The Obama Keystone Shuffle: A Side-Step, A Step Back, And A Misstep

Matthew Sheffield
By Matthew Sheffield | March 26, 2012 | 9:15 AM EDT

After three years of doing everything he can to delay and block domestic oil drilling, President Obama took a quick spin around  the country to pretend otherwise.

Obama tried to portray himself as Mr. Big Oil, drilling everywhere but on the White House lawn, valiantly trying to bring down gas prices. And in Cushing, Oklahoma, he took the brave step of announcing support for a small section of the Keystone XL pipeline that was already going to be built, which Obama has zero power or authority to stop, and which doesn't connect to Canada and, so, won't help bring more oil to the U.S. marketplace.

With average gas prices moving inexorably toward $4 a gallon around the country and a new poll out showing overwhelming support for the Keystone XL pipeline – the WHOLE pipeline - Obama knows his energy policies of restricting drilling on federal lands, shoveling billions of dollars into risky “alternative energy” ventures owned by big Obama campaign donors, and pretending we're just around the corner from running our cars on algae is a likely killer at the ballot box this fall.

Unfortunately, he can't fall back on his usual tactic when faced with slumping poll numbers and failed policies – blaming his predecessor. Because gasoline cost $1.83 a gallon when George W. Bush left the Oval Office.

So he resorts to taking credit for things he had nothing to do with – like the increase in domestic oil production over the last few years.
In various energy-related speeches recently, Obama has said things like this: ““Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years.”

True, but misleading.

It would have happened had John McCain won the 2008 election. Or Hillary Clinton. Or Mike Huckabee. Or you.

That's because approximately 96 percent of the total increase in domestic oil production occurred on non-federal land, according to a study prepared by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service which examined oil production on federal and non-federal land between 2007-2011.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, the Energy Information Administration reported  that oil and natural gas production on federal land declined 40 percent over the past decade and 14 percent in 2011 alone.

With only months to go now before voters render their verdict on Obama's presidency, there's little Obama can do to affect gas prices, so he's trying to deflect the blame and make people forget about that time, not too long ago, when Obama admitted he want higher gas prices, a policy goal his energy secretary also shares.

But most voters are motorists, too – and many not only drive a car to and from work, they drive a vehicle at work, too. They know that solar panels, wind farms and algae aren't going to replace unleaded anytime soon.

Voters aren't stupid. Even in the places Obama visited on his “energy tour,” they all know Air Force One doesn't run on sunbeams and algae.

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