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The Oil Scarcity Myth

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Rapidly rising gas prices at the pump have turned up the heat on Barack Obama.  Interestingly, the Administration that just three years ago said it was committed to policies that would cause energy prices to “skyrocket” and get our gas prices “to the levels in Europe,” now says there isn’t much they can do about rising costs to consumers.

One of the many falsehoods that the President and his anti-fossil fuel allies like to perpetuate is that the U.S. is about run out of reserves.  “But you and I both know that with only 2% of the world’s oil reserve, we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices – not when we consume 20% of the world’s oil,” Obama said yet again in his weekly radio address last Saturday.  He repeatedly makes this less-than-truthful claim to obsessively press his anti-oil and gas agenda and justify wasting billions on green energy fantasies. 

Obama's basis for his 2%-of-the-world's-oil-reserves claim is the narrow definition of “proven reserves” – a measure based on currently producing fields only, rather than identified but undeveloped known reserves which are far more vast. The 22 billion barrels of “proved” reserves, according to the federal government’s Energy Information Administration “are a small subset of recoverable resources.”  Obama conveniently forgets to mention that part.  That he knowingly repeats the less than truthful claim for the purpose of perpetuating a misconception is shameless. 

Various reports from Obama’s own government including the Energy Department, the Congressional Research Service, and the Energy Information Agency as well as a plethora of private analyses tell a dramatically different story.  To be sure, technological challenges, cost of extraction, and political barriers will prohibit some part of the oil buried deep beneath the earth from being harvested, but Obama's representation is pure baloney and he knows it.  For a detailed summary of a more accurate assessment of our reserves click here for a feature story from today’s Investor’s Business Daily.  If you want the condensed version in graphic form, see below.  Please take note that Obama would have you believe all we have left is depicted by the tiny red triangle at the top of the pyramid.

Courtesy of Investor's Business Daily

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