"Two-Thirds of Federal Oil and Gas Drilling Permits Sat Idle in 2010"

"Oil and gas companies drilled fewer new wells on public lands in 2010 than in any other year over the past decade, leaving nearly two-thirds of their drilling permits unused, according to federal records obtained by Greenwire. The Bureau of Land Management issued 4,090 drilling permits in fiscal 2010, but oil and gas operators drilled 1,480 new wells, using about 36 percent of permits issued.

BLM's permitting data refute industry assertions that the Obama administration is blocking oil and gas development to protect Western landscapes and wildlife, said Dave Alberswerth of the Wilderness Society, a former Interior Department official in the Clinton administration.

'The downturn in drilling on public lands is purely a function of internal corporate decisions and declining natural gas prices, not [Interior Secretary Ken] Salazar's oil and gas policies,' Alberswerth said."

Phil Taylor reports for Greenwire January 13, 2011.

Source: Greenwire, 01/14/2011