by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Barack Obama is making a major public relations blitz to highlight his legacy, including tying falling reliance on foreign oil to his green energy policies.
Obama claimed the U.S. “traded foreign oil for clean energy,” but what he should have said is the U.S. traded foreign oil for hydraulic fracturing. Green energy had little to do with it.
University of Colorado-Boulder professor Roger Pielke, Jr. was quick to call out the president for trying to claim “clean energy” was responsible for cutting U.S. oil imports.
Pielke’s right. Americans used more oil and petroleum products in 2016 compared to 2009.
When Obama took office in January 2009, the U.S. consumed more than 590 million barrels of oil, according to Department of Energy data. The country used more than 608 million barrels of crude oil in October 2016.
On a more fundamental level, Obama’s tweet cites the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) “net” oil imports figure of 4.7 million barrels per day in 2015, compared to 11.1 million in 2008.
EIA gets its net oil imports figure by subtracting oil exports for imports. So the figure is falling because we’re exporting way more oil than before thanks to booming domestic energy production from hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling into shale formations.
Obama doesn’t mention fracking in his tweet, but that’s probably because his administration has put out regulations for companies using the drilling technique on federal lands. The Obama administration has also imposed regulations on methane emissions from oil and natural gas production.