The Obama Oil Boom (CHART)

April 9, 2012 11:04 a.m.

Until gas prices begin to come down, Republicans will continue to blame the spike on President Obama — whose policies, they claim, have squelched U.S. energy production broadly.

“Over the past three years, President Obama has delayed, blocked, and restricted access to America’s energy resources, leading to a seven percent drop in federal energy production and no real options to address the energy crisis we face today,” wrote House Speaker John Boehner in a column published by his Ohio office. “[T]he administration’s regulatory onslaught is having a direct impact here in Ohio. Most recently, GenOn Energy announced it will be closing plants in Avon Lake and Niles because of excessive government regulations. Reports indicate the company is unsure of how many, if any, of the jobs at those Ohio facilities it will be able to preserve. These job losses are a direct result of this administration’s policies.”

The argument has a tenuous connection to fuel and energy prices. But if Obama’s held a heavy hand over American oil, surely it would be reflected in the labor market for extraction jobs, right?

Quite the opposite.

This chart compares job growth in a number of industries and across the public and private sectors. Oil and gas extraction is a relatively small industry, but it has prospered in the weak economy, even as other industries climb slowly out of the great recession. Energy experts say that the oil boom itself is also due to factors outside of Obama’s control, but this gives the lie to the notion that Obama’s been actively squelching it.

When pressed, Obama’s foes will allow that production has increased during Obama’s presidency, but claim that the growth occurred despite his policies not because of them. That’s a much harder case to make, particularly given how well the industry’s done in such a weak economy.

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