The nonprofit Institute for Energy Research (IER) said Thursday that oil and natural gas production on federal lands declined during the 2011 fiscal year (FY), citing data from the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI).

“While the [Obama] administration is correct that oil and gas production in the United States is rising, the data show that where the federal government was in charge, oil and gas production fell last year on taxpayer-owned lands,” the IER said.

According to the IER study, the DOI’s Office and Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) reported that oil production on federal lands totaled 656 million bbl during FY2011, an 11% decline from the 736 million bbl produced during the previous fiscal year. Natural gas production, which totaled 4.98 Tcf in FY2011, fell for the second consecutive year, down 6% from FY2010 (5.28 Tcf) and 27% from FY2009 (6.82 Tcf).

Conversely, the study found that oil production on private and state lands had increased 14% from FY2010 to FY2011, while natural gas production grew 12%.

“[This] trend indicates the Obama administration policies…are causing lower oil and natural gas production on taxpayer-owned lands,” the IER said. “These policies include limiting the offshore areas where oil can be produced, leasing much less land than previous administrations, canceling oil leases, withdrawing oil leases and slow-walking the issuance of permits that allow domestic energy production.”

The IER said the ONRR’s findings are significant in that they differ from reports produced by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA) during the same time frame. U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to EIA Acting Administrator Howard Gruenspecht on Jan. 26, urging him to fix the discrepancies.

“[It appears the] EIA is currently only counting oil and natural gas produced from federal lands for which royalties were paid to the federal government,” Markey wrote. “Unfortunately, this accounting dramatically under represents the volumes of oil and natural gas actually produced on federal lands.”

The IER said the data given to Markey by the ONRR was different from what it had posted on its website, and non-revenue production volumes were not broken down by fuel type.

“If ONRR’s data volumes are correct, there are abundant reasons to believe that current policies holding public lands captive from resource development serve to make federal lands increasingly unattractive to energy producers,” the IER said. “Our nation needs to produce energy, revenue and especially, jobs…There is clearly a need for policy changes that encourage energy production on federal government lands.”

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