President Obama's grade for his performance on oil and natural gas issues during his first 100 days in office is a "D," two producer groups said last Wednesday. Critics say Obama speaks with a forked tongue when it comes to oil and gas.
"It's been a series of delays when it came to oil and gas...He has said that he does support oil and natural gas, but his actions don't seem to support that," a spokeswoman for a producer group told NGI.
At the top of her list was Obama's proposal to roll back $32.6 billion in tax credits for producers to pay for renewable and alternative energy sources (see NGI, March 2). "We're all in favor of renewables, but it can't be at the expense of oil and gas...To penalize oil and gas is going to make it more expensive and is just going to hurt consumers."
The producer spokeswoman further criticized Obama for his foot dragging on access to more onshore and offshore acreage, saying these actions will only increase U.S. dependence on foreign oil, cause further loss of jobs and threaten the country's energy security.
Another producer group official agreed that Obama's actions have not matched his rhetoric with respect to oil and gas. "Our hope is that he fulfills promises that he made in a recent Earth Day speech and [during] his campaign" in favor of domestic production, he said.
"The policies that they have been recommending don't go in the direction of producing more oil and natural gas," he said, citing the proposed tax hike on producers, the withdrawal of leases in Utah and the delay in the offshore leasing program (see NGI, Feb. 16; Feb. 9).
The Obama administration "has spent its first 100 days in office throwing up roadblocks for the production of American-made energy," said Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, the ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee.
"First, the Interior Department withdrew areas offered for 77 oil and gas leases in Utah that could cost American taxpayers millions in lost lease bids, production royalties and energy needed to offset rising imports of oil and gas. Second, the department delayed for six months the development of the new five-year leasing program for offshore drilling. Third, the department delayed the new round of oil shale research, demonstration and development leases that would help advance American technology and create high-tech jobs in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. And finally the administration has still not expressed its opposition to a recent [Washington] DC-based court decision that canceled the current offshore drilling plan because of a lawsuit filed by Democratic allies," he said (see NGI, April 20).
"Do these actions sound like they come from an administration that wants to 'increase our domestic production of oil and natural gas?''' Hastings asked.
In his Earth Day speech, Obama also said that "if we've got some [oil and natural gas] here in the United States that we can use, we should find it and do so in an environmentally sustainable way."
"Wait a minute -- if we've got oil and gas in the United States? The question isn't if we have oil and gas; the question is if the federal government will unlock it and allow us to access our domestic sources," Hastings said.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also has become a strong critic of the administration's energy actions. Last Thursday she protested the Obama administration's decision to "unilaterally overturn" a Bush-era regulation that allowed federal agencies to forgo "broad interagency consultations" with the Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) before taking any action that may affect threatened or endangered species (see related story).
Murkowski said the decision was the latest in a series of disappointing actions by the Obama administration that have raised questions about its commitment to the nation's energy security. Other troubling actions, she noted, included the cancellation of the 77 leases in Utah; the 180-day delay of the five-year offshore lease plan; delay of a scheduled round of oil shale research and development leases; expanded federal protection of the yellow billed loon; and the determination that certain coal mining rules are "legally defective."
Murkowski said the president has spoken frequently about the importance of producing more domestic oil and gas as the nation transitions to cleaner energy sources, but so far his actions have not matched his rhetoric. "I have watched with growing concern the actions of the administration with regard to domestic production. The actions don't match the words."
Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report
may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any
form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.