The President is in the midst of a major energy-speech kick, trying to beat Republicans to the messaging-punch as gas prices will likely continue to rise throughout the spring and summer presidential campaign season -- and boy, was the President ever in his element today. He's been making the rounds for almost a month, giving at least one energy speech a week at colleges and manufacturing plants in battleground states. Speaking at Prince George's Community College in Maryland, the President was all smirks as he casually drew laughs and applause from the starry-eyed youths with which he artfully surrounded himself. And while I felt like I was listening to a rerun of ridiculous rhetoric and downright deception, the crowd just ate it up, chuckling appreciatively as the President brought back the "Yes, We Can!" meme with his tongue in his cheek.
First off, it looks like the White House has decided to continue to run with two beguiling statistics, perpetuating the myths that 'domestic oil production is up' and 'dependence on foreign oil is down' under the Obama administration (see my takedown of those two "facts" here). But here's yet another false assertion: the President likes to patiently lecture about how America uses 20 percent of the world's oil reserves, but even if we were to drill more domestically, we only have 2 percent of the world's oil reserves. "You don't need to be getting an excellent education at Prince George Community College to know that we've got a math problem here," he said jovially.
To anyone who knows anything about oil and gas, however, this is nonsense. With that statement, the President is assuming finite reserves, but new discoveries and improving technology expand our reserves and our acces to those reserves all the time--the specter of peak oil is nothing but an environmentalist scare tactic. As Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal explained on an RNC conference call with reporters this morning,
"He's used this little factoid frequently... For example, you look at the natural gas situation in this country in 2008 versus where we are today: completely transformed by fracking. ...The abililty of America to produce more natural gas at home has driven down those prices, increased the number jobs... The same thing can certainly happen in oil production in well. Just to counter some of his numbers, the USGS estimates that there are U.S. oil shale resources of 2.6 trillion barrles of oil, about a trillion barrels are currently considered recoverable, given the current economic-technological conditions. Just to give you an order of magnitude, ...that trillion barrels, that's four times the oil in Saudi Arabia's proven oil reserves. By one estimate, America could be the number one producer of oil and gas by 2020.
Never one to miss an opportunity to diss the oil industry, the President railed: "They've been getting these subsidies for a hundred years. One hundred years. These are companies making more money now than they've ever made before. And on top of the money they're getting from you at the gas station, they want some of your tax dollars too... That is outrageous. It's inexcusable. And it's time for this oil industry giveaway to end." Here's the thing, Mr. President: the Senate just voted on a bill by Sen. DeMint that would end several types of subsidies to oil companies, and not a single Democrat voted for the bill. Why not? Because, along with eliminating oil subsides, the bill would have also eliminated several renewable energy tax credits. And heaven forbid the federal bureaucracy lose its ability to dictate winners and losers in the energy market!
Taking a stab at "a lot of the folks who are running for a certain office who shall go unnamed'' -- a.k.a., the GOP presidential candidates -- the President joked about their pessimistic attitude toward wind, solar, biofuels, fuel standards, etcetera. "If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail, they must have been founding members of the Flat Earth Society!" he said, charismatically mocking greenie-cynics for their inability to ignorantly embrace his centrally-planned environmental pipe dreams. He lauded Americans as "Steve Jobs," "the Wright Brothers" and "Thomas Edison" -- but I guess the President forgot that the manufacture of Thomas Edison's most famous invention was recently outlawed because it wasn't green enough.