POLITICS

Obama: Oil production 'key part' of my energy plan

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

President Obama described domestic oil production as "a key part of [his] energy strategy" despite the multiple measures his administration has taken to limit oil and gas production in the United States.

"Now, you wouldn't know it by listening to some of the folks running for office today, but producing more oil at home has been, and will continue to be, a key part of my energy strategy," Obama said today in his weekly address. "Under my Administration, we're producing more oil than at any other time in the last eight years."

The president uses the word "we" very loosely. Some private citizens are driving an oil boom, no doubt, but oil production on federal lands plummeted over the last year, according to a new report from Obama's Department of Energy (DOE). The Congressional Research Service also reported this week that "96 percent of the increase in oil production since 2007 has occurred on non-federal lands."

Obama's Department of Interior imposed a drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon spill that drove oil rigs to other nation's waters. The Gulf spill also gave the president occasion to delay a sale of mineral leases for drilling off the coast of Virginia; in November 2011, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar revealed that offshore drilling in Virginia would not happen until at least 2017. (Environmental activists criticized the Obama administration for authorizing what drilling permits they did allow.)

The president's concern for environmental safety would be more credible if Obama had not encouraged offshore drilling by Mexican companies with less experience conducting such operations than American companies, in the same Gulf of Mexico that his moratorium was supposed to protect.

In Ohio last year, President Obama's regulators in the United States Department of Agriculture opted to postpone -- again, due to the concerns of enviromentalists -- a mineral lease auction that would have permitted more natural gas drilling and created up to 200,000 jobs in an area that is already benefiting from extensive drilling.

The president promised last month to veto legislation that would open the Artic Wildlife Natural Refuge in Alaska to drilling because the proposal "preempt[ed] a Bureau of Land Management environmental impact statement on oil shale extraction."

Obama also threatened to veto that bill because it would have permitted the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline  that would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf, another proposal he has blocked due to environmental concerns.

 

 

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