Time and time again, the energy policies of one President had the biggest impact under the following president. The biofuel mandates passed by the Bush Administration in 2005 delivered their greatest gains during the Obama Administration. In turn, the Obama Administration’s renewable energy policies are delivering their greatest gains under President Trump.
The Limits of Government Intervention
But more often than not, changes in oil production and gasoline prices have little to do with presidential policies. I have noted the irony that President Bush, generally viewed as a friend to the oil and gas industry, presided over eight straight years of declining oil production.
On the other hand, President Obama often took an antagonistic position toward the fossil fuel industry. The Obama Administration blocked pipelines, banned offshore drilling in the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic, and placed additional rules and regulations on the fossil fuel industries.
Yet oil production rose during Obama’s presidency at the fastest rate in the 150-year history of the U.S. oil industry. The previous record for U.S. natural gas production was shattered during Obama’s second term.
President Obama mentioned record oil production many times in campaign speeches and State of the Union addresses, but let’s be clear. The production increases for oil and natural gas in the U.S. were not the result of President Obama’s energy policies. He just happened to be in office as the shale oil and gas boom accelerated.
Thank the Frackers
This bonanza of oil and gas was actually created by shale pioneers like George Mitchell, Harold Hamm and Aubrey McClendon. During the Bush Administration, these men were busy combining hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling. Their efforts were aided by high oil and natural gas prices, not by government policies.
These men were the primary reason for the oil and gas production renaissance under President Obama. They will be the primary reason for further gains under President Trump.