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In an interview with
, a Russian newspaper, President Barack Obama was asked what caused the economic crisis. Obama answered that oil imports were partly to blame.
"Our economy did not fall into decline overnight," he said in the July 6, 2009, interview. "We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before."
Obama said the same thing on February 24, 2009, during his first address to Congress.
At first, it sounded plausible to us that the United States would be importing more oil these days. But as our friends at FactCheck.org first pointed out , crude oil and petroleum imports have actually declined in recent years after peaking in 2005 and 2006. FactCheck cites the Energy Information Administration, a branch of government that keeps an enormous database of all things energy-related, and we confirmed it on the EIA's Web site.
In two decades, imported oil will be down by about 20 percent, according to a March 2009 EIA report.
And in April 2009, the American Petroleum Institute said that imports have fallen to their lowest levels in three years.
"The big one is the decline in consumption," said Ron Planting, an economist with the API, a trade group representing oil and natural gas companies. "Our figures through May are that domestic consumption has declined 4.7 percent from a year ago."
Through 2008, high gas prices spurred the decline, he said. Now, it's the recession.
The proliferation of gasoline-ethanol blends and a 4.4 percent increase in domestic oil production have also contributed, Planting said.
So Obama needs to check his figures. Twice this year, he has said that oil imports are higher than ever, but studies by the government and the energy industry show that's not true. As a result, we give Obama a False.
American Petroleum Institute, import projections , accessed July 7, 2009
Interview with Ron Planting, economist with the American Petroleum Institute, July 7, 2009
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