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Energy & Environment

Obama Claims Credit for Boom in U.S. Oil Production, Praises Paris Climate Accords

Former President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, September 7, 2018 (John Gress/Reuters )

Former President Barack Obama claimed credit Tuesday for the recent boom in U.S. oil production immediately after praising the Paris Climate Accords, which committed the U.S. to dramatically reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

“I was extraordinarily proud of the Paris accords because — you know, I know we’re in oil country and we need American energy, and by the way, American energy production,” Obama told the audience gathered at Rice University’s Baker Institute on Tuesday night. “You wouldn’t always know it but it went up every year I was president. That whole, suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer and the biggest gas — that was me, people.”

While U.S. oil production surged by nearly 100 percent over the course of Obama’s two-term presidency, the vast majority of that oil was extracted from state and private lands as the Obama administration took steps to curtail oil production on federal lands. Obama did, however, lift a longstanding ban on crude-oil exports in 2015, bolstering what was then an already-booming industry.

Natural-gas production similarly increased by more than 50 percent during Obama’s tenure, largely due to the industry’s embrace of fracking.

The Paris Climate Accords, which Obama committed the U.S. to joining in 2016, mandated a 26 to 28 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions in order to prevent global temperatures from rising by more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

President Trump has committed to leaving the Paris Climate Accords by 2020 and has lifted a number of regulations that weakened oil- and natural-gas production. U.S. oil production reached 11.7 million barrels per day in November, breaking the previous record and establishing the U.S. as the world’s largest oil producer in 2018.

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