Categorized | Commentary/Editorial

Obama: Those Who Advocate Drilling Are ‘Flat Earthers’ or Something; Updated

In a recent speech in New Hampshire, Obama claimed "under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years." While that’s technically true, it’s also true that the increase in production has come entirely on private and state lands, not federal lands where it has actually decreased.  Jonah Goldberg at National Review perfectly captured the nonsense contained in Obama’s implication that he has anything to do with the increase in oil production on private lands:

It’s also true that under Obama’s administration, Snooki from Jersey Shoregot pregnant and Charlie Sheen lost his job. And he can take about as much credit for those developments.

Never mind that if he’d gotten the cap-and-trade proposals he campaigned on, energy prices would be even worse. (He once acknowledged that under his plan, electricity prices would “skyrocket” and coal companies would go bankrupt. His energy secretary, Steven Chu, admitted he wanted America to emulate European gas prices when they were about $8 per gallon.)

The boom in oil production has taken place almost entirely on private and state lands, while on federal lands it’s dropped (11 percent from 2010 to 2011 alone). The administration has also slowed the permitting of offshore oil-and-gas development to a trickle.

In other words, what ever minor increase in oil production occurred did so in spite of Obama’s policies, not because of them. The Institute for Energy Research (IER) put’s Obama’s claim into proper context, noting what has happened to oil (and other fossil fuel) production on federal lands:

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) just released its report, Sales of Fossil Fuels Produced on Federal and Indian Lands, FY 2003 Through FY 2011.[i] This report shows that total fossil fuel production on federal lands is falling, natural gas production on federal lands is falling, and oil production on federal land fell in 2011 ending two years of increase. Specifically the new EIA report shows:

  • Fossil fuel (coal, oil, and natural gas) production on Federal and Indian lands is the lowest in the 9 years EIA reports data and is 6 percent less than in fiscal year 2010.
  • Crude oil and lease condensate production on Federal and Indian lands is 13 percent lower than in fiscal year 2010.
  • Natural gas production on Federal and Indian lands is the lowest in the 9 years that EIA reports data and is 10 percent lower than in fiscal year 2010.
  • Natural gas plant liquids production on Federal and Indian lands is 3 percent lower than in fiscal year 2010.
  • Coal production on Federal and Indian lands is the lowest in the 9 years of data that EIA reported and is 2 percent lower than in fiscal year 2010.

Crude oil production on Federal and Indian lands decreased 13 percent from 739 million barrels in fiscal year 2010 to 646 million barrels in fiscal year 2011. Production of crude oil on Federal lands is dominated by offshore production, which fell by 17 percent in fiscal year 2011, mostly notably due to government actions taken following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. These actions include a moratorium on offshore drilling by the Obama Administration, followed by a permit moratorium. Only recently has the Obama Administration leased any federal land offshore to oil and gas drilling.


The big picture is clear that government policies undertaken by the Obama Administration have produced a significant decline in offshore oil production on federal lands in fiscal year 2011. That is certainly not a way to increase domestic production of oil and keep oil and thus gasoline prices in check.

The IER provided this helpful chart to make buttress their point:

Thus  on federal lands, where most of our fossil fuel reserves lie, Obama’s policies have resulted in a decline in production. The entire increase in production has occurred on private or state lands, areas in which Obama’s ability to wreak havoc are diminished. But on federal lands, where Obama and his out-of-control EPA have virtually unlimited power, oil and other conventional energy production is down. And yet Obama wants us to believe he’s responsible for an increase in oil production?

Obama repeated this misleading claim in a speech today in Maryland. Hilariously, he touted opening up a small area in the Gulf of Mexico which could contain as much as…get ready for this…400 million barrels of oil:

Offshore, I’ve directed my administration to open up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources.  That includes an area in the Gulf of Mexico we opened up a few months ago that could produce more than 400 million barrels of oil.

Wow!  400 million barrels.  That’s a lot, right?  Let’s take a look. In his Maryland speech, Obama also reiterated his claim that America uses twenty percent of the world’s oil while only possessing two percent of the world’s reserves.  Therefore, he avers, anyone who believes we can lower the price of oil by expanding production has a problem with basic "math" and should be in the "flat earth society" or something:

Now, you don’t need to be getting an excellent education at Prince George’s Community College to know that we’ve got a math problem here.  (Laughter and applause.)  I help out Sasha occasionally with her math homework and I know that if you’ve got 2 and you’ve got 20, there’s a gap.  (Laughter.)  There’s a gap, right?


Let me tell you something.  If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail — (laughter) — they must have been founding members of the Flat Earth Society.  (Laughter.)

Hysterical! Let’s take Obama’s advice and do some basic math. Obama’s damned proud of the fact that he opened up an area in the Gulf that could potentially produce a whopping 400 million barrels of oil. But, and this is a big but (sorry for the visual), the U.S. consumes between 19 and 20 million barrels of oil per day. So Obama’s great concession to energy development in the Gulf means he added about 3 weeks to our oil supplies. (That will certainly impress the markets, right?) And this is only if some entity finds it commercially viable to incur the costs of underwater infrastructure and drilling for such a small reservoir of oil.  I’m skeptical. Someone has a problem with math, but it isn’t those of us who advocate energy production.

Obama’s been making this silly 2% reserves claim for quite a while now (though sometimes he’ll say 3%). I’ve noticed something, and perhaps you have too: Whenever rising gasoline prices cut into his approval rating, he trots out this number. Never mind that like virtually every claim Obama makes about energy, it’s nonsense. In a piece yesterday, John Merline at Investor’s Business Daily notes just how far removed from practical reality Obama’s is:

The claim makes it appear as though the U.S. is an oil-barren nation, perpetually dependent on foreign oil and high prices unless we can cut our own use and develop alternative energy sources like algae.

But the figure Obama uses — proved oil reserves — vastly undercounts how much oil the U.S. actually contains. In fact, far from being oil-poor, the country is awash in vast quantities — enough to meet all the country’s oil needs for hundreds of years.

The U.S. has 22.3 billion barrels of proved reserves, a little less than 2% of the entire world’s proved reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration. But as the EIA explains, proved reserves "are a small subset of recoverable resources," because they only count oil that companies are currently drilling for in existing fields.

When you look at the whole picture, it turns out that there are vast supplies of oil in the U.S., according to various government reports. Among them:

At least 86 billion barrels of oil in the Outer Continental Shelf yet to be discovered, according to the government’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

About 24 billion barrels in shale deposits in the lower 48 states, according to EIA.

Up to 2 billion barrels of oil in shale deposits in Alaska’s North Slope, says the U.S. Geological Survey.

Up to 12 billion barrels in ANWR, according to the USGS.

As much as 19 billion barrels in the Utah tar sands, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Then, there’s the massive Green River Formation in Wyoming, which according to the USGS contains a stunning 1.4 trillion barrels of oil shale — a type of oil released from sedimentary rock after it’s heated.

A separate Rand Corp. study found that about 800 billion barrels of oil shale in Wyoming and neighboring states is "technically recoverable," which means it could be extracted using existing technology. That’s more than triple the known reserves in Saudi Arabia.

All told, the U.S. has access to 400 billion barrels of crude that could be recovered using existing drilling technologies, according to a 2006 Energy Department report.

When you include oil shale, the U.S. has 1.4 trillion barrels of technically recoverable oil, according to the Institute for Energy Research, enough to meet all U.S. oil needs for about the next 200 years, without any imports.

And even this number could be low, since such estimates tend to go up over time.

Back in 1995, for example, the USGS figured there were 151 million barrels of oil in North Dakota’s Bakken formation. In 2008, it upped that estimate to 3 billion barrels to 4.3 billion barrels — a 25-fold increase. Now, some oil analysts say there could be as much as 20 billion barrels there.

There’s plenty more in the IBD article, but you get the point. And IBD is only referring to oil. In a post about a year ago, I linked to a study which indicated that America has more recoverable fossil fuel resources (oil, coal, natural gas, methane hydrates, etc.) than any country on the planet, including Russia and Saudi Arabia. And Obama wants to use taxpayer dollars to grow algae. Brilliant. There’s no shortage of domestic oil or other fossil fuels, but rather a shortage of adults in the room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Obama, in his speech today, took another thinly veiled shot at Governor Palin when he repeated his claim that an increase in the supply of a commodity won’t lower its price.

If you start hearing this “drill, baby, drill; drill, drill, drill” — if you start hearing that again, just remember you’ve got the facts — we’re doing that.  Tell me something new.

I can’t recall a president ever being so ignorant of basic economics. Supply and demand is not complicated. Neither is math. Well, maybe these topics are for an individual whose education was shaped by repeated exposure to Marxist dogma as espoused by the likes of Derrick Bell, Charles Ogletree, Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, etc., etc. I digress.

Someday, an alternative source of energy will be developed. But the development of an economically viable alternative that actually produces energy more efficiently than fossil fuels is decades in the future. And when it is developed, it will be done so by an entrepreneur in the private sector, not a political campaign contributor seeking the benefits of crony capitalism in return via taxpayer dollars for such boondoggles as Chevy Volts, algae, and solar shingles. (see Solyndra).

Free markets work, but, unfortunately for Obama, they’re an abstract curiosity about which he has zero understanding. Thankfully, if we muster the common sense to utilize the natural resources with we’re so richly endowed, we can easily afford to wait until an alternative to fossil fuels is technically and economically feasible, a point Governor Palin has been making since before she emerged on the national scene.

Update: Jazz Shaw: USA: An oil rich nation after all


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  • John_Frank

    Excellent post, Doug. Thank you.

  • Sue Lynn

    Drill baby drill!!!!! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

    • nkthgreek

      The only drilling this administration supports is dental, as long as it’s controlled by their health care plan.

  • pipam12

    can someone wake me up from this really bad dream ??

  • MaMcGriz

    Thanks, Doug.

    It’s imperative obama be removed from office. He’s a dangerous, dangerous man.

  • cuatrocinco45

    Great post.  Ive never understood why Obama doesn’t order all this drilling and exploration to expose how wrong conservatives are.

    If I was President and I was really confident in my position, on my first day I’d say "fine, we’ll do it your way".   I’d have called for ANWR to be opened, for OCS drilling to commence, for shale drilling to commence, everything.  I’d have done so because I’d know that a few yrs down the road I’d be able to say "Well, we did what they all wanted, and look, nothing happned, they were all wrong".  I’d expose them all and conservatives would have no credibility.

    Of course we know why he doesn’t do that.  Because I suspect he either knows the increased drilling will work or he’s not really sure.  It might, it might not.  And he doesn’t want to take the chance on being proven wrong.

    To be fair, it’s not just Obama and the dems.  Bush, Cheney, and the GOP were in charge for years and ANWR is still closed, all those 85 Billion barrells are still offshore, all the shale in WY, UT, and elsewhere is still untapped.  Bush really did nothing about this when he was in office, either.  In fact if you look at the chart domestic production dropped from 03-06 when he was in office.

    Hopefully something changes.

    • FlAli

      The man has no  clue whatsoever.  I have maps of gelogical reports in my house (weird, I know) that show untapped resources that could potentially bring more oil than Prudhoe Bay.  Shoot, we used to own a lease in Alaska that was seeping oil into the ground (Beverly Hillbillies style) and one of the things that people were not allowed to do was smoke anywhere near it because of the gas seeping out.  Unfortunately, it was so far from anywhere that it would cost more to get the oil and gas out than could be recovered.

      • susiepuma

        he knows exactly what he is doing – he all but telephoned it to every listener in his continous campaign , but nobody was listening to the naysayers because it was and is racist to say that this loathesome POS is a chronic lying SOS –

    • otto

      Because he knows it’s a lie that’s why he doesn’t do it. To many people with to many hands in the pie. It’s all about money . You will learn that some day,i hope it is not to late.
       You can’t argue with 100  and more years of industrial expansion . And all thanks to coal ,oil, and natural gas. How about if you people get off your high horses ,and turn off your computers, your televisions, your coffee makers,start riding your windmill powered bicycles, and stop being the hypocrites you are. "We the people" are sick of being used. This is a planned obsolesence ,and everybody should know it.

  • David Zimmerman

    The problem is that the average voter is susceptible to his proclamations. To counter is claims, we need facts in bumper sticker form. The truth becomes complicated.

  • 01_Explorer_01

    What a dumb#$%# in chief this guy is.  Some think this guy is smart but I think e is as stupid as a post.

    • susiepuma

      No he is doing exactly as he was told to do……………………………………….. undermine this country and turn us into a 3rd world banana republic complete with the marxists, socialists, communists, & serfs…………………………………….

  • Ceejay

    This should fire the Governor up……incoming FB, I predict.

    • Infinite_Indeterminism

      Not really – if my impression of her is correct, she already knows all this, and could have written this article in her sleep… But I do expect her to take note of it, and to make good use of it, in her own sense of what timing is most beneficial to her long-term goals.

      As for mr No-Oil-Here, I fully expect him to keep going in the luddite direction, all the while spouting whichever figments of imagination he thinks will benefit his cause.

  • DocBarry1

    FOX NEWS has done show after show about – energy policy and gas prices – O’Reilly taks to Dobbs, others and doesn’t ask the one person who won against Big Oil – Gov Palin – ask her about what she would do with Speculators and what she would do to get the oil companies to sign permits to help the people of our country first

    • Cathy

      That’s because he doesn’t really want to know. BOR has no respect for women, they are second class citizens to him, besides he is a closet liberal,
      who thinks he is conservative. 

  • goldenprez

    The single most depressing thing about articles such as this, is that no one dares to call Obamao what he is … and unmitigated, congenital liar.

    All this "he doesn’t have a clue," is absolute nonsense. He knows exactly what he is lying about. Those who believe "he doesn’t have a clue," don’t have a clue.

    Unless, and until, people are willing and able to call him a liar, every single time he lies, which is every single time he makes a statement, the truth will always be obfuscated. His Marxist ideology in based upon his lying. It is no accident that he lies. That is his number one weapon, as no one, other than Joe Wilson, will actually call him a liar.

    Well, Rush and Mrs. Palin call him a liar all the time.

    Where are the rest of the "establishment" voices?

    Let us not be too timid to call this Marxist exactly what he is … a lying sack of putrid puss.

    Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.

    Illegitimi non carborundum.

    Barracudas Maximus … and Marcus Levinius … 2012.

    • otto

      You hit the nail right on the head . This is a nasty ,nasty man, in our white house.

  • indemind

    Thanks Doug, Excellent article,


  • otto

    America uses twenty percent of the world’s oil while only possessing two percent of the world’s reserves..Barack says. What a misleading statement. But what would you expect from this man..We have only 2% because we only drill for that much . We could have 100 x more if we had the will to. Yes ,Barack we use 20% of the oil the world drills.. ,but listen closely mister O man . We do not steal it, or pilfer it, we do not get it for free.. WE PAY FOR IT. What in the name of God are you suggesting. That we take food from the mouths of babes? That we have done something wrong. This is the phony fools argument. And it a blatent lie..a lie … Sorry Barack,no sale. No longer are the people stupid lemmings for the permanant elitist political class to shove around. With lies ,and more lies.

  • HiramHawk

    Obama is pathetic.

  • senator20526

    You are so right….when do you compare to what we use to what we have not drilled for? Even if you use 2% of the know reserve….how big is that reserve?  We know how much we use, but we are not trying to get the reserve out of the ground….

  • conservativemama

    Someone please make Obama an Algae Man Superhero costume.  And Steven Chu can be his sidekick.  We’ll make him Plankton Boy.

    What a clown.

  • Dagobomb

    And the Ministry of Truth has just told us our choco rations have increased from five to two ounces. Two and two is five, Winston, hurray for Big Brother.

  • Hyman Roth

    Apparently the "flat earther" meme has gone out to all the Obots in recent weeks, cause that’s all I hear them say in response to ANY criticism.

    "Flat earther!  Flat eather!"  What’s next, bringing back the Galileo trial?

  • Norcalo

    I am all for solar and wind etc. Just keep the damn permanent political class out of it. They’ve already set the renewable energy effort back 10 years with all their scandals. And I remark here that a prototype Sarah Palin for President commercial/video did show a line of power generating windmills.  Go Sarah.

    • otto

      Nothing wrong with windmills . And if you have a football sized field in your town,maybe they will be viable in 100 years, maybe less.. We unfortunately will all be dead by then IMO.. The very day it becomes acessable to the common man, windmills will sell like hot cakes.. I guarantee it..
      . And just like the car replaced the horse, the people will flock to them.
       Until then oil,gas, and coal, are not the enemy, and are just as God given. 
      I  will keep my internal combustion engine.
       But do not shove  windmills ,and solar panels, down the people’s throat ,as Obama intends  through the words out of his own mouth.

      And the real joke is that the Govt. would  tax the wind and the sun,and get their grimy little mitts in ,as they do with everything. So would it be cheaper, i have my doubts…

    • WVBobcat75

      I am a little fuzzy here on locations etc., but a couple winters ago, a city in the area of Montana, Wisconsin or MN was using wind power for electricity, including powering street lights.  It got so cold that the windmill would not turn, hence no electricity for the street lights, hence no traffic signals!

      • Infinite_Indeterminism

        The fact that some nutjobs ignored the need for energy-source diversity is only an argument against allowing that kind of nutjobs the authority to decide anything more than their lunch orders.

        As for the windmill not turning because of temperature, I would like to know whether the cause actually was the temperature, or simply a spell of calm weather. The problems of profitability and government interference do not invalidate the technology – and it’s about bloody time somebody noticed the Governor’s energy policy: "All of the above" !!!

  • ProudAmerican247

    "We need American sources of resources, we need American energy, brought to you by American ingenuity and produced by American workers."  Sarah Palin

    PALIN! 2012!

  • conservativemama

    He’s losing it.  He gets flustered when things don’t go his way, when he encounters any pushback at all.  He never answers with an intelligent statement that supports his position, just insults aimed at his opponents.  The sure sign of a weak mind.

    • pool_dog

      But mama, look at who he’s talking to in these speeches…. Friendly audiences and others with same weak minds.

      • conservativemama

        I know, you’re so right. And it’s so depressing.  These fools walk among us and vote.  Blech.

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