The Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States (IPAMS) warns that arbitrary decisions and failure to follow established law is putting 15% of America’s natural gas supply at risk. IPAMS has had a busy couple of days. On November 12, the organization sent a letter to Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Denver) to request that she stop the spread of misinformation about frac fluids. And less than a week later, IPAMS took on the Department of the Interior (DOI). The organization released a position paper on November 18 highlighting irregularities in the DOI’s natural gas and oil leasing program that are making it difficult for independent western producers to continue developing natural gas. IPAMS takes issue with the position the US government has taken on energy. Interior Secretary Salazar has repeatedly stated that the Obama Administration is not “anti-oil and gas,” yet when it comes to Interior’s onshore natural gas and oil program, IPAMS believes the record suggests otherwise. The organization points to a series of DOI decisions that have created uncertainty in the management of the onshore program, threatening the supply of domestic energy. A press release published by IPAMS states, “In spite of statements by the Obama administration touting the benefits of natural gas, conflicting decisions by DOI, which are not supported by law, are hindering producers’ efforts to develop the vast amounts of clean, domestic natural gas that lie beneath western public lands.” According to Kathleen Sgamma, IPAMS director of government affairs, “Efforts to restrict the federal natural gas and oil program put at risk 15% of the nation’s natural gas supply.” Sgamma points to severely reduced lease sales this year as an example. Compared to the first year of the Clinton Administration, the Obama Administration has issued 1,934 fewer leases and 1,146,949 fewer acres in the Intermountain West. IPAMS has released a position paper that outlines some of the actions taken by the DOI that are creating uncertainty in the federal onshore natural gas and oil program. These irregularities include: • $100 million worth of unissued leases in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming • Reduced lease sales, deferred leases and withdrawn leases • Permitting backlogs • Failure to issue permits using categorical exclusions, in violation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 • Indefinite holds on project-level environmental analysis The Obama Administration hasn’t officially declared war on oil and gas operations, but the guerilla tactics outlined here speak volumes.
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