer continental shelf] access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017."
From the July 16 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Hey, Mr. Speaker, Sean Hannity. Thanks for being with us. I want to read to you -- the left's argument has been that -- well, there's only 58 million acres, and the oil companies aren't drilling there now. That has been debunked. The reason they're not drilling there is because there's no oil there. And the second argument they make is that, well, it's going to take 10 years to get this oil.
My first question is, well, what do these liberals think the price of a barrel of oil is going to be in 10 years? Are they confident that it's going to be lower? And Eric Bowling from our sister network, the Fox Business Channel, actually called the experts. If we were able to drill at the -- for example, the outer continental shelf, we'd have that oil within two years.
There are 86 billion barrels of oil waiting for us there. If we were to, you know, hit these really deep, deep waters, the maximum three to five years, and we'd be able to access this oil here. So why are they getting away with this argument that we don't need nukes, we don't need to drill, and we don't need coal?