Thursday, October 18, 2012

Debates and Charts

As a geologist I have been noting the presidential campaign pronouncements regarding energy. The Wonk Blog had a nice post of graphs inspired from the debate (the-second-presidential-debate-in-graphs/). I've seen most of the graphs before, but throw up a couple regarding energy for further comment.

The first one was on petroleum production and was from the President's claim that oil production has increased since he became president.  

It is probably appropriate to give some credit to past administrations as it does take awhile to get an oil field up and productive and the increased production did begin before Obama became president after an all time low in 2005. What is remarkable is that the increase in domestic production has gone in the complete opposite direction to domestic demand which dropped sharply as a result of the economic collapse that began in 2008. Again, lag time may have played a role. Another major shift was that right before the down turn in the economy oil prices had been very high likely inspiring investment in oil fields and oil prices have still remained high despite the lower demand. That and the remarkable opening of the Bakken in North Dakota has pushed domestic production up significantly.

The second chart is from Mitt Romney's statement that oil production is down 14% this year on Federal lands. 

It should be noted crude oil production was increasing from 2008 through 2010 and just dropped this year, but all other fossil fuels have declined throughout the period of the chart. The temporary lease moratorium due to the Gulf Deep Water Horizon oil spill likely played a role in the 14% decline in oil, but again the huge production in the Bakken as well as large supplies from Canada may be slowing federal land production of oil. And note too that coal and natural gas production of federal lands has declined. The coal decline is mostly related to the abundance of natural gas production and low natural gas prices supplanting coal. And again the very large production of gas on private lands is likely suppressing investment and production of natural gas on federal lands.  

So the claims are a bit more complicated and I would say in this case only effective to the candidates' tribes.  

But one last chart that has been kicking around awhile and really is a good starting point for an honest debate about taxes and budgets - something electeds have a lot more control over than energy production.

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