Obama’s Claim That Energy Production Is at All-Time High Selective on Facts, Experts Say

March 13, 2012 - 7:14 PM

Obama

President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) – On Saturday, President Barack Obama claimed that under his administration, oil production in America was “at an eight-year high,” that the number of operating oil rigs had quadrupled, and that millions of acres had been opened for drilling, which were assertions that did not present all the facts, said energy experts.

While Obama’s comments were technically accurate, he was leaving out vital information that gives a fuller picture of the situation, according to the Institute for Energy Research (IER). “Of course, he’s right — to a point,” the DC-based energy group told CNSNews.com in an e-mail.

“In classic fashion, he’s using a technicality to skirt the facts and keep the myth of energy scarcity alive,” the IER email said.  “The reality is that the U.S. has enough recoverable oil for the next 200 years, despite only having 2 percent of the world’s current proven oil reserves.” (Emphasis added.)

“Declaring that “the U.S. has only 2% of the world’s oil,” which Obama has done, “is akin to saying that the only gasoline we will have is that which is in our tanks,” said IER. “The president should know better, and if he does not, his secretaries of Energy and Interior should tell him.”

What the president leaves out, said the IER, is technically recoverable oil, oil we know about but cannot access due to government regulations.

“Proven oil reserves are not all of our oil resources—not even close,” the group said.

According to statistics provided by the IER, the United States has 1,442 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil.

As CNSNews.com has reported, oil production on federal lands declined in fiscal year 2011 from fiscal year 2010 by 11 percent, and natural gas production on federal lands dropped by 6 percent during the same timeframe. :

Oil Prices

In this March 2, 2012 photo, a New York City taxi driver pumps gas at a BP mini-mart, in New York. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

In contrast, oil production on private and state lands accounted for the entire increase, reported the IER, as production was up 14 percent from 2010 to 2011. Natural gas also was up 12 percent from 2010 to 2011.

On Sunday, John Hofmeister, author of “Why We Hate the Oil Companies: Straight Talk from an Energy Insider,” spoke on C-Span’s Washington Journal about the rising costs of gasoline in the United States.

“The problem is that we have had no plan in this country to take care of ourselves. We have been living off imports for most of the last 30, 40 years,” Hofmeister said.

“And while we are in a nation that has more oil than Saudi Arabia, that has more oil than we’ll ever need, we have a government policy, Republican and Democratic governments alike, that have prohibited oil companies from accessing natural resources in this country,” he said.

He also said that American consumers are paying more at the pump because “we haven’t had a plan to produce domestic energy,” adding that “we’ve imported it for too long.”

oil, jobs, unemployment

(AP Photo)

Hofmeister, a registered Democrat, explained that the United States is producing more oil than when President Obama took office because of “decisions made in the 3-to-5 year period looking backward -- not the last three years.”

He explained that it takes about three to five years to bring on production in oil fields.

Obama is “conveniently selecting a number based on a narrow definition Securities and Exchange Commission on proven reserves,” said Hofmeister. “There are two other categories called probable reserves and possible reserves. He ignores them completely.”

Hofmeister conceded that the president is right that we cannot just drill the country into an oil utopia, and said we need a comphrensive plan. However, he added that wind and solar “do nothing for transportation fuels.”

Instead, he recommended more use of ethanol, compressed natural gas, hydrogen fuel cells, and converting natural gas to methanol, a domestic natural resource that he says we have “almost too much of.”

In his March 10, 2012, Weekly Address, President Obama said that “[u]nder my Administration, oil production in America is at an eight-year high. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs, and opened up millions of acres for drilling.”

He continued: “But you and I both know that with only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices – not when we consume 20 percent of the world’s oil. We need an all-of-the-above strategy that relies less on foreign oil and more on American-made energy – solar, wind, natural gas, biofuels, and more.”