By Rich Lowry
President Barack Obama looks down on drilling almost as much as he does on people clinging bitterly to their guns and religion.
At a recent campaign event, he mocked Republicans for their three-point energy plan, every point of which he said is a call for more drilling. When the hilarity died down, he assailed all this prospective oil and gas exploration as “not a plan,” but “a bumper sticker,” a cynical and witless attempt to demagogue soaring gas prices. Pity the fools who propose such asininity and the simple-minded souls who believe it.
In practically his next breath, though, the president bragged that “under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years.” The “under my administration” is particularly rich. It implies that the lights have been on late at night at the Department of Energy — compact fluorescents, no doubt — while bureaucrats figured out how to make the United States a pincushion for the great and good work of those much misunderstood oil companies.
While lamenting the bumper-sticker simplicities of his opponents, the president of nuance neglected to mention a few details. On federal lands, oil production declined 11 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the pro-drilling Institute for Energy Research. On state and private lands, production increased 14 percent. Natural-gas production on federal lands dropped 27 percent from 2009, and increased 28 percent on state and private lands. The president took credit for a trend with which he had nothing to do and which he has tried to obstruct.Leases for onshore exploration under the Obama administration are down roughly 35 percent from the Bush administration and 70 percent from the Clinton administration. The Obama administration deigned to look at opening new offshore areas to exploration in 2010; then the BP oil spill hit, and the administration locked down again. When he wants to pose as pro-drilling, Obama essentially pretends that he’s the president of North Dakota.