Daniel Kish is senior vice president at the Institute for Energy Research.
The Energy Information Administration recently released its Annual Energy Review 2011. The Annual Energy Review is a report of historical annual energy statistics, with many of the series dating back to 1949. One thing is clear from the latest review: The Obama administration is hampering energy production on federal lands, resulting less in the policy he calls an "all the above" energy plan and more in a policy that looks like "nothing from below." Unfortunately for Americans, most of our largest-in-the world supplies of affordable energy are located below the ground.
The Annual Energy Review noted an encouraging trend: Oil and natural gas production is indeed increasing. Energy Information Administration reports that production of natural gas in 2011 was the highest in U.S. history and they report that domestic oil production was the highest since 2003. The president likes to cite these increases to disprove claims that he is hindering domestic energy production with his policies, however, the increase is only happening on those lands his administration has no say over: private and state lands.
In reality, data shows that oil and gas production is actually falling on federal lands. Offshore oil production was the lowest since 2008, and natural gas production on federal lands was the lowest since 2003. Coal production on federal lands has fallen as well. Coal production was the lowest since 2006. Energy Information Administration also reports that 2011 had the highest average price for gasoline in U.S. history, and 2009-2011 has seen the highest average real electricity prices since the early 1990s.
What the record shows is that energy production is happening in spite of the president's polices, not because of them. Instead, the federal government's policy has been to restrict access to the 2.46 billion acres of onshore and offshore energy lands—lands that hold the greatest untapped resource potential—thereby denying their use to the people who own these resources. The president's record has been very clear on this point, and the data in the Annual Energy Review confirms the detrimental impact these policies have had on energy prices. If energy production—and the jobs and economic growth domestic energy production creates—is increasing on all lands except those owned by the government, it is clear federal policies are at the root of the problem. We will all pay more for energy than we need to until those policies change.