Is the President Causing High Gas Prices?

Posted on February 23rd, 2012 by

Last evening I heard Newt Gingrich say that the Obama Administration was “outrageously anti-American energy.” And that, “the high price of gasoline is the direct result of Obama.”

After picking myself up from the floor, it took me about 15 seconds to find this.

U.S. Crude Oil Rigs in Operation

U.S. Crude Oil Rigs in Operation

These data, from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, show the number of oil rigs operating in the United States from 1987 through 2011. Note that the number of rigs operating steadily declined from 1987 until around 2005. Then, the trend reverses and begins a gradual and steady rise. Gradual and steady, that is, until January 2009, when President Obama took office. Since then, the number of rigs in operation has increased at a rate that people like me rarely see in data. It’s almost straight up. Specifically, the number of rigs in operation has increased by 257% in two years.

These additional oil rigs are not just a decoration on the North Dakota and Montana landscape. They are contributing to the most dramatic increase in domestic oil production since the 1970s. In fact, this year the United States will produce 51% of its oil consumption. That is something we haven’t done since 1998.

So what can be made of Gingrich’s claim that the Obama administration’s policies are “anti-American energy” leading to high gasoline prices? Gingrich is a smart, clever man so I cannot imagine that he is ignorant of the facts.

My conclusion is that if the Obama Administration is trying to sabotage American energy production, they are very bad at it.


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