The Corner

Romney Was Right on Oil, Gas Production on Federal Lands Decreasing

During the debate, President Obama and Mitt Romney had this heated exchange:

 

ROMNEY: And production on private — on government land –

OBAMA: Production is up.

ROMNEY: — is down.

OBAMA: No, it isn’t.

ROMNEY: Production on government land of oil is down 14 percent.

OBAMA: Governor –

ROMNEY: And production on gas –

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: It’s just not true.

ROMNEY: It’s absolutely true. Look, there’s no question but the people recognize that we have not produced more (inaudible) on federal lands and in federal waters. And coal, coal production is not up; coal jobs are not up.

Who’s right? Romney, according to Greenwire:

Oil production fell by 14 percent in fiscal 2011 below the previous year on federal lands and waters, according to statistics provided last month by the Interior Department. Natural gas production fell 11 percent over the same period (Greenwire, Feb. 27).

Here are some more details from Heritage’s Rob Bluey:

 

During this same period, production on state and private lands has increased, boosting overall production numbers for the United States. That’s a point even President Obama will acknowledge: “Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up,” he said upon announcing his rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Obama is correct. He just can’t rightfully claim the credit, since the vast majority of America’s new oil and gas production is happening on private lands in states like North Dakota, Alaska and Texas.

The administration, meanwhile, has also taken several steps to limit production. Heritage’s Nick Loris noted these four steps taken by the Obama administration:

Withdrew areas offered for 77 oil and gas leases in Utah that could cost American taxpayers millions in lost lease bids, production royalties, new jobs and the energy needed to offset rising imports of oil and natural gas.Cancelled lease sales in the Western Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast and delayed exploration off the coast of Alaska and kept other resource-rich areas off-limits.Finalized rules, first announced by Secretary Salazar on January 6, 2010, to establish more government hurdles to onshore oil and natural gas production on federal lands.Withdrew 61 oil and natural gas leases in Montana as part of a lawsuit settlement over climate change.

So it’s Obama, not Romney, was making statements that just weren’t true.

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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