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Why the GOP is Off the Mark on Energy Policy

Posted: 2/15/2013 4:49:00 PM
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By Daniel J. Graeber of

The U.S. Energy Department said domestic crude oil production has increased so far this year. By 2014, the department said oil production should be close to the 8 million barrel per day mark, up more than 20 percent from 2012 levels. President Barack Obama said the country was moving away from foreign oil suppliers as domestic oil production reaches historic highs. OPEC, in its monthly report for February, said U.S. oil production reached its highest level since 1987 and accounted for the largest growth of any country outside the cartel last year. Nevertheless, critics of the U.S. president say that's not enough to ensure long-term energy security.

The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration reports that U.S. crude oil production in 2012 averaged 6.4 million barrels per day. New technologies used to extract oil from shale plays in states like Texas and North Dakota have led to increases in U.S. oil production. By 2014, the EIA estimates U.S. oil production will reach 7.8 million bpd.

Obama, in his State of the Union address Tuesday, focused on measures meant to address climate change after a year of drought, record-setting temperatures and storms like Hurricane Sandy, which caused significant damage to the eastern U.S. coast last year. Sticking with his "all-of-the-above" energy policy theme, however, he said he'd take steps to ensure drillers can take advantage of U.S. oil and natural gas wealth.

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"We need to encourage that," he said. "And that’s why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits."

OPEC, in its monthly report for February, said U.S. oil production has reached levels not seen since 1987. Last year, the United States experienced the largest oil production growth for any country outside the 12-member cartel. For North Dakota, home to the lucrative Bakken oil play, OPEC said November production reached 730,000 bpd, a 44 percent increase from the previous year.

North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven said Obama's policies, however, "will not get us where we need to go." He needs to do more, said Hoeven, to move the country toward energy security. For U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the answer is not with domestic oil production, but with more imports from Canada. "With a stroke of the pen," said Upton, the president could unleash $7 billion in private sector investment by passing the Keystone XL pipeline.

The EIA, in its short-term energy outlook, lowered its forecast for Canadian oil production for 2013. In the United States, meanwhile, onshore oil production surged and the Gulf of Mexico is expected to give up around 1.4 million bpd this year. Meanwhile, crude oil imports for the United States are expected to continue their steady decline because of what the EIA said was "continued substantial increases in domestic crude oil production."