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January 20, 2012

Fact Checking President Obama’s Claims About Domestic Energy Production

January 20, 2012
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The Obama campaign just released a website that purports to provide “the facts of President Obama energy record.” This is an intentional effort by the Obama campaign to distort the President’s abysmal energy record. After all, energy production on federal land is down under President Obama and the Obama campaign is trying their hardest to hide and obfuscate this basic fact.

Obama Claim: “Since President Obama took office, oil imports have been reduced by an average of 1.1 million barrels per day.”

Reality: A reduction of imports has happened without President Obama, not because of him.  More than half of the reduction is because the ongoing recession and much higher price have made fuel so expensive that consumers are using less of it.

In January 2009, when President Obama was inaugurated, the U.S. produced 5,154,000 barrels of oil a day.[1] By November 2011, the last month for which we have data, the U.S. was producing 5,874,000 barrels of oil a day. This 700,000 barrel a day increase isn’t happening on federal lands, for which President Obama would justifiably claim some credit, but on private and state lands.

[**Update** The following paragraph cites data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). EIA subsequently discovered that the data they used for determining oil and natural gas production numbers on federal lands were incorrect and they are working to fix the problem. The Department of Interior, which regulates energy production on federal lands, is working with EIA to develop a system that more adequately reflects production clearly, and we will update the oil and natural gas production charts when the federal government completes its coordination and updates its information.]

The reality is that oil production on federal lands is falling, while production on private and state lands is rising.[2] There is a long term trend of decreasing oil production on federal lands. In fact, oil production on federal lands has fallen by 43 percent over the past 9 years according to the Obama administration’s Energy Information Administration.[3] And it has dropped rapidly on President Obama’s watch.

In fact, because of the actions taken by the Obama administration such as severely limiting the offshore areas where oil can be produced, cancelling oil leases, and withdrawing other oil leases, oil production on federal lands will most likely continue to fall. (More of the Obama administration’s anti-energy actions can be found here.)

Not only is the Obama administration making it more difficult to produce energy on federal lands, they are leasing much less lands than the past. The following chart shows the decline in leasing on onshore lands over the past 30 years. This lack of leasing on federal lands will only result in lower production on federal lands in the future.

Obama Claim: 2010 domestic crude oil production reached its highest levels since 2003.

Reality: This is true, but the average production per day for 2011 is only 0.3 million barrels per day higher than in 2009.  And, as noted above, the reason that U.S. crude oil production is increasing is because of production on private and state lands while production on federal lands is decreasing. The President cannot honestly take credit for the production on private and state lands, but he can take partial credit for decreasing production on federal lands.

Obama Claim: 2010 natural gas production reached its highest level in more than 30 years.

Reality: Yes natural gas production is up, but this is because of production on private and state lands because production on federal lands is decreasing. [4]

Obama Claim: The U.S. has become a net energy exporter.

Reality: This claim is 100 percent false. Because the Obama campaign does not provide a single citation or source for their information, it is impossible to know how great its ignorance of energy facts extends. Every year, the Energy Information Administration, which is part of the Obama administration’s Department of Energy, publishes an Annual Energy Review. If the Obama campaign understood energy facts, they would have looked at Table 1.4 of the 2010 Annual Energy Review. They would have found a table titled, “Primary Energy Trade by Source, Selected Years, 1949–2010.” That table shows that in 2010, far from being a net energy exporter, the U.S. had net imports of 21 quadrillion Btus of energy of the 98 quadrillion btus used.

Obama Claim: The Obama administration has proposed a five-year offshore drilling plan that makes more than 75 percent of undiscovered oil and gas resources off our shores available for development, while putting in place common-sense safety requirements to prevent a disaster like the BP oil spill from happening again.

Reality: When President Obama was inaugurated nearly 100 percent of the offshore areas were available for exploration and development. Since then, the Obama administration has imposed limitations and made it far more difficult to produce energy on offshore areas. For example, even though there is bipartisan support from the Virginia delegation, including the state’s Democratic Senators, the Obama administration refuses to allow energy exploration off Virginia’s coast.

Politicians taking credit for something good happening on their watch is nothing new, but as we have shown, the reduction in oil use is because of economic dislocation visited upon millions of American families by the longest sustained economic downturn since World War II, while the increase domestic production is occuring on state and private lands, while production on government lands over which he has control is going down.  In this sense, the president’s claims are simply breathtakingly in their apparent assumption that no one will bother to fact-check his numbers.


[1] Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review, Table 3.1 Petroleum Overview,

[2] See Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review 2010, Table 1.14, Fossil Fuel Production on Federally Administered Lands, Selected Year 1949–2010,

[3] Id.

[4] See Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review 2010, Table 1.14, Fossil Fuel Production on Federally Administered Lands, Selected Year 1949–2010,

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37 Responses to “Fact Checking President Obama’s Claims About Domestic Energy Production”

  1. Robert R Compton on

    is PATHETIC! We can’t drill within our borders or off our own coasts –
    Canada is negotiating with China to buy their oil – and NOW the oil the
    Brazilians find WITH OUR BILLION DOLLAR HELP will be, likely, going to
    CHINA, too! What good are food-stamps if we can’t afford the gas to go
    to the grocery store?

  2. Steve Osterday on

    He just can’t open his mouth without lying. He’s certainly building a legacy as being the worst President in American history.

  3. Anonymous on

    Each of the Presidents since Reagan has given at least one speech on the importance of reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and yet each has increased our dependence on foreign oil. Priceless. 

  4. Anonymous on

    Obama lies constantly, about almost everything.  Obama’s life is a lie.  We have a Nation which is filled with ill informed, misinformed voters who are too lazy to actually learn the facts about Obama’s past, present and his future plans for our Nation.

    His administration has bee a typical Socialist-Marxist ECONOMIC DISASTER and his supporters want him to have four more year to continue to DESTROY our economy, military and security.

    There has never been a President who has done this much damage to our Nation.  And he’s accomplished this is only 3 years so far.  God help us.

    • Annie on

      Sorry Orbicularioculi, your comment that “there has never been a President who has done this much damage to our nation” leaves you with either a very short or selective memory. If you honestly check the progression of our national debt, you will note that the debt has risen far faster under Republican administrations than under Democratic administrations.  This nation finds itself in a mess because of a very arrogant Republican president–namely George W. Bush!  He basically did this by his “unfunded mandates”  specifically 2 wars, a huge perscription drug bill,  No Child Left Behind, and a tax break for the rich!

      • Cole J LeBlanc on

        annie Bush was not the greatest , but he had America at heart he was no traitor to foriegn kings , and he was the only president in history to deal with terrorist attacks like 9-11 and a storm like Katrina, obama has done nothing aside from kissing as on saudi princes and going on multi million dollar vacations, oh investing in failed businesses, imposing health care on us when the vast majority are against it, insurance that he isnt taking for his family , in short annie you are a total unreasoning moron, unfunded mandates,, you mean like obama care. liberal trash is going to kill this country just by force of sheer stupidiity and numbers

  5. Gregory Ray on

    you guys are idiots,you dont have a clue about oil drilling and refining.youve learned nothing from the deep water horizon disaster or the valdeze spill of which they recovered about 5 percent. were basically oil independant now,we dont even get oil from the middle east anymore.911 happened because of the bush family and katrina?what damn TV were you watching bush failed and FEMA wasted 100s of millions of dollars and their relief houses are still unoccupied. Idiots.Oh hey lets run a pipeline accross the most important aquifer in the US to refine oil for canada their going to sell to china anyway.


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