OBAMA: "We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years. Natural gas production is the highest it's been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment. But what I've also said is we can't just produce traditional sources of energy. We've also got to look to the future. That's why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. That means that in the middle of the next decade, any car you buy, you're going to end up going twice as far on a gallon of gas. That's why we doubled clean -- clean energy production like wind and solar and biofuels..."
The American Enterprise Institute earlier this month cited the same statistic as Mr. Obama: U.S. field production of crude oil reached a 17-year high this month, when nearly 6.6 million barrels were produced domestically per day, according to the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA). The last time production was that high was in 1995.
The EIA reported this summer that natural gas reserves reached a new high in 2010 after 12 consecutive years of increases. However, coal production has been lower during the Obama administration than it was in the previous administration. Coal mine employment was 86,195 mine employees in 2010, a 1.8-percent-drop from the 2009 level of 87,755.
ROMNEY: "The president's right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters.
"So where'd the increase come from? Well a lot of it came from the Bakken Range in North Dakota. What was his participation there? The administration brought a criminal action against the people drilling up there for oil, this massive new resource we have. And what was the cost? 20 or 25 birds were killed and brought out a migratory bird act to go after them on a criminal basis.
"We're going to bring that pipeline in from Canada. How in the world the president said no to that pipeline? I will never know."
Romney is correct that in 2011 oil production was, in fact, down on federal lands: The EIA reported this year that "total crude oil sales of production from Federal and Indian lands increased from 642 million barrels in FY 2009 to 739 million barrels in FY 2010, but decreased to 646 million barrels in FY 2011." That amounts to an 11 percent reduction. The EIA explained that crude oil production from federal lands is "dominated by offshore production from the Federal Outer Continental Shelf" -- production that was disrupted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Romney said production was down because "the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters." But according to the Bureau of Land Management, the government issued 2,188 new leases in 2011, up from 1,308 in 2010. That's a decrease, however, from the 3,499 new leases issued in 2007. If one considers the total number of leases in effect, the number decreased slightly from 2010 (50,544 leases) to 2011 (49,173). However, there were more leases in effect in 2011 than in 2007, when there were 48,933.
The Bakken Range in North Dakota has seen a boom in oil production, and as Romney said, federal prosecutors did charge oil companies in the Bakken region for the deaths of a few migratory ducks under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. But a federal judge early this year tossed out the charges.