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CNN Fact Check: Obama and Romney's energy policies

By Tom Foreman and Eric Marrapodi, CNN
updated 2:00 PM EDT, Thu August 30, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mitt Romney pledges energy independence for North America by 2020
  • Romney says President Barack Obama is trying to kill traditional energy sources like coal
  • Obama takes credit for the America producing more energy at anytime in the last eight years
  • On both sides, the arguments run out of gas

Tampa, Florida (CNN) -- Americans consume more than 19 million barrels of oil a day as well as tons of coal and natural gas, raising questions about the future availability of those resources and the environmental impact of their development and use.

President Barack Obama has heavily pushed an alternative energy agenda, his administration pouring billions of taxpayer resources into solar, wind and battery initiatives aimed at cutting dependence on foreign oil and changing how Americans view and use energy.

In a new policy paper, his Republican rival for the White House, Mitt Romney, says, "President Obama has intentionally sought to shut down oil, gas, and coal production in pursuit of his own alternative energy agenda."

Romney wants more oil exploration, faster permitting, and state control of exploration on federal lands. It all adds up to the Republican refrain: "Drill, baby, drill."

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"I will set a national goal of American and North American energy independence by 2020," Romney pledges.

But Obama says not so fast

"Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years -- at any time," Obama says.

So who is telling the truth?

Despite a moratorium on offshore drilling prompted by the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago, domestic oil production has surged. Oil shale and natural gas production are also up sharply.

However, much of this was set in motion years before Obama took office. While Obama has taken some steps to encourage production, he cannot claim as much credit as he would like.

Obama has, for sure, angered some oil and coal producers by steering federal money to alternative energy sources. But there is no evidence that he is trying to "shut down" traditional energy industries.

It is also not clear that Romney's plans would bring energy independence that much quicker, especially without a simultaneous focus on reducing consumption.

So on both sides, the arguments run out of gas.

Romney's claim that Obama is trying to kill off old energy is false. And Obama's claims of what he has accomplished are muddled.

We rate them both misleading.

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