Report: Oil imports down, domestic numbers booming

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Against the backdrop of gasoline prices rising at the pump in an election year, a new Obama administration report cites “significant progress” in reducing foreign oil imports and increasing domestic oil and gas production.
The report by six federal agencies was released Monday.
According to the study, the United States reduced net imports of crude oil last year by 10 percent, or 1 million barrels a day. America now imports 45 percent of its petroleum, down from 57 percent in 2008, and is on track to meet President Barack Obama’s long-term goal, the administration maintains.
Imports have fallen, in part, because the United States has increased domestic oil and gas production in recent years.
U.S. crude oil production increased by an estimated 120,000 barrels a day last year over 2010, the report says. Current production, about 5.6 million barrels a day, is the highest since 2003.
America has been the world’s largest producer of natural gas since 2009. Use of renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar, is still relatively small but has doubled since 2008.
The report credits administration policies for the improvements. It cites initiatives like the higher fuel efficiency of passenger cars, the jump in renewable energy output, and improved weatherization of 1 million homes.
But independent analysts attribute much of the fall in oil imports to slack U.S. demand in a still-anemic economy. And to a certain degree, the boost in domestic oil and gas production is the result of decisions energy companies made during the George W. Bush administration to develop key reservoirs.
The report, titled “The Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future,” appears aimed, at least in part, at tamping down political fire from Obama’s Republican rivals and other critics who say his administration has not done enough to fight higher gasoline prices.
“We’re experiencing yet another painful reminder of why developing new American energy is so critical to our future,” the report states. “We know that there are no quick fixes to this challenge.”