Free Markets, Free People

SOTU–About those energy claims

One of the things I heard in the State of the Union address by Barack Obama were a legion of contradictions, shaded truth and outright fiction.  Never more than in the section about oil and gas:

Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.  (Applause.)  Right now — right now — American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years.  That’s right — eight years.  Not only that — last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years.  (Applause.)

But with only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, oil isn’t enough.  This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.  (Applause.)  A strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.

We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years.  (Applause.)  And my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy.  Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.  And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use.  (Applause.)  Because America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.

The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy.  (Applause.)  And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of 30 years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock –- reminding us that government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.  (Applause.) 

Let’s hit the first paragraph with Bureau of Land Management numbers as provided by the Energy Today blog, shall we?

  • New leases on federal lands were down 44% in 2009/2010 compared to 2007/2008.
  • Permits and new wells drilled were both down 39% for the same time frame.
  • The economic downturn in 2007 was a factor in this decline, but leasing, permitting and drilling have rebounded on private lands; the decline in new permits in the West is significantly greater on federal lands (-39%) than non-federal, private lands (-20%) over the last two years.
  • Returning permitting, leasing and drilling to 2007/2008 levels would create 30,000 jobs over the next four years and increase federal royalties by $2 billion.

So “opening” land means zippity do dah.  Leases and permits are where the action is and neither have increased under this administration as he’s have you believe.  In fact, they’re down quite markedly. 

Note also that the increases in leasing, permitting and drilling has been on private lands.

There’s also the claim that there has been lower imports from foreign suppliers since his administration began, with the obvious intent that one is supposed to connect his claim above with delivering that result.

Uh, no:

Lower imports are the result of lower demand, and increasing production has come despite Obama’s policies, according to Jack Gerard, American Petroleum Institute President. The U.S. needs a “course correction” on energy policy that includes faster permitting on federal lands in the West and in the Gulf of Mexico, he said.

In case President Obama missed it, we’re in the middle of a deep recession, one which has driven the demand for oil down considerably.  It has nothing to do with his policies in particular and, in fact, had the economy been booming, the effect of his policies would be much more widely felt and an increase in foreign imports would have been likely.

As Institute for Energy Research president Thomas Pyle said:

He also claimed credit for the fact that oil imports are down, even though the drop owes more to the ongoing hardships experienced by millions of Americans who cannot find jobs or afford to drive in the Obama economy.

And, of course, as mentioned above, if indeed the Obama administration would just return to 2007/2008 permitting levels, 30,000 jobs could be had immediately.

Then, of course, there’s the Keystone XL pipeline which was ignored both in Obama’s discussion of energy, oil and gas as well as his discussion of infrastructure projects. 

Pyle also took exception to the claim that the US only has 2% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

"The president continues to repeat the discredited mantra that America only has 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. The Institute for Energy Research released last month the North American Energy Inventory, which uses government data to demonstrate that America is literally floating on energy. Under North American soil is twice as much oil as the combined proved reserves of every OPEC nation combined. As for natural gas, we have enough on this continent to provide America’s electricity needs for the next 575 years at current usage. The president just isn’t being honest with the American people about the vast energy supply that is literally under our feet. His own government reports show it.

Then there’s fracking and natural gas.  The administration would have you believe that it is dangerous to the public’s health.  Thus the lines about the public’s health and safety.  But other than disinformation, there is little if anything to back this fear. 

Only those who don’t understand the process fear it.  As I’ve mentioned for some time, fracking is not new.  It isn’t some new technology that has suddenly been discovered.  Fracking has been in use in the US for over 60 years and has been used on over a million wells. 

Suddenly however, it is a threat to public safety.  Well, science says that’s most likely not true:

Professor Mike Stephenson of the British Geological Survey said most experts thought the process, known as fracking, was a "pretty safe activity".

[…]

Professor Stephenson said the distance between groundwater supplies 40m to 50m below the surface and the sources of gas in the shale a mile or two underground, made it unlikely methane would leak into water as a result of fracking.

He said: "Most geologists are pretty convinced that it is extremely unlikely contamination would occur."

Additionally, and this is important:

"There’s natural methane in groundwater and you have to distinguish between what’s there already and what might have leaked in."

Natural methane like this.  So, like global warming, it would be nice to remove the junk science from the real science and deal with facts. 

Not to wander too far afield, this is just part of the spin that is evident throughout the speech on many subjects.  It is, as one would expect, an entirely one-sided account designed to make a very thin and poor record look much deeper and rich. 

Of course Obama isn’t the first or only president to do this, just the latest.  But it is importantly to understand the disingenuousness of this attempt to persuade.  Only then can anyone make an informed decision about his record. 

As he likes to do, he’s treated us to glowing rhetoric and very passable acting.  But for the most part, he’s highlighted three years of accomplishing nothing (see first post with video) and on that which he is willing to claim, the real truth, which is not flattering to him, is to be found in the details.

He has a record and he has to run on it.  And despite all the spin and shading, it is not a good one.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

40 Responses to SOTU–About those energy claims

  • Quite surprised you did not elaborate on paragraph #3 which contained this gem…”And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of 30 years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock –- reminding us that government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.”
    Particularly with your reference of fracking being in use for some 60 years.

    • Though, I suppose he did not say where in the grand scheme those 30 years played a role…

    • @JC2 “And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of 30 years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock –- reminding us that government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.”
      and wouldn’t that be “corporate welfare” of the sort his supporters are so dead set against?
      And 30 years, well, uh, wouldn’t that make it Bush’s fault?

    • @JC2 I figured that the 60 year use would make that point to most folks, just as it did to you. This is the usual Obama wanting to have it both ways. He tries to make the case for smaller and less intrusive government while extolling the supposed virtues of bigger government.

  • Yeah, his reducing reliance on foreign oil boast struck me as being akin to boasting the black plague solved a number of European cities problems of overcrowding…

  • I always get a laugh out of fracking and CO2 sequestration.
    Fracking has been going on for enough time to have a record, but it doesn’t show much fo a problem.
    Meanwhile, in the name of saving the Earth, attempts at CO2 sequestration have been able to turn water wells into “soda water” wells, but the EPA wants them to forge on.

    • @Neo_ Perrier, the earth’s first soft drink!

    • @Neo_ But isn’t CO2 an EPA pollutant…??? You mean to tell us the Feds are polluting our water?

      Plus, where is Nanny Bloomberg on this travesty…???

  • Gob-smacking lies, front to back!

    The processes used for fracking have become MUCH more controlled and safe in the 60-odd years this technology has been around. I recall reading about it as a little boy in an Esso ad in National Geographic. That is where I first learned you could make an explosive mixture out of diesel and fertilizer, too, since that was the technique used in the early days.

    But NOT considered is the HUGE advance in directional drilling, which has all kinds of benefits. One being that a well-bore in a productive zone is MULTIPLES larger than it was when I was involved in drilling vertical wells that cut through a productive zone sometimes a matter of a few tens of feet. These increased bores sometimes obviate the need to frack a well to get decent production.

  • “He has a record and he has to run on it. And despite all the spin and shading, it is not a good one.”

    Wrong. He only has to run against the Republican nominee. And that is where the right should be focused – getting a descent candidate with descent ideas with the ability to articulate them without sounding like a rabid dog.
    And you don’t have that.

    Look forward to four more Obama SOTU addresses.

    Cheers.

    • descent = desent (forgive me, I haven’t had my coffee) ;)

    • @PogueMahone shoot, not 4, on present course it’ll be a complete wreck a year or two short of that time. Would that my confidence level in his opposition were high enough to make me feel that they won’t just stretch the process out to, say, 7.

    • @PogueMahone All I have to do is go down to the nearest gas station. Out front is a testament to Obama’s oil production (or lack thereof). It says $3.43. It was less than $2.00 when Obama took office, so I don’t give a frack what Obama’s policies are or aren’t .. they aren’t working.

      • @Neo_ @PogueMahone Yeah, but Poque is hearing rabid dogs. So…

      • @Neo_ @PogueMahone Right, there are no variables in the universe but Obama and gas prices. The fact that the global productivity slowed to a crawl by January of ’08 and demand was significantly down is compeltely irrelevant, there is only Obama and gas prices.

        • @CaptinSarcastic @Neo_ @PogueMahone WTF…???

        • @CaptinSarcastic @Neo_ @PogueMahone So, if demand is down, the price should be going…..up? Ah, no wonder things are so messed up, we’ve got this entire market supply and demand thing backwards!
          Good thing someone noticed, we coulda done some serious damage!

        • @Ragspierre @CaptinSarcastic @Neo_ @PogueMahone just go with it, after all, he got Osama Bin Laden….

        • @looker @Neo_ @PogueMahone Demand WAS down in January, 2008, that caused downward pressure on prices, you know, the whole supply and demand thing. The economy has been improving and a result demand has been increasing, and, back to that ole supply and demand thing, this has caused upward pressue on pricing.

        • @CaptinSarcastic @Neo_ @PogueMahone
          I don’t know what to say – yes, the economy is improving (yes, yes, yes, it is!), the demand is higher because the economy is better (I know, stop laughing), and we’re importing less, because we’re drilling more and there are more leases.

          Oh-kay.

        • @looker @CaptinSarcastic @Neo_ @PogueMahone The guy is a lie factory.

        • @CaptinSarcastic @PogueMahone I didn’t force Obama to take credit for nothing.

      • @Neo_ @PogueMahone Seriously though, a good part of the most recent price spike can’t be blamed on Obama – it’s due to the fear the Iranians are going to close the straits of Hormuz, or damage tankers and or facilities of the other gulf nations. Now prior to THAT development the boss has done little by way of anything to improve our oil situation, unless you consider investing in bad green energy plans to be an improvement.

  • People stupid enough to believe most of what was in that speech last night probably turned it off after five minutes. Wasn’t worth their time to listen through the fake wonky stuff — especially about energy production — to hear about the free stuff they might be getting. On a personal level he seemed to have worn himself out as though this was the end of his seventh year in office rather than the end of his third. Politically it was all double speak, like praising the GM bailout and then decrying bailouts. I surprised myself by watching nearly all of it. I’ve always thought he was a cheesy creep who knew how to get over on people with a sort of buffoon mentalism. It looked last night as though the former is overwhelming the latter.

    • @martinmcphillips Does it make me even smarter that I left the room before he came on ?
      Mooch and Barack have been making a outreach to members of the military, as was apparent last night. My question, wil DOJ make sure that they get their ballots from all 50 states on-time this year ?

  • I dont disagree with the premise, the growth in US production we currenty enjoy is the result of policies put in place prior to this adminstation, in other words, blaming Bush for something good that is happening. I am reminded of Reagan’s economic recovery as a result of the monetary policies put in place by Carter’s Fed Chair Paul Volcker. But I love this sentence, “There’s also the claim that there has been lower imports from foreign suppliers since his administration began, with the obvious intent that one is supposed to connect his claim above with delivering that result.” With the simple substitution of a few words, I could use this sentence for amost anything. “There’s also the claim that _______ since his administration began, with the obvious intent that one is supposed to connect his claim above with delivering that result.”
    Let’s insert unemployment, debt, foodstamps, and many other things in that blank. Of course that would be labeled as blaming Bush, and we know how that is received in these circles, regardless of the accuracy of such claims.

    • @CaptinSarcastic Except, the statement you enjoy is directly tied to the lowering of demand for fuel as a result of the poor economy.

      Yes, he’s responsible for the lowering of demand for energy, some are of the opinion he’s systematically destroying the economy to do it ( I would be one of them).

      As I said, if he were a medieval magistrate in Paris, he’d be claiming during the height of the Black Plague that his administration had solved the crowding problem in the Paris slums, as evidenced by the fact that there were now numerous residences available for occupancy.

      While enjoying it, you might want to enjoy the entire context –

      “There’s also the claim that there has been lower imports from foreign suppliers since his administration began, with the obvious intent that one is supposed to connect his claim above with delivering that result.

      Uh, no:

      Lower imports are the result of lower demand, and increasing production has come despite Obama’s policies, according to Jack Gerard, American Petroleum Institute President. The U.S. needs a “course correction” on energy policy that includes faster permitting on federal lands in the West and in the Gulf of Mexico, he said.

      In case President Obama missed it, we’re in the middle of a deep recession, one which has driven the demand for oil down considerably. It has nothing to do with his policies in particular and, in fact, had the economy been booming, the effect of his policies would be much more widely felt and an increase in foreign imports would have been likely.”

      More fun with words.

    • @CaptinSarcastic You weren’t by chance, consulted on his speech beforehand, were you? Because, this is more misdirection of the sort we enjoyed last night.

      • @looker Yeah, you got me, I am the wrote the thing. I do agree that if the economy were better, gas prices would be higher and dependence on foreign oil would be higher. But by the way, there are a whole of leases out there (on public land) that are owned but not being used. I suspect with higher prices, these would have resulted in many new wells.

        • @CaptinSarcastic “But by the way, there are a whole of leases out there (on public land) that are owned but not being used. I suspect with higher prices, these would have resulted in many new wells.”

          Leases, which have to have permits to be useful.

          Here Cap, I’ll let you have a lease on the 10 acres, best spot in Yellowstone National Park, you pick it. You can’t DO anything with it, but I’ll let you have the lease. And I don’t what you to complain about me not letting you lease public land either.

          Geeze dude, did you read ANY of that post or just skimmed that it’s not very Obama friendly and distilled it down from there?

          “The federal government owns, and the BLM and other federal agencies manage, most of the land suitable for oil and gas development in the United States. An additional 56 million acres of split estates also exist, in which private individuals own surface rights and the federal government owns subsurface mineral right. The BLM leases federal minerals and manages these oil and gas leases, in cooperation with other federal agencies or private surface owners where appropriate.”
          So, I might own the dirt, but the Gubmint owns the oil, and if they don’t permit me to drill for it, the lease is worth F* all!

          “So “opening” land means zippity do dah. Leases and permits are where the action is and neither have increased under this administration as he’s have you believe. In fact, they’re down quite markedly. ”

          Geeze dude, did you read ANY of that post or just skimmed that it’s not very Obama friendly and distilled it down from there?

        • @CaptinSarcastic “But by the way, there are a whole of leases out there (on public land) that are owned but not being used. I suspect with higher prices, these would have resulted in many new wells.”

          Leases, which have to have permits to be useful.

          Here Cap, I’ll let you have a lease on 10 acres, best spot in Yellowstone National Park, you pick it. You can’t DO anything with it, but I’ll let you have the lease.

          Geeze dude, did you read ANY of that post or just skimmed that it’s not very Obama friendly and distilled it down from there?

          “The federal government owns, and the BLM and other federal agencies manage, most of the land suitable for oil and gas development in the United States. An additional 56 million acres of split estates also exist, in which private individuals own surface rights and the federal government owns subsurface mineral right. The BLM leases federal minerals and manages these oil and gas leases, in cooperation with other federal agencies or private surface owners where appropriate.”

          So, I might own the dirt, but the Gubmint owns the oil, and if they don’t permit me to drill for it, the lease is worth F* all!

          “So “opening” land means zippity do dah. Leases and permits are where the action is and neither have increased under this administration as he’s have you believe. In fact, they’re down quite markedly. ”

          Geeze dude, did you read ANY of that post or just skimmed that it’s not very Obama friendly and distilled it down from there?

  • Ya know – now Schumer thinks we’re in great shape…yeah, great shape.

    Here’s how it is, the only difference between the situation we’re in today, and where we were in 1973 is we can’t withdraw from the United States to fix the problem.

  • Credit Michael Kinsley for a little honesty: (h/t Ed Driscoll)

    I’m sitting here in a pile of reports and studies by think tanks, public-policy schools, the Office of Management and Budget, and self-appointed grandee fiscal crusaders. They all make the same, tiresomely familiar point: that this can’t go on. ***

    There are a dozen ways to look at the national debt and the annual government deficit, and they all lead to varying degrees of panic. What’s especially scary about our fiscal situation is that everybody knows the facts and concedes the implication, but nobody is doing anything about it ***

    And the national debt is just a fraction of the problem. State and local governments, unlike the national government in Washington, cannot print money, and many states have constitutions that forbid them to run a deficit. Nevertheless, they will be losing, together, about $140 billion this year. ***

    Debt is everywhere you look. Here’s a short inside piece in The New York Times Magazine about state and local unfunded pension obligations for retired employees. They add up to between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. Until that article, I had given no thought whatsoever to shortfalls in state employee pension funds. You?
    –Michael Kinsley

    Wul, yah, Mikey… Where in the FLUCK have YOU been? Oh, inside the the Collectivist echo-chamber. You need to get out more.

  • Oh, and about that whole ‘recovery’ thingie that was alleged to be the reason oil prices were up….

    http://news.yahoo.com/us-home-sales-fell-dec-finish-dismal-2011-151418003.html

    “Total sales last year were less than the 323,000 sold in 2010, making it the worst year on records dating back to 1963.”

    • Raging economic growth, I’m tellin ya:

      “The Federal Reserve on Wednesday sliced its forecast for US growth this year and next, citing slower growth in business investment and the still-depressed housing sector.

      The Fed projected growth for this year in a range of 2.2-2.7 percent, and 2.8-3.2 pecent in 2013. “