Analysis: Flawed Intelligence Guides The Obama Energy Plan

By Daniel Kish,  OpEd Contributor, Washington Examiner

President Obama has embarked upon a costly and potentially dangerous energy path that may threaten our quality of life, our place in the world, and even our economic and national security.

As a result, the energy most Americans depend upon will become more foreign, more expensive, and more scarce, and the U.S. may find its national security interests compromised in order to secure the supplies necessary to run our economy.

The singular tragedy of this looming threat is that it is based upon the false but oft-repeated premise that the U.S. and North America is running out of energy while the government’s own documents and the energy industry’s experience has shown that it is not.

Under Obama and President George W. Bush before him, the main impediment to reducing foreign imports of oil has been the government itself, and flawed intelligence.

Obama’s intelligence about energy resources is flawed because it has come mostly in sound bites from the very groups most opposed to more domestic energy development. These are the groups who condemned Bush for a mad rush to drill at any cost during his eight years.

Their false claims about reckless leasing and drilling for oil and gas on government lands and waters have convinced Obama to slow down or in some cases, stop domestic energy leasing.

But here are the facts regarding leasing, courtesy of the Congressional Research Service: The administration of Bill Clinton and Al Gore offered more lands for lease than the administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

In fact, on western government lands, the Clinton Administration offered 50% more acreage for leasing than the Bush Administration.(46 million acres Clinton/Gore; 31 million Bush/Cheney.

Why then did Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar postpone a national offshore leasing program in February while criticizing his predecessor, saying “a ‘drill-only’ approach – onshore or offshore – is not enough?” It must be flawed intelligence.

In April, Salazar claimed “we sit on 3% of the world’s oil reserves. We consume 25% of its oil. Our dependence on foreign oil is a national security problem, an environmental security problem and an economic security problem.”

Based on his department’s own estimates, Salarzar could quadruple those reserves from the OCS, and increase them by 50% from the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) alone. Salazar is landlord for almost 2.5 billion acres of onshore and offshore lands, but his department currently has only leased about 3% of them for energy production.

Look at Brazil, which was formerly thought to be out of oil until the government let companies look for oil off the country’s coasts. Now, Brazil is becoming one of the biggest energy success stories in the world.

Private lands throughout the U.S. where owners are eager to lease them for energy are where most of our new shale natural gas supplies are being found. But it’s hard to find oil reserves if the government doesn’t let us look for them.

For example, the U.S. has the world’s largest reserves of oil shale, and the government earlier this year added 500 billion barrels of shale oil to the official estimates, bringing the total to 2.6 trillion barrels. America currently uses about seven billion barrels of oil per year.

While no one would expect all of that to be recoverable, the Department of Energy has estimated that about 40% of the oil shale reserves are recoverable, meaning we have about 1 trillion barrels of recoverable oil shale, or about as much as the entire world’s known reserves. But Salazar has stopped previously planned commercial leasing on government lands.

Other Obama energy decisions reveal the same dependence upon flawed intelligence, including  cancellation of already-issued oil and gas leases in Utah and delaying Outer Continental Shelf leasing another six months.

There is no substance on earth as important to economic growth as oil. It would be a shame for America to endure economic and national security threats because our leaders insist on using flawed intelligence about what energy supplies we have right here at home. See post here.

Daniel Kish is senior vice president of the Institute for Energy Research

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