Oil in­dus­try slams Obama’s pol­icy on en­ergy, sees pro­duc­tion drop

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY DAVE BOYER AND

De­spite rhetoric to the con­trary, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is poised to deal a ma­jor blow to U.S. oil and nat­u­ral gas, a lead­ing in­dus­try group charged Thurs­day.

Do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion of both fu­els could plum­met if pro­posed En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency reg­u­la­tions, de­signed to limit emis­sions from well sites, go into ef­fect later this year, ac­cord­ing to an ex­ten­sive new study com­mis­sioned by the Amer­i­can Petroleum In­sti­tute.

The nat­u­ral gas ex­trac­tion tech­nique known as “frack­ing” would be hard­est hit, and fuel extracted via the pop­u­lar process would drop by about 52 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to a new study com­mis­sioned by API. To­tal gas pro­duc­tion would de­crease by about 11 per­cent, while do­mes­tic oil pro­duc­tion could fall by as much as 37 per­cent, the re­port says.

The sur­vey comes as the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is fac­ing in­creas­ing heat over its en­ergy pol­icy, par­tic­u­larly in light of surging gas prices at the pump for con­sumers. Polls sug­gest the is­sue is cut­ting into Pres­i­dent Obama’s po­lit­i­cal sup­port, and Mr. Obama was in sub­ur­ban Mary­land on Thurs­day for the lat­est in a string of speeches de­fend­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s record on en­ergy and at­tack­ing his Re­pub­li­can crit­ics for push­ing what he said were un­re­al­is­tic so­lu­tions to the cur­rent squeeze.

“Ev­ery time prices start to go up — es­pe­cially in an elec­tion year — politi­cians dust off their three-point plans for $2 gaso­line. They head down to the pump, make sure a few cam­eras are fol­low­ing them, and start act­ing like they can wave a magic wand and you’ll have cheap gas for­ever,” the pres­i­dent said in pre­pared re­marks to an au­di­ence at Prince Ge­orge’s Com­mu­nity Col­lege in Largo.

Mr. Obama openly mocked skep­tics of his pro­pos­als to pro­mote al­ter­na­tives to fos­sil fu­els, com­par­ing them to those who ques­tioned the com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity of tele­vi­sion or ar­gued against Christopher Colum­bus’ voy­age to Amer­ica.

“If some of these folks were around when Colum­bus set sail, they prob­a­bly must have been found­ing mem­bers of the Flat Earth So­ci­ety. They would not be­lieve that the world was round,” Mr. Obama said.

The API study was re­leased the same day a top House Re­pub­li­can re­leased data from the En­ergy Depart­ment show­ing that fos­sil-fuel pro­duc­tion on fed­eral lands has fallen since Mr. Obama took of­fice. The in­for­ma­tion com­piled by the En­ergy In­for­ma­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion (EIA) shows that to­tal fos­sil-fuel pro­duc­tion on fed­eral lands has dropped 7 per­cent since 2009 and 13 per­cent since 2003. From 2010 to 2011, to­tal oil pro­duc­tion on fed­eral lands is down 14 per­cent and gas pro­duc­tion dropped 11 per­cent.

Lead­ing Repub­li­cans say they see a dis­con­nect be­tween the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s words and its ac­tions. House Nat­u­ral Re­sources Chair­man Doc Hast­ings, Washington Re­pub­li­can, said the new EIA data show that Pres­i­dent Obama’s “antienergy poli­cies” are tak­ing the coun­try in the wrong di­rec­tion.

“Pres­i­dent Obama has been more than happy to take credit for his pre­de­ces­sors’ ac­tions to ad­vance en­ergy pro­duc­tion on fed­eral lands, how­ever, we know that while bring­ing fed­eral oil and nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­tion on­line can take the bet­ter part of a decade, slow­ing pro­duc­tion can hap­pen rel­a­tively quickly,” Mr. Hast­ings said in a state­ment.

In­te­rior Depart­ment spokesman Adam Fetcher said oil pro­duc­tion on fed­eral lands has in­creased 13 per­cent since 2006, and nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­tion has risen 6 per­cent in the same pe­riod, though there have been de­clines in both cat­e­gories from 2009 to 2011.

“The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to take steps to ex­pand do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion safely and re­spon­si­bly as part of an all-of-the-above ap­proach to Amer­i­can en­ergy,” Mr. Fetcher said. “Na­tion­wide, do­mes­tic oil and gas pro­duc­tion has in­creased each year of this ad­min­is­tra­tion, and is the high­est that itęs been in eight years.”

But Repub­li­cans ar­gue that Mr. Obama isn’t do­ing enough to in­crease en­ergy pro­duc­tion on fed­eral lands, ac­tion that is di­rectly in his con­trol.

Mr. Hast­ings said the EIA data re­veal that Amer­ica is re­ly­ing in­creas­ingly on oil and nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­tion on state and pri­vate lands. He said that’s due to “reg­u­la­tions, red tape and Pres­i­dent Obama’s poli­cies that are driv­ing pro­duc­tion off of fed­eral lands.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“Ev­ery time prices start to go up — es­pe­cially in an elec­tion year — politi­cians dust off their three-point plans for $2 gaso­line,” Pres­i­dent Obama said at Prince Ge­orge’s Com­mu­nity Col­lege in Largo on Thurs­day.

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