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Independence Day: U.S. Oil Production Tops Net Imports for First Time In 18 Years

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In October, the United States produced more oil than it imported, a major victory for the domestic energy sector.  It is the first time that production topped imports since 1995.  The United States is now producing 7.7 million barrels of crude oil per day.  

The Obama Administration was quick to point to its policies as a factor in the trend. But the Associated Press suggests changes in attitudes toward cars has had an impact as well:

Obama administration officials said President Barack Obama’s efforts to boost fuel efficiency for cars have been a driving factor, helping to reduce U.S. demand for gas and, in turn, lessening the need to import foreign oil. Officials said requiring auto companies to make cars that run on less gas has gone a long way toward realizing Obama’s goal of curbing global warming. They also credited the president with promoting drilling on federal lands and offshore as part of his strategy to encourage more U.S. energy production.

“Taken together, these factors not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but work to reduce overall carbon pollution in our communities,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Industry experts disagree with the notion that Obama’s policies are the driver of this shift.  In fact, some say his policies have made it harder, not easier for oil exploration.  Independent U.S. energy analyst Philip Verleger told the AP:

“It’s a very positive sign — enormously positive.  But energy policy has not been a help, it’s been a hindrance.”  

The AP notes that the numbers will eventually be adjusted.

The October figures will be revised in the coming months as more final data becomes available. But based on the size of the gap between net imports and production — 170,000 barrels per day — administration officials said they were confident the trend will hold true.


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