Obama's alternate energy reality: Opinion

President Barack Obama has been taking credit for the U.S. energy revolution, telling an audience at a gala for Rice University’s Baker Institute that he was “extraordinarily proud of the Paris climate accords but then seemed to reverse course and take credit for the U.S. energy boom. 

“I know we’re in oil country and we need American energy,” he said. “You wouldn’t always know it, but it went up every year I was president..... suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer and the biggest gas — that was me, people.”

But was it? The reality was that when it came to American energy under Obama it was not “yes we can” but “no we can’t” like he did in 2012 saying, “You can’t drill your way to lower gas prices."

He also seemed to miss the energy potential of the U.S.A.

We use 20 percent of the world’s oil; we only produce 2 percent of the world’s oil.  Even if we opened every inch of the country -- if I put an oil rig on the South Lawn - if we had one right next to the Washington Monument, even if we drilled every little bit of this great country of ours, we’d still have to buy the rest of our needs from someplace else if we keep on using the same amount of energy, the same amount of oil...”

- – Remarks by the President on American-Made Energy March 2012.​​​​​​

What? President Obama obviously did not understand what was really going on with the shale revolution. He did not understand that this revolution was the key to the U.S. becoming the world’s largest energy producer. We did this even without selling drilling rights to the grounds under the National Mall.

President Trump was not the first president to tweet. In 2013 President Barack Obama tweeted, "We can’t just drill our way out of the energy and climate challenge that we face. That’s not possible." —President Obama #ActOnClimate”  Yet in this alternative reality today,  he is taking credit for things that he said were impossible in 2013.

It’s also amazing that his tweets on oil seemed to have less impact on the world than President Trump’s tweets on oil. Trump  wants lower oil prices and they go down; President Obama tweets that he wants less drilling and prices goes up. I guess that makes Present Trump a better tweeter or perhaps more strategic as he targets the all-powerful OPEC.

Sure, oil production did rise on Present Obama’s watch, but it was not because of him -- it was despite of him. President Obama wanted to put more restrictions and taxes on U.S. energy to support his many failed green energy initiatives. In 2012 Obama railed against Big Oil and called for more taxes and regulations on the industry he seemed to despise. This is an industry that, according to the American Petroleum Institute, supports 10.3 million U.S. jobs and nearly 8 percent of the U.S. economy.

Yet he banned new oil and gas drilling in most U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans using a 1953 law that allows presidents to block the sale of new offshore drilling and mining rights.

In 2012 he called for more taxes on U.S. energy producers, saying, “ Americans are getting hit twice -- once at the gas pump, and once more by sending billions of dollars in tax subsidies to oil companies.”

He failed to mention that energy is one of the most heavily taxed industries in this country and a big reason the Obama economy had any economic growth at all. From 2011 to 2015, during his presidency,  oil and natural gas income tax expenses (as a share of net income before income taxes) averaged 37 percent, compared to 25.8 percent for other S&P industrial companies. 

Present Obama wanted to tax crude oil out of business and flirted with the idea of a $10 a barrel “fee” on every barrel of U.S. oil so he could pay for a $300 billion plan to fund green energy transit projects along with green energy subways, buses, light rail, freight rail and a big expansion of high-speed rail, as well as potentially carbon-reducing projects like self-driving cars.  That $10 a barrel fee on U.S. oil,  if he got his way, would have strangled the national shale producers, who are still having a hard time making money, and would have also cost many hard-working energy workers the high-paying jobs associated with the energy industry. That tax, if pushed through, would have stopped the energy revolution in its tracks.

Present Obama denied the Keystone XL pipeline, even though multiple studies showed that it was safe to build. In fact, the denial of the Keystone XL increased the risk to the environment by moving Canadian oil by truck and by rail. Now, I guess you could say he was trying to give U.S. energy producers an advantage by hampering Canadian producers but that was not his argument.

He said the pipeline approval "would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy" and would not significantly lower prices at the pump or improve energy security. On the flip side, he said, approving the pipeline would undercut America's "global leadership" on climate change, and so the administration's rejecting it.

President Obama taking credit for the U.S. energy boom really is confusing to the hard-working men and women in the U.S. energy industry.  He really made their jobs harder as he tried to tax and regulate them out of business. But don’t take it too hard because I am sure the sun is always shining in President Obama’s alternative energy world.

Phil Flynn is senior energy analyst at The PRICE Futures Group and a Fox Business Network contributor. He is one of the world's leading market analysts, providing individual investors, professional traders, and institutions with up-to-the-minute investment and risk management insight into global petroleum, gasoline, and energy markets. His precise and timely forecasts have come to be in great demand by industry and media worldwide and his impressive career goes back almost three decades, gaining attention with his market calls and energetic personality as writer of The Energy Report.