President Barack Obama today defended his administration’s energy policies.
At a White House press conference, the president took credit for a jump in domestic petroleum production during his time in office and denied that regulators had been slow to approve new offshore drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico.
Criticism of his the go-slow process for offshore drilling “may make for a good sound bite but it doesn’t match up with reality.”
Obama answered questions amid political instability in the Middle East and North Africa that has sent crude oil prices skyrocketing 25 percent over the past year. The Libyan civil war pushed oil futures to $106.95 on March 7, its highest level since Sept. 26, 2008.
Pump prices have spiked in America, and some economists are predicting that gasoline will cost U.S. consumers more than $4 per gallon by this summer. “For Americans already facing tough times, it’s an added burden,” he said.
Some members of Congress have been pushing the president to release some of the 727 million barrels of oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help calm markets and reduce prices. But there has been little demand for use of the
At the press conference, Obama said he will release oil from the petroleum reserve “should the situation demand it.”
“All options are on the table when it comes to any supply disruption,” he said.
Obama pointed to a jump in domestic oil production and federal lands leased for development the highest in seven years to beat back claims that it has slowed offshore work in the wake of last year’s Gulf oil spill.
Offshore drilling advocates in Congress and industry are accusing the Obama administration of misleading lawmakers and the public by insisting that oil production has reached new highs, despite delays in permitting Gulf exploration work.
Both sides are waging a statistical war over domestic oil development, in light of rising oil and gasoline prices stoked by unrest in Libya and the Middle East.
Erik Milito, upstream director for the American Petroleum Institute, says the administration is unfairly taking credit for long-term decisions that were made long before President Obama took office.
“It’s completely disingenuous to say that offshore production has increased due to anything this administration has done,” Milito said. An increase in public land leased for oil and gas development is “attributable to these decisions to lease almost a decade ago.”