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Obama’s real oil record

During Tuesday’s spirited presidential debate, Mr. Obama stated that U.S. oil production has risen every year he has been in office.  However, as Governor Romney and various fact-checkers note, most of those gains have come about on private lands, over which Obama has little control.

However, not divulged during the debate was how the Obama administration has purposefully undermined America’s oil industry. The following is a revealing excerpt from the my book, Eco-Tyranny:

On May 6, 2010, three weeks after the onset of the massive British Petroleum (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration cleverly took advantage of the crisis by autocratically imposing a 30-day moratorium on new deepwater drilling operations in the Gulf, and suspending drilling on rigs working in water deeper than 500 feet.  This mandate immediately froze operations on 33 operational oil platforms, and another eight that were under construction, pending an investigation into the explosion that caused the BP leak.[1]

Simultaneous to the Gulf abeyance, the administration also suspended applications for exploratory drilling in the Alaskan Arctic, until an unspecified date in 2011.  This extreme action was taken despite the fact that, in 2009, preliminary permits had been previously issued by the Interior Department to Shell Oil to drill five wells in the region—three in the Chukchi Sea and two in the Beaufort Sea.[2] The suspension came as a shock to Shell, as the company had been planning the projects for the better part of a year.  They were planning to begin drilling operations in June, as the summer weather would allow them a brief four-month window of opportunity to work, but the Obama administration’s decision shot that plan down for at least another year.  New drilling in the Arctic has yet to begin.

However, the Obama administration didn’t stop there.  Prior to the expiration of the 30-day Gulf drilling moratorium, on May 27, the stay was extended for an extra six months.  In addition, the President also ordered that the Atlantic Coast off limits to energy development or exploration through 2017.  This was a stunning reversal of the promise Obama made to the people of Virginia just two months earlier, on March 31, when he announced the lease-sale of nearly 3 million acres off their coast, a move that would enable America to harness some 130 million barrels of oil, and over a trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  According to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell the offshore projects would, “speed our economic recovery.”[3] McDonnell estimated that the plan would have adding 2,578 full-time jobs annually, induce capital investment of $7.84 billion, yield $644 million in direct and indirect payroll, and result in $271 million in new state and local revenue.  Obama’s decision was a job killer.

Meanwhile, the Gulf freeze was challenged in Federal court twice, with the Administration losing both times.  The first loss occurred on June 22, 2010 when U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans stated that the Interior Department “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” when it incorrectly assumed that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger.[4] Feldman went so far as to say the administration’s motives seemed to be “driven by political or social agendas on all sides.”[5]

Unfazed, the Interior Department issued a second challenge, but that appeal was rebuffed on July 8 by a three-judge panel assigned to the case in the 5th District Court of Appeals.  The panel stated it was open to a further hearing on the merits of the appeal in September, but the administration wasn’t interested in waiting for that.  Instead, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar essentially painted the getaway car a different color and quickly sped away to pull his next caper.  On July 12, Salazar issued, not a moratorium, but a “suspension” on all floating-type rigs, like the one used by BP, in any depth of the Gulf’s waters, through November 30.  About 36 rigs were instantly impacted.[6]

What followed was an unpublicized meltdown of the Gulf oil industry.  Getting a permit from the feds to drill anywhere in Gulf waters became nearly impossible.  As for the 36 floating rigs that were commanded to cease operations, the majority packed up for other waters.  Each of these massive rigs (the larger structures are 800 feet wide, 150 high and weigh some 70,000 tons) cost up to $600 million to build, and are constructed under strict debt-financing terms that require the owners to have long-term drilling contracts secured in advance.  If those contracts are not generating revenue to pay back their loans, the rig owners must wind-up operations and go to where the money is.

Team Obama deviously sucker-punched Big Oil square in the pocketbook.

Eric Smith, a business professor at Tulane University, calculated that the Gulf moratorium and suspension caused a combined loss of 137,000 jobs, with the state of Louisiana forfeiting up to $400 million in oil tax receipts.[7] Professor Joseph Mason of Louisiana State University estimated that the overall economic loss for the Gulf region—not because of damage from the BP spill, but because of Obama’s decisions—at $3 billion.[8]

As the suspension drew toward its expiration, the administration had the audacity to make it appear as if they were graciously lifting the ban.  Ken Salazar took the stage bogusly boasting, “The policy position that we are articulating today is that we are open for business.”[9]

However, “open for business” was a shrewd ruse.  Technically a company could drill, but first they had to locate a floating rig, and then jump through the myriad of brand new rules and regulations contrived by Salazar for obtaining a new permit.  Executives in the oil industry refer to Salazar’s de facto moratorium, as a “permitorium.”[10] Six months after Salazar’s supposed reboot, only four permits had been issued—all to projects that had been suspended a year earlier.[11]

Because of the Obama’s real, and de facto, moratoriums, the United States lost an estimated 360,000 barrels of oil production per day from the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and 2011.[12] According to the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook, released April 26, 2011, the combination of the new permitting rules and the lasting effects of the drilling moratoria will cause offshore oil production to continue lower than expected “throughout most of the projection period,” which extends to 2035.[13]

Meantime, in the Arctic, where drilling applications were essentially suspended indefinitely, Shell finally conceded defeat.  Speaking on a conference call with investors and media in February 2011, Shell CEO Peter Voser urged the Department of Interior to stop the stonewalling and speed up the permitting process.  “There will be no drilling offshore Alaska in 2011,” Voser said. “We need urgent and timely action on permitting to go ahead with the 2012 drilling program.”[14]

If Mr. Obama really wanted to make good on not leaving our energy problems “for the next President,” then he needs to quit playing games with the American people and take advantage of the plentiful oil reserves we have right here in the United States; oil fields that could keep us from purchasing one drop of foreign oil for hundreds of years. But instead, left-wing radicals continue to utilize oil spills as effective tools to restrain an industry from providing us with a vital product.  In the process they are preventing free enterprise from creating permanent jobs and wealth, and keeping our country dependent upon the resources of nations that, in many cases, do not support the vision and values of America.

Brian Sussman is an award-winning meteorologist, host of a popular morning radio show on KSFO in San Francisco, and author of “Eco-Tyranny: How the Left’s green Agenda Will Dismantle America.”

[1] Press Release, “Salazar Meets with BP Officials and Engineers at Houston Command Center to Review Response Efforts, Activities,” US Department of Interior, May, 6, 2010.

[2] Noelle Straub, “Interior approves drilling on 2 Beaufort Seas leases,” E&E News, October 19, 2009,

[3] “Goodlatte bill would push drilling off Virginia,” Augusta Free Press, April 6, 2011,

[4] United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Hornbeck Offshore Services versus Kenneth Lee “Ken” Salazar, et al., Case 2:10-cv-01663-MLCF-JCW, Document 67, Filed 06/22/10.

[5] United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Hornbeck Offshore Services versus Kenneth Lee “Ken” Salazar, et al., Case 2:10-cv-01663-MLCF-JCW, Document 67, Filed 06/22/10.

[6] “New moratorium applies to any deep-water floating facility,” Associated Press, July 12, 2010,

[7] James Rosen, “Drilling Moratorium Crippling Gulf, Says Industry,” Fox News, August 11, 2010,

[8] James Rosen, “Drilling Moratorium Crippling Gulf, Says Industry,” Fox News, August 11, 2010,

[9] John M. Broder, “White House Lifts Ban on Deepwater Drilling,” New York Times, October 12, 2010.

[10] “The Administration Is Slowly Reissuing Offshore Drilling Permits,” Institute for Energy Research, March 23, 2011,

[11] “The Administration Is Slowly Reissuing Offshore Drilling Permits,” Institute for Energy Research, March 23, 2011,

[12] “The Administration Is Slowly Reissuing Offshore Drilling Permits,” Institute for Energy Research, March 23, 2011,


[14] “Shell Will Not Drill Offshore Alaska in 2011, CEO Says,” Offshore Energy Today, February 3, 2011,

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2 Responses to “ “Obama’s real oil record”

  1. john mcdonough says:

    Good reading Brian! It would have been nice if the nation could have gotten this info during the debate. I have never scene a politician that lies as much as Hussein Obama. Keep up the great work! Your radio program is very informative.
    Thanks, John

  2. Norm says:

    After years of exaggerations, twisting facts and outright lies, what do you expect from Obama? If we could have had four years of increased oil production, we would not have $4.00+ gasoline prices. Thank you for setting the record straight.

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