Working Paper No. 10-03

Drill Baby Drill?
Political and Market Influences on Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing in the Western United States

Karen Maguire
October 2010

ABSTRACT

This paper examines the role of federal elected political influence and market factors in determining the acres of oil and natural gas leases issued on Bureau of Management (BLM) lands in the western United States between 1978 and 2008. This paper seeks to determine if a political party and ideology of the federal political environment influence the number of acres that are leased and if there is disparate federal political influence in states that have a large amount of federal lands. Using a random effects Tobit model for a 17-state sample of the westernmost states in the contiguous United States, the findings indicate that more conservative Congressional and Presidential influence lead to additional leasing. The results are consistent across Senate committee leaders, Senate majority leadership, and the President’s office. The influence of politics on leasing is not found to be stronger in states with more federal lands,however.

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