Obama Takes Credit For Low Gas Prices … Again

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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President Barack Obama is once again trying to take credit for low gas prices caused, in part, by booming U.S. oil production. The problem: the oil boom has nothing to do with Obama’s policies.

Obama made his remarks at the Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting Friday, touting record oil production and low gasoline prices that have occurred in recent months. Obama also took the time to point out growing solar and wind energy production.

“As Democrats, we believe in reducing our dependence on foreign oil and protecting our planet,” Obama told the DNC. “Today, America is number one in oil; number one in gas; number one in wind power.”

“Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in the entire year of 2008,” the president said. “And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family should save about 750 bucks at the pump.”

Gasoline prices have plummeted since last summer, falling from about $100 per barrel to between $50 and $60 per barrel Friday. Falling oil prices have caused gas prices to come down dramatically from a year ago, from $3.30 to $2.28, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge.

Great news for consumers, but it’s not because of Obama. Booming oil production in the U.S. and Canada has helped lower world oil prices. Obama obviously has nothing to do with Canadian oil production, but the president has had nothing to do with the recent U.S. oil boom.

The U.S. went from producing 5 million barrels per day in 2008 to nearly 7.5 million barrels per day in 2013 — a huge increase, but one that almost exclusively took place on private and state lands.

Obama has little to no control over private and state lands. He does, however, have control over federal lands where oil production has been faltering. The U.S. Energy Information Administration notes that “crude oil production from federal lands decreased 11% between FY 2003 and FY 2013.”

Obama took office in 2009. From 2009 to 2013, crude oil production fell from 1.8 million barrels per day to 1.7 million barrels per day, according to the Congressional Research Service. All the while, private and state lands saw oil production go up from 3.5 million barrels per day to 5.6 million barrels per day thanks to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

EIA notes that “crude oil production from federal lands as a share of total U.S. crude oil production dropped from 26% in FY 2012 to 23% in FY 2013. This drop in the federal lands share of total production was the result of the 15% increase in total U.S. crude oil production, with the continued growth in production of tight oil outpacing the modest increase in sales from federal lands.”

This is not the first time Obama has attempted to claim credit for low gas prices. The president tied his administration to lower gas prices in his State of the Union speech in January. His remarks on gas prices to the DNC are virtually identical to those he gave to Congress.

“We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is number one in oil and gas,” Obama said in January. “And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save $750 at the pump.”

Obama’s remarks on low gas prices are also ironic, given that just two years ago the president said the U.S. could not drill its way to lower gas prices.

“And you can bet that since it’s an election year, they’re already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas,” Obama said in a 2012 speech in Miami. “I’ll save you the suspense: Step one is drill, step two is drill, and step three is keep drilling. We heard the same thing in 2007, when I was running for president. We hear the same thing every year. We’ve heard the same thing for 30 years.”

“Well the American people aren’t stupid,” Obama. “You know that’s not a plan — especially since we’re already drilling. … You know there are no quick fixes to this problem, and you know we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.”

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