Standing at the podium with a drilling rig and an American flag positioned perfectly within the camera frame, President Barack Obama told the people of Maljamar, New Mexico that he wants more of everything. More oil, more gas, more solar panels, more biofuels, more wind turbines, more fuel-efficient cars… All of the above, and then some.
“Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years,” the president said on Wednesday, with the rig squarely in the middle of the backdrop behind him. “That’s a fact. That is a fact. We’ve approved dozens of new oil and gas pipelines, and we’ve announced our support for more – including one that I’m going to be visiting tomorrow in Oklahoma.”
Obama’s stop was part of a two-day energy tour that would take him to the largest solar energy plant in the United States (in Boulder City, Nevada), the Frontier Field Services’ gas plant in Maljamar and the TransCanada Pipe Yard that will be used to build a section of the Keystone XL Pipeline (in Cushing, Oklahoma).
With the primaries heating up over the past few months, Republican presidential contenders have chastised Obama for overly regulating the oil and gas industry and – to Wildcat’s relative surprise – blamed him for the steep rise in oil prices over the past three and half years. (Surely the Arab Spring and rising Asian demand are partly to blame?)
In response, Obama has rolled out his ‘all of the above’ campaign. “Now, there’s no contradiction to say that we’re going to keep on producing American oil and American gas, and also saying drilling can’t be the only part of our energy strategy,” he explained.
But, of course, Obama had a but. It was a relatively small one – reserved for the final few paragraphs – but it was there. And essentially, it was this: Oil and gas companies are free to explore, but they should do it on their own dime.
“It doesn’t make sense for us to be providing a $4 billion subsidy when oil and gas are doing plenty well on their own. Oil companies are making record profits, and that’s good. But we don’t need to subsidise them,” he said.
That is where Obama will draw the line between himself and his Republican challengers. While Republicans in the House of Representatives have moved to kill the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee for renewable energy technology, Obama wants the cuts to come from the already-established oil and gas sector. SS