The Corner

How Obama Is Choking Off U.S. Oil Production

The news wires are reporting that President Obama actively lobbied Senate Democrats to defeat the Keystone pipeline yesterday. The effect of blocking the Keystone XL Pipeline is to defer 700,000 barrels of oil per day. And as I reported at The Weekly Standard recently, the president’s policy of choking off oil production under federal leases will prevent another 1 million barrels of oil per day this year, and even more next year. 

Obama will soon be personally responsible for preventing some 2 million barrels per day of possible North American crude oil production from reaching the American economy. The U.S. currently produces only about 6 million barrels of domestic crude oil, so that would be more than a 30 percent increase in domestic production.  

The president likes to say that America is producing more oil than ever before, but that’s due entirely to shale oil (e.g., fracking) and oil sands. The boom in production from private sources is currently shielding the administration from the political consequences of taking such a huge amount of oil off the market.  

Two millions barrels per day of oil production would affect not just the price of gasoline in North America, but also the economics of world oil production: The president is preventing the U.S. from increasing oil production by an amount nearly equivalent to Iran’s total oil exports. He insists that gasoline prices are rising because of “fears” about a disruption in Iranian supply, but he wants you to believe that gasoline prices would be unaffected by a 30 percent increase in domestic U.S. oil production in the next two years.

If you’re gullible enough to believe that, consider this: The recession drove world oil demand from a peak of 86 million barrels per day in 2007 to a low of 85 million barrels per day in 2009. In the same period, the price of gasoline fell by half. We are once again entering a period of scarcity, where slight fluctuations in demand or supply will have a disproportionate impact on gas prices — but this time the scarcity is largely the product of Obama’s policies.  

— Mario Loyola, a senior analyst at the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment, is director of the Center for Tenth Amendment Studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. 

Mario Loyola is a former White House speechwriter and environmental adviser. He is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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