Government data undercut Obama’s energy claims

Countering President Obama’s claim that he’s doing everything he can to increase domestic oil production, a top House Republican Thursday 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 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.

House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings, Washington Republican, said the new data show that President Obama’s “anti-energy policies” are taking the country in the wrong direction.

“These nonpartisan statistics show federal oil and natural gas productions are declining as President Obama’s anti-energy policies catch up with him,” Mr. Hastings said in a statement. “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.”

Interior Department spokesman Adam Fetcher said the data shows that oil production on federal lands has increased 13 percent since 2006, and natural gas production has risen 6 percent in the same period, despite 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 it’s been in eight years. This report confirms that under the Obama administration, we’ve seen an overall expansion of oil production on federal lands and waters, and we also continue to encourage industry to develop the thousands of leases they already own and have access to but are currently sitting idle.”

Mr. Hastings called attention to the data on the same day that Mr. Obama held another event, this time in suburban Maryland, to deflect political blame for rising gas prices.

The White House released its own report on Monday saying that overall U.S. crude oil production is at its highest level since 2003, at 5.6 million barrels per day. The administration’s interagency report said domestic oil production increased by an estimated 120,000 barrels a day last year over 2010.

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 reveals 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.”

“House Republicans have passed a bipartisan all-of-the-above energy plan that opens federal waters with the most known oil and natural gas resources to increase American energy production, create jobs, lower gasoline prices and make America more energy secure,” Mr. Hastings said. “If President Obama is truly interested in an all-of-the-above energy plan, he should abandon his policies that are strangling American energy production and embrace this bipartisan plan to help ease the pain at the pump that more American families are feeling every day.”

The administration’s report said the U.S. reduced net imports of crude oil last year by 10 percent, or about 1 million barrels a day. The U.S. now imports 45 percent of its petroleum, down from 57 percent in 2008.

Mr. Obama has said repeatedly that he is putting the U.S. on a path to energy independence through an “all of the above” strategy that promotes domestic fossil fuel production as well as renewable energy.

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