Offshore Drilling Could Reduce the Deficit

By Robert Bluey 

Texas Insider Report: Washington, D.C. – Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) wants the Obama administration to provide Congress with data on the federal government’s offshore drilling revenue — information that would show just how much President Obama’s anti-drilling policies are impacting the budget. Based on recent projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, production in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to drop this year by 220,000 barrels per day. With oil currently at $90 a barrel and the government’s royalty rate at 18.75 percent, that equals $3.7 million in lost federal revenue each day.

Last fall Vitter asked the Interior Department to share revenue figures, but Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ignored the request. Now, Vitter is taking his case directly to the White House.

In a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew, Vitter and Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) called attention to recent reports that credit rating agencies are keeping a close eye on the U.S. government.

They also asked Lew to respond to seven questions related to domestic energy production:

  1. In terms of revenue generation year over year from domestic offshore energy production — considering bonus bids and royalty revenue, as well as rents and taxes from income — what has been the net revenue each year from 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010? And what is OMB projecting to be the revenue in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015?
  2. Is OMB projecting revenue from lease sales in 2011 and 2012, and what is the projected revenue from those lease sales? Please also provide net revenue from lease sales in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
  3. How does OMB account for, and what methodologies does OMB use to measure, future revenue from all sources of domestic energy? Can these numbers be broken down by the type of energy resource?
  4. What has been the revenue generation from renewable energy for FY 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, and what is OMB projecting to be the revenue in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015? Also, what has been the total amount of grants and subsidies paid out to renewable energy each year, and what are the projections for the noticed years?
  5. What companies and Venture Capital firms (including their start-up investments) are the top 10 recipients of federal grants, loans and subsidies for renewable energy, and what is the dollar figure for each firm from years 2007 through 2010?
  6. How does OMB account for a fundamental transition from wealth-generating energy industries to massively-subsidized energy industries in its analysis of revenue generation and our fiscal situation?
  7. For the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, what was the total number of projects that received categorical exclusions or reduced environmental review under the Act? What is the percentage of total projects?

Vitter said months ago that lost revenue from offshore drilling is exacerbating the federal deficit. With a debate looming over the debt ceiling, he’s now pressing his case.

“As the United States rapidly approaches its debt ceiling, we appreciate your timely response to this letter to inform all members of Congress how the federal government is harnessing or limiting its energy sector’s ability to contribute to our overall economy,” Vitter and Landry wrote in their letter to Lew.

“These figures and statistics would go a long way to helping us all make a clearer, more informed decision.


  1. As a native of Louisiana, I have a lifelong appreciation for natural resources and the economic opportunities they generate. The collapse of the domestic oil and gas industry in the 1980s was a blow that my hometown has yet to recover from. I was one of thousands of New Orleanians who evacuated 20 years before Katrina, in search of economic opportunity elsewhere. For several years thereafter, I produced a nationally syndicated newspaper and radio commentary called “Behind The Headlines,” promoting free enterprise and limited government. I know, as well as any layman, that energy independence in America requires full exploitation of our domestic reserves of coal, oil, and gas — along with nuclear power plant construction, development of biofuels, and other reasonable options. The only thing holding us back are bogus environmental threats and the financial interests that fabricate them.

  2. Offshore jobs are more of a lifestyle. They are not everybody, since they involve long and tiring hours at the oil rigs away from your friends and family and often working under tough weather conditions.

    Some may find such a job hard and unattractive, but other may find it exciting and interesting. For the latter ones offshore jobs offer generous rewards in the form of salaries that are clearly above market wages.

  3. Start allowing deep water drilling. This will put several thousand people working just on the drilling platform plus a thousands more working for support companies here and the money will stay in the US. Why do we have to buy oil from foreign countries when can produce oil ourselves and keep the money here and keep the jobs here? This is a win win situation.

  4. If we started to explore & drill in earnest ,not what some politico says,how many people would come off unemployment to good paying jobs. Our sending money to people that want us dead would stop

  5. What is it with you Senators and Representatives not being able to get the Obama administration to answer your questions? It seems that this happens all the time! SUBPOENA THEM!

  6. Drill the oil here at home. We’ve got enough oil in this hemisphere to sustain us until the next millinium. . by the that time someone will figure out how to tilt the earth in the direction you intend to go. Instead of banning oil production to put the USA in the grave, improve the production, renew the refineries, put people back to work. If saving the resource is number one goal, increase our chances by evicting everyone who isn’t a citizen, That will not only save jobs, eviction will create jobs and save the USA one tall heap of money! What am I saying? I forgot, I’m talking to a society that voted in a muslim!

  7. Drill baby drill–when oil is at 40 per barrell (sustained) again, we will be over this recession. When Bill Clinton was president, oil was around 10 dollars per barrel—that coupled with sensible spending from the Congress gave us great surpluses!!

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