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A new report suggests that Barack Obama’s claim to have overseen an increase in production of domestic oil and natural gas actually is backed up by the facts, but the accomplishment is more in spite of Obama rather than because of him.
The issue is addressed in a new Heritage Foundation report on energy production that reveals that oil and gas production on federal land, over which Obama and his appointees have jurisdiction, is down 40 percent.
It was in Obama’s announcement this week torpedoing plans for the Keystone XL pipeline that Obama could be heard claiming under his administration “domestic oil and natural gas production is up.”
But the Heritage Foundation’s report on “The Foundry” shows that the House Natural Resources Committee unveiled figures showing under Obama, there were the fewest onshore oil and gas leases issued since 1984.
“It’s not that Obama is devoid of responsibility,” said the Heritage report, authored by Rob Bluey. “His administration oversees oil and gas production on federal lands by issuing leases. But when measuring oil and gas production in areas under Obama’s jurisdiction, the numbers tell a different story.”
The House report also said Obama has had only one offshore lease sale in 2011, and that was in December, “narrowly” avoiding making 2011 the first year without an offshore lease sale since 1953.
And oil and natural gas production on federal lands has plummeted by more than 40 percent compared to just 10 years ago.
The House committee noted White House press secretary Jay Carney has been trying to defend Obama’s “dismal energy record.”
“The fact of the matter is, on oil and gas production, we have higher oil production in this country in 2010 than we’ve had since 2003. This president is committed to an all-of-the-above approach in our energy development, which means increasing production here at home, a focus on natural gas and its importance for our energy future, as well as investments in clean energy,” Carney said.
The House committee, however, noted that the energy production is coming from private projects on private lands – and those are the driving force behind the hottest spots in the American economy right now – North Dakota with a 3.4 percent unemployment rate, Alaska with its perennially low unemployment and Texas, which has by the numbers created more jobs in recent years than the rest of the country.
“North Dakota has been the poster child for what can happen when we unleash free enterprise and allow states to develop and commercialize their resources,” explained Heritage’s Nick Loris in a recent report about the booming energy industry there. “North Dakota is drilling at record pace.”
Bluey reported that North Dakota already is at pre-recession employment levels, Alaska is good to go and Texas is making progress. He wrote that Nebraska and South Dakota are soon to follow suit, and the common factor is energy production.
Heritage said even the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in Obama’s own administration agrees, stating, “As a nation, we need to take advantage of all our natural resources to spur economic growth, create jobs and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil. First, we should allow more access to oil, natural gas and coal opportunities on federal lands. Where sources of shale natural gas have been uncovered, federal, state and local authorities should encourage its safe and responsible extraction. While the administration has supported holding additional lease sales and evaluating new areas for drilling, further expanding and expediting the domestic production of fossil fuels both offshore and onshore (in conjunction with more electric and natural gas vehicles) will reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil and the huge outflow of U.S. dollars this reliance entails. In addition, policies that encourage rapid lease development while emphasizing the highest safety standards will ensure companies responsibly drill for natural gas or oil and mine for coal or other our minerals in federal areas in a timely manner.”