A simple question on gas prices ignited a sharp disagreement between the presidential candidates at their second debate Tuesday night – President Barack Obama described himself as a friend of oil and coal, Mitt Romney challenged the characterization and said the administration’s policies have crippled the industry.
“Oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters,” Romney said.
The Obama administration also announced recently it would lock up nearly half of the 23 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska from energy production and instead set it aside for wildlife and species protection.
And despite protests from the energy industry that new exploration and development is being blocked by the Obama administration, the president maintained that he has been generous with public land development.