Sen. Mary Landrieu admonishes both sides in energy debate

02 29, 2012 by The Times-Picayune

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is chiding both Republican colleagues in the Senate and the Obama administration for what she said are their exaggerated rhetoric on U.S. energy policy. At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Interior Department budget Tuesday, Landrieu said Republicans are too singularly focused on drilling, but told Secretary Ken Salazar that the administration was providing the American people with a misleading impression of how aggressively they are pursuing drilling along the Outer Continental Shelf

"I would say to my Republican colleagues that we cannot drill our way out of this problem. We cannot drill our way back to $2 or $3 gasoline. I don't want to engage in bumper sticker politics, but I do want to engage in good policy for this country," said Landrieu. "And speaking from Louisiana's perspective, we do need a more aggressive drilling policy. We can't drill our way out, but we most certainly can create jobs. We most certainly can reduce our reliance on foreign oil. The facts are that drilling on public lands is down, and needs to be increased."

In his testimony, Salazar said that "since 2008, oil production from the federal OCS has increased by 30 percent, from 450 million barrels to more than 589 million barrels in 2010," and that a recently proposed five-year oil and gas leasing program "would make more than 75 percent of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas estimated on the OCS available for development."

But Landrieu told Salazar that "when you speak, you get people thinking that we're drilling everywhere, offshore and onshore, when the fact's don't justify that."

"Oil and gas production in our country is lower than it has ever been on federal lands - both offshore and onshore," said Landrieu, telling Salazar that the overall increase "comes from production on private lands. "

"The Outer Continental Shelf is 200 miles wide and goes from Oregon to Maine and we're drilling on less than two percent," she said.

Salazar told Landrieu he disagreed with her assessment and that "we feel very comfortable that production is coming up."