President Obama has this ad out that cheerily says, “Boost U.S. oil production? Under President Obama, it’s already the highest in eight years.” Then this fancy graph swoops across the screen to impress you with the vast amounts of oil barrels being produced each day. And, if you’re wishing the U.S. was producing more barrels of oil, this graph should make you proud.
Of course, no political ad can last too long without words of affirmation from the opposition. And, true to their form, they lobbed the rock back within twenty-four hours. U.S. oil production isn’t up under Obama, they said. The oil reflected in that graph is all on private land, they said. Obama has all but stopped domestic oil production on public lands.
Can it be? Our President lied in an ad? Actually, no. For two reasons.
Firstly, the President did not actually claim personal credit for the growth of U.S. oil production. I believe the point he was trying to illustrate was that oil production, regardless of where it’s produced in the United States, is at a record high, so production does not need to increase. You could try to suggest that the ad is misleading, but the conclusion of the ad makes the point pretty clear by pointing you to his All of the Above campaign. I would submit that if you believe it is misleading, it is because you are placing a false premise on it.
Secondly, the accusation that the president has all but stopped domestic oil production on public lands is, in fact, false. Crazy as it may seem, drilling permits and records are actually published by the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (you know, the guys who keep track of said permits and the like). That means you can look these facts up for yourself.
So, what are the facts? According to the Bureau of Land Management’s Oil and Gas Statistics for domestic drilling on public land:
During Bush’s first term, on average, 2,598 new leases were issued per year, 4,166 permits approved each year, and 2,994 new wells were started annually
During Bush’s second term, on average, 3,360 new leases were issued per year, 6,264 permits approved each year, and 4,884 new wells were started annually.
During Obama’s first term, on average, 2,546 new leases were issued per year, 4,273 permits approved each year, and 3,231 new wells were started annually.
Conclusion: oil production on public lands has not all but ceased. In fact, it is slightly higher than Bush’s first term.
Now let’s review. Is U.S. oil production up? Yes. Is oil production on public lands up compared to Bush’s first term? Yes. Is oil production on public lands up compared to Bush’s second term? No. Did Obama suggest oil production on public lands was up compared to either of Bush’s terms? No. Between both of Bush’s terms, was his average public oil production higher than Obama’s? Yes. Did the government fudge these numbers to mislead the general public? If you believe that, there are bigger things than gas prices that you should be worried about.
On average between both of Bush’s terms and Obama’s first term, Bush approved more permits. But you can’t argue that Obama’s lesser approval of permits and new leases on public lands (as compared to Bush’s second term) isn’t consistent with driving trends, because it is. In fact, even as driving trends have decreased, Obama has continued to increase oil production on public lands. I could also elaborate on a point that this demand and consumption ratio bares no real consistency when compared to the price of crude oil or the gasoline that is made from it.
However, to elaborate further on these points would get away from the main point of both this post and the commercial, which really have little to do with Obama’s oil production permits and everything to do with the entire country’s oil production. It is through the roof, domestically, yet gas prices have not declined (and will not, I predict, even under another President). More importantly, the claims that Obama has done everything in his power to all but stop the approval of new wells and permits is absolutely false.
Consequently, the lesson to glean from this has nothing to do with oil production. I’d say the more pertinent point is this: your government may not be as dishonest and corrupt as you’re always led to believe; perhaps it is the source continually demeaning your Commander and Chief that’s feeding you falsehoods.
But don’t take a random person’s word for it, even if that person is behind a monitor or a microphone. When someone (yes, even me) tells you something, don’t just perpetuate the “shocking truth” without checking it out for yourself first.