Posted: 10/29/2012 6:34 PM
Theodore R. Johnson is a naval officer and 2011-2012 White House Fellow. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of the federal government.
Drilling for oil on public lands is the source of a heated debate between the presidential candidates. Mitt Romney accuses the president of reducing oil and gas production. President Obama says that production has increased under his leadership. Both candidates are correct - and both claims are beside the point.
While the candidates mold statistics to their political narratives, the public stake in this debate is not as easily quantified. Oil and gas production on federal lands is a considerable portion of the nation's total energy output (about one-third), but its real value is in what it represents. Producing energy on federal land tracts is important in this election because it appeals to the most American of sentiments: self-reliance.
Here are the facts debated in last week's presidential debate:
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