SOTU Report Card: Rhetoric vs. Reality

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Jeff Eshelman / Julia Bell
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For Immediate Release
January, 27 2012

WASHINGTON – This week, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, touting an America “built to last.” From a nation that has triumphed the Great Depression to one that is again working towards recovery, the president was right about one thing — America is getting back on its feet, step-by-step. Regarding America’s bright energy future – underpinned by our nation’s abundant oil and natural gas resources – the President laid out a positive and mostly succinct message including a stronger workforce and economy, and a more secure homeland. Here are several key excerpts from the address:

Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right – eight years. Not only that – last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.

We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energyExperts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk. The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy.”

To hear the president’s rhetorical support for American oil and natural gas was heartening. IPAA chairman Gigi Lazenbyweighed in, ensuring that key facts where not lost:

“As the president underscored, our nation continues to increase its domestic oil and gas production, creating thousands of well-paying, private sector jobs, providing much-needed relief and savings for struggling consumers and stimulating an otherwise anemic economy. But the truth behind the veil is that this tremendous broad-based economic and energy security success is largely in spite of this administration’s, at times, harshly anti-oil and natural gas policies, not because of them.

“It is this dedication and commitment to America’s past, present, and future energy outlook that has  enhanced our national security, catalyzed job growth, lowered U.S. net imports by 15 percent and stimulated a struggling economy — with virtually no help from the current administration.

“As President Obama acknowledges, we need more domestic energy — of all forms. It is clear that now, more than ever, we must do all we can as a nation to enhance our domestic oil and natural gas production, decrease our reliance on foreign imports, support our workforce, and stimulate our weakened economy. Independent producers are ready to continue our work in meeting these critical goals for our nation — if the administration’s policies will permit us.”

And throughout the duration of the week, President Obama embarked on a journey through the key swing states this week, touting his newfound embrace of common sense, “all of the above” energy policy. Here, though, are some key facts that are simply don’t match the president’s words:


The Administration’s Words …

… The Facts


Sec. Ken Salazar: “The President has made it clear that developing our domestic oil and gas resources is a significant part of this administration’s efforts to grow our economy and create jobs. This lease sale is part of our commitment to safe and responsible development of the Outer Continental Shelf.” (Huffington Post1/26/12)


The draft offshore drilling five-year lease plan further limits production in the OCS till 2017. To date, only 2.16% of our offshore energy resources are leased for development. The Atlantic and Pacific coasts?-we’ll see if the administration puts words to action for production, new jobs, and new opportunities.


President Obama: “For all of our lives America has been talking about decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. I’ve been hearing it — I’m older than most of you guys — I’ve been hearing it all my life. My administration has actually tried to do something about it.” (E&E News1/27/12)


In 2010, federal oil production decreased by 13 percent. In the same year, federal lands saw the fewest number of onshore leases since 1984.


In 2011, nine federal agencies looked to implement new regulations and procedures to delay-if not halt altogether-horizontal drilling on federal land, an action that would paralyze shale production across the nation.



Earlier Thursday, the federal government announced plans to sell off oil and gas leases on 38 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor in a new domestic energy push. (CNN,1/26/12)



On December 1, 2010, the administration implemented a de-facto moratorium on new offshore drilling along the OCS, an action that placed 13.14 billion barrels of oil and 41.49 tcf of natural gas out of reach for producers, cost thousands of jobs, and sacrificed millions in much needed tax revenues.