As the price of petroleum products rises sharply in the US and globally, some critics are saying an important cause is the Obama administration's efforts to restrict the award of new drilling leases. However, 70% of existing federal oil and gas offshore lease acres and 57% of all federal onshore leased acres are inactive, with no production, exploration or development, according to a Dept. of Interior report requested by Obama and released March 29, 2011. Industry applications for drilling permits have dropped steadily since 2006, and in 2010 were 40% of the 2006 peak. There has been a steady annual pattern of a large percentage of leased acres remaining inactive since at least 2001.
- "Oil and Gas Lease Utilization – Onshore and Offshore Development; Report to the President" ; press release. 
The report includes a map of leased locations under various stages of development, or not, in the Gulf of Mexico, and a map with the total percentage of unused leases in each pertinent state (ranging from 0-83%).
For more detailed information, contact DoI media person Kendra Barkoff, 202-208-6416, the dominant federal agencies (BLM and the Bureau of Ocean Energy and Management), or your state agency that manages leasing.
Starting points for industry perspective include: