Democrats tout ‘energy independence’ under Obama

Tuesday night Interior Secretary Ken Salazar praised President Obama for promoting energy independence and clean energy in an address to the Democratic National Convention.

“Until President Obama took charge, no president had been so successful in helping America make real strides towards a secure and independent energy future,” Salazar said. “Today, America’s dependence on foreign oil is at its lowest point in two decades.”

“And today, for the first time in more than a decade, we import less than half our oil. U.S. natural gas production is at an all-time high and oil production at a fourteen year high. Renewable energy from solar and wind has more than doubled under the President’s leadership,” Salazar continued.

While oil and gas production has increased, it’s not because of Obama administration policies remarked Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, a nonpartisan think tank.

In a rebuttal to last night’s speech, Pyle said the facts “are not on Secretary Salazar’s side.”

“Secretary Salazar claimed that no president in history has done as much as Barack Obama to foster American energy independence,” Pyle said.

“Somehow, however, his speechwriters forgot to include that under President Obama America has become more dependent on oil imports from the Persian Gulf.”

While oil imports have fallen this year, our dependence on oil from the Persian Gulf rose 33 percent during the first five months of this year compared to the same period last year. This was mostly due to increased oil imports from Saudi Arabia.

In fact, oil and natural gas production on federal lands declined last year,” argued Pyle.

Oil production on federal lands declined 11 percent and natural gas production declined 6 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to Interior Department data obtained by IER. Natural gas production on federal lands has declined 27 percent since 2009.

“Today, oil production is up on state and private lands, though President Obama and the Department of Interior have closed access to 97 percent of America’s offshore energy resources and locked up nearly 1 trillion barrels of oil shale in Secretary Salazar’s home state of Colorado,” Pyle said.

Bureau of Land Management data also shows that the number of approved oil and gas leases on federal lands has fallen since 2009 and that the average timeframe for approval of gas and oil leases was more than 300 days in 2011.

“Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention was an impressive example of rhetorical charades, bestowing credit upon President Obama for the bright horizon of America’s energy future despite the administration’s relentless, take-no-prisoners assault on affordable domestic coal, oil, and natural gas,” Pyle said.

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