Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Ad Watch: Obama lauds his energy record

The Obama campaign is airing this ad in Virginia.

President Barack Obama is firing back at ads from the American Energy Alliance blaming him for high gas prices. Obama’s campaign has been running a commercial of its own, tying Republican candidate Mitt Romney to Big Oil.

We examined the president’s ad as part of our effort to fact check national political spots running in Virginia. The PolitiFact network has reviewed four of the claims in Obama’s commercial -- either in direct response to the ad or because similar or identical charges have been made in the past.

Here is a summary of the items checked, with a few updates. To read the complete fact checks, go to PolitiFactVirginia.com.

Ad claim: "Under President Obama, domestic oil production is at an eight-year high"

PolitiFact examined similar statements in January and March, rating each Mostly True.

Oil production in 2011 did  reach an eight-year high. The annual totals for the most recent eight years available -- 2004 to 2011 -- show a range from 1,811,817,000 barrels of oil extracted in the U.S. in 2008 to 2,065,366,000 last year.

But there are a few caveats to the numbers. Domestic production is still below levels from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Republicans make some strong points in arguing Obama’s policies have little to do with the increase. Most growth in the last year occurred on private lands, which the president does not control. And Obama’s numbers benefit from drilling policies that came from presidents before him.  

Ad claim: Obama "is fighting to end" oil company tax breaks

The president is fighting on this front, but with little success. PolitiFact’s national team said Obama’s campaign promise to eliminate tax loopholes for oil companies has Stalled.

Several attempts to dismantle about $21 billion in tax breaks over 10 years have failed to gain Congressional traction. They include his 2009 budget, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act in 2011 and the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act in 2012. The measures would have reinstated royalty payments to the federal government by deepwater drillers in the Gulf of Mexico and ended deductions for a variety of drilling and development costs.

Ad claim: Obama "is raising mileage standards"

Obama signed regulations in 2009 that mandated cars and light trucks average 35.5 miles per gallon of gasoline by 2016. They went in effect in 2010, when such vehicles were averaging 28.3 miles a gallon. The action prompted a Promise Kept ruling from PolitiFact’s national staff on Obama’s campaign pledge to raise mileage standards.

Last year, the White House announced stricter standards for model years 2017-2025, which will require automobile manufacturers to create a car and light truck fleet that averages 54.5 mpg.

Ad claim: "In all these fights, Mitt Romney has stood with Big Oil, for their tax breaks, attacking higher mileage standards and renewables"

When a pro-Obama super PAC said on March 30 that Romney "pledged to protect" profits and tax breaks for oil companies, PolitiFact Florida rated the claim Half True.

Romney never took an explicit pledge, but he has criticized Obama’s plan to end tax breaks for oil companies as a "$4 billion tax increase for oil and gas companies." Romney wants to reduce the 35 percent corporate tax rate to 25 percent. If that gets done, Romney said in an April 2 TV interview that he would be willing to consider eliminating some tax breaks for industries.  

Romney has been critical of Obama’s mileage standards, saying they will significantly increase the costs of producing and buying cars. He has said Obama is acting "more on faith than fact" when it comes to promoting renewable energy. "The ‘green’ technologies are typically far too expensive to compete in the marketplace," the Romney campaign says in its energy platform.