Earlier this year, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland pushed back on criticism about her agency’s anti-oil-and-gas policies by stating matter-of-factly that federal production has increased. In an oversight hearing in April held by the House Natural Resources Committee, the secretary stated, “What I can say is on federal lands oil production is up. It’s at an all-time high currently.”
It’s quite a pivot for a secretary who has cut quarterly lease sales to historically low levels, held permits up in a web of bureaucratic red tape, and very publicly taken millions of acres off the board from future production.
In a subsequent budget hearing before the committee, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Tracy Stone-Manning echoed the apparent good news, saying, “Oil and gas production is at an all-time high on federal lands.”
It’s factually inaccurate to say that natural gas production is at an all-time high when a decade ago production was higher. While we’ll give them credit that, overall, across all states where oil and natural gas are produced on public lands production is in fact up, but the numbers aren’t as strong as Interior lets on. According to data from the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, in 2019 before the COVID pandemic and subsequent recession, oil production was 293.1 million bbl, and the figures from 2022 show it was 478.2 million bbl, an increase of 63.2%. In that same period, natural gas rose from 3.38 billion mcf to 3.63 billion mcf, up 7.1%.
However, these increases are entirely driven by one state that vastly outperformed the others: New Mexico. Aside from Sec. Haaland’s home state, total onshore natural gas production decreased 16.4% from pre-pandemic levels and oil production declined 0.7%. Absent that ace, their hand weakens quickly.
Notably, oil production in FY2022 was still below FY2019 levels in the following key states:
Natura gas production is similarly down in the following states:
The data reveal the situation on the ground is a far cry from the successes being floated by Interior officials testifying before Congress. We’ve witnessed one bad policy after another emanating from the Biden administration’s “whole-of-government”, anti-oil-and-gas approach to governing. It’s time for agency leaders to stop playing games and get real with lawmakers and the public about the production declines their policies are creating on our nation’s public lands.