Energy Development on Public Lands is Robust: U.S. Interior Deputy Secretary at Platts Energy Podium

Jun 27, 2013, 14:39 ET from Platts

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Energy development of federal lands and waters is robust and opportunities abound for oil and gas production as well as renewable energy projects, outgoing U.S. Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes said at a Platts Energy Podium newsmaker event in Washington.

Hayes, who is leaving his post to teach at Stanford Law School in the fall, defended his department's efforts despite criticism from some in Congress that the Obama administration isn't moving fast enough to make more public lands available for energy development.

"It is incredibly frustrating how politicized this issue has become," Hayes said. "On the oil side, onshore, we've gone up by 35% in terms of oil being produced on our public lands."

Offshore, Hayes said that production in the Gulf of Mexico has recovered from the delays in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill and the subsequent increased federal safety standards. The number of rigs in the Gulf now exceeds pre-Macondo levels and companies are making major discoveries, he said.

"Today, the Gulf of Mexico is back," Hayes said.

Hayes acknowledged that onshore natural gas production on public lands has decreased in recent years. The change is due to companies seeking major gas plays in shale formations, most of which are on private and state lands. Declining natural gas prices also have contributed to the decrease, Hayes said.

On the renewables side, Hayes said the Interior Department since 2009 has approved 25 utility-scale solar facilities, nine major wind farms and 11 geothermal plants – more than 13,000 megawatts of renewable energy power approval.

"We have done proof of concept that in this country we can have utility-scale renewable energy providing a major energy source to major population centers," Hayes said.

In a wide-ranging session with energy reporters, Hayes touched on a number of other issues, including federal efforts to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands, an upcoming rulemaking process on Arctic-specific energy safety standards and the administration's thoughts on whether to increase royalties on onshore oil and gas production.

A recording of the David Hayes Platts Energy Podium session is available via podcast at this link:

Sponsored by Platts, a leading global energy, petrochemicals and metals information provider, Platts Energy Podium provides an ongoing forum for prominent newsmakers and the press to address important energy and environmental issues.

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