What Obama Can't Take Credit for in SOTU

by Gerri Willis

President Obama tonight in his State of the Union is expected to announce a new era of American energy. He’ll claim credit for the jump in oil production and try to commandeer authorship of the natural gas boom as well.

But the facts tell a different story.

Once you look at the record, you realize the energy boom happened in spite of the Obama administration, not because of it.

Production in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, is down 35% from projections made by the Energy Information Administration just a little over a year ago.

Take a look at this chart...

By the way, the E.I.A is the federal government, not an industry trade group.

Why did production take a nosedive?

Obama shut down oil production in the wake of the BP oil spill for 137 days.

In fact, the moratorium wasn't lifted until drillers challenged it in court.

In other words, Obama turned that tap off and may have never turned it back on until a judge forced the issue.

The impacts of this lost production are pretty extreme – 90,000 jobs gone after 11 oil rigs were moved out of the region.

Here's where those rigs went (oh and in case your forgot, we gave Brazil a big fat loan to develop offshore oil reserves).

Losing those rigs is a $21 billion loss in capital investments for the region. And the impact on government isn't inconsequential. The government lost $5 billion in tax receipts after those rigs stopped production.

So it’s all the more impressive. We are making such huge inroads on energy independence.

You can attribute much of this to the fact technological advancements in fracking are boosting production, loosening natural gas and oil throughout the Midwest and the West.

Now according to the E.I.A: the U.S. has more than 2,500 trillion cubic feet of potential natural gas resources.

At the 2010 rate of consumption, that's enough to supply over 100 years of use.

But 69% of this production relies on hydraulic fracking to bring the energy to the surface.

Whether fracking will continue though is anybody's guess because eight federal agencies are investigating the technique (one, by the way, that has been around since the 1940s).

Oil industry advocates say production could soar even higher if the 85% of coastline was opened up to production.

But the gains already are impressive. Already, the U.S. is importing just 22% of its energy needs.

And that number is expected to decline to 13% by 2035.

That makes us much less dependent on foreign oil -- a good thing that presidents have been calling for four decades. We are closer now than ever before.

But has Obama led that new era of energy?

I’d say the facts point to no way. No how.

It’s a story as old as politics.