Mar 23

The Falsities Regarding Oil Production Under Obama

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 decreasedObama 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.


  • http://www.stephenwillcox.wordpress.com stephen

    the video does start by saying, ” what are we doing?” and then says, ” and we are already making great progress.” Sounds to me like the Obama administration is taking credit. To me it seems at best misleading. if I were to say, “what am we doing to solve our debt problem?” “Well I am doing XYZ.” “And we are already making great progress.” Everyone I know of would at least assume i am taking credit for the proclaimed progress on debt. just my 2 cents.

  • http://alexlaird.com Alex Laird

    I had attached the wrong video :). Thanks for pointing that out. That video didn’t make much sense in this discussion.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_APXB34WS7PVT6UKLXY26BN3G74 arin

    perhaps you miss the point.  When we had gas lines in the 70′s we were producing TWICE the oil we are producing now and prices were LOWER! 

    Plus most of the new oil thats actually being drilled is coming out of private land permits not public.  Most of the public permits are for lands that contain no oil.  Yet the president is quick to claim production is up while he is the one who banned all offshore drilling then gave 2 billion to Brazil’s nationalized oil company (that his buddy George Soros is heavily invested in).  

    Meanwhile when no one was watching the EPA cut co2 production levels for coal plants to natural gas plant levels… effectively killing off the ability for another coal plant to be built EVER. 

    • http://alexlaird.com/ Alex Laird

      As I said in the post, there are those that will dispute the facts and figures represented as incorrect. You’re free to disagree with the figures the BLM publishes, but, as I said, if you are paranoid to that degree, you have bigger things to worry about than the price of gas.

      And, yes, if this article were comparing current production and prices to that of the 70s, it would have missed the point.

  • Lee

    Why was 2011 way less than years 2009 and 2010?  Obama has stated many times that it takes 8-10 years after the start of drilling to get any oil out of the ground and reap the rewards.  Why was oil production down so much in 2011? Also why did 12 refineries close in the Gulf of Mexico this year, which closed down under Obama’s administration. 

    What about Obama’s Energy Chairman Mr. Chu, who stated back in 2008 that he wanted gas prices to rise at the pump, and then now he retracts what he said? To me the Obama Admin wants green energy to take over, which is why I think that the oil production in 2011 was so drastically low. Remember that gas prices were really cheap in 2009 when Obama took over and since oil production dropped in 2011 that is why gas prices have doubled in the past year or so. 

    • http://alexlaird.com/ Alex Laird

      You’re opening an entirely different can of worms than is addressed in this post. The content of the post, as is illustrated by the title, is about oil production and the lies surrounding claims about oil production under Obama, which obviously does correlate to gas prices, but (as is stated in the article) if oil production is going up under Obama’s administration yet gas prices are not declining, could it be there are factors not decided by the President that are causing these prices to rise?

      You can use almost any quote to your advantage when it is taken out of context. Mr. Chu’s comment was retracted not because it was incorrect or because he actually wanted American’s to pay more at the pump, but because the comment was misconstrued by those quoting him. Again, that’s an entirely different political discussion.

      Any responsible President would have closed down the refineries in the Gulf of Mexico after the public outcry the oil spill received. Regardless of whether you’re liberal or conservative, he’d receive flack from both sides whether he had closed them or not. Be reasonable.

  • Badchess

    It seems to me what we should be comparing is Bush’s last year and Obama’s first year, if we want to get an idea if production on public lands is going up or down.

    Going by the following, I’m assuming it went down:

    “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.”

    • http://alexlaird.com/ Alex Laird

      Correct, it did go down by that comparison, which is a point that I made (and contextually clarified) in my conclusion.