PI Original Josh Kalven Tuesday July 15th, 2008, 2:26pm

Roskam And Shimkus' VISION Act Fudges The Numbers

Since he and fellow GOP Congressman John Shimkus announced their Energy VISION Act last week, Rep. Peter Roskam has been hitting the local media circuit and touting his plan to make America "energy independent within 15 years." He contends that the proposal -- ...

Since he and fellow GOP Congressman John Shimkus announced their Energy VISION Act last week, Rep. Peter Roskam has been hitting the local media circuit and touting his plan to make America "energy independent within 15 years." He contends that the proposal -- which features a mix of increased oil drilling (both offshore and in the Arctic), increased oil shale production, and various conservation efforts -- will replace the 9 million barrels of oil the U.S. imports from foreign countries (other than Canada and Mexico) every day. Here's Roskam explaining the plan on Fox Chicago Sunday a couple days ago:

Roskam also recently discussed the VISION plan with WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight last Wednesday and WIND's John & Cisco In The Morning today.

However, I've been taking a look at the underlying math ... and there are some problems with Roskam and Shimkus' numbers. For instance, their press release states that extending offshore drilling to the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) would replace 2.4 million barrels per day that we currently import. Their source for this projection is the U.S Energy Information Agency (EIA), which recently released a report examining how drilling in the OCS would affect production.

But curiously, the EIA estimated that opening up the OCS would only increase production by about 200,000 barrels a day and "would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030."

There's a big difference between 2.4 million and 200,000. So where did the GOP congressmen get the larger number? It appears that they took the total amount of offshore production once the OCS is opened up -- including the 2.2 million barrels a day already being extracted by offshore rigs here in the U.S.

Check out the EIA's graph showing the relatively small increase in estimated production caused by expanding into the OCS:


That gap between the green and blue lines -- representing about 200,000 barrels per day -- is what Roskam and Shimkus should have listed in their press release under "Outer Continental Shelf" production. Instead, they just listed the whole 2.4 million.

Any additional media outlets giving Roskam and his plan airtime might want to ask him to explain. And the Tribune's Swamp blog -- which reprinted the VISION Act press release, including the faulty 2.4 million figure -- should ask for a clarification.

While they're at, reporters should also ask Roskam how he plans to ensure that any increased U.S. oil production will go directly to American buyers -- as opposed to the global market.

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