Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The "Obama Hates Oil" Myth

In a guest column in yesterday's paper, Billings Republican Rep. Doug Kary tries to convince Missoulian readers that “President Obama and his allies in Congress” are hostile to domestic energy development and to the energy independence, lower gas prices, jobs and economic prosperity that supposedly go with it (you can read Kary's column here).  By “energy development” Kary evidently means oil production (although he doesn’t make that clear), and he reaches his conclusion about the President from a heated reading of two proposed changes in the tax code that the White House apparently supports and oil companies don’t like.

Whether or not changing the tax code is a good idea, and whether or not it will have the dire consequences Kary predicts, are big topics that we could debate for a long time. But the important point is that to say that President Obama is hostile to domestic oil production is arrant nonsense. I've already blogged about this point before, but just to be on the safe side, let me restate the facts.

 After President Obama took office, US oil production increased for the first time in 24 years. Indeed, with the exception of a small (.8%) upward bump in 1991, US oil production fell every single year from 1985 up to 2008; over all those years together, it fell 45% - almost in half. Since 2008, production has risen by 15%; that's an increase of about 725,000 barrels a day.(You can look up these US Energy Information Administration figures for yourself here).

It may well be that the tax code revisions that Kary laments will put a small dent in astronomical oil company profits, and that in turn will mean less money flowing into the superpacs that will be working to defeat the President (and Jon Tester and other Democrats) in November. So no wonder Kary is upset. Republicans have been working to defeat the President for the last four years, and they will say just about anything (regardless of the facts) that they think will get the job done.