Sen. Franken: Oil Companies Should Increase Production on Leased Federal Land

Senator Al Franken

Senator Al Franken

Senator Al Franken

Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) backed a measure that would penalize oil companies for allowing millions of acres of federal lands they’ve leased for oil exploration to lie dormant, saying the potential for finding billions of barrels of untapped oil could help lower fuel prices in Minnesota and across the country.

“Even as they ask the government to open new lands to drilling, oil companies are sitting on millions of acres of undeveloped federal land,” said Sen. Franken. “This undeveloped land could contain billions of barrels of untapped oil that could increase supplies and ease the upward pressure on gas prices being felt in Minnesota and across the country. If these companies aren’t going to develop the land they lease from our government, they need to step aside and let another company do the job.”

On Wednesday, Franken signed onto the Use It or Lose It Act of 2011, which would require oil companies to submit plans showing how they plan to develop their leased lands and to pay an annual fee of $4 per acre of unused land or water. Currently, oil companies lease 79 million acres of federal land and water, yet 60 million of those acres lie undeveloped. Meanwhile, oil companies have also asked to lease additional federal lands.

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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