- - Sunday, February 26, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In January 2009, when President Obama was sworn in, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $1.68.

Today, it’s more than double that: The price has reached $5 in parts of California and $6 just outside Florida’s Disney World. In fact, prices have set a record, being so high so early in the year. By Memorial Day, America’s first big travel weekend of the year, gas nationwide will average $4 and above, industry analysts predict.

Candidate Obama made political hay of the issue throughout 2008, boldly asserting that he - and he alone - was most able to bring prices down. He repeatedly said there was “no silver bullet” and “no quick fix,” but on the campaign trail in Indianapolis, he told Americans, “You shouldn’t have to accept any more excuses as to why it can’t be done.”

More than three years into office, that’s all Mr. Obama offers - excuses. He blames oil companies for making a profit; blames “speculators” for pushing up the price of oil; blames Congress for not doing away with oil-industry tax breaks; blames world producers for limiting outflow to drive up prices.

But this past weekend, the president made a startling claim: “Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years.”

The claim is true, but as always, a very crafty lie of omission. America is producing more oil than eight years ago, but not because of anything the president has done. In fact, production is up only because Americans are resourceful and have battled past the obstructions Mr. Obama has erected.

“Since taking office, he has declared 85 percent of our offshore areas off-limits, decreased oil and gas leases in the Rockies by 70 percent, rejected the Keystone XL pipeline and has 10 federal agencies planning more regulation of hydraulic fracturing, which is key to oil and natural-gas development,” says Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.

The administration’s own Energy Information Agency “estimates that oil production in the Gulf was down 22 percent in 2011 and projected to be down 30 percent in 2012” after Mr. Obama’s Gulf moratorium policies were put in place, the API said.

So, how on Earth is America producing more oil? Because of action taken by President Bush, and even his predecessors.

“That production is a direct result of leases issued before this administration and as result of development on private and state lands,” Mr. Gerard said, according to Fox News.

“On private lands, oil production is booming,” wrote Fox reporter Jim Angle. “In North Dakota, the oil and gas are on private or state land and beyond the president’s control. The state has gone from producing a small amount of oil to some 450,000 barrels a day. Unemployment is 3.3 percent, the lowest in the country. And the state has a budget surplus in the billions.”

In this weekend’s speech, Mr. Obama made more excuses. “There are no quick fixes to this problem, and you know we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.” Wrong. In fact, just saying America is going to drill for its own oil has a dramatic effect on prices. In July 2008, when gas was $3.28 a gallon, Mr. Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling and urged Congress to lift the federal moratorium. Crude-oil futures plummeted nearly $10 the next day, the largest decline in 17 years.

What’s more, early in Mr. Bush’s tenure, debate raged over opening a tiny part of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to drilling (just 8 percent of the more than 19 million acres in the reserve). Democrats killed the Republican proposal, saying the billions of barrels of oil wouldn’t come to market for a decade.

In 2012, that oil - estimated at 1 million barrels a day for 30 years, nearly the amount the U.S. imports from Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela - would be flowing.

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