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The Truth-O-Meter Says:
Menendez

Says the United States "actually exports more gasoline, diesel and other fuels than it imported in 2011 for the first time since, I think, 1949."

Robert Menendez on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 in a video posted on YouTube

Robert Menendez claims U.S. fuel exports surpassed imports in 2011 for the first time since 1949

Drill it in the United States, keep it in the United States.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez made that argument during his "Twitter Town Hall" on March 28, while noting how the United States exported more fuel products than it imported last year for the first time in more than six decades.

"In fact, you know, according to the Energy Department though, the United States – this is something that I found out, I found it pretty amazing – actually exports more gasoline, diesel and other fuels than it imported in 2011 for the first time since, I think, 1949," he said.

The Democratic senator later added, "If we keep that here, we can create downward pressures on the prices of gas and diesel, and in doing so, of course help all of our families and help our economy. So I believe drill it in the U.S, keep it in the U.S., and that’s not something that’s happening right now."

PolitiFact New Jersey discovered that the senator’s claim is backed up by findings released last month by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy.

According to a March 7 article on the agency’s website, "The United States in 2011 exported more petroleum products, on an annual basis, than it imported for the first time since 1949."

Last year, the United States exported nearly 2.9 million barrels per day, surpassing imports by about 440,000 barrels per day, according to the agency.

Now, let’s explain what’s fueling this increase in exports.

The biggest contributing factor was the increase in foreign purchases of distillate fuel, which includes diesel fuel and heating oil, the agency said.

U.S. exports of distillate fuel have been on the rise during the past decade, driven by a global increase in diesel consumption, according to the agency. Between 2006 and 2011, exports of distillate fuel increased by about 297 percent, according to agency data.

The growth in distillate fuel exports has been mainly driven by deliveries to the Netherlands -- where many products are later directed to other countries -- as well as to Mexico and Central and South America, the agency has said.

The Netherlands was the largest importer in 2011 at 145,000 barrels per day, followed by Mexico with 102,000 barrels per day, according to agency data.

The proximity of Mexico, and Central and South America to oil refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast has contributed to the export growth, according to the agency. Also, Europe requires a certain type of diesel fuel that cannot be produced in many refineries outside the United States, according to the agency.

"The primary factor behind the change in Europe has been the switch by light-duty vehicle consumers from gasoline-powered vehicles to diesel-powered vehicles," according to an October 2010 report by federal officials. "The move has been driven by European tax incentives on both vehicles and fuel to encourage the use of more energy-efficient diesel-fueled vehicles."

Our ruling

During his Twitter Town Hall, Menendez claimed the United States "actually exports more gasoline, diesel and other fuels than it imported in 2011 for the first time since, I think, 1949."

Based on findings released last month by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, that statistic is accurate. Driven by demand for distillate fuel -- which includes diesel fuel and heating oil -- exports of petroleum products in 2011 exceeded imports by about 440,000 barrels per day, according to the agency.

We rate the statement True.

To comment on this ruling, go to NJ.com.

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About this statement:

Published: Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 at 7:30 a.m.

Subjects: Energy

Sources:

Senator Menendez Hosts First Twitter Town Hall, March 28, 2012

Bloomberg, U.S. Was Net Oil-Product Exporter for First Time Since 1949, Feb. 29, 2012

Email interview with Tricia Enright, spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, April 3, 2012

U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. petroleum product exports exceeded imports in 2011 for first time in over six decades, March 7, 2012

U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Exports of Distillate Fuel Oil, accessed April 9, 2012

U.S. Energy Information Administration, Increasing Distillate Production at U.S. Refineries – Past Changes and Future Potential, October 2010

U.S. Energy Information Administration, Drivers Behind Growing U.S. Product Exports & Shrinking Light-Heavy Price Differences, Jan. 28, 2011

U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. exports of petroleum products increase as markets become more globally integrated, Sept. 7, 2011

U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. distillate fuel exports continue to grow, Aug. 31, 2011

U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Net Imports by Country, accessed April 9, 2012

Written by: Bill Wichert
Researched by: Bill Wichert
Edited by: Caryn Shinske

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