Thursday, March 22, 2012
Critics rip Obama claim that drilling in U.S. won’t drop gas prices
(Washington Times) President Obama used some dramatic imagery Thursday to defend his claims that more oil and gas drilling won’t help bring down gas prices.
In a speech at a Cushing, Okla., storage yard for pipes that will be used for the southern leg of the Keystone XL oil pipeline project, Mr. Obama said that even drilling on every inch of available land in the U.S. would do nothing to bring down gas prices.
“If I put an oil rig on the South Lawn [of the White House], if we put one next to the Washington Monument, we would still have to buy the rest of our needs from somewhere else,” he said.
But the president’s critics have taken sharp issue with many of his assertions about drilling.
The Institute for Energy Research, an industry-funded think tank, argues that the U.S. is sitting on 1.4 trillion barrels of oil — enough for a 200-year supply without a drop of foreign oil supplied. While overall U.S. oil production has increased under Mr. Obama, opponents argue that he is reaping the benefits of President George W. Bush’s expansion of oil and gas leases.
They also assert that Mr. Obama overreacted to the 2010 BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the one-year moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico he instituted afterward slowed oil production on federal lands in 2011.
Most of the increase in domestic oil and gas production in recent years has occurred in North Dakota and Texas, driven by technological advances that allow companies to extract oil from shale formations.
Mr. Obama’s two-day trip to New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma and Ohio, comes amid concern that rising gas prices could throw the economic recovery — and his own re-election campaign — off course.
During the Thursday morning speech in Cushing, Mr. Obama announced that he will expedite permits for the southern portion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. During his remarks, the White House issued an executive order allowing the federal permitting of infrastructure projects and making the southern leg of the pipeline a “priority.”
Congressional Republicans have led the charge for immediate approval of the entire pipeline from Canada down to Texas, which Mr. Obama has halted. Environmentalists have put strong pressure on the administration not to approve Keystone along its proposed route.
The White House announcement will have little impact on building the second half of the pipeline, which was scheduled to start in June and designed to ease a distribution bottleneck in Oklahoma’s oil refineries.
Republicans ridiculed Mr. Obama’s action regarding just the southern leg of the pipeline.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, said the approval for the Cushing leg was “so minor and routine that only a desperate administration would inject the president of the United States into the process.”
“This is like the governor holding a press conference to renew my driver’s license, except this announcement still leaves American energy and jobs behind,” he said.
at 5:44 PM