EN­ERGY

The Washington Times Daily - - Pol­i­tics -

are not so flat­ter­ing for his ad­min­is­tra­tion — the im­pact of ac­tions his ad­min­is­tra­tion took af­ter the Bp/deep­wa­ter Hori­zon oil spill or his dra­matic shift away from drilling in ar­eas of the outer con­ti­nen­tal shelf that Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush pro­posed at the end of his term.

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial con­tender Newt Gin­grich has railed against Mr. Obama’s “anti-en­ergy” poli­cies and Thurs­day re­vis­ited his $2.50-a-gal­lon gaso­line pledge, say­ing “there is a sil­ver bul­let” to the na­tion’s en­ergy needs: “It’s called drilling.”

One day be­fore a trip to the oil­dom­i­nated econ­omy of Shreve­port, La., GOP pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner Mitt Rom­ney said Thurs­day that Mr. Obama has “done al­most everything wrong with re­gards to en­ergy and al­most everything wrong with re­gards to the econ­omy.”

“And I don’t think it’s be­cause he’s a bad guy. I just think he’s over his head and doesn’t have the ex­pe­ri­ence to know how what he is do­ing is harm­ing the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” Mr. Rom­ney said.

Thomas J. Pyle, pres­i­dent of the in­dus­try-funded In­sti­tute for En­ergy Re­search, has a more cyn­i­cal view. He la­bels Mr. Obama’s lat­est en­ergy tour, as well as his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Thurs­day an­nounce­ment that it will fast­track the south­ern seg­ment of the Key­stone XL pipe­line, as part of an on­go­ing “cha­rade” on en­ergy.

“This ad­min­is­tra­tion’s record speaks for it­self,” he said. “For more than three years, Pres­i­dent Obama has im­ple­mented a three-part strat­egy: de­lay, deny and de­ceive.”

Both sides used an En­ergy In­for­ma­tion Agency re­port is­sued in midMarch to boost their ar­gu­ments. While the re­port con­firmed that do­mes­tic oil pro­duc­tion is at an eightyear high, it also showed that Mr. Obama had lit­tle if any role in help­ing boost do­mes­tic sup­ply even though he takes credit for it on the stump.

Do­mes­tic oil pro­duc­tion last year av­er­aged 5.6 mil­lion bar­rels a day, the high­est out­put since 2003 and a 4 per­cent jump since Mr. Bush’s last year in of­fice, ac­cord­ing to the March EIA re­port, but it’s far be­low pro­duc­tion lev­els of a decade ago.

Repub­li­cans ar­gue that Mr. Obama is tak­ing credit for sev­eral lease sales Mr. Bush put into place while fail­ing to take ad­van­tage of the end of an 18-year ban on drilling in the outer con­ti­nen­tal shelf, which the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion lifted in 2008 in re­sponse to pub­lic out­cry over high gas prices.

But the vast ma­jor­ity of the in­crease in do­mes­tic oil and gas pro­duc­tion in re­cent years has oc­curred on state and pri­vate land in North Dakota and Texas, where the pres­i­dent has no role in pro­tect­ing or per­mit­ting drilling. In­stead, tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances that al­low com­pa­nies to ex­tract oil from shale for­ma­tions have driven the ex­plo­ration.

Just this week, the non­par­ti­san Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice re­leased a re­port show­ing fed­eral oil pro­duc­tion as rep­re­sent­ing 7.5 per­cent of to­tal oil pro­duced from all on­shore U.S. lands in 2011, even though the fed­eral gov­ern­ment owns more than 30 per­cent of the lands with oil-pro­duc­ing po­ten­tial.

The ac­tions Mr. Obama took af­ter the Bp/deep­wa­ter Hori­zon oil spill in 2010 sharply de­creased oil pro­duc­tion on fed­eral lands and off­shore wa­ters in 2011 — even though that year’s num­bers were 12 per­cent higher than when Mr. Bush left of­fice.

Mr. Obama’s crit­ics say the first six months of the mora­to­rium cost the U.S. at least 12,000 jobs and $2 bil­lion. Af­ter the spill, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion can­celed or de­layed sev­eral lease sales that were part of the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s 2007-12 outer con­ti­nen­tal lease plan, which a Democrat­con­trolled Congress ap­proved in 2007.

Af­ter lift­ing the drilling ban, Mr. Bush be­gan com­ing up with a fiveyear plan for the outer con­ti­nen­tal shelf that would cover 2010 to 2015 and re­place the 2007-12 blue­print, which didn’t pro­vide for lease sales in ar­eas cov­ered by the mora­to­rium.

Right be­fore Mr. Obama took of­fice, the In­te­rior Depart­ment is­sued a draft outer con­ti­nen­tal shelf oil and gas leas­ing plan, which in­cluded 31 planned lease sales — in­clud­ing four ar­eas off Alaska, two ar­eas off the Pa­cific Coast, three ar­eas in the Gulf of Mex­ico and three ar­eas off the At­lantic Coast.

Less than a month af­ter tak­ing of­fice, Mr. Obama de­layed the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s f ive-year plan and didn’t come up with a new 2012-17 lease pro­posal un­til late last year. The draft al­lows lease sales only in ar­eas that are al­ready open to drilling, in­clud­ing lease sales in the Western Gulf of Mex­ico and Alaska — leav­ing por­tions of the Arc­tic and the en­tire At­lantic and Pa­cific coasts off-lim­its to more en­ergy pro­duc­tion and job cre­ation.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

House Speaker John A. Boehner de­nounces Pres­i­dent Obama’s en­ergy poli­cies dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day on Capi­tol Hill. Mr. Obama has been crit­i­cized for his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ac­tions af­ter the Bp/deep­wa­ter Hori­zon oil spill and its shift away from drilling in ar­eas of the outer con­ti­nen­tal shelf.

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