Thomas Pyle

President Obama, highly aware of the re-election vulnerability that comes with high gas prices, continues to hide behind tired “it’s not my fault” campaign rhetoric, while using the opportunity to call for an expansion of his failed subsidy policies. However, in making the case for doubling down on green energy—courtesy of taxpayer money—the President is directly contradicting his stated commitment to an all-of-the-above energy policy. Moreover, he supports the claim that we need to switch to green energy now with purposefully misleading statistics about America’s actual resource potential.

Though his bluff has been called countless times, the President brazenly repeats the misleading statistic that the U.S. has only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, but uses 20 percent of the world’s oil. The president’s claim relies on two unrelated figures to paint a statistically flawed picture of the United States’ global energy position. In fact, the 2 percent the President refers to are the United States’ “proved reserves,” which is the oil that companies have explored for, drilled for, and can report to the Securities and Exchange Commission as their own assets. To say that this is all the oil we have is like saying that the food on the grocery store’s shelves is all the food that will ever be produced. Correlating this exceptionally low, ever-changing number to our share of global oil consumption is therefore both meaningless and disingenuous.

Even the fact-checker at the Washington Post blew a hole through the President’s word games: “[I]n the context of higher gas prices — which is how the president often uses these figures now — it just is not logical to compare consumption to ‘proven oil reserves,’” the Post wrote. “This is a lowball figure that does not begin to describe the oil known to be within the U.S. borders.” Accordingly, this shifty rhetoric from the President earned him “two Pinocchios” at the Post.

The reality, according to the federal government’s own data, is that the oil we can recover here with today’s technology is enough to last for over 200 years at current rates of consumption. Over 1.4 trillion barrels of oil lay under our lands and our waters, but much of these energy resources are located under off-limits federal land. Only 3 percent of government lands are currently leased for production, and production on federal land is decreasing rapidly. Oil production decreased 11 percent on federal land last year, while production on state and private land is increasing. The President cannot take claim for the latter, no matter how much he tries to in his speeches as of late. The fact that revenue from lease sales is 258 times less than the last year of the Bush administration says it all.

The President also tries to eschew responsibility for bringing gas prices down by hiding behind the fact that 76 percent of what we pay at the pump is set by the globally-determined price of crude oil. Claiming that opening more areas for drilling today won’t increase the global supply of oil by a drop, he has dubbed more drilling as a “bumper sticker solution” while telling the public there’s no silver bullet to the problem. A look back at recent history, however, tells a different story: in 2008, when President Bush lifted the executive moratorium on offshore drilling, the price of oil dropped more than $9 per barrel on the world market almost immediately. It dropped further when Congress announced it would allow its own offshore drilling moratorium to expire.

This episode illustrates how the market looks to the decisions of those in charge to determine whether more (or less) oil will be available in the future. And if major producers like Saudi Arabia see that the United States is open for business and ready to compete, they understand that they need to increase production, too.

With retail gasoline prices up 68 percent since the start of his term, it’s hardly surprising that 87.2 percent of those polled in a recent IBD/TIPP survey believe U.S. gas prices will top well over $4 over the next three months. At the same time, two-thirds of those surveyed in a Washington Post/ABC News poll disagree with the president’s approach to rising pump prices. It is clear that American families, hurt by the rising cost of transportation, want real solutions—and soon.

If the President truly wants to deliver on his pledge “to keep doing everything I can to help you save money on gas, both right now and in the future,” he would permit the Keystone XL pipeline to bring more oil to be refined and used in the U.S., as well as open up more federal lands for energy development. The President should also push Congress to reconsider EPA regulations mandating the use of ethanol in gasoline that are needlessly increasing the cost of every gallon of gas produced in America, rather than asking them to increase the regulatory chokehold on domestic energy producers.

Until his actions and his words are in line, American consumers can only expect more pain at the pump to pay for the cost of Obama’s war on fossil fuels.


Thomas Pyle

Thomas J. Pyle is the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA). In this capacity, Pyle brings a unique backdrop of public and private sector experience to help manage AEA’s Washington, DC-based staff and operations. He also helps to develop the organization’s free market policy positions and implement education efforts with respect to key energy stakeholders, including policymakers, federal agency representatives, industry leaders, consumer entities and the media.