Revisiting his initiative to repeal the $4 billion in subsidies that taxpayers provide the oil and gas industry each year, President Obama last Thursday reiterated part of his State of the Union address that there’s only one real path forward for America’s future: an “all of the above” approach that develops every source of energy available.

Speaking on the economy at Nashua Community College in Nashua, NH, Obama said he believes the United States will be able to drill its way to lower gas prices and energy independence.

“So when it comes to oil production, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years,” Obama said. “That is a fact…Under my administration, we have a near-record number of oil rigs operating right now — more working oil and gas rigs than the rest of the world combined. Think about that.”

Concerned about the rising cost of gasoline, the president is directing the federal government to address a range of issues that are having a real impact on what people pay at the pump. For starters, he said he is working to prevent speculators from taking advantage of uncertainties in the commodities market and trying to reduce bottlenecks in the supply chain. He is also zeroing in on the elimination of oil and gas subsidies, something he has vowed to target for the last two years (see NGI, May 2, 2011).

“[Oil] companies are making record profits right now — tens of billions of dollars a year,” he told the New Hampshire audience. “Every time you go to the gas station or fill up your gas tank, they’re making money. Every time. Now, does anyone really think that Congress should give them another $4 billion this year? Of course not. It’s outrageous. It’s inexcusable. And I am asking Congress — eliminate this oil industry giveaway right away. I want them to vote on this in the next few weeks.”

In the same stroke, the White House is emphasizing the fact that America’s dependence on foreign oil has gone down every single year since Obama took office. In 2010 the United States imported less than 50% of the oil the nation consumed — the first time that’s happened in 13 years — and the trend continued in 2011. According to Energy Information Administration data, net imports as a share of consumption fell from 57% to 52% in Obama’s first year in office. In 2011 the percentage had fallen even further, to 45%.

While America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years, Obama said the price of gas at the pump is still going up because oil is bought and sold on a world market. In the short term, it’s subject to price spikes when there’s instability or uncertainty along the global supply chain.

Obama said this is why he has been touting an “all-out, all-of-the-above strategy” that develops every available source of American energy, from tapping offshore oil supplies and vast natural gas reserves, to doubling down on clean energy resources like wind and solar power, and developing new technologies that help us use less energy altogether.

Regarding the oil statistics, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney didn’t quite see it that way. The former Massachusetts governor said the president doesn’t get any credit for the increase. “He instead has tried to slow the growth of oil and gas production in this country, and coal production in this country.” Romney is pushing for opening more federal lands and the offshore for drilling and for stream-lined regulation, and construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline (see related story). Romney last week named billionaire oilman Harold Hamm, president of Oklahoma-based Continental Resources, to head his energy advisory committee.

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