Yes, oil production is booming under Obama. No, it hasn’t lowered gas prices.

at 04:45 PM ET, 08/31/2011

Remember Michele Bachmann’s critique of President Obama’s energy policy? “We have resources from coal to oil to natural gas,” she said. “The problem is, under the EPA, they’ve been busy locking up (supplies), especially under President Obama.” Now, the Interior Department controls oil and gas leases, not the EPA, but never mind. Obama, the argument goes, is preventing us from harnessing our vast oil supplies.

But is this actually true? Not according to the chart on the right, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal. The number of rigs in the United States has been soaring during the Obama years. Oil drilling is up nearly 60 percent in the past year alone. True, Obama administration actions aren’t really responsible for the frenzy. As the Journal notes, the main contributing factors are better drilling technology and high crude prices, both of which make it possible — and profitable — for companies to tap new reserves in North Dakota, Texas, Ohio and elsewhere. Bottom-scraping natural gas prices have also prodded energy companies to shift their focus to oil. But in any case, Obama doesn’t appear to have thwarted the boom in oil production.

Over at Climate Progress, Joe Romm puts together his own chart, using data from the Energy Information Administration, showing that U.S. field production of crude oil is up significantly since 2008. As a result, oil imports have shrunk 11 percent in the past year. The United States is becoming more energy independent. But here’s the kicker — gas prices are still significantly higher this year than they were in 2010. It’s almost as if additional U.S. oil production is too small in the global scheme of things to affect prices at the pump in any sizeable way. (Though one could argue that extra production is keeping oil prices from going even higher than they otherwise would.)

In any case, that’s all context for Bachmann’s promise that she can ratchet gas prices down below $2 per gallon by cranking up domestic production. This boost is already happening under the Obama administration, and gas prices aren’t exactly flying downwards.

 
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