Obama’s Energy Slowdown

Despite claims, government limits drilling permits, delays exploration, study shows

AP Images
March 12, 2012

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar repeatedly touted recent increases in domestic oil and gas production at the White House press briefing on Monday, in an attempt to rebut claims from Republicans that Obama is soft on promoting domestic energy.

"Domestic oil production is at an eight year high…domestic gas production is the highest we’ve seen in recent memory," Salazar said. "We had a 55 percent increase in the number of rigs that were operating onshore both oil and gas (in 2011) … The Gulf of Mexico is back to work again and oil and gas production is taking place there."

Industry experts, however, say the Gulf is far from recovery, thanks to regulations imposed by the Obama administration in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

A study by the business-consultant firm IHS found that the federal government issued 51 new drilling permits in the year following the lifting of the drilling moratorium. That was down from 157 annual permits approved before the regulations took effect.

Federal regulators are also holding up drilling permits, forcing oil producers to wait an average of 80 days to begin exploration, compared with 16 days in the pre-moratorium era.

The IHS study said the slow-down could prove costly for a president running on job creation and energy independence, estimating that easing the regulations could create as many as 230,000 jobs, as well as 150 million barrels of oil.

Salazar focused the majority of his 20-minute meeting with the White House Press Corps on oil and gas production, making only passing references to green energy as one aspect of Obama’s "all-of-the-above" approach.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took time out to call the concept of $2.50 gasoline, "a lie," a passing reference to Newt Gingrich’s campaign pledge.

The press conference came just hours after a Washington Post poll found that 65 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of the price at the pump.