We haven’t been able to review President Obama‘s “yes, we botched the product launch” press conference today, but here’s an interesting case of the White House team spinning on social.
RT the good news: For the 1st time in nearly two decades, we’re importing less oil than we’re producing. pic.twitter.com/M30ewhgKqi
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 14, 2013
The purpose of the tweet is to announce that domestic oil production has hit a 24-year peak, but the message is phrased to make it sound like this is a victory in the (pretty much non-existent) war on climate change. Note the #actonclimate hashtag on the graphic.
Let’s unravel this statement:
Thanks in large part to the increased use of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” (insert Battlestar Galactica shout out here), the U.S. is producing more oil relative to the oil it imports than ever before. This is cool in terms of self-sufficiency, giving less money to oil-heavy states with terrible human rights records, etc. But is it a climate change victory?
Not really, because more oil produced in the United States means more fossil fuels burned around the world in total, despite the fact that we’re “using less overall.”
And that slight dip in usage doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re becoming more efficient, either: we’re driving less than ever before despite the frustrating pace of the economic recovery, and that fact has a big effect on overall consumption.
We’re not saying this development isn’t positive in some ways or that Obama hasn’t accomplished anything on the green front. But the White House is trying to satisfy both the “more jobs” and the “less carbon” camps with this statment—and it’s not quite working.