Terry Jeffrey

Last month, with almost no attention from the liberal media, the Bureau of Land Management released the report estimating the other part of America's undiscovered oil riches, the onshore resources. This added another 53 billion barrels to the national petroleum pot.

"The nation's undiscovered oil resources total about 139 Bbbls (billion barrels)," says the report. "Of that total, the MMS estimates that 86 Bbbls are offshore under the OCS, comprising 62 percent of the nation's resources. State waters and nonfederal onshore resources are the second largest potential source of production (21 percent), followed by Federal onshore oil resources (17 percent)."

Yet, so long as Congress and the president retain the federal moratoria that forbid most offshore drilling, the 85.9 billion barrels of crude offshore won't be tapped.

The May BLM report explains why most onshore oil won't be tapped, either. Of the 279 million acres of federal land "with potential for oil or natural gas resources," 60 percent is off limits to leases as a matter of federal statute or administrative policy. Another 23 percent is open to leases with "restrictions." These include such things as "lands that can be leased but ground-disturbing oil and natural gas exploration and development activities are prohibited" and "lands that can be leased, but stipulations ... limit the time of the year when oil and gas exploration and drilling can take place to less than 3 months."

A final 17 percent of federal land is open to oil drilling on more or less the same environmental terms as private land.

"All oil and gas leases on Federal lands, including those issued with only the standard lease terms, are subject to full compliance with all environmental laws and regulations," says the report. "These laws include, but are not limited to, the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and National Historic Preservation Act. While compliance with these laws may delay, modify or prohibit oil and gas activities, these laws represent the values and bounds Congress believes appropriate to manage Federal lands."

You elected Congress. It paid you back with $4.00-per-gallon gas.

Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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