Update: The Fortune Beneath Our Feet

February 6, 2013

I have posted many times on what I like to call the fortune beneath our feet – the huge, untapped reserves of fossil fuels beneath US soil and its outer continental shelf.  In a report posted online last month, the Institute for Energy Research demonstrated that the US leases only 2% of its offshore assets and just 6% of its onshore holdings for oil and gas exploration . . . but the total value of technically recoverable energy sources in the unleased areas is over $128 trillion – over 8 times the total national debt.  The IER conservatively estimates that the federal government could receive $150 billion in revenues from leases, royalties and taxes if more of those leases were opened up – but a 2007 bipartisan House bill aimed at developing these resources  estimated at least $750 billion and as much as $2.6 trillion in direct payments to the treasury.  The economic boom that would follow would surely raise those totals by several multiples.  However you measure it, there is a literal, untapped fortune beneath our feet . . . why are we trapped in a fight over raising taxes and cutting services?

oil and gas on federal lands


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