A couple of weeks ago, President Obama stood among stacks of green oil pipe for an 11-minute photo op and claimed credit for a thriving domestic energy industry. Six hours later, the president spoke in Ohio and blasted oil and gas as “the energy of the past” and claimed we “can't simply drill our way out of the problem.” It may be politically beneficial to praise oil and gas in Oklahoma and then attack it in Ohio, but it doesn't help our nation become energy independent.
The president repeatedly states that America “only has 2 percent of the world's known oil reserves.” It is a carefully worded phrase to give the impression that we are incapable of meeting our own energy needs. The reality is the United States is the third-largest producer of oil in the world. During the fourth quarter of 2011, America produced 58 percent of all the oil we consumed. We imported an additional 21 percent of oil from Canada and Mexico, which means 79 percent of our oil consumption came from North America. If we increase our drilling and international pipeline capacity by only 21 percent, we can finally be free of Middle East oil and the wild price swings that come with that dependence.
After his inauguration, one of the president's first actions was to cancel oil leases on federal lands and delay offshore leasing, even before the BP spill. The Keystone pipeline has been delayed 44 months; the previous international pipeline was permitted in 24 months. While this president claims credit for increased drilling, those permits were actually approved under President George W. Bush, and new drilling permits are down 36 percent. In testimony before Congress in March, Energy Secretary Steven Chu could not name any action that this administration has taken to increase oil and gas production.