Is the deficit fix right beneath our feet?
Nearly $130 trillion in oil and gas resources are buried under US government land, worth about 8 times our national debt. But tapping it isn't so easy.
A solution to the country's growing national debt sits right beneath Americans' feet, according to a report from the nonprofit Institute for Energy Research.
That's the $128 trillion in technically recoverable oil and gas resources below 41 million acres of federally owned land, according to the group, which advocates for "freely-functioning energy markets." The chief executive of the group is a former director of policy analysis at Enron.
The "federal government’s mineral estate land holdings surpass the total surface land area of the nation of Canada," according to the report. "These holdings, as we will see, are vastly underutilized."
Most of those below-ground assets are mineral and energy resources, such as oil and coal. Among those hidden deposits are 10.4 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the continental shelf off the lower 48 states, the report notes.
Right now, the government leases only about 2% of federal offshore areas and 6% of onshore lands.
But tapping those resources isn't so easy.
For one, not all federally controlled lands are open to leasing, as noted by the Congressional Budget Office in a study last year.
Leasing is statutorily prohibited in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for example, the CBO noted. It estimated that opening the land up to development would lead to about $5 billion in additional revenue over the next decade.
And opening the refuge and other wilderness areas to drilling and mining would undoubtedly spur a backlash from Americans who believe such areas should remain undisturbed by mining and other human activities.
One such group is the Defenders of Wildlife, a national nonprofit conservation organization that advocates protecting the area. According to its site, "the Arctic Refuge is under assault. The oil industry and its political allies continue to launch attacks to open this national treasure to destructive oil and gas drilling, while climate change threatens to disrupt its habitats faster than wildlife can adapt."
It's not as if U.S. taxpayers aren't already benefiting from minerals hidden under the country's federally owned land. Revenue from all oil and gas leases on public lands will amount to $150 billion over the next 10 years, according to the CBO.
With the Institute for Energy Research pushing for greater development, it may be taking the advice of oilman J. Paul Getty, who said, "The meek shall inherit the earth but not its mineral rights."
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Problem is - we burn more gas and oil - more pollution and warming. Problem is, we have no idea what the long term consequences of allowing FRACKING any and everywhere. Fossil fuels might make you feel shape. We may all choke on our need for security.
And how do you know it can be done without damaging the environment. Life begins on a micro-biological level and millions of those unseen species go extinct because of man each year. They are the building blocks to the food supply.
We have ravaged the environment. How dare anyone claim we won't continue as Icebergs the size of Manhattan drop off Greenland. I suppose you'll have to be knee deep in a NY subway station before you admit what's going on.
TO NOT USE THESE RESOURCES IS CRAZY. PRIMARY FUEL FOR LIGHTING IN THE 1800'S WAS WHALE OIL. THEN WE FOUND OIL--MADE KEROSENE AND THREW OUT THE GASOLINE.
THEN ALONG CAME CARS--USED THE GASOLINE. NOW WE HAVE SOLAR AND WIND..ETC.
EVERY GENERATION CLEANS UP THE MESS LEFT BY THE PREVIOUS GENERATION'S
"LATEST DISCOVERY" THAT MADE LIFE EASIER. DRILL-PUMP-BURN IT UP.
IN THE NEAR FUTURE WE'LL WONDER WHAT ALL THE HUB-BUB WAS ABOUT WHEN WE OUR HOMES AND CARS RUN ON SOLAR AND WIND. BUT UNTIL THAT DAY-LET'S USE WHAT WE HAVE RESPONSIBLY. THEN WE MOVE ON.
MAKES SENSE--THAT'S WHY IT IS SO CONFUSING TO THE GOVT.
1. Enact a 2% national sales tax on ALL sales. No exceptions.
2. Enact an unrevokable law that 100% of the revenue MUST be used to write down the debt.
3. Require that Congress pass and adhere to a balanced budget.
4. In less than 15 years when the national debt has been retired, the 2% national sales tax MUST end.
5. If Congress does not adhere to either 2 or 3 above, the national sales tax will end immediately
To Dry Cleaners post above
might not go....the far right, and neo cons would never allow a balanced budget if it involved any cuts to military. Keep saying close some of those 700 overseas bases, and stop being the worlds policeman, supposedly we have over 60 bases in Japan...Let the Japanese rearm, would scare the heck out of China and North Korea
Mass transit, solar and wind, design houses better. Nationalize all oil and gas I'm tired of these rich people sitting on their as_
Its not the government who would be profiting from the oil reserves, it will be the oil companies such as Exxon, BP, Chevron. They are already sitting on billions and yet we are still paying for gas that is way over priced. Same staus quo the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.
Elimination/reduction of the national debt, cheaper fuel prices, and more jobs. I don't see anything here to get excited about. Let's tax the rich, lower medicare benefits, and keep our navy in port. That makes more sense.
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