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PolitiFact: Bachmann claim on oil drilling permits rates a Pants On Fire

The statement

"One. That's the number of new drilling permits under the Obama administration since they came into office."

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., in a speech at the Conservative Principles PAC Conference in Iowa

The ruling

The Department of the Interior press office sent us a link to a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, or BOEMRE, report on the "Status of Well Permits and Plans Subject to Enhanced Safety and Environmental Requirements."

According to the report, 39 shallow-water permits for new wells have been issued since June 8, 2010, when new rules and information requirements were put into effect. Shallow water drilling operations were not affected by the deepwater drilling moratorium after the gulf oil spill. And there were lots more shallow-water well permits issued by the Obama administration before June 8, 2010.

In addition, there have been six deepwater well permits issued since Oct. 12, 2010, when the gulf moratorium was lifted. Five of those were for projects that were under way before the moratorium. The operators had to meet new, modified standards.

And BOEMRE just approved an "exploration plan" submitted by Shell Offshore Inc., for deepwater oil and gas exploration. It was the first new deepwater exploration plan approved since the gulf oil spill.

In all, BOEMRE has received 45 deepwater drilling permit applications that are subject to the new regulations. BOEMRE has approved seven.

Again, these are deepwater permits issued after the moratorium. The Obama administration issued lots of deepwater permits prior to that.

Bachmann's press office did not return our call, so we are relegated to playing the "perhaps she meant" game.

Perhaps she meant permits since the moratorium, not since the Obama administration came into office, as she said.

Perhaps she meant just deepwater drilling, not shallow water drilling.

Perhaps she meant to exclude permits issued for projects that were under way prior to the oil spill. Five of the six new well permits were underway prior to the moratorium.

Perhaps she meant exploration plans, not permits.

But none of that is what she said. She said: "One. That's the number of new drilling permits under the Obama administration since they came into office."

This claim is ridiculously false. Pants On Fire, we call it.

This ruling has been edited for print. For more rulings, go to

PolitiFact: Bachmann claim on oil drilling permits rates a Pants On Fire 03/30/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 10:57pm]
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