I thought you folks might enjoy my column in this week’s Jewish Star:

In making his energy speech in Miami last week, President Obama declared, 

“anyone who tells you we can drill our way out of this problem doesn’t know what they’re talking about — or just isn’t telling you the truth It’s the easiest thing in the world to make phony election-year promises about lower gas prices. What’s harder is to make a serious, sustained commitment to tackle a problem. And it won’t be solved in one year, it won’t be solved in one term, it may not be solved in one decade. But that’s the kind of commitment we need right now.”

So who is telling the truth, President Obama or those who claim there is ample energy resources underneath the United States to meet our needs for many years to come.

To answer this question I refer to a 2010 report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The CRS reports to the Congress, it is charged with providing research and analysis that is authoritative, confidential, objective and nonpartisan.

Released in November 2010, U.S. Fossil Fuel Resources: Terminology, Reporting, and Summary, details the Scope of our Energy Reserves.

President Obama and his progressive allies say the US possesses just 2 or 3 percent of the world’s oil. This figure narrowly relies on America’s proven reserves of just 28 billion barrels. Of course you can’t have “proven reserves” until you drill for them.

The non-partisan CRS compiled government estimates which show that the United States has 163 billion barrels of recoverable oil. That’s enough oil to meet all of U.S. needs without importing any oil for more than 50 years. Our combined recoverable oil, natural gas, and coal endowment is the largest on Earth. America’s recoverable resources are far larger than those of Saudi Arabia (3rd), China (4th), and Canada (6th) combined. And that’s not including the United States’ huge oil shale and methane hydrates deposits.

Natural Gas

The CRS report refers to a 2009 assessment from the Potential Gas Committee, which estimates America’s future supply of natural gas, is 2,047 trillion cubic feet (TCF). This figure is more than 25 percent higher than the same Committee’s 2006 estimate. At today’s rate of use, this is enough natural gas to meet American demand for 90 years.

The CRS report also shows America has the most coal resources in the world. In fact, our coal resources account for more than 28 percent of the world’s reserves. Russia is a distant second followed by China in third. The CRS cites America’s recoverable coal reserves to be 262 billion short tons. For perspective, the US consumes just 1.2 billion short tons of coal per year. The CRS also states: “…U.S. coal resource estimates do not include some potentially massive deposits of coal that exist in northwestern Alaska. These currently inaccessible coal deposits have been estimated to be more than 3,200 billion short tons of coal.” 

When the entire US resources (except for shale oil) are aggregated we see the United States has more fossil fuel reserves than any other country in the world. 

Oil Shale
Oil Shale was not included in the CRS totals. But the Green River Formation located within Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah contains the equivalent of 6 trillion barrels of oil. The Department of Energy estimates that, of this 6 trillion, approximately 1.38 trillion barrels are potentially recoverable. That’s equivalent to more than five times the conventional oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.

Shale oil discoveries are being made that can substantially increase onshore oil production. The Bakken oil field located in western North Dakota, northeast Montana, and Canada’s Saskatchewan Province is pumping 225,000 barrels of oil a day today that started at just 3,000 barrels per day in 2005, with estimates of a million barrels of oil production per day by 2020. A newer shale oil field, Eagle Ford in Texas, is one of about 20 new onshore oil fields so far that combined could increase the oil output of the United States by 25 percent within 10 years. 
Those statistics, of course, assume that the U.S. government does not intervene in state regulation of hydraulic fracturing, and that it can continue to be used to stimulate the wells. Hydraulic fracturing requires water, sand, and a small amount of chemicals to break up the shale deposits to allow oil or natural gas to flow through horizontal drilling. But, while the government gave hydraulic fracturing a clean bill of health in 2004 and there has never been a documented case of ground water contamination owing to hydraulic fracturing, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior and the Department of Energy – at the direction of President Obama – are all conducting studies on the issue.
(for more about fracking click here)

The President also pointed out that drilling is not a quick fix, indeed many people accurately point out that it can take 5-10 years once drilling begins, for that supply to reach the pipeline.

That claim ignores the fact that it is speculation driving up the cost of Oil. Some of you may remember when Crude Oil prices jumped in 2008. The high point was $145 a barrel in early July. When President Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore oil drilling on July 14th, prices immediately began to drop. By the end of December 2008, crude oil spot price fell to $30.28 a barrel. Just the threat of new drilling drove down costs.

Along with dropping fuel costs, the added benefit to President Obama aggressively tapping our own energy reserves, would be the almost immediate creation of energy related jobs. Those brand new energy related jobs would create new jobs in other industries including the consumer goods those new energy employees would now be able to purchase.

According to President Obama anybody who claims that we can drill our way out of the present high cost of energy is a liar. Based on a report created by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (published at a time when the Democrats Controlled both houses of Congress), it is the President who is being less than honest with the American public. Our oil reserves are much larger than he claims and history shows even the threat of new drilling serves to depress oil prices pumped up by speculators.