Wash. Times editorial falsely suggested that petroleum import projections decreased after Bush pledged to "break" America's oil "addiction"

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

A Washington Times editorial asserted that the amount of petroleum imported into the United States was projected to increase by more than 7 million barrels daily from 2004 to 2025 "[u]ntil President Bush recently joined his six immediate predecessors by promising that America's addiction to oil would end." In fact, new, lower projections came in December 2005, before Bush promised to "break" the country's "addiction" to oil in his January 31 State of the Union address.

An April 20 Washington Times editorial asserted that the amount of petroleum imported into the United States was projected to increase by more than 7 million barrels daily from 2004 to 2025 "[u]ntil President Bush recently joined his six immediate predecessors by promising that America's addiction to oil would end." In fact, contrary to the editorial's suggestion that the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA) published new, lower projections after Bush promised to "break" the United States' "addiction" to oil in his January 31 State of the Union address, the EIA's projections came in December 2005, before Bush made his statement. Furthermore, the EIA's Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2006 attributed the smaller increase in import projections to more domestic production due to higher world oil prices, not an effort to reduce overall oil consumption.

The Times also suggested that Bush's call for energy independence marked a turning point in energy policy; however, as Media Matters for America has noted, Bush had, in every prior State of the Union address since 2002, called on Congress to pass his energy proposal, saying that the United States needed to reduce its dependence on foreign sources of energy.

In its AEO 2005, the EIA predicted that the U.S. daily net petroleum imports would increase by 7.45 million barrels from 2004 to 2025 -- the figure the Times noted in its editorial. While the EIA did project a smaller daily net increase of 3.57 million barrels between 2004 and 2025 in its AEO 2006, the EIA's lower 2006 projections were released in December 2005, before Bush's January 31 address. The full 2006 report, complete with an analysis of U.S. energy supply and demand, was not released until February 2006. Moreover, the AEO 2006 attributed the smaller increase in import projections to higher oil prices:

The higher world oil prices in the AEO2006 reference case have important implications for energy markets. The most significant impact is on the outlook for U.S. petroleum imports. Net imports of petroleum are projected to meet a growing share of total petroleum demand in both AEO2006 and AEO2005; however, the higher world oil prices in the AEO2006 reference case lead to more domestic crude oil production, lower demand for petroleum products, and consequently lower levels of petroleum imports.

From the April 20 Washington Times editorial "China's oil consumption ...":

China became a net oil importer in 1993. Today, China, which consumes 7 million barrels per day, half of which is imported, is the world's second-largest oil consumer and third-largest oil importer (behind the United States and Japan). Nearly half of China's imported oil comes from the volatile Middle East, where it has been busily signing long-term supply deals, including a $70 billion oil-and-gas deal with Iran.

China's future trends are even more dramatic than those of the past. Following the recent surge in China's demand for petroleum, its per capita consumption of oil is still less than 8 percent of America's. Adding 5 million cars per year, China expects its auto fleet to increase from less than 25 million today to more than 125 million within 25 years. As a result, the EIA projects that China's demand for oil will more than double by 2025, reaching 14.2 million barrels per day, and more than 10.9 million barrels will be imported. As a result, China's net imports will have increased by 8 million barrels per day since 2004. Until President Bush recently joined his six immediate predecessors by promising that America's addiction to oil would end, the EIA had been projecting that U.S. net petroleum imports, which averaged 4.2 million barrels as recently as 1985 (when China was East Asia's largest oil exporter), would exceed 19 million barrels a day in 2025, reflecting an increase of more than 7 million barrels since 2004.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Energy
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
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