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Op-ed Placement

The Great Recession Recovery Wasn't Powered by Obama; It Was Oil and Gas

Originally Published in The Washington Examiner on 2/27/20.

Former President Barack Obama recently tried to take credit for President Trump’s record economic growth. Ironically enough, though, oil and gas development accounted for the vast majority of growth and job creation during the so-called Obama economy. Obama did nearly everything in his power to prevent that. Should Obama have his cake and eat it too?

The economy under Obama averaged 2% gross domestic product growth; the “new normal," as New York Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman named it. To be fair, assuming office in the middle of a recession is no blessing, but Obama’s attachment to Keynesian economics prolonged the nation’s recovery.

In fact, Obama actively worked to restrict the industry that led the economy as a percentage of GDP growth. Oil and gas development accounted for nearly half of GDP growth, and the fracking boom alone accounted for 9.3 billion jobs, nearly half of the jobs created during his entire presidency. States such as Texas contributed nearly 70% of all jobs created during the Obama administration. Wage growth for workers in the natural gas industry also skyrocketed, with workers in states such as North Dakota seeing their weekly wages increase up to 40% in the post-shale boom. Without oil and gas development, there would have been almost no economic or job growth during the Obama administration.

Energy production laid the foundation for American energy independence. Off-shore drilling and the shale boom resulted in a decline in imports of foreign oil. By the end of the Obama years, the United States saw a 74% increase in oil production. By 2016, imports of foreign oil had declined by 4 million barrels since before Obama assumed office. Yet, it wasn’t until Trump implemented a laissez-faire approach to energy that America was finally able to achieve energy independence. Obama, on the other hand, at the behest of far-left environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, did everything he could to impede the fossil fuel industry via executive orders and overregulation. Regardless of Obama’s wavering support for the Keystone XL pipeline, for example, the industry and the economy saw tremendous growth thanks to its implementation.

By 2014, 98.5% of fracking occurred on nonfederal lands, yet the Obama administration attempted to seize more federal lands throughout his tenure. Permits for federal onshore extraction during the Obama administration declined. For all the talk of Russian meddling in U.S. affairs, there’s clear evidence the Kremlin funded the anti-fracking movement.

Obama’s push for renewable energy, which focused on wind and solar energy, failed to achieve market dominance. Crony schemes such as Solyndra wound up costing taxpayers even more. By the end of the Obama administration, renewables only contributed 10% of energy production.

A recent report by the International Energy Administration indicated that U.S. carbon emissions might have peaked — that’s without the Paris Climate Agreement, the Clean Power Plan, and abundant federal tax breaks and schemes to artificially prop up renewable energy.

Obama cannot take credit for the economic boom we are seeing under the Trump administration. It happened in spite of him, not because of him. The oil and gas boom powered the economic recovery from the Great Recession, not Obama’s attempts to stop it.