February 5, 2013
By Gary Jason
the black days following the Obama administration's inaugural revels,
some good news is always welcome. And the WSJ has just furnished us
with some good news, indeed.
news concerns the growth of American oil production. Last year, it
increased by the largest amount since we started domestic production
back in 1859. In fact, production was up by nearly 780,000 barrels per
day (bpd), making our average production the highest in 15 years at 6.4
result is that our total net oil imports dropped by almost 7%, which is
also a 15-year low. And Valero Energy has announced that it will
expand its refining facilities in Texas to refine the new product -- the
first expansion of refining in years.
This is in addition to our record-high natural gas production, reflected in its record low prices.
additional good news is that next year will be even better -- the
projection is for an increase in oil production of 900,000 bpd. In
fact, Exxon-Mobil -- one of the heroes of the story -- now projects that
our energy production soaring together with Canada's soaring as well
will make North America energy-independent in 12 years.
should be given credit for this explosion of production? In his
re-election campaign, Obama boasted that it was his administration that
made this possible. However, of all the outrageous lies he has told,
this has got to be the biggest.
primary reason for the explosive growth of North American fossil fuel
production is the innovation in extraction technology -- not big
government. In the U.S., the technological
innovation is twofold: fracking -- i.e., hydraulic fracturing of shale
rock to release its treasures of natural gas and petroleum. (In the
case of Canada, it is due to their new techniques for extracting oil
from their immense tar-sands formation.)
new technologies have enabled old fields (such as the Permian Basin in
Texas) that were thought to be essentially played out to flourish once
again, and opened previously unusable formations (such as the massive
Bakken shale field in North Dakota) to produce new supplies. Production
from the Bakken field in particular has shot up from 125,000 bpd in
2007 to 750,000 bpd last year.
None of this technological innovation is due in any way to the Obama administration. It has not given any financial support to these innovations; indeed, they were developed long before his benighted administration assumed power. No, Obama corruptly
chose to squander the vast majority of federal R&D spending on
grotesquely inefficient so-called "green energy" sources, including
proven losers such as solar and wind power
(which produce their inconsistent and comparatively feeble streams of
energy only with massive taxpayer subsidies), and new bizarre losers
such as algae-derived biofuel.
has the Obama administration in any way lessened or even just held
constant the onerous regulatory barriers the oil and gas producers have
to overcome to extract and refine their products. On the contrary,
Obama has increased massively those regulations across the board, with
the especially aggressive EPA fighting fracking all the way. Of course,
this is nothing compared to the fury it has directed against coal!
yet has this green administration shown any willingness to open up more
of the huge expanse of federally owned land -- the federal government owns
about 650 million acres, or about 30% of the land in this country -- to
leasing for fossil fuel production. No, quite the reverse: it has
locked up even more vast areas of the country as wilderness areas, and
clamped down on Gulf leasing. The explosion of production is taking
place on predominantly private property.
credit for the growth in our energy production goes solely to the
private corporations that have surmounted all of the hurdles this green
regime has put in its way.
what a truly honest and pro-energy administration could accomplish. It
could develop a gusher of revenues from dramatically increasing the
leasing and -- even better -- the outright sale of modest amounts of
public lands to energy developers who could eliminate our budget deficit
without raising taxes.
Gary Jason is a senior editor of Liberty and author of the recent book Dangerous Thoughts.