I’m getting ready to start any number of conspiracy theories here. Was the New York Times website hacked by Anonymous? Did someone accidentally click on a redirect to The Onion? Did some editor at the Gray Lady suddenly suffer from a stroke and go rogue on us? In any event, as Walter Russell Mead discovers, the Paper of Record unleashed some good news on the energy front this week.
Not only has the United States reduced oil imports from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries by more than 20 percent in the last three years, it has become a net exporter of refined petroleum products like gasoline for the first time since the Truman presidency. The natural gasindustry, which less than a decade ago feared running out of domestic gas, is suddenly dealing with a glut so vast that import facilities are applying for licenses to export gas to Europe and Asia.
National oil production, which declined steadily to 4.95 million barrels a day in 2008 from 9.6 million in 1970, has risen over the last four years to nearly 5.7 million barrels a day. The Energy Department projects that daily output could reach nearly seven million barrels by 2020. Some experts think it could eventually hit 10 million barrels — which would put the United States in the same league as Saudi Arabia.
That’s not the amazing part. (Well, OK… it’s somewhat amazing because you’d hardly expect this particular paper to act happy about any oil exploration. But it’s not the most amazing part.) The real, spill your martini in shock and awesome bit comes in the next graph.
The Bush administration worked from the start on finding ways to unlock the nation’s energy reserves and reverse decades of declining output, with Mr. Cheney leading a White House energy task force that met in secret with top oil executives. […]
The Bush administration also opened large swaths of the Gulf of Mexico and the waters off Alaska to exploration, granting lease deals that required companies to pay only a tiny share of their profits to the government.
Of course, they talk about it in terms of some horizon where we reach hypothetical energy independence. As we’ve discussed before, this is almost entirely an illusion. Absent the essentially socialist nationalization of the oil industry, commercial producers will find a market for every drop of oil they can process all across the globe. But it’s still good news for American jobs and insurance against supply line disruptions.
So this can cap the weekend with a love letter nobody was expecting to see. “Dear Bush and Cheney. Thanks for the successful energy policy. Love, the New York Times.”