One of the many boasts President Obama made during his state of the union address tonight was, surprisingly, about increased oil production here in America. I say it was surprising because this is the same President who, just a week ago, rejected approval for much-needed energy infrastructure in the form of the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration,” said the President. “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 sixteen years.”
That sounds good, but should Obama really be taking credit for that? No he shouldn’t. The number of oil leases, permits and wells on federal lands was down 44%, 39% and 39% (respectively) in 2009 – 2010 as compared to 2007 – 2008.
What this means is that in the areas of oil production most under control federal government, production was way down. But national oil production is way up, meaning that all of the growth is happening on private lands outside of federal control. Mostly in North Dakota, as this chart shows:
Obama tried to give the impression in his speech that he’s eased restrictions on oil production. The exact opposite is true.