Report: 70 Percent of Offshore Oilfields Unused

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Oil Drill Rig, Montana

Some 26 million acres of offshore areas currently under lease for oil and gas development are inactive, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Department of the Interior. A DOI press release touts the finding, and pushes oil companies to, um...drill, baby, drill.

The report comes as President Barack Obama pushes his so-called "all-of-the-above" energy strategy, which includes development of alternative fuels but also more vigorous oil drilling.

Here's an excerpt from the release.

According to the report, more than 70 percent of the tens of millions of offshore acres currently under lease are inactive, neither producing nor currently subject to approved or pending exploration or development plans. Out of nearly 36 million acres leased offshore, only about 10 million acres are active – leaving nearly 72 percent of the offshore leased area idle.

In the lower 48 states, an additional 20.8 million acres, or 56 percent of onshore leased acres, remain idle. Furthermore, there are approximately 7,000 approved permits for drilling on federal and Indian lands that have not yet been drilled by companies.

“These lands and waters belong to the American people, and they expect those energy supplies to be developed in a timely and responsible manner and with a fair return to taxpayers,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “We will continue to encourage companies to diligently bring production online quickly and safely on public lands already under lease.”